Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Dean Outs....Himself!

Straight Lies for the Queer Guys -or- Things to Do in Denver
When You're Dead and Don't Know It.

Dean: "I am a 'Metrosexual!' Simpson: "I invented the "Metrosexual'!"

FOR YEARS THE FEAR of a politician with "an alternative lifestyle" was that, sooner or later, he or she would be outed. Howard Dean, with typical verve, has gotten ahead of the curve and outed himself.

According to the Denver Post, Dean, while pandering for votes the other day,

"... declared himself a ' metrosexual '... as he touted his accomplishments in "equal justice" for gay and lesbian couples.

But then he waffled.

"... I've heard the term (metrosexual), but I don't know what it means."

Millions of Americans hearing that Howard Dean expose himself as a "metrosexual" are no doubt staring into space and saying, with Howard, "I don't know what it means."

Wonder not, America, for American Digest is here to help you. Our secret but very dependable sources have furnished us with a copy of the latest Roper Report of October 23 entitled: "Are Metrosexuals Real?" (A question increasingly asked of Howard Dean as well.) According to this report:

The idea behind metrosexuality is that urban men* are finding their inner woman. That is to say, they are getting more involved with the traditionally female arena of “style” in general, including clothing, personal grooming, and home decor.

The origin of the quest of men of Dean's ilk for better skin care, eyebrow tweezing, sharp suits and pedicures is given by Roper Reports as:

The term “metrosexual” actually originated in England nearly a decade ago in a 1994 article by Mark Simpson. It lingered in obscurity until a few months ago, when an advertising agency released a study touting the metrosexual trend, a New York Times Sunday Styles section cover story wrote about the phenomenon, and there was a flurry of online dialogue, not to mention the Bravo TV program Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
In recent interview, wordsmith Mark Simpson defined the Metrosexual as follows:
Q: How and when did you come up with the term ‘metrosexual’? What did you mean by it then?

MARK SIMPSON: The concept developed out of my 1994 book on masculine identity in a mediatised age called ‘Male Impersonators: Men Peforming Masculinity’ - I look forwards to the world of advertising catching up with what I was writing about in 1995...

However, I first used the word itself in an article in the Independent (a British national newspaper) to describe a new, narcissistic, self-conscious kind of masculinity produced by film, advertising and glossy magazines to replace traditional repressed, unmoisturised, unreflexive, un-mediated masculinity. I meant it both as cheeky satire and also sober observation.

Humm, a churlish critic might note that Howard Dean is a new, narcissistic self-conscious kind of politician produced by film, advertising, glossy magazines and thousands of web sites. But that would be wrong.


Dean's just getting fed the latest trends like a drinking bird bobbing over the glass.

You see, The Roper Report is all about turning trends into "winning strategies and competitive advantage." Dean is no slouch when it comes to turning flash into cash. We suspect that somewhere in the Mean Green Dean Machine he's got a marketing droid scanning things like the Roper Report and plugging those buzzwords into Dean.

Is Dean a real metrosexual or is this a case of Straight Lies for the Queer Guys? We'll believe it when Dean calls in the Fab Five for an netcast bikini-wax and online chat.

Tip via: Lileks

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 30, 2003 7:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Fundamental web resource, Doc Searls,

Fundamental web resource, Doc Searls, is tracking the current little dust-up on the Sun with his usual thoroughness:

Clearly last night was the night to go out in the desert to watch the Auroras. Here's this morning:

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 29, 2003 6:27 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Fundamental web resource, Doc Searls,

Fundamental web resource, Doc Searls, is tracking the current little dust-up on the Sun with his usual thoroughness:

Clearly last night was the night to go out in the desert to watch the Auroras. Here's this morning:

A coronal mass ejection swept past Earth today (at approximately 0630 UT on Oct. 29th) and triggered a strong geomagnetic storm. Red and green Northern Lights have been spotted as far south as Midland, Texas, Bishop, California and Enid, Oklahoma. Stay tuned for updates amd images.

That would have been at 10:30pm here in Nevada.

But... there's more:

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 29, 2003 6:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Very Model of a Modern Major Democrat

Who knows who will be the best Democratic Candidate for President? God knows that's who and his name is Allah

How much longer must Allah wait before some bright-eyed American leftist realizes who the Democrats should really be nominating? He is like Allah's fucking dream candidate. And he is leaving office this month, in case you have not heard, so he is available! Seriously, Democrats, consider how closely aligned he is with most of your party. He opposed the war in Iraq and condemned it as a blatant example of western imperialism. Check. He thinks Bush is a filthy liar. Check. He is not totally opposed to shari'a, but he thinks maybe you should go slow for now. Check. Oh, and he hates the Jew. Check. What more do you want, kufr? He is like Howard Dean with a slight accent. Actually, if you believe Ariel Sharon's official cartoonists, Allah should say Colin Powell with a slight accent, no? Oho! All this time Allah has been under the assumption that Colin Powell answers to a superior, but apparently he is just some free-floating appeasement agent. Interesting. If Allah found out that one of his mujahids was going around making deals with the Jew without his knowledge, he would immediately be taken for a walk in the courtyard. But fair enough. As is said in the international language of capitulation, vive la différence.

BTW: Wouldn't a loving and caring Radical Islamic faction be willing to pony up enough dough to get Allah off of Blogspot, or at least wipe out that banner ad? Just asking.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 29, 2003 11:29 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Most Dangerous Site on the Web

Alas, clicking will not enlarge to 92"

Don't touch that "Buy" button.

With an insidiously Apple-esque site, Libermann, Inc has launched a major assault on every geek and gadget-hound's pocketbook. Let's start with their Hollywood Laptop. Looking suspiciously like a Powerbook, this thing sports a 17" WXGA display ( 1440X900), 3.2Ghz... [Michael's Web]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 29, 2003 10:00 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Condi for Veep -- The Update

Who says a Vice-President can't be brilliant?

I thought this was a good idea in July:

American Digest: How to Destroy the Democratic Party in One Brief Presidential Election

George W. Bush will be nominated as the Republican candidate for President in 2004. There's no dispute here. Richard Cheney will also be nominated as Vice-Presidential candidate for 2004. He's done a great job and there's no reason to break up a winning team. Coming out of the convention, the Bush / Cheney ticket will be a done deal.

But it is not, I fear, the ticket that can destroy the Democratic Party. Hence, it simply won't do. After the convention, it will have to change.

It will have to change some time after the convention. Not a short time after, but not a long time either. The beginning of August would be about right. Just about then Mr. Cheney's health will become an issue. He will have to have a complete work-up and during that work-up it will be discovered that his heart simply cannot be depended upon. He will, regretfully but for the good of the country and the Republican party, withdraw his name from the ticket.

At that time, it will be up to the President to find and confirm, with all appropriate consultation and following the rituals and laws in this regard, another person for the Vice-Presidential slot. It is at this time the President must turn to the only person in his administration that can deliver absolute victory for the Republicans, destroy the Democrats for decades, and move the Republic of the United States of America into the 21st Century.

Gentle reader, I give you the next Vice-President of the United States: Condolezza Rice.

It's even better in October:

"Welcome to, where our mission is to convince President Bush that his best chance at reelection, and the Republican party's best chance for victory in 2008, is to choose Condoleezza Rice as his running mate in the 2004 presidential election." Bush Rice '04: Ensuring America's Future

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 29, 2003 9:30 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Good for You and Tasty Too!
Minn. Farmers Use Human Waste Fertilizer (AP) AP - Farmers in northeast Minnesota are using a fertilizer rich in phosphorus, nitrogen and organic matter that can boost crop yields by 80 percent. Best of all, it's free. [Yahoo! News - Science]
Well, your mother always told you to wash your fruit before you ate it, didn't she?

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 29, 2003 8:14 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Microsoft Cans Pix Posting Blogger

I'm willing to bet folding money that within a year we'll be hearing a Gates Keynote, at any one of the bazillion conferences onliners feel compelled to attend, about how essential blogging is to the "Microsoft Way." Then we'll have a BillBlog to show us the light!

What a pity Microsoft will have fired its better bloggers by that time.

Of blogging and unemployment

The day started like any other day — get up, dink around for a bit, bus into work, and start working through the stack of jobs. Just shy of an hour after I got in, my manager came in and asked me to step into his office when I had a chance. Sure, no biggie, and I headed over as soon as I finished the job I was setting up.

"Okay, here's the first question. Is this page," and here he turned his monitor towards me, letting me see my "Even Microsoft wants G5s" post from last Thursday, "hosted on any Microsoft computer? Or is it on your own?"

"It's on mine. Well, it's on a hosted site that I pay for, but no, it's not on anything of Microsoft's."

"Good. That means that as it's your site on your own server, you have the right to say anything you want. Unfortunately, Microsoft has the right to decide that because of what you said, you're no longer welcome on the Microsoft campus." [eclecticism]

Well, you can't argue with that. Or perhaps you can. Either way, the man is canned.

Either way, if you think he got a raw deal, and I do, you can send him a bit of cash to tide him over. I did. His PayPal page is: here.

UPDATE: Well, that's didn't take long. Instapundit reports Bill's into blogs:

THIS SPEECH BY BILL GATES on Longhorn, Microsoft's in-design operating system, indicates that they're thinking about blogs, at least a little: But what's interesting about this is a couple of things. First, it actually built in these common parts that show information, notification, services, that a user might really be... []

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 29, 2003 8:05 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Big Lips Flip Tips

Meet the new Angelina Jolie

Jolie with Lip Shield in Place

OH, THE PAINFUL LONG MARCHES of movie starlets in search of enlightenment! ("What does it all mean? Is there a God? Why do slabs of chocolate cake increase the waistline?) Why is it we only get to catch up when they have a new film coming out?

Today's example: The long and winding road of Angelina Jolie. Short form, she's better now, thank you. Long form:

But that was before Jolie's film career and personal interests led her to Sierra Leone in 2000, then Tanzania, Cambodia, and, two weeks before the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

After the planes hit, "the fact that I'd two weeks before been on the Pakistan border with 3 million Afghan people that had been there for over 20 years -- it was a kind of reality check for me that when there are masses of people displaced for a lot of years, there's something happening in that area."

"It's not a coincidence that things explode."

So put a little liposuction on those lips while there's still time, Angelina.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 28, 2003 5:40 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Data Storm Rising

New data says there's lots of new data

Researchers at U.C. Berkeley's School of Information Management and Systems estimate that the world stored 5 quintillion bytes of information in 2002, doubling 1999's total. [CNET Entertainment & Media]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 28, 2003 5:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Speed Pantheon

Tourists in the Roman Pantheon in Rome

What a 5,000-pound precision-guided bomb did
to a government building in Baghdad.

Source, Bottom Image: American Heritage

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 28, 2003 5:23 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Fat is Health! Bread is Death!"

JAMES LILEKS NEVER CEASES TO AMAZE. Sometimes it is as if he's some sort of omni-American channeling the culture through the Mall of America, Target, and now supermarkets. If you could package his internal links to American pop culture, you'd have a reference work for the rest of us. Take today's catch, mentioned just off-hand in The Bleat

* The other day at the grocery store I noticed an interesting contrast: delicious pancake mix for the happy proles: 89 cents. Atkins special lo/no carb pancake mix: $5.49. Oy. Then I noticed the Atkins logo:
I'd seen it before, and it always reminded me of something. Then I realized what I was thinking of. Just stand it on its head! Fat is health! Bread is death! Freedom is - well, you know the rest.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 28, 2003 2:23 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Holy Quest to Flame Dave Winer Hairless...

...seems to be working.

YES, IT IS INSIDE BASEBALL, but it is strangely satisfying to watch a first-rate flame war with all the trimmings erupt in the Blogsphere. And, as is so often the case, here is Blogging's Bad Daddy Dave ("I invented you!") Winer first to the table with his signature dish of open ether cannister and K-Mart Bic:

Dave Winer:How about this. Both guys (Ballmer and Torvalds) make really shitty software. Microsoft, after decades of Windows development still can't make a robust operating system that a normal person can use. And Linux ships with every security feature wide open. An end user who actually installed it (an amazing accomplishment in itself) would end up (instantly) hosting a playground for script kiddies everywhere.
Dave, a man who while somewhat proficient at writing editors, never met an editor he liked, was not long in inhaling the flashback led by the "crunchy sarcastic goodness" of
kasia with "Someone smack me if I ever do this"

"Information that can be very easily verified as false.. at many levels, but for the sake of argument let's pretend we're talking about RedHat, undoubtedly the most popular linux distribution, which 'ships' (and has for a couple years now) with a fully configured firewall, turned on by default, and all insecure (telnet, ftp) services turned off. One less weblog for me to read.. anyone who refuses to correct an obvious error that's been pointed out to then by numerous people (yet takes the time to call them 'zealots') isn't worth my time.. Not a great loss for Dave, I'm sure, but still a disappointment to me. "

What follows in the comments is a fine flamefest of the kind they don't make any more. I commend you to them if watching the non-stop immolation of Southern California is getting you down.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 28, 2003 1:43 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
America Seen

Two Youths, Coney Island
Bruce Davidson
1958 1958-59
gelatin silver print

From: Eastman House -- America Seen

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 28, 2003 11:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Diebold Voting Machines -- The Value Proposition


Diebold Global Election
Management System Ver. 1.0
Wally O'Dell, Diebold CEO, top right.

About Us
"We won't rest until we measurably improve the extent to which our customers' customers are delighted with our self-service and security solutions."

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 28, 2003 10:23 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
First Photograph of Lightning

by William Jennings
American (b. England, 1860-1946)
ca. 1885 gelatin silver print
Click to enlarge

From: George Eastman House -- A Matter of Fact

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 28, 2003 10:01 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Big Blips Sink Ships

File this under "The Cruel Sea":Methane Bubbles Could Sink Ships

Methane bubbles from the sea floor could, in theory, sink ships and may explain the odd disappearances of some vessels, Australian researchers reported on Tuesday.

The huge bubbles can erupt from undersea deposits of solid methane, known as gas hydrates....

"A recent survey revealed the presence of a sunken vessel within the center of one particularly large eruption site, now known as the Witches Hole."

"One proposed sinking mechanism attributes the vessel's loss of buoyancy to bubbles of methane gas released from an erupting underwater hydrate," they wrote." The known abundance of gas hydrates in the North Sea, coupled with the vessel's final resting position and its location in the Witches Hole, all support a gas bubble theory."

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 28, 2003 9:37 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Black Like Not Me

Race. Sometimes It Is All in the Mind.

Like most other black folk, [Wayne] Joseph grew up with an unequivocal sense of his heritage and of himself; he tends toward black advocacy and has published thoughtful opinion pieces on racial issues in magazines like Newsweek. When Joseph decided on a whim to take a new ethnic DNA test he saw described on a 60 Minutes segment last year, it was only to indulge a casual curiosity about the exact percentage of black blood.... The experience would at least be fodder for another essay for Newsweek. He got his kit in the mail, swabbed his mouth per the instructions and sent off the DNA samples for analysis....

When the results of his DNA test came back, he found himself staggered by the idea that though he still qualified as a person of color, it was not the color he was raised to think he was, one with a distinct culture and definitive place in the American struggle for social equality that he’d taken for granted. Here was the unexpected and rather unwelcome truth: Joseph was 57 percent Indo-European, 39 percent Native American, 4 percent East Asian — and zero percent African. After a lifetime of assuming blackness, he was now being told that he lacked even a single drop of black blood to qualify.

“My son was flabbergasted by the results,” says Joseph. “He said, ‘Dad, you mean for 50 years you’ve been passing for black?’” Joseph admits that, strictly speaking, he has. But he’s not sure if he can or wants to do anything about that at this point.....

After recovering from the initial shock, Joseph began questioning his mother about their lineage. He discovered that, unbeknownst to him, his grandparents had made a conscious decision back in Louisiana to not be white, claiming they didn’t want to side with a people who were known oppressors. Joseph says there was another, more practical consideration: Some men in the family routinely courted black women, and they didn’t want the very public hassle such a pairing entailed in the South, which included everything from dirty looks to the ignominy of a couple having to separate on buses and streetcars and in restaurants per the Jim Crow laws.....

He’s wrestling with a riddle that will likely outlive him, though he doesn’t worry that it will be passed on to the next generation — his ex-wife is black, enough to give his children the firm ethnic identity he had and that he embraced for most of his life.

From: Black Like I Thought I Was

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 27, 2003 11:17 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
MicroDem 2004: Garbage In, Garbage Out
Democratic Tax Convergence? No Mystery

I have to assume that Kevin Hassett at TechCentral is being disingenuous in The Tax Policy of Hate. He professes puzzlement at how the tax policies of the current crop of Democratic candidates are simply clones of one idea, driven by the hate of George Bush.

"The hate of Bush is so powerful that it has even dominated Democratic tax policy. For example, Wesley Clark announced his tax plan in a speech on Wednesday, and the details were oddly familiar. Like just about every other Democratic candidate, Clark has proposed an enormous tax hike. And what form does that tax hike take? Why the same form chosen by his competitors. Clark would roll back the tax reductions that President Bush passed for those taxpayers who make more than $200,000 per year....

"The Democratic candidates each studied the tax code and the economy and reached precisely the same conclusion: The way to improve the world the most is exactly to reverse the tax policy of George Bush. Such a convergence of answers is extraordinarily improbable.

I submit that it is neither extraordinary nor improbable, but simply an expression of the political operating system currently being run by the Democratic candidates. Like all operating systems there are certain root assumptions running in the program. We only need to see the input to understand the output.

What needs to be asked is exactly what Democrats are fighting over. Unless the current trends in Iraq and the Economy suffer catastrophic reversals, the Presidency in 2004 will remain with the person who currently holds the job. The only way Iraq and the Economy can be turned around at this point would be if the United States were to suffer a second terrorist attack at or beyond the level sustained on September 11. In that case, the Presidency becomes a full-court war Presidency and remains beyond the reach of the Democratic Party for the rest of the decade.

No, what's being fought over by the "Amazing Shrinking Gang of Nine, Eight, Seven, Six..." is the leadership of the Democrats -- the position of 'First Loser.'

In order to become the Democrats' annointed First Loser, the candidates must appeal not to the American People en masse. They are irrelevant to this quest. No, the Democratic "winner" will be the one who most successfully attracts the greatest number of energized, committed Bush Haters. As a result, there can only be a scorched-earth program for the "Bush Tax Cuts."

Indeed, scorched-earth HateBush programs are the only programs that can be run on the Democrats Mainframe. Why? Because the Democrats' IT Department has installed an operating system best known as "MicroDem." And, as we have learned over and over, any operating system with the word 'Micro' in it is pre-ordained to be full of security holes, ridden with viruses, and destined to crash at a moment's notice.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 27, 2003 9:11 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"I Have Seen the Future and It Is $4.95 a Month"

Michael's Web is on a roll:
The Chinese Space Program's Insidious Mission
Dateline, March 30, 2006

Today China announced "The People's Network", whose motto is "All content for all the people, all the time".

In the RIAA's worst nightmare, for $4.95 a month, The People's Network allows anyone, anywhere, to upload or download anything, without regard for "capitalistic" copyright or patent restrictions. On the first day alone, over 1 million people, or roughly 1/100th of the connected population, had signed up.

In 2003, China's first foray into manned space travel was lauded as a benefit to all mankind (and not the threat that some had envisioned).

There's more right here. Check in and see if the RIAA's response was to launch 3 Billion Ballistic Lawsuits.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 26, 2003 4:56 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Let Moore Be More Moore

The Once and Future Face
of the Democratic Party

It seems that every fortnight, Michael Moore, like some early precursor of Jabba the Hut or Latter-Day ambulatory version of Larry Flynt, manages to slurp up another rich greasy gobbet of publicity. He does this by running his time-tested con for enriching himself, the large lie masquerading as “Moore Truth.”

Leftists and liberals and Democrats throughout the country suck down these lies because they are, by now, addicted to The World According to Michael Moore. Like heroin addicts, they constantly need Moore to feel ‘normal.’ Even more, they need Michael to up the dose by providing ever more outrageous lies for them to skin-pop or mainline. It’s the only way they can get off. And while it is always unsettling and degrading to see a junky getting nasty and oozing while searching for his angry fix, it seems to be a fixed part of our popular culture that we will be exposed to this with distressing frequency as the run-up to the 2004 elections (to be heralded by the release of Moore’s next and even more degrading film).

Moore’s fans are addicted and as anyone who has known a junkie has learned: “Once the needle goes in, it never comes out.” Moore too is addicted. Addicted to his own fame and to the wealth that it brings him as he pushes ever more potent levels of his junk on his fans. This is not surprising since the pusher and the junk are forever locked in “the algebra of need.”

But what is surprising is the vitriol poured on Moore by those who see through his con. Let Moore eruct on the political meaning of Chinese Checkers and a thousand blogs and commentators erupt to condemn him. They rail and bluster. They enumerate his lies (and they are legion), and they catalog his sins against rationality -- numberless. They even criticize his films and provide worth to that which is worthless.

This is the wrong stance to take. This is a deep and abiding political error. This is something that must be resisted at all points and at all times.

The only way to use Moore is to “Let Moore be More Moore.”

Let him run loose across the screens and pages of the society. Let him hang from the ceiling of our culture and drip green over all below. Let his films be shown against the walls of buildings in the inner cities. Let every magazine cover in the known universe put his picture on its cover under the banner headlines: THIS IS THE FACE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY or MICHAEL MOORE: WHAT HE IS YOU WILL BECOME or MOORE MEANS MORE FOR YOU.

There should be a nationwide agreement that Michael Moore’s face and body should decorate billboards on all major highways to a level of density that it is impossible to escape his visage and his fashion sense, all with the slogan: MOORE IS THE VERY MODEL OF THE MODERN MAJOR DEMOCRAT or A VOTE FOR A DEMOCRAT IS A VOTE FOR THIS MAN.

Recordings of Moore’s reedy and whining pronouncements should be played at the beginning and end of every NPR or PBS broadcast right after their self-serving moments of silence for men killed in Iraq.

McDonalds needs to sign Moore to a Superbowl ad whose tag-line reads, “I never met a dictator or a cheeseburger I didn’t like.”

The NRA should quit grumbling and get with the program. Large Michael Moore shooting ranges should be endowed in all the states. Large targets and free Ammo Fridays.

MTV needs to shelve its current roster and put the films and film clips of Michael Moore into heavy rotation for the next 13 months.

In short, there needs to be an unremitting campaign to associate Michael Moore’s face, body and voice with the Democratic Party.

What we want is for every voter in every booth in every polling station next November, to gaze at the ballot and see Michael Moore’s face and form wavering in front of it saying: “Do you want some Moore?”

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 26, 2003 4:13 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Zero: The Last Idol

In an extended meditation on the retreat of God from the Western World, David B. Hart, writing in First Things, strikes a major chord with: "Christ and Nothing."

As modern men and women —to the degree that we are modern—we believe in nothing. This is not to say, I hasten to add, that we do not believe in anything; I mean, rather, that we hold an unshakable, if often unconscious, faith in the nothing, or in nothingness as such. It is this in which we place our trust, upon which we venture our souls, and onto which we project the values by which we measure the meaningfulness of our lives. Or, to phrase the matter more simply and starkly, our religion is one of very comfortable nihilism.

This may seem a somewhat apocalyptic note to sound, at least without any warning or emollient prelude, but I believe I am saying nothing not almost tediously obvious. We live in an age whose chief moral value has been determined, by overwhelming consensus, to be the absolute liberty of personal volition, the power of each of us to choose what he or she believes, wants, needs, or must possess; our culturally most persuasive models of human freedom are unambiguously voluntarist and, in a rather debased and degraded way, Promethean; the will, we believe, is sovereign because unpremised, free because spontaneous, and this is the highest good....

Modern persons will never find rest for their restless hearts without Christ, for modern culture is nothing but the wasteland from which the gods have departed, and so this restlessness has become its own deity; and, deprived of the shelter of the sacred and the consoling myths of sacrifice, the modern person must wander or drift, vainly attempting one or another accommodation with death, never escaping anxiety or ennui, and driven as a result to a ceaseless labor of distraction, or acquisition, or willful idiocy. And, where it works its sublimest magic, our culture of empty spectacle can so stupefy the intellect as to blind it to its own disquiet, and induce a spiritual torpor more deplorable than mere despair.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 26, 2003 3:12 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Polygyny Breeds Suicide Bombers
"Polygyny is therefore also relevant to terrorism. Young males even in monogamous states are volatile, prone to violence, and inclined to risk-taking. Whatever the religious incentives are for a young man to commit suicide, they will be all the more attractive if he believes he will never attain a wife. He dies a hero, is provided with wives in heaven, while his earthly family or group benefit from his death. It is probable, Rubin says, “that we humans have evolved tendencies to be particularly altruistic to kin in situations where we as individuals cannot breed anyway.” The suicide bomber whose family is promised money or new furniture is respecting this kind of altruism. Islamic polygyny is there­fore a force tending to inflame a sense of desperation and increase violence in the Middle East and elsewhere."
From: Denis Dutton, Darwin and Political Theory

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 26, 2003 12:42 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Airport Baggage Screening: The Early Years


Posted by Vanderleun Oct 26, 2003 12:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
L.A. Times Continues to Oppose God and Country

In a lather to sink deeper into the La Brea tar pits of its own slime, the Los Angeles Times continued its trumped-up attack on General Boykin today by publishing yet another "commentary" by one William Arkin: A General Bind for Rumsfeld . Mr. Arkin is consistently identified by the Times as "a military affairs analyst who writes regularly for Opinion. E-mail: warkin@igc .org. "

In today's "Opinion," Mr. Arkin writes:

On Oct. 17, after the Los Angeles Times and NBC News reported on Boykin's extremist statements about terrorism, Islam and religion, the Pentagon issued a statement in which Boykin said he was "not anti-Islam" and apologized "to those who have been offended." Boykin said he was curtailing his appearances at evangelical Christian churches and asked Rumsfeld to initiate an investigation into his conduct.
Missing in the copy above or below this wheezing victory lap of Arkin's is any mention that the Times and NBC New's reports were fed by one source. Mr. Arkin, of course. And, once the item was reported as "news," why Mr. Arkin was free to ride the rump of the news with his "findings."

The findings it turns out can be summarized as: "American General Believes Christian God is On Our Side in War on Terror."

One would think that that sort of thing would be comforting to the troops and to Americans generally and it is. "God and Country" are concepts loathed by professional America-haters such as Arkin. Since there are many of these swanning about and masquerading as career journalists at major publications, this is good news for Arkin. By peddling this garbage to those who hunger for it, he can keep his cosy little lifestyle humming.

As detailed here and here as well as through an interview by Hugh Hewit with Arkin ... here, the Arkin item is nothing less than a two-bit hit job humped and pumped to be dumped on the plate of the Bush administration. Purpose? To expose the Bush administration's belief in God and Country. And since there's little in the Democratic kettle that's palatable to an inceasing segment of the American populace, the Times and Arkin warm over their thin gruel this morning by stirring in a little bitter bile over the leaked Rumsfeld memo. Who would eat such a dish of spite and nihilism? Evidently the Los Angeles Times and NBC. Such poor nutrition probably accounts for their declining circulation and ratings, respectively.

Of course, an ignorant reader who depends on the characterization of Arkin as a "military affairs analyst' would be forgiven if he failed to see Arkin as yet another failed liberal toady grinding his limp hatchet on the worn stones of secular anti-Americanism. Little wonder since we learn nothing of Arkin's career as a hack and flack for Human Rights Watch, his work as a director for Greenpeace during the First Gulf War, and his continued association with the Institute for Global Communications. He also seems to have an inordinate fascination with counting the corpses of civilians killed by the U.S. military since 1991. None of that seems to trump the august title of "military affairs analyst."

It would, of course, be more truthful to say: "William Arkin ekes out a living by attacking the Bush Administration for anyone who will write him a check," but since the Los Angeles Times evidently cares little for God and less for America, the truth is obviously not on their agenda.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 26, 2003 11:22 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Look of Jazz

Saxophonist Dexter Gordon
1948 from Herman Leonard's "Images of Jazz"

"Light. Shadow. Swirling cigarette smoke. These elements of Herman Leonard's photography helped define the "look" of American and European jazz for the last 50 years."

From: HistoryWired: A few of our favorite things

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 26, 2003 8:04 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Tale of Two Systems

A short but touching item at the Belmont Club ("The Death of Minds") contrasts the fruits of two systems, one educational and one, well, not that educational at all in the final analysis. This is the conclusion:

The contrast between the youth at Caltech, striving to touch the face of God and the illiterate Muslim boys in a French suburb striving to touch the underpants of their neighbors is a consequence, not of the difference in their natures, but of the contents of their minds. Nothing in the US Army arsenal has been half so devastating to the Muslim world as the Saudi-funded Wahabi madrassa. For where one can injure the body, the other can destroy the mind. Nor is there help in the land of France for those who have managed to leave Arabia yet are never quite permitted to arrive in Europe. The dole for food and a policeman's truncheon, maybe; but never a candle for the dark; nothing whatever from the condemned store of Western values.
But the dark context that shapes this conclusion will chill you.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 25, 2003 2:32 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Death of Real Bookstores, Continued

An upclose and personal message from Jeff Bezos of Amazon from the omniverous online retailer's home page:


We'd prefer having the video of Jeff Bezos discovering the power of the "Resistojet" up close and personal, but for now we'll settle for spending even more money at Amazon.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 24, 2003 3:45 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Words to Live By`

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 24, 2003 3:16 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
PSA: Drug Warning -- Quicksilver

No such thing as a "small" dose.

"You know, I've seen a lot of people walkin' 'round
With tombstones in their eyes
But the pusher don't care
Ah, if you live or if you die."

Officials across the United States are expressing serious concern about a new "designer" drug which has hit the streets across the nation. Unfortunately, this new drug, known as "QuickSilver" or "Baroque" is neither regulated nor even recognized by the FDA.

Reluctant addicts describe the drug as "a mission begging for my commitment" or "it's not too big for me, I can take it." Symptoms of addiction include long periods of somnolent silence and contemplation, interrupted only by serious lifestyle needs such as sleeping, working, or eating. Usage of the drug in the lavatory is common, and sometimes it's major venue.

During a typical "session" (typically begun just before going to bed, or, in bed), the addict quickly finds their world transformed into a medieval world of stultifying detail. The user valiantly continues on, sure that there is something of interest, somewhere. Instead, the session quickly resembles a computer game where "you are in a maze of self-indulgent passages, all alike". Shortly afterwards, the addict gives up, and puts the drug aside.

For that session. In roughly 24 hours, it begins again.

One of the most puzzling aspects of the drug is the drive of it's users to finish it, as if "running out", or "finishing all of it" was a goal. Officials suspect this is an insidious experimental additive to encourage future sales, but it seems self defeating since the user would only have to buy more QuickSilver for at least the next 5 years, something officials admit only the stupidest addict would resort too.

FDA scientists have analyzed the molecular structure of the drug, and determined that it's actually part of a family of drugs which have been evolving since the '90s. The first version, Snowcrash, actually had no detrimental affects, but led it's users to a significant expansion of their thought processes. Indeed, some readers went on to found companies after taking the drug. Repeated use had no detrimental affect, and new users are still appearing.

Later evolutions included Diamond, and Cryptonomicon. Each was similar to Snowcrash, but the latter was already showing the detrimental effects of QuickSilver. Indeed, in a thinly veiled ploy to work through stockpiled product, induces repeated visions of Cryptonomicon, encouraging the user to supplant their addiction with the older drug.

Our own sleuthing has traced these drugs back to a single lab, known in the underground parlance as "Stephenson", "Neal", or even just "Steph's". This shadowy character is apparently a native of Maryland, and our investigators have captured photos here, and here.

Pusher or Prevaricator?
The pony tail is a dead giveaway

Officials are at loss as to what to do. Addicts really want to believe QuickSilver will be as good as Snowcrash or Diamond, but have yet to find it's substance. The biggest fear is that many of them will die of old age before finding out the truth, or just toss their dose out, and live forever not ever knowing if they should have finished it.

As a Public Service, we warn you. You will find this new drug being pushed at bookstores across the nation, and even on the web. We'd like to tell you more, but we're too addicted ourselves to take the time to do so.

Don't buy this drug. But, if you do, please tell us what happens.

Alert First Published at Michael's Web

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 24, 2003 11:03 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Forklift Too Far

QUESTION OF THE DAY around the plant ... What do you do when your forklift won't go high enough? Well, the answer is simple enough ... you get another forklift, that's what.

-- Dual-Action Forklift

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 23, 2003 7:41 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Stream of the Day

If you haven't seen this, you should.

[Bandwidth Intensive. But worth it.]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 23, 2003 4:43 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Busting Greg Easterbrook

All right, everybody, let’s just take a deep breath and ask ourselves one question: Why did Gregg Easterbrook receive a hot, steaming cup of STFU! from ESPN as he was shown the door, and who, really, did the deed?

There have been a lot of garment-rending posts from here and there that it was that Darth Vader of Disney, Michael Eisner, that sent Gregg to sleep with the fishes.

Indeed, my reliable sources have it that Gregg himself has been whining and moaning in this wise all week. Not a hint from him that, for all that he is hip to the ways of the online world, he “just forgot” that “The Send Button Is Forever.” This is similar to the Pryoresque plea; “You Honor, I forgot armed robbery is illegal!”

Nope, it is all “a rank injustice” because, wait for it, he apologized for calling a couple of the most powerful people in the media ‘money-grubbing Jews.’ This is the “But I took it back!” explanation that you last used in the schoolyard just before a peer planted you flat on your back with one punch.

Of course, the fact that Disney “silenced” this “great sports writer” [and repentant Jew-baiter], quickly became a corporate attack on ‘free speech,’ an example of the crass vindictiveness of Michael Eisner, and a shining example of the continuing evil kingdom that is Disney.

This is, of course, all complete and utter hogwash.

It is hogwash composed of two all-too-human emotional fluids: shame and envy. Shame because many online commentators thought they may have had a hand in breaking one of Easterbrook’s multiple rice bowls. Envy in that many people online and off just cannot stand the fact that Michael Eisner is very rich and very powerful. Hence, Eisner just has to be sitting up at the top of his massive empire, sending down ukases demanding this or that head. Hogwash, as noted above.

Men like Eisner may have more money and power than the rest of us, but they have just as many minutes as all of us and they don’t spend their time reading blogs or bothering about the anklebiters below. They have empires to run and it takes a lot of time. What really goes on is this.

Deep within the corporate realms that folks like Eisner rule there is a widespread executive survival environment. This econiche is finely tuned and so sensitive that someone of Eisner’s rank doesn’t have to know about anti-Semitic insults such as Easterbrook’s, and, what is more, he never, ever, has to make any calls about these petty irritations.

Why? Because nobody, and I mean NOBODY, working under executives like Eisner wants to ever get The Call. And if they do get The Call, what they want to be able to say is: “Oh, that Easterbrook guy? He was history last week, Mike. Scrubbed all his blather off our boards before he could read the termination email. Yes, great. We’ll do that the next time I’m out. How’s the family?”

So who did see to it that Easterbrook was retroactively never at ESPN Online? Companies never comment on this, but my money’s on Mr. John Skipper, Senior Vice President and General Manager of and ESPN, the Magazine. He probably got an email from an underling, meditated on what to do between two sips of coffee, typed out something like “Erase this Bozo .” And hit “Send.”

And “The Send Button Is Forever.”

Anticipating the happiness of the CEO is the key to upward movement in the world. Always has been and always will be.

But in the final analysis, who exactly did fire Easterbrook from ESPN Online?

Easterbrook. Autopsy Report: Self-Inflicted Death by “Send.”

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 23, 2003 11:54 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Online News In A Nutshell

"What where the milestones of the first 10 years of online news? So asked Mark Glaser in Online Journalism Review a while back. Off the cuff, I'd say the defining element was the perception of the newspaper industry vs. the perception of the pundits.
1994: Curiousness vs. it'll change everything;
1995: Nervousness vs. you HAVE to do something;
1996: Dabble your feet vs. go full out or you'll be dead;
1997: Where is the meat vs. it takes time, and build communities;
1998: Still where is the meat vs. go multiplatform publishing;
1999: How do you play the stock market vs. you are in the content business;
2000: Who can we buy, merge, or partner with vs. whoa, is this ever taking off;
2001: It is not panning out vs. look closely where it does, imagine 9-11 without;
2002: Cut the weight vs. don't stop believing;
2003: Not where our problems really are vs. you'll never solve them without understanding it."

From: Poynter - E-Media Tidbits by Norbert Specker
Pointer via: [PressThink]

Good Question

The astute James Taranto at WSJ Online writes:

What's curious about the partial-birth debate, though, is that although journalists feel compelled to add the disclaimer that only "critics" or "foes" use the term "partial-birth abortion," the other side of the debate doesn't seem to have a term of its own. The New York Times does provide one synonym, referring to "a procedure that doctors call intact dilation and extraction but critics call partial-birth abortion." But "intact dilation" is just a clinical way of saying "partial birth"; the Times' formulation is the equivalent of saying "a condition that doctors call melanoma but critics call skin cancer."

So the question remains: If only critics and foes call it "partial-birth abortion," what do advocates and enthusiasts call it? One suspects they would simply rather not talk about it.

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 23, 2003 10:08 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Nailing Terry Gross
Imaginary Interview File: Terry Gross and Al Franken

It's possible to do a political interview with a satirist whose politics you support. Terry Gross, host of NPR's Fresh Air, says to Al Franken...

TerryGross: Al Franken, thank you for joining me on Fresh Air. I must confess at the start that when I read your books I find myself laughing and nodding my head. So we aren’t coming from different places. We agree on a lot of things going on in the country today, and like anyone else I enjoy seeing certain people skewered. You skewer them, and I’m a satisified Franken customer.

But it makes me curious about what you are at this point in our culture. You began in comedy, now you have many media projects. You have branched out into social criticism, with a political bent, and you have a big audience. You say you do satire, and so do some others. Some object to that label, I suppose because they take you more seriously.

More at: [PressThink]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 23, 2003 9:52 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Soviet Style Lines at U.S. Patent Office

U.S. Patent Office Backlogged 500,000 Applications; Biotech to Blame

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is backlogged with some 500,000 unprocessed applications, a number expected to double in the next five years. Part of the reason is the growing number and complexity of biotechnology patent applications, which are overwhelming patent office investigators. Needed: An invention that can process patent applications faster or -- better yet -- stricter rules on what can and cannot be patented... [Mike's List: The Raw Feed]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 23, 2003 9:45 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Niagara Falls Superbowl Ad

Today Kirk Jones’ story is that the "Vodka and Coke" made him do it. And he's sticking to it in order to get a little slack from - Judge to Niagara Falls Survivor: Get Out

A judge has released the Michigan man who survived a plunge over Niagara Falls and ordered him to stay out of Canada except for court appearances....

Prosecutors told the court that Jones and a friend consumed an unknown amount of vodka and Coke before heading to the falls where Jones climbed a protective railing into the Niagara River and floated feet first over the falls.

Makes sense since anyone would agree that even one vodka and Coke cocktail would make you want to kill yourself. But in a report yesterday we learn:
Surviving a leap from Niagara Falls had intrigued Jones for years, said his mother, who had spoken to him only briefly since the jump.

"He said he always thought there was a spot you could jump and survive," Doris Jones, 77, told The Associated Press from her sister's home in Keizer, Ore. "We never agreed to it. We thought it was risky."

No vodka and Coke swirling about in mom. Other details from this story include a person that made a video tape and:" Eric Fronek, 21, also of Canton, said his friend had been talking about possibly going over the falls for weeks. "No one believed he would actually do it," Fronek said Tuesday. "He said, `If I go over and I live, I am going to make some money."'

So was it the vodka and Coke or was it the money? As always, it is probably a little of both. Jones doesn't look like the kind of guy who's good for a book deal, but we can easily see the Coke Ad at next year's Superbowl:

Niagara Falling

Pan shot of Niagara Falls

Voice Over: "150,000 gallons a second of pure bone-pulverizing, flesh-shredding thrills.... And one jackass with a cash-flow crisis."

Close Up on Jones at the edge chugging from a Smirnoff fifth.

Jones: "Goodbye cruel world!" Leaps in with only the fifth for flotation.

Long shot of Jones being swept to his doom!

Pan to below the falls.

Zoom to Jones climbing out on shore.

Coca-Cola corporate helicopter swoops in from above.

Lands and Catherine Zeta-Jones in tight black leather bustier pops out while Arrowsmith sets up in the background. Zeta hands Jones a frosty bottle of Coke.

Jones quaffs Coke.

Tight close-up of Jones as Zeta-Jones nibbles his ear.

Jones: Coke! Adds Life!"

Off-camera voice through bullhorn: “Nice, Kirk. But let’s do a retake with a little more conviction this time. Places, people!”

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 23, 2003 8:37 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Letter from the Front

The indispensible LGF has an interesting excerpt from the infinite LGF email stack. It is from a soldier in Iraq to his wife. Subject: Fighting a War With Hands Tied

...The Army can stop them. They know where the enemy artillery is coming from and can fire back. But the politicians are afraid to let us use this weapon because the Iraqis are firing from a village. The politicians are afraid of civilian casualties and collateral damage. You know what? Those damn villagers shelter, feed, and protect the bastard mortar crew who's attacking us. They deserve to get a few high explosive rounds dropped on their heads. They deserve a taste of their own medicine. And the next time some Islamic fanatic talks about how great martyrdom is, I vote we send him to Allah right then and there...

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 22, 2003 6:43 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"A Boxcar of Worms"
From family conversation I gathered that, outside of my Yiddish child-world, there were savages who didn’t have much to say but could fix the plumbing. They were fond of animals, liked to go swimming, loved to drink and fight. All their problems were solved when they hut geharget yiddin. Killed Jews. Only the last has been impossible for me to dismiss. Like many other people I have fixed my own plumbing, owned a dog and a cat, gotten drunk, etc., but everything in my life, beginning with English, has been an uncertain movement away from my hut geharget Yiddish childhood. When a BBC poet said he wanted to shoot Jews on the West Bank, I thought, “Epes. What else is new?” His righteousness, his freedom to say it, suggests that he believes he is merely speaking English, and antisemitism is a kind of syntax, or what Wittgenstein calls “a form of life.” But in fact there is something new, or anyhow more evident lately. The geharget yiddin disposition now operates at a remove. You see it in people who become hysterical when they feel that their ancient right to hate Jews is brought into question. To give an example would open a boxcar of worms.
From: Threepenny Review: Leonard Michaels, "My Yiddish"

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 22, 2003 3:52 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Canonical "Things Learned From Children"
  • If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound boy wearing pound puppy underwear and a superman cape.
  • It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20x20 ft. room.
  • If you use a waterbed as home plate while wearing baseball shoes it does not leak - it explodes.
  • A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 square foot house 4 inches deep.
  • A 3 year old's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.
  • A six year old can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36 year old man says they can only do it in the movies.
  • A magnifying glass can start a fire even on an overcast day.
  • The fire department has at least a 5 minute response time.
  • Always look in the oven before you turn it on.
  • Plastic toys do not like ovens.
  • Always locate the hamster and look in the oven before you turn it on.
  • You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on.
  • When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit.
  • A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.
  • The glass in windows (even double pane) doesn't stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.
  • Any sentence which contains the word 'Oooops' is bad.
  • Any sentence beginning with, "How much do you love me?" means 'prepare for bad news'.
  • Baseballs make marks on ceilings
  • Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it. 60% of men who read this will try mixing the Clorox and brake fluid.
  • Bugs are not a dietary supplement.
  • Cats do not like to be wrapped in duct tape.
  • And cats get even.
  • Certain Legos will pass through the digestive tract of a four year old.
  • But not all Legos.
  • Collecting things is good.
  • Collecting things that come out of your nose is not.
  • Eating string is a bad hobby.
  • Discovering string the next day is a disgusting hobby.
  • Driveway seal coating and children DO NOT MIX!
  • Fan and flour should never be heard in the same sentence.
  • Finger painting is good.
  • Finger painting walls is dangerous.
  • Fish can not use a remote control, even if placed in their tank.
  • Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.
  • If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades,they can ignite.
  • If you hear the words, "Can ya eat a lizard's tail?" it's too late.
  • If you hear the words, "Guess what's in my hands," you don't want to know.
  • If you hear the words, "Guess what's in my mouth," you REALLY don't want to know.
  • Lipstick on the TV screen changes mommy's mood.
  • Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.
  • McGyver can teach us many things we don't want to know.
  • Most toilets can not consume an entire roll of toilet paper without choking.
  • Never light fireworks inside.
  • No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water. Pool filters do not like Jell-O.
  • No time is a good time to hear, "Daddy, your tires are 'hisssssing.'"
  • Nor do you want to hear, "Your new cell phone doesn't work underwater."
  • Play Dough and Microwave should never be used in the same sentence.
  • Quiet does not necessarily mean everythings just fine.
  • Scissors and hair are often a dangerous combination.
  • Setting the hamster free changes the cat's mood.
  • Some things will pass through the digestive tract of a four year old that you'd imagine would remain forever.
  • Super glue is forever.
  • The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy. It will however make cats dizzy. Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.
  • The toilet does not make a permanent fish aquarium.
  • There is no such thing as child-proofing your house.
  • Throwing daddy's wallet in the trash compactor can change his mood.
  • Two AM is not a good time to hear, "Daddy, diapers don't flush!"
  • Under the bed is not a good place to save snowballs for summer.
  • VCR's do not eject peanut butter and jelly sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.
  • Walnuts make the blender act funny.
  • When you hear the toilet flush and the words, "Uh-oh," it's already too late.
  • You probably do not want to know what that odor is.
  • You never want to hear, "Watch me fly!" coming from the roof.
  • I dont know. is not an acceptable explanation or legal plea.
  • "Why do fish float?" means trouble.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 22, 2003 1:43 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Best Guide to the Third Way Yet

What elements make up a path to a third way in contemporary American politics? It is more than self-evident that millions of citizens are, to say the least, disenchated with the two major options presented to us at election time. It is manifest that "There's something happening here. / What it is ain't exactly clear."

Or, at least it was unclear yesterday. Today, in a detailed and insightful mediation, Michael Totten responds to a bit of predictable Timesian blather by James Atlas, with an internal checklist of what he does believe. His conclusion is:

"So when James Atlas at the New York Times says we liberal hawks are turning into conservatives, I have to say sorry, but no. Foreign policy is one subject among many. I may have a neocon wrench in my toolbox, but my liberal and libertarian tools are awfully useful, too. Neoconservatism may have its virtues, but Independence is better."
He's correct. But of more interest are the steps by which he gets there, and the issues he illuminates en route.

Read the rest at: An Inquiry into Neoconservatism (Updated)

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 22, 2003 12:29 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Building New York

Smoke Break Among Girders
Lewis Hine, American (1874-1940)

From:George Eastman House Lewis Hine - Empire State Building Series

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 22, 2003 11:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Dear Sec. Rumsfeld, Regarding Your Memo on The War

The stork brought me your memo on the Global War on Terrorism this morning. I don't know why but it seems that everyone in America received a copy of it -- either from the stork or cranked out on some illegal mimeograph machine and stuffed into the morning paper with a note attached that read "Courtesy of Bill and Hill, 2004. Smooches and Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow."

I don't know why those working for you can't seem to zip it up when they get around a member of the press. I guess they've decided that if Loose Lips Sink Ships, that's the Navy's issue. Of course, when it comes to living in a free society, I'm proud that the media can play the role of shill for our enemies and the Democratic Party. After all, they're "just doing their job," right? Right.

At any rate, here are my thoughts on your stemwinder. I know your didn't ask me but, given the 'Let's Discuss' tone of your ruminations it is clear that you need some feedback. And, as always, I'm prepared to give it to you.

The questions I posed to combatant commanders this week were: Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?
Don, Don, Don.... How many times do we have to go over this? You've got to get a name for this thing that doesn't echo Jimmy Carter promising a war on thermostats, Ronald Reagan promising a war on drugs, or Bill Clinton promising a war on Ken Starr. Cut the mush and give it a handle that means something more than America trying to Johnny Mop its way into Utopia.

If you are unsure about what a war looks like, take a tour of the Holocaust Museum over lunch and report back. If you can't do better than a phrase that was done to death in the 1980s, pick up the phone and speed dial Aaron Sorkin. He's currently between rehabs and may want to pitch in if you promise him an all-expense paid weekend in Bogota.

Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment?
Change? Fast? The DOD? Better put them all on that plane for that weekend in Bogota. That commissary coffee just isn't cutting it. Consider stocking it with cans of Starbucks's Double Shot.

Can a big institution change fast enough? Is the USG changing fast enough?
No and no. Why? Screen "The Crying Game" and pay attention to the story at the beginning about the scorpion and the frog. Got it? Good.

DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces.
How many times must I remind you? Don't believe everything you read in the New York Times, no matter what services Maureen Dowd may have promised you in that Hamptons hot tub. Look where it got Howell Raines.

Hear us now or hear us later: The DOD "has been organized, trained, and equipped" to only fight wars that involve us in casualty rates that do not exceed single digits in one week. It believes to the marrow of its money-grubbing epaulettes that "the American Public will not tolerate significant losses in a war." This is because DOD believes everything it reads in the New York Times. So if you are looking for places to cut expenditures at DOD.... Well, we'll say no more.

It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution either within DoD or elsewhere — one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.
Emphasis ours, but only to point out that you cannot keep running over to the Coast Guard's evidence vaults and stuffing Tommy Chong's Bongs with whatever bales of herbal remedies they fished out of the drink near Key West last week.

Remember, just because the entire population of the United States is one drink and one joint behind, that doesn't mean we want our Secretary of Defense


Posted by Vanderleun Oct 22, 2003 10:22 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Only Problem with Shakespeare's Exhortation...

to kill all the lawyers, is that he didn't set a date.

Welcome to America. Mud and reeds have been dumped on natural and necessary human activities throughout American society. Playgrounds have been stripped of all physically active equipment, like monkey bars, with the effect, among others, of contributing to a crisis in childhood obesity. Health-care costs are skyrocketing, in part because paranoid doctors are in the habit of ordering unnecessary tests to provide a possible defense in case there's a lawsuit. Because of fear of legal claims, teachers can't put their arm around a crying child.

From: - When Judges Won't JudgeBy Philip K. Howard

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 22, 2003 6:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Guggenheim Then

Space Object Box: “Little Bear, etc.” motif, mid-1950s–early 1960s. Box construction and collage, 11 x 17 1/2 x 5 1/4 inches.

Joseph Cornell was born December 24, 1903, in Nyack, New York. From 1917 to 1921, he attended Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. He was an avid collector of memorabilia and, while working as a woolen-goods salesman in New York until 1931, developed his interests in ballet, literature, and opera. He lived with his mother and brother, Robert, at their home in the Flushing section of Queens.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 21, 2003 9:43 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Guggenheim Now

The Swimmer in the Econo-mist (painting 3), 1997–98
[Click to Enlarge]

James Rosenquist A Retrospective at the Guggenheim

Born in 1933 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, James Rosenquist studied art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts as a teenager and at the University of Minnesota between 1952 and 1954, painting billboards during the summers. In 1955 he moved to New York to study at the Art Students League. He left the school after one year, and in 1957 returned to life as a commercial artist, painting billboards in Times Square and across the city. By 1960, he had quit painting billboards and rented a small studio space in Manhattan where his neighbors included artists Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, and Jack Youngerman. In 1962, he had his first solo exhibition at the Green Gallery in New York, and afterward was included in a number of groundbreaking group exhibitions that established Pop art as a movement.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 21, 2003 9:40 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Lame Duck Davis Still Signing for Bribes

Overlawyered alerts us that someone has neglected to ties Gray Davis's hands behind his back and lock him in a limo trunk for the duration of his "term":

Calif.: here comes labor-law bounty hunting

Outgoing Calif. Gov. Gray Davis has quietly signed S. 796, a first-of-its-kind bill that authorizes lawyers to file private damage suits over labor code violations. Business leaders "argue it could have far-reaching financial consequences to employers across the state and and be more costly than the landmark employee health bill, SB 2, signed by the governor earlier this month. ... The legislation would allow a worker to sue on behalf of other employees for wage and labor code violations. Moreover, it permits a judge to force employers to pay attorney's fees and penalties." (Gilbert Chan, "Sue-your-boss bill becomes law", Sacramento Bee, Oct. 20). "This is probably the worst bill I've seen in my three years in the State Legislature. Senate Bill 796 is the 'Son of 17200' – California’s much-maligned and highly abused Unfair Competition Law," said Assemblymember Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach. "Large employers in California will now be a cash cow for trial lawyers thanks to SB 796," said Harman. "A minor one-year Labor Code violation at the business employing 3,000 workers will generate civil penalties totaling more than $31 million". ... [Overlawyered]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 21, 2003 12:34 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
More MP3 Mush from the Microsoft Wimps

Brian Chin notes the crocodile tears streaming out of Microsoft's Digital Media corporate clone:

My colleague, Todd Bishop, blogged about Microsoft's response to Apple Computer's rollout of iTunes for Windows yesterday. Dave Fester, GM of Microsoft's Windows Digital Media Division, doesn't think much of iTunes because it limits users to Apple's technology and Apple's...

"Windows users, who expect choice in music services, choice in devices, and choice in music from a wide-variety of music services to burn to a CD or put on a portable device. Lastly, if you use Apple's music store along with iTunes, you don't have the ability of using the over 40 different Windows Media-compatible portable music devices. " [ Buzzworthy]

Hey, Dave, why don't you just download a copy of "Cry Me A River" and play on a closed loop forever? Thanks.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 21, 2003 12:18 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The "I Know What Didn't Happen" Defense

Today's Washington Post leads with the news that accused sniper John Allen Muhammad fired his lawyers and chose to defend himself Monday.

In a sidebar to this story, "A Legal Move That Rarely Helps," the Post quotes Edward B. MacMahon Jr., a defense attorney, as saying:

"If a witness testifies that they saw him, what's he going to say, 'It wasn't me'?"

Meanwhile, back in the courtroom, Muhammad said,

"And I say to these people: We know something happened. They wasn't there. I was. I know what happened, and I know what didn't happen."

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 21, 2003 8:33 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
At Least They're Not Bursting Into Flames Anymore

[Click for larger but invisible image]

Human Spontaneous Involuntary Invisibility

In the summer of 1994, I became aware of a very strange phenomenon, human spontaneous involuntary invisibility, which was apparently happening to people in the U.S. When I checked with other researchers and discovered that a number of them had also heard of such cases, I decided to place an inquiry letter in several well-known journals, asking other researchers and the general public if they had any experiences of this nature that they would like to share with me. Besides the publication of my inquiry letter, my inquiry was placed on several Internet bulletin boards. The letters began pouring in, giving me a broader picture of this phenomenon. I want to share a few stories with you and pass on some of the information I have come across during this past year.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 20, 2003 11:38 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Through the Lens, the Severe Beauty of Nuclear Test Blasts


In a new book, "100 Suns," published this week by Knopf, the photographer Michael Light has retrieved images of these blasts from government and scientific archives and presented them in all their stark and severe beauty. They document a menace that continues even though we can no longer photograph it.

As Mr. Light reminds us, some hundred thousand nuclear weapons have been built and remain on the earth. That is what makes these old photographs "utterly relevant" today.[New York Times: Science]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 20, 2003 10:33 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
One Too Many Mornings and 21 Years Apart

From Today in Literature: Ernest Hemingway - For Whom the Bell Tolls

On this day in 1940 Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls was published. It had been over a decade since A Farewell to Arms, and though there had been a handful of books since, the critics had not thought much of them. About this one, many agreed with Edmund Wilson: "Hemingway the artist is with us again; and it is like having an old friend back." Sales kept pace, with half a million copies sold in the first six months, and a record-setting film deal. There were dissenting voices, some of them raised at Hemingway's view of the Spanish Civil War, some of them at his love-making. This is the famous moment in chapter thirteen when everything goes "red, orange, gold-red" for Maria and the earth moves for Robert Jordan:

"For him it was a dark passage which led to nowhere, then to nowhere, then again to nowhere, once again to nowhere, always and forever to nowhere, heavy on the elbows in the earth to nowhere, dark, never any end to nowhere, hung on all time always to unknowing nowhere, this time and again for always to nowhere, now not to be borne once again always and to nowhere, now beyond all bearing up, up, up and into nowhere, suddenly scaldingly, holdingly all nowhere gone and time absolutely still and they were both there, time having stopped and he felt the earth move out and away from under them."

Song for Woody, by Bob Dylan. This was one of two songs writtenby Dylan on his first album ("Bob Dylan"), recorded this day in 1961:

...I'm out I'm out here a thousand miles from my home
Walkin' a road other men have gone down
I'm seein' your world of people and things
Of paupers and peasants and princes and kings.

Hey, hey, Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song
'Bout a funny old world that's comin' along
See, it's sick and it's hungry and it's tired and it's torn
It looks like it's dyin' and it's hardly been born.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 20, 2003 10:19 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
And the Problem with RSS Excerpts Is Tha...

A recent RSS item from Memepool quoted in full:

Some (e.g. Ted Nugent) advocate hunting for food. Others cite the necessity of culling the her... [Memepool]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 20, 2003 9:35 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Beyond Revenge

On West 34th Street October, 2001

Photograph by Gerard Van der Leun

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 20, 2003 7:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Candidates Who Have Expired Already

Jonathan Rausch at Reason knows his Presidential produce and some of it stinks: Who Can Win in 2004? Just use This freshness test

Only four candidates have a shot next year. They are President Bush, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. The rest are history. Sorry, Dick. Sorry, John. Sorry, Dennis, Joe, Carol, and Al. Turn off the lights behind you.

How do I know? Am I psychic? Mad? Possibly and probably; but in this case I rely on two factors. Following the conventional wisdom, I assume that former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and civil-rights activist Al Sharpton are too marginal to win, though I wish them luck. That leaves Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. Their problem is different. They've expired.

As every grocer knows, many products have sell-by dates. Bread lasts a day or two, milk maybe a week. Well, presidential aspirants have a sell-by date, too. They last 14 years.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 20, 2003 10:30 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On American Liberty and Destiny

A world divided against itself cannot stand. Governments cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.”

This morning I read a pocket essay by Demosophia entitled: "Imminent Threat in Florida and Iraq." which uses the Florida Recount controversy and the Iraq incursion to illustrate how opposing factions, internationally and nationally, view the concept of "imminent." I commend it to you for its balance and lucidity.

Still, as I read the following excerpt from it, I felt the author had hit on something important although at right angles to his central point:

"... it would seem to me that the real issue isn't "imminence" but the same issue that was at stake in the Florida Recount: uncertainty. And to some people uncertainty means freedom and license, while to others it means constraint and caution. To Saddam, as to the Japanese High Command, the uncertainty of the US and its allies was freedom and license. It represented operating parameters, and opportunities. To Byrd and Kennedy uncertainly meant the possibility that a threat didn't exist. I might even say it meant the probability that the threat would not materialize unexpectedly. So, to them it also meant freedom and license. To the Bush people, on the other hand, uncertainty meant the possibility of a really nasty surprise somewhere down the line. And for an executive, to be on the receiving end of a "day of infamy," is something to be avoided.
My first reflection was to note that for George W. Bush being on the receiving end of a second "day of infamy" was a main motivation behind his policies.

I also found myself thinking that the author had, in passing, also mapped the fault line at the core of our present political impasse.

One would think that with 3,000 dead and the nation's economy suffering a body blow from which it has taken two years recover, Americans of all political persuasions would still possess an adamantine unity. We all know this is not the case. Our politics of faction grows more bitter and divisive by the day and, absent another blow from terrorism, will continue in this wise through the 2004 elections and beyond.

In addition, the historic isolationism of Americans seems to be once more on the rise. Victor Davis Hanson’s remarks this week in "The Vision Thing: Convincing Americans to stick with a crazy Middle East." underscore this:

“ I gauge current American public opinion, there is a rising weariness of the insanity abroad, and it will only grow unless administration spokesmen habitually address — weekly, daily, even hourly — such exasperations and counter them by appealing to the innate American sense of idealism and generosity.

“Otherwise, we will finally go ballistic at enemies as loud and obnoxious as they are impotent, further sickened that our old allies are not even neutrals but themselves sound off like near enemies. Most Americans, tragically so, do not find from 30-second film clips that the Iraqi people are all that sympathetic a lot, but rather — after the war, the looting, the suicide bombings, and the complaining — that they are not worth the billions of dollars and the lost lives. And it is precisely that innate unease with ingratitude that the Democrats and the press have tapped into, at last finding some resonance with the American people.

Hanson’s dour meditation and Demosophia’s characterization of the two poles of the “political uncertainty principle” seem to fit the parameters of our politics and our national mood this autumn.

In one corner, wearing the Rainbow trunks, we have the party of “liberty and license” exemplified by the shrill Democratic Party and its crop of candidates touring the talk shows. Their policies are, leaving aside the central rallying pivot of hate for the person of the President, drenched with nostalgia for “those thrilling days of yesteryear” when the Liberal vision of a perfectable society was ascendant. When neither hating Bush nor yearning for the past, their policies seem to be those that could only be enacted as those of a “President Bartlett” in an administration to be known as “The West Wing -- This Time for Real.” Fear and loathing blended with nostalgia and fantasy does not, I think, make for a viable party.

In the other corner, wearing trunks monogramed with the dollar sign, a hard hat obsessed with deficits and encumbered with a large crucifix, we have the party of “constraint and caution.” Nominally Republican this faction is exemplified by forces within the current administration, such as State, that act as a brake on the administration’s plans to take out increasing military insurance against the clear and present enemies of the United States. Hence, the seemingly endless Minuet with the United Nations over Iraq and Israel that we endure as a self-imposed check on our power.

More dangerous still are the rabid isolationists (in all but business), that infect the Republican Party because they have no place else to go. These are the factions symbolized but not contained to the realm of Mordor trumpeted by Pat Buchanan. They counsel us to retreat from the world at large and lounge upon the soft sofas of Fortress America. They hold that the mere possession and threat of power is more important than the rational projection of that power. In this they wallow with the equally dysfunctional Democrats who hold that a possession of a pure morality is more important than the projection of that morality through the export of American institutions and values.

Both these factions seem to me to be effete, irresponsible and irrelevant. Yet they seem to dominate our political discussions through their polarizing influences and the endless sideshow of their partisan squabbles. The fascination with these positions is a nightmare from which we must now struggle to awake.

To do so we must become aware that neither of these factions can answer the central question that History is currently proposing to these States.

Simply stated that question is whether these States are prepared to take the Spirit of the Revolution begun here over two hundred years ago, and extend it to the world at large wherever it is needed, or whether that Revolution of the Human Spirit, continuous for over two centuries, will now be judged to have found its limits in the early 21st century.

There are those on both sides of the political uncertainty principle who believe our Revolution is over. They believe its meaning is now no more than something antiquated, quaint and vague. Something not ready for global prime time at the beginning of a brave new world order. History, beginning on September 11, 2001, has opened for us another way, a clearer and more certain path, through the unwitting sacrifice of the vastly diverse group of our citizens, civilian and military, that died that day.

This path is best found through two questions we must each now ask ourselves. The first is if, in our time and in our soft, rich, lax and “uncertain” America,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness —

“That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

“That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.“

The second question we must ask ourselves, if we answer in the affirmative to the first, is if we believe, to paraphrase Lincoln, that “A world divided against itself cannot stand. Governments cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.”

We have, as a nation and as a people, in the last few decades become tedious in our pursuit of the good life to the exclusion of all else. We have become, in our dedication to the secular life of the body and the world dimensional, increasingly slothful and selfish as a nation. We have tarried in our Xanadu while the forces of Totalitarianism have hardened their hold over their captive populations and pursued philosophies and weaponry with which to hold Freedom hostage to Terror.

In the last two years we have begun to haltingly roll back this tide but now, this autumn, our will seems to waver under assaults from within and without.

The issue placed before us by the reconstruction of Iraq is whether we have it in our national character and our gift to export the values of the Declaration to the vast areas of the world still held in the grip of a medieval Totalitarianism, or whether our factions of uncertainty, be they those of liberty and license or of caution and constraint, will remove our gift from the world’s tree of life and we will, for but a little time, continue in the foolish idyll from which we awoke one September morning.

Several years ago, a bestseller entitled “The Greatest Generation,” recounting the nature and achievement of the Americans who triumphed over the Great Depression and WWII, drew attention to those who had given us the rich and lavish society we now inhabit. It also underscored the fact that those Americans were departing these scene. Implicit therein was the recognition that their children and grandchildren now hold the positions of power and influence that direct America’s destiny. Absent the wounds of Vietnam, whose scars still bend the attitudes of many in politics and most in the media, these descendants of the Greatest Generation have not until now had to deal with a global war. That time is now upon us.

One message contained within “The Greatest Generation” was that America’s finest hours lay behind it. That may be. Perhaps our politics of faction and uncertainty will prevail. Perhaps we will decide that the “unalienable rights” of the Declaration will be made available not to all men, but only to those lucky enough to escape from the Middle Ages to the West. Perhaps we are no longer able to “pay any price and bear any burden” to extend Freedom across the face of the world and to end, once and for all, the slavery of Totalitarianism.

If so we confirm our enemies’ assumptions that we will not be able to tolerate a daily death rate in the single digits, where our fathers and mothers withstood a war in which the daily deaths could not begin to be listed in the final 15 seconds of a newscast. If so, then our finest hours will indeed, to our shame, lie in our past.

I reject this thin and tepid interpretation of America’s soul. I prefer to believe that this nation will find it neither easy nor possible to immunize itself from History. I believe that America still has a greater destiny, no longer manifest but just as inevitable, to continue the greater mission of the Western Enlightenment that found its first and fullest expression within these States.

There are those among us and in the world at large who maintain that America is the greatest present threat to the people of the world, but we know this to be a lie. What is true is that America and what it represents is the greatest present threat to those governments, religions and institutions that still enslave their people. If you need to know “why they hate us” this is your answer.

No nation is immune to history. I believe we shall, through coming trials of ice or fire, find it within ourselves to use our power and our preeminence at this moment to extend our principles to wherever Totalitarianism currently reigns, and to expunge it from the world. In this, I believe our finest hours still lie ahead.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 20, 2003 10:26 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Pattern
Haven't you seen the pattern yet?

First they tell you what you OUGHT to do that's good for you.

Then they tell you what you SHOULD do that's good for you.

Then they tell you what you WILL do that's good for you.

Then they just dump the bullshit and DO to you what's good for you.

-- From a comment on: Hit & Run: Blowing Smoke
Posted by: Tom from Texas

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 20, 2003 10:15 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The First 'Iron Curtain'?

Good catch by bitter sanity regarding the origin of "iron curtain" in a document on Foreign Affairs interviewing John Foster Dulles. Does anybody know the answer?

But apart from its general merit as a historical document, I noticed this bit (emphasis mine):

"It is difficult to say what is going on, but in general the Russians are acting little better than thugs. They have wiped out all the liquid assets. No food cards are issued to Germans, who are forced to travel on foot into the Russian zone, often more dead than alive. An iron curtain has descended over the fate of these people and very likely conditions are truly terrible. The promises at Yalta to the contrary, probably 8 to 10 million people are being enslaved."

The "iron curtain" phrase has generally been attributed to Churchill, in a speech the following year. Did Dulles originate it? Or was it in general circulation this early?

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 19, 2003 8:24 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Site to See... If You Can Bear It.

Those who would argue that we can make our peace with Totalitarian states or institutions, must first answer the evidence found at:Freedom, Democide, War.

This morally staggering collection of the evidence, photographic and otherwise, for 174,000,000 deaths at the hands of state power should give pause to the most committed of appeasers among us. At the same time, it will give a hope tempered by evidence and experience, to those who believe that Freedom is the only path to a lasting peace on the earth.

The premise of this site is:

It is true that democratic freedom is an engine of national and individual wealth and prosperity. Hardly known, however, is that freedom also saves millions of lives from famine, disease, war, collective violence, and democide (genocide and mass murder). That is, the more freedom, the greater the human security and the less the violence. Conversely, the more power governments have, the more human insecurity and violence. In short: to our realization that power impoverishes we must also add that power kills.

Through theoretical analysis, historical case studies, empirical data, and quantitative analyses, this web site shows that:

# Freedom is a basic human right recognized by the United Nations and international treaties, and is the heart of social justice.

# Freedom is an engine of economic and human development, and scientific and technological advancement.

# Freedom ameliorates the problem of mass poverty.

# Free people do not suffer from and never have had famines, and by theory, should not. Freedom is therefore a solution to hunger and famine.

# Free people have the least internal violence, turmoil, and political instability.

# Free people have virtually no government genocide and mass murder, and for good theoretical reasons. Freedom is therefore a solution to genocide and mass murder; the only practical means of making sure that "Never again!"

# Free people do not make war on each other, and the greater the freedom within two nations, the less violence between them.

# Freedom is a method of nonviolence--the most peaceful nations are those whose people are free.

To see what occurs when nations are not free, take a sobering tour of the picture galleries.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 19, 2003 7:57 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Turtles All the Way Down"

This image:

contains this image:

142 levels down.

Polaroid photography by Mark-Steffen Göwecke

All began in 1996 in Bretany, France:

On a beach I photographed with a the SX-70 a polaroid showing sand and stones. Again the resulting picture was photographed with the Polaroid-camera.

The distances in space and time became greater.

The previous polaroid is allways the basis for the next one and so on ...

A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise."

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?"

"You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down."

-- Turtles

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 19, 2003 3:44 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
So how come?

Mark Steyn again proves himself to be a sane man in:With friends like the Saudis . . .

"So how come two years after Sept. 11 groups with terrorist ties are still able to insert their recruiters into America's military bases, prisons and pretty much anywhere else they get a yen to go? It's not difficult to figure out: Wahhabism is the most militant form of Islam, the one followed by all 19 of the 9/11 terrorists and by Osama bin Laden. The Saudis -- whose state religion is Wahhabism -- fund the spread of their faith in lavishly endowed schools and mosques all over the world and, as a result, traditionally moderate Muslim populations from the Balkans to South Asia have been dramatically radicalized. How could the federal government be so complacent as to subcontract the certification of chaplains in U.S. military bases to Wahhabist institutions?

"Here's an easy way to make an effective change: Less Wahhabism is in America's interest. More Wahhabism is in the terrorists' interest. So why can't the United States introduce a policy whereby, for the duration of the war on terror, no organization directly funded by the Saudis will be eligible for any formal or informal role with any federal institution? That would also include the pro-Saudi Middle East Institute, whose "adjunct scholar" is one Joseph C. Wilson IV. Remember him? He's the fellow at the center of the Bob-Novak-published-the-name-of-my-CIA-wife scandal. The agency sent him to look into the European intelligence stories about Saddam Hussein trying to buy uranium in Africa. He went to Niger, drank mint tea with government flacks, and then wrote a big whiny piece in the New York Times after the White House declined to accept his assurances there was nothing going on. He was never an intelligence specialist, he's no longer a "career diplomat," but he is, like so many other retired ambassadors, on the House of Saud's payroll. And the Saudis were vehemently opposed to war with Saddam."

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 19, 2003 2:55 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Choice Not An Americano
At 7-Eleven's new "hot beverage stations," customers will have a choice of more than 1,300 combinations. A minimum of five varieties of coffee, four flavored syrups, seven different tea bags, five toppings, creamers, sweeteners and all types of milk will be available at each station. 7-Eleven's customers will make the drinks themselves, guided by store suggestions, thus avoiding waiting in line to order. The drinks will cost about $1 per cup instead of the typical coffeehouse prices hovering between $3 and $4.
Now if they'd just add WiFi and sofas in the parking lot, Starbucks would be history.

Via: BoingBoing

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 19, 2003 1:44 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Brain Jazz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have this happen a couple of time and you're hooked.

Like me. I've been hooked for years.

But it doesn't rule my life.

No, it doesn't rule my life.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 19, 2003 10:49 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Getting Ready for Halloween

Every so often you find something on a site that cries out for an award. This item, just in time for the freaky week of the year, qualifies. From the strange and wonderful Quibbles and Bits

Appliance Envy

Look at this kitchen.

The refrigerator standing smug and tall, glorious in its beauty, selected not just for its function, but for its gleaming white exterior. I hate it, the cold hearted bastard. But they love it.

Beside it is the stove, a hot headed beauty. It stands there with its gaping maw ready to swallow anything they wish to make suffer in its interminably hot interior. They give it the fresh food, right from the cold heart of the refrigerator. Its top brings their soups and burgers to fruition. They love their stove. They worked hard to find the one that appealed to their sensibilities and aesthetics. But I hate it, and its searing heat.

To my left stands their other love. It too opens its gaping maw, but they feed it their dishes, wiped clean of their discards, and in gratitude it returns them clean and shining. They love it, and picked it as well for its gleaming exterior, the third in their triumvirate of technological lust. And I hate it, it and its sloshing water.

They feed me only the refuse of their meals, the scraps that have gone cold, the detritus culled from the gleaming interior of the refrigerator, the moldy husks of meals long forgotten. They do not think of me, except when they cram me so full of debris that I choke. They stuck me here, under the sink, hidden in the cabinet, and stuffed a hose into my mouth so that I am forced to suckle the waste of the dishwasher, that cruel, cruel machine that laughs and gurgles as I choke on its refuse. They corralled me here, and put me on a leash, a switch that prevents me from exacting my revenge.

Some day I shall be free. Some day I shall tear their fingers from their reaching hands. I shall have my day, though it may be far in the future. I shall exact my vengeance with my thrashing teeth, and I shall taste of their warm flesh, one fresh meal before I splatter their blood across the gleaming white faces of the refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher.

I lie in wait. And I am patient.

I am the Garbage Disposal.

Pointer via Bad Money who also saw the Stephen King parallel first.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 18, 2003 5:21 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
It's That Time ... Again

Babe Ruth
by Nikolas Muray, American
(b. Hungary, 1892-1965)

From:George Eastman House Photography Sells Series

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 18, 2003 4:58 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
On the High Steel

Harry Sternberg, Builders (1935-36)
Click image to enlarge.

A Depression Art Gallery

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 18, 2003 4:23 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Forbidden Posting:" The Secret Symposium

Monsters, Gregg. Monsters from the Id.

“You don't have to be Sigmund Freud to believe that Web logs are to some extent a function of the id. They come out so fast and so unedited they often express our feelings more accurately and even deeply than more carefully wrought writing. This is their blessing and their curse." -- Roger Simon

Godwin's Law prov. [Usenet] "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

Last week Gregg Easterbrook, the New Republic’s blogger, decided to decapitate Quentin Tarantino’s new blockbuster Kill Bill, using the bluntest tool in a film critic’s chest -- a bleat against the increasing levels of violence in cinema. But along the way he had the thought that increasing violence in films might, just might, be associated with the urge to make money in Hollywood. At that point he sent his brain out for a burger, but his body continued typing. While his brain was on a break, he wrote:

"Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else by promoting for profit the adulation of violence?”
Then, with his brain still out to lunch, Easterbrook, as he puts it,
“.... worked on this alone and posted the piece. Twenty minutes after I pressed 'send,' the entire world had read it. When I reread my own words and beheld how I'd written words that could be misunderstood, I felt awful."
It was, of course, too late for feelings. The whole world had read it and the whole world had understood it. Reaction was swift, sure, and ruthless. It was heightened when, once Easterbrook had understood that he had, perhaps, “miswritten,” he failed to post an UPDATE along the lines of “Errr, well, what I really meant to say was...” but waited several days before issuing a Non-Apology Apology.

By the end of this week the item had soared out of the Blogsphere and roosted in the major media where the larger autopsies of Cyberspace Bloopers are performed. Chief among these was the Saturday morning LA Times column “Regarding Media: If it sounds like anti- Semitism, maybe it is” by Tim Rutten which gives the best encapsulation of the story to date.

In the meantime, ESPN (as Jeff Jarvis notes) is bent on proving yet again that media corporations are even dumber than their employees, slunk up onto the net to remove Easterbrook as a writer and as a presence on their web site. While this may have seem like a good idea to ESPN's challenged intelligence at the time, the stage is no set for a rousing Web-wide discussion of Free Speech.

But what has yet to make the wires is the back story to Rutten’s column, the transcript of the conference-call-cum-symposium on the issue, conducted in camera on Friday. This secret conference call included Gregg Easterbrook, Roger Simon, Tim Rutten, and Glenn Reynolds (without whom no discussion of the greater meaning of the Blogsphere is allowed to take place.) Although all involved took the pledge of confidentiality, nothing is really secret on the Net except the truth.

Here at American Digest, through unindicted co-conspirators, we have obtained a transcript of that high level conference. In the interests of keeping leaking at the top of the nation's to-do list we are making public some choice excerpts from that "chat:"

Easterbrook: "How ironic that a simple and devoutly Christian New Republic scribbler with no ambition beyond a modest measure of 250,000 unique visitors a day should out of a clear sky find his blog besieged by an army of fellow creatures, all grimly determined to be of service."

"I have confessed, abased myself, and apologized with automated email responses. And yet, always in my mind I seem to feel the creature is lurking somewhere close at hand, sly and irresistible, only waiting to be re-invoked for blather, spew, and blogacide. I have come to hate the Blogsphere"

Tim Rutten: What, to your mind is, the "Blogsphere"

Gregg Easterbrook: "A single machine, a cube 20 miles on each side."

Prof. Glenn Reynolds: "Why total potential here must be nothing less than astronomical!

Roger Simon: "Nothing less. The number 10 raised almost literally to the power of infinity."

Rutten: “ Gregg, what is the most important thing you have learned about the Blogsphere?

Easterbrook: "A blogger doesn't need brains. Just a good loud voice."

Prof Reynolds: “Like a chain saw, it can hurt you real quick if you get stupid around it.”

Simon: "If you refuse to issue an ‘UPDATE:” the next attack on your Blog will be more deadly and more .... brutal."

Rutten: "How do you know that?

Simon: "Know? I seem to visualize it. I... if you wish, call it a . . . .premonition."

Easterbrook: But how can you know these things, O Chef of the Future?

Simon: "Remember, Easterbrook, anti-Semitism is an invisible being that cannot be disintegrated with atomic fission, much less a non-apology apology."

Easterbrook: "But, Roger, I was talking about money, not Jews."

Simon: "Statements about money and Jews tear can tear blogs apart here on the planet of the Forbidden Posting."

Easterbrook: "That's true enough. But any statement stupid enough to survive 3 billion electron volts of pure Web flames would have to be made of solid nuclear material. It would sink of its own weight to the center of this planet."

Simon: "Well, you wrote it yourself and blew it out your capture buffer!

Easterbrook: "There's your answer and my new story. I'll say, "My brain must have been renewing its molecular structure from one second to the next. I dimly remember typing “Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money...” and then pressing send and thinking ‘You ought to see my new mind. Up there in lights. Bigger than Glen’s now." That's it and I'm sticking to it.

Rutten: “I don’t want to follow that because it leads to the question of medication and I don’t write on mental health issues. Besides, my newspaper is looking plenty crazy already. Mr. Simon, could you sum up Mr. Easterbrook’s issues?

Simon: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. It is simplicity itself. Easterbrook was too close to the problem and his Thorazine hadn’t kicked in. The Web creators had completed their project. Big machine ... no external censors and no internal compasses . . . true non-disintermediated spew at the touch of the Send button! But the Web creators forgot one thing...."

Rutten: "Yes, what?

Simon: "Monsters, Tim. Monsters from the Id! Easterbrook was warned to UPDATE, he didn’t, and now he's paid. Let his blog be deleted from a billion bookmarks.

Rutten: “But what does this mean for the future of the Blogging machine?

Prof. Reynolds: "Nothing! It means nothing, you fool! Easterblog is a bug not a feature. I CRUSH IT! Blogging is THE BIG MACHINE! "8,000 cubic miles of relays. Enough power for a whole population of creative geniuses. Operated by remote control, operated by the electromagnetic impulses of individual Blogging brains! It will, dare I say it, RULE THE WORLD!"

Rutten (Quietly setting phaser to ‘stun’) : "To what purpose?”

Prof. Reynolds: "Purpose? Purpose? Unfortunate plebeian scribe on dead trees! Once perfected my ultimate BLOGGING MACHINE will instantaneously project, from any blogger, solid blather to any point on the planet! Yes, any insight, memory, whine, spew or bad concept they can keyboard will be known to all for all time. For any purpose, ANY PURPOSE! Blogging is the Philosopher's Stone of Publishing. Publication by mere thought without any thought. Easterbrook is merely ahead of his time. Why Easterbrook is the living incarnation of Days of Future Past! (Which remains one of my all time favorite albums)"

Simon: "But like you, Reynolds, Easterbrook forgot one deadly danger. His own subconscious hate and lust for self-destruction. He forgot those mindless beasts of his own subconscious! And so those mindless beasts of his subconscious had access to a machine that could never be shut down. Don’t you see, Reynolds? Your BLOGGING MACHINE is the secret devil of every soul on the planet all set free at once to blather and spew and slur! And kill careers!”

Easterbrook: “But...but.... all I did was hit the send button before pulling my head out of my ass.”

Simon: "You still refuse to face the truth."

Easterbrook: "What truth?”

Simon: "Easterbrook, that thing you wrote. It's you."

Easterbrook: "Oh, God! You’re right! My evil self is in my send buffer and I have no power to stop myself!

Easterbrook (as the posting spews all over known Cyberspace and causes the servers at the New Republic to crash while the “” mbox) explodes: "I deny you, foul posting! I GIVE YOU UP!

Prof. Reynolds: ‘I’ll link to that.”

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 18, 2003 3:09 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Religion of Peace and Tolerance
We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.

We may not be able to do that. We may not be able to unite all the 1.3 billion Muslims. We may not be able to get all the Muslim Governments to act in concert. But even if we can get a third of the ummah and a third of the Muslim states to act together, we can already do something.

Keynote speech by Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the opening of the 10th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 17, 2003 4:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
To-Do List for A Better Life

1. At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.

2. Page yourself over the intercom. Don't disguise your voice.

3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.
4. Put your garbage can on your desk and label it "In".

5. Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.

6. In the memo field of all your checks, write "for very personal favors".

7. Finish all your paragraphs with, "in accordance with the prophecy."

8. Dontuseanypunctuationmarksorpsacesbetweenwords

9. As often as possible, skip rather than walk.

10. Ask people what the time is. Laugh hysterically after they answer.

11. Specify that your drive-through order is "to go".

12. Sing along at the opera.

13. Go to a poetry recital and ask why the poems don't rhyme.

14. Put mosquito netting around your work area. Play a tape of jungle sounds all day.

15. Five days in advance, tell your friends you can't attend their party because you're not in the mood.

16. Have your coworkers address you by your wrestling name, Rock Hard Kim.

17. When the money comes out the ATM, scream "I won!", "I won!" "3rd time this week!!!!!"

18. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the parking lot, yelling "run for your lives, they're loose!!"

19. Tell your children over dinner, "Due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go."

From Donald Sensing's One Hand Clapping

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 17, 2003 3:40 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Working on the ‘58 Willys Pickup

by Gary Snyder

The year this truck was made
I sat in early morning darkness
Chanting sutra in Kyoto,
And spent the days studying Chinese.
Chinese, Japanese, Sanskrit, French
Joys of Dharma-scholarship
And the splendid old temples
But learned nothing of trucks.

Now to bring sawdust
Rotten and rich
From a sawmill abandoned when I was just born
Lost in the young fir and cedar
At Bloody Run Creek
So that clay in the garden
Can be broken and tempered
And growing plants mulched to save water
And to also haul gravel
From the old placer diggings,
To screen it and mix in the sand with the clay
Putting pebbles aside to strew on the paths
So muddy in winter

I lie in the dusty broken bush
Under the pickup
Already thought to be old
Admiring its solidness, square lines,
Thinking a truck like this
would please Chairman Mao.

The rear end rebuilt and put back
With new spider gears,
Brake cylinders cleaned, the brake drums
New-turned and new brake shoes,
Taught how to do this
By friends who themselves spent
Youth with the Classics ?

The garden gets better, I
Laugh in the evening
To pick up Chinese
And read about farming,
I fix truck and lock eyebrows
With tough-handed men of the past.

Suggested by Mike Leihbold at Cool Tools

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 17, 2003 3:27 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Curatoraprose: "Okay, we get it, we get it..."

"Elvis to Andy to Barbra,"
Is all ye know on Earth,
And all ye need to know.

There's a school of writing that has infected museums. It's called "curatoraprose," and it arises from the strange compulsion of museums to explain what can be seen. It is a terrible affliciton that kills and cripples thousands of artworks annually. Here's an example:

"Deborah Kass mimics Andy Warhol's portrait of Elvis Presley, substituting Barbra Steisand in the role of Yentl for the king of rock and roll. In this painting, the artist comments on the roles played by gender and religion in today's culture, humorously contrasting Yentl in Yeshiva-boy drag with Elvis — America's iconic image of virility."

From: Making Connections in Art and Jewish Culture

Yeshiva drag vs. the very "iconic image of virility." We've always felt that Barbra was an iconic image of virility in drag. Unlike Elvis, she's still recording if not appearing.

Hint to NYT: They Call It Staten "Island" for a Reason

An editorial in the Times celebrates the normalcy of the commute on after the Staten Island Ferry Tragedy, by saying:

Still, ferry riders returned yesterday morning. According to Iris Weinshall, the city's transportation commissioner, "It was an eerily normal rush hour."

That's as much a testament to the resilience of Staten Islanders and their faith in the ferries as to their confidence that investigators will figure out what happened.

The Times really has to talk to someone who lives there before preening in this way. It is an "island" like, say, Manhattan, but with no trains connecting it. There's a busline, natch, but that's about an hour and a half into the city. Nope, the islanders were, as islanders are, simply trapped into their commuting rut.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 17, 2003 1:34 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Hewitt On LAT/NBC Boykin Manipulation

Hugh Hewitt has more on the increasingly vile backstory to the hit job on General Boykin:

The story behind the Times' story this morning is quite odd. In the Richard T. Cooper piece on the Times' front page it is stated that "Audio and videotapes of Boykin's appearances before religious groups over the last two years were obtained exclusively by NBC News, which reported on them Wednesday night on the 'Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.'" This is clearly intended to convey the idea that the story is derivative of the NBC reporting.

An MSNBC story on the General tells the story differently:"NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin, who's been investigating Boykin for the Los Angeles Times, says the general casts the war on terror as a religious war."

I interviewed Arkin today and discovered that he developed the story on his own initiative as a columnist for the Times, and he decided with the full knowledge and approval of editors at the Los Angeles Times to provide NBC News with the story so that NBC could run the story before the paper ran Arkin's op-ed and the front-page story. He stated that the idea was to get the story some pop by using the audio and video.

The Los Angeles Times thus gave away a scoop on a story that ended up on its front page. Why would it do that? It may have a precedent in the world of journalism, but to me it stinks. Didn't the Times engage in manipulation of the news to increase its impact on the audience? Or did the paper need cover for the story and gave it to NBC in order to generate that cover

Check for full column.

UPDATE: Living national treasure, James Lileks, gets the whole thing down in a few choice paragraphs in The Bleat

I might have gotten my can hauled into the office for this:

"Boykin is also in a senior Pentagon policymaking position, and its a serious mistake to allow a man who believes in a Christian 'jihad' to hold such a job." It's a quote from an LA Times piece about this Pentagon official accused of speaking honestly; you can find the whole story at Hugh's site. I'll leave the particulars for others; I'm interested in the sleight-of-hand the columnist pulled here. The guy he's quoting didn't use the word "jihad."The columnist put the word in quotes to signal that the guy didn't use that word, you see.

Got it. Oh, I can imagine that conversation with the boss I'd have if I did this:

So you wrote that he believed in a Christian jihad.

(Coyly channeling Michael Palin in the dock as a professional Cardinal Richelieu impersonator) Ah did that thing.

But he didn't say that.

Exactly? Well,he meant, it though.

He meant it.

Yes, and that's why I put it in quotes.

Quotes. Which are usually reserved for, you know, quotes.

Right, but I used them here to set the word apart. You know, show that it was a paraphrase.

By using the means we use to indicate direct transcriptions.

Well, sometimes, sure. But I meant them more as, you know, those air quotes you do with your fingers?

So in the future should we have a picture of you with your fingers in the air to indicate that the quote is not, actually, a quote?

Look, the point is true. The guy wants a jihad; look at what he said -

Why look at what he said, when we can just ask you to describe the general aroma? You moron! There's one standard in this business, and that these little curvy things, these dots with hooks, mean we are using the words of the person we're talking about. WORDS.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 17, 2003 12:49 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
This BlogPower Thing Is Getting Out of Hand


"Indeed, what I find most unsettling about the 'InstaBuck' is,
no matter where you go, or what angle you take on this bill
... the omniscient eyes of the Instapundit follow you everywhere."

-- From blogs4God,
which has a few more very scary proposals for the way-new money.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 17, 2003 11:46 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Speak the Truth and the LA Times Will Investigate You
"...if you didn't know it before, the central LA Times editorial policy seems to have become 'The right tool for the right job.'"

The elephant in the room when it comes to The First Terrorist War is that nobody is allowed to say that it is, after all, a religious war. The President knows this, but can't say it. Members of the clergy know this but can't say it. Millions of citizens know this, but don't say it.

Why? Because it would be insensitive, divisive and politically incorrect to say it. It is one of the ironies of history that this has become the first religious war that cannot be called a religious war. Except, of course, by the Radical Islamic elements and their millions of supporters here and around the world. It is as if we've agreed to deliberately misunderstand the definition of "Jihad" in order to spare the tender feelings of the Muslims among us.

But, it would seem that one person, former commander of Army Special Forces, Lt. Gen. William Boykin, is on record as telling the truth that dare not speak its name. "This summer, Boykin was promoted to deputy undersecretary of defense, with a new mission for which many say he is uniquely qualified: to aggressively combine intelligence with special operations and hunt down so-called high-value terrorist targets including bin Laden and Saddam."

But Boykin is a devout Christian and has made statements that underscore his belief that this is, after all is said and done, a religious war. Worse still, he has said these things at churches while in, gasp, uniform. Naturally, secular interests can't have that. They simply can't abide it. Result, the beginnings of a media backed campaign to discredit and dislodge him:

Why are terrorists out to destroy the United States? Boykin said:“They’re after us because we’re a Christian nation.”

NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin, who’s been investigating Boykin for the Los Angeles Times, says the general casts the war on terror as a religious war: “I think that it is not only at odds with what the president believes, but it is a dangerous, extreme and pernicious view that really has no place.” Top terrorist hunter

It would seem that the oft-quoted pundit and "military analyst" Bill Arkin, has more than one axe to grind against the Pentagon as the article linked here shows.

It is also interesting to see that he is privy to "what the President believes" rather than what the President says he believes. Since Mr. Arkin's ability to know the President's mind is dubious, what his statement really tells us is that Mr.Arkin believes that the General's stance is "a dangerous, extreme and pernicious view that really has no place." All well and good since it tells us up-front the assumptions and beliefs that will form the foundation of Arkin's forthcoming "impartial investigation" of Boykin.I'm sure it will be held to the same high standards of journalism we've recently come to expect from the L. A. Times.

By the way, did we mention that Arkin, besides working for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and MSNBC as a "Senior Military Analyst," has also done a lot of work for Human Rights Watch? Nice to have your news cut on the bias. It makes everything that much more predictable.

UPDATE: Mr. Arkin's investigative report as "Commentary" is here. Arkin is identified as a "military affairs analyst who writes regularly for The Times."

The LATimes news story on this issue on the same day is here and written by one "Richard T. Cooper, Times Staff Writer." Cooper leans heavily on Arkin and his "commentary" for the hard news item.

The NBC Nightly News item was credited as being created "by Lisa Myers and the NBC Investigative Unit." Other than quotes and clips the foremost person asked to comment on the story was " NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin."

Besides his work for Human Rights Watch, one of Arkin's hobbies is
"compiling a long-term data base of civilian casualties in U.S. wars since 1991."

It is also interesting to note that last January, in his farewell Dot.Mil column in the Washington Post, Arkin was concerned that the adminstration was dissing the "uniformed military"

" The current Bush administration started down a path of stifling dialog and marginalizing the uniformed military long before the attacks on September 11. Initially Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld went to war against the uniformed leadership under the guise of transformation" Farewell
Evidently Boykin is the "wrong" kind of uniformed military because he has strong religious convictions and speaks his mind.

Other interesting items on Arkin's resume include:

"He served as the director of Greenpeace International's war response team during the Gulf War and served in the US army from 1974 to 1978." - via Democracy Now

He still has a viable email address at the Institute for Global Communications whose mission statement reads: "...played a formative role in bringing advanced communications technologies to grassroots organizations worldwide working for peace, human rights, environmental sustainability, women's rights, conflict resolution and worker rights. Our flagship global computer networks -- PeaceNet, EcoNet, WomensNet, ConflictNet, LaborNet and AntiRacismNet -- became trademark names in the struggle for democratic use of the media and the world's communications infrastructure."

I'd think that instead of stopping at the terse designation of Mr. Arkin as a "military analyst" it would behoove various media outlets to also trumpet his experience in Human Rights Watch, Greenpeace, and the Institute for Global Communications. After all, it helps to know where our military analysis is coming from.

It also helps to know that, if you didn't know it before, the central LA Times editorial policy seems to have become "The right tool for the right job."

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 17, 2003 8:46 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Top Ten Very British Data Disasters


According to the BBC, these are the best of the worst.

1. Laptop shot in anger
2. PC thrown out the window to destroy evidence before police arrived
3. Laptop fell off a scooter and was run over by truck
4. Laptop dropped in bath while doing company accounts
5. Stolen PCs rescued after three weeks in a river
6. Red wine spilt on laptop over dinner
7. Server rescued after running unchecked 24/7 for years under layers of dust and dirt
8. Computer thrown against a wall
9. Latte-covered laptop rescued
10. Laptop left on car roof as owner drives off

From: Odd mishaps cause computer grief

Other than the obvious E-Rage in the shooting incident, all of these seem rather mild; seem, well, very "British," very Fawlty Towersesque.

Here in America, I've seen keyboards ripped from their CPUs and used as weapons in office cat-fights. I've witnessed grown men of IT departments weep when asked to rescue computers that have had a half a can of spray glue emptied onto their motherboards. Once I had to find my way into the bottom of a New York air shaft to reclaim a computer that had mysteriously leaped 12 stories to its death from an office ledge (The computer's owner had been requesting a new machine for two years.) And as for the laptops being maimed by lattes, well.... it is safe to say that the new proximity of WIFI, Starbucks, and laptops could be one of the prime factors in the IT turnaround in the manufacturing sector?

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 17, 2003 8:14 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Say What?

"If you want to live like a Republican, you've got to vote for the Democrats."

REP. DICK GEPHARDT, presidential candidate, extends his "Confuse-A-Cat" campaign rhetoric into new realms of incomprehensibility.

US News

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 16, 2003 11:41 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Usual Suspects

Palestinians round up suspects in Gaza attack - Oct. 16, 2003

"In overnight operations in the Jabaliya refugee camp, security forces exchanged fire with some of the suspects before detaining them, the sources said. No injuries were reported."
Note to Mideast Reporters: Firing in the air seldom produces injuries to those in the immediate vicinity.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 16, 2003 10:13 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Feel Like a Rat in a Cage at Airports? You Are.

Take a deep breath because you'll need it to read the title of Popular Science's The Visualization of the Quantification of the Commodification of Air Travel:

Your every whim and wish, your every decision and opinion and complaint probed and parsed by the airline executives whose very future depends upon their ability to understand you —you, the paying customer and captive creature. Your shape, your weight, your feelings about a packet of pretzels insufficient to feed a gerbil: These are their science and their business. So too the gases you emit, the diseases you carry. The airlines crave intel on your food allergies, your tolerance for G-forces and your propensity for air rage. They must know how your body holds up in low humidity and low air pressure and heightened radiation. Their thirst for knowledge is almost unquenchable, their research effort so vast as to approach futility. "Outside of lab rats," says industry consultant Michael Planey, "airline passengers are the most analyzed subjects in the world."

The following is a distillation of what the airlines know about us, their lab rats. It's a breathtaking, though at times vertigo-inducing, view.

Enjoy the flight.

And enjoy the entire article. A checklist of the airline industry's unremitting campaign to convince every American that there is no point and no reason to fly anywhere, ever.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 16, 2003 9:01 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Wasteland

Yellowstone at Evening
Click to enlarge

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 16, 2003 8:25 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Let's Have Show Trials!

Jack Reno at edge raises an interesting point in response to this morning's lead editorial in the New York Times:

"The men held at Guantnamo naval base in Cuba are prisoners of the United States, and they should be treated in the highest tradition of American justice.....

Why are the men still without trial, still without rights? The Bush administration has two justifications. One is, in essence, self-defense: in the war on terrorism, in which the security of the United States is in mortal danger, normal rules cannot apply. The other, more narrow, is about legality: the Taliban and Al Qaeda are not combatants in traditional or legal terms, and are therefore not eligible for the protections due to prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. [New York Times: Opinion]"

Why are the men still without trial?" The Times conveniently misses the fact that the men are prisoners of war. In general, POWs are not released before the end of hostilities. As far as I know, that hasn't as yet happened. POWs are sometimes exchanged for the opposing sides POWs but, as far as I know, that hasn't happened yet. POWs are not tried as individuals unless there is some reason to believe they are guilty of specific war crimes.

What is being proposed by the Times other than a feel-good moment for the editors? That the men be tried and sentenced? For what? For being on the losing side of a war that is still in progress?

As far as I know we don't try men for that as criminals but detain them until the fighting is over. The fact that the war's end is unclear is not unusual. War's end is always unclear. What is clear is that these men, again, are not criminals but enemy combatants. Surely the Times doesn't want them tried and sentenced for such a thing. Trying a POW as a war criminal is known as a "Show Trial" -- and while the Times would probably relish the opportunity to cover 660 show trials, it would not be in "the highest tradition of American Justice" to hold them.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 16, 2003 8:12 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lileks On The Once and Future Tarantino
Yes, "bad." A complex moral position in a Tarantino film. He's really wrestled with the definition of "bad," hasn't he.

One of these days he'll make a movie where the hero kills a kid. And if it gets cut from the final release, he'll hang on to a copy so he can run it in his home theater, and sit in the middle of the room with a bucket of popcorn in one hand and his personal pink crayola-stub in the other. James Lileks' Bleat

The truth beyond this is that Tarantion would see to it that sooner or later this was released as the Director's Cut. And, of course it would be wildly successful. American's wince at the costs of a real war, but shell out gladly for carnage simulated to a super-fine level of granulation. Didn't see that decapitation clearly enough? Hey, here it is from another angle in slow-mo.

Depressing as it may be, the reality is that we've finally, in our search for a perfect and secular world, walked blithely into the land where a great many internally driven moral compasses point in only one direction -- Down.

One of the many dubious fruits of an ever-expanding search for the limits of personal liberty. Why there is a search is curious. Certainly it is well-known that liberty has no limits in present-day America beyond "Your right to smoke ends 150 miles from where my nose begins."

A smoke-free society that shells out hundreds of millions for simulated-snuff films. Yes, that's the goal. Isn't it?

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 16, 2003 7:59 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Find a Need and Fill It"

FROM:Mike's List: The Raw Feed

The Raw Feed

LG Electronics has come out with a mobile phone for Muslims. It has a built-in compass that, after users input their current locations, points to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (Muslims who pray do so facing Mecca, so the cell phone should be a big hit among the devout.) Combined with free SMS prayer alerts, the LG Muslim phone can become an indispensable device for Muslims worldwide.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 15, 2003 10:55 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Yummy, but One Orbit Later...

Chinese Astronaut Says Space Food Tastes 'Great'

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's first man in space told his wife and son Wednesday that the bite-size food he took along for his 21-hour journey around Earth tasted "great."

"Daddy, have you eaten rice yet? What did you eat?" eight-year-old Yang Ningkang asked his astronaut father in a conversation broadcast on state television.

"I've already eaten, ate space food," said Yang Liwei, 38, during his eighth orbit around Earth. "It tastes great."

And he didn't gain a pound.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 15, 2003 8:47 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Where Do You Think You Are? Nazi Germany?

Ananova - German man charged with teaching dog Hitler salute

A German man is to appear in court charged with teaching his dog to give the Hitler salute.

The black sheepdog-mix, named Adolf, has been taught to lift his right front paw up straight in the salute on command.

Police were called to the scene in Berlin when Roland T, 54, shouted at passers-by last year.

When a patrol arrived, he allegedly showed them the trick he had taught his dog, gave the salute along with Adolf, and shouted: "Sieg Heil."

Now he has been charged with using symbols of unconstitutional organisations. If found guilty, he faces up to three years in prison.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 14, 2003 3:40 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Something Strange...:" A Footnote

" A strain of the disease, again inspired by the Counter-enlightenment, had slipped into the Middle East spawning first the Ba'ath movement (a second-rate version that merged T 2.0 and T 3.0) and a full-fledged Totalitarianism 4.0 in the form of Radical Islamism."

Last week, I wrote an item titled There's Something Strange in the Neighborhood which stimulated more than a few entries in the "Comments" section. Among these was one which caught my eye. It was not a comment as much as a pocket essay that corrected, expanded and deepened what I had tried to say. Written by Demosophia , its more than worthy of consideration when we think about what the future might hold for the political structures of this country.

The last time a new party was formed was during the events leading to the Civil War. It's difficult to establish a new, third, party for lots of very practical reasons. And it's also difficult for me to see a trend in the election of Arnold, because he's pretty much a one-off. But there *could* be a seismic shift going on, because anti-Totalitarianism might be the 21st Century equivalent of anti-Slavery.

Yes, the party is over and it ended with 9/11. My grandfather was an aircraft mechanic in WWII, when the German Counter-enlightenment became the guiding force behind Totalitarianism 1.0. What was happening is probably seen more clearly in the assassination of the Archduke by a group of Anarchists, than on the fields of Flanders, but the rebellion against liberalism had begun. And it eventually took the form of Totalitarianism 2.0 in Russia and Asia, and Totalitarianism 3.0 in Europe itself. And after WWII and the Cold War had eliminated both of those, we thought we were done.

But a strain of the disease, again inspired by the Counter-enlightenment, had slipped into the Middle East spawning first the Ba'ath movement (a second-rate version that merged T 2.0 and T 3.0) and a full-fledged Totalitarianism 4.0 in the form of Radical Islamism. Because outside of the Koran, the greatest influence on the writings of Sayyid Qutb was, again, the Counter-enlightenment.

So when the guns had grown quiet after Appomattox, and chattel slavery moved from the throne of evil to the topmost in the ash heap of history it was replaced by another, somewhat subtler evil. And suicide terrorism is, and has always been, one of the favorite strategies of Totalitarian movements that are either out of power, or on the verge of losing it. (The Japanese Kamikaze and the German Werewolf campaigns were not an accident.)

So if liberalism is ready to mature, and put a final end to the enemy that our grandfathers and fathers fought, then I can see that motivating a seismic shift to a new alignment in the US... one that isn't merely dedicated to Democracy (power of the people), but to Demosophia (wisdom of the people). And yes, I know that we don't have a "pure" form of democracy, but something closer to what Robert Dahl calls "polyarchy."

So, the shift would signal more power and more wisdom as well as a recognition that we are really fighting an old enemy, an evil that has been around a long time. But do you really think we're ready, on the basis of an election of a one-off political figure? I do have a sense that something has changed, and I just hope it's a further fulfillment of John Locke and not Totalitarianism 5.0. So I'll be pretty careful before I jump onboard the "next big thing." Because I think the maturing of Liberalism isn't a sudden event. It's a gradual process that may or may not suddenly appear. But I will admit that there is a mature liberal impulse that is expressed in the blogosphere, and by people like Andrew Sullivan and Chris Hitchens and others, that doesn't fit the old "conservative" image. But that has been building for a long time, and it may well be the final matchup with Totalitarianism.

Radical Islam seen as "Totalitarianism 4.0." That's a powerful concept. We need to make the most of it.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 14, 2003 2:50 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
From your lips to God's ear

"I have never heard one of the Democratic candidates speak with passion of the thousands of unmarked graves, including children, we found in Iraq, only of absent WMDs. As I wrote elsewhere, this is like dismissing the discovery of Auschwitz because we didn't find any Cyclon-b."

--Roger Simon giving one of many reasons on why the Democratic candidates just aren't making it.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 14, 2003 1:53 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The American Way

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 14, 2003 12:54 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dems Drink the Kool-Aid in California

Mark Steyn's forward-looking loss statement for the Democrats -- Desperate Dems no match for Arnie:

Nazi! Racist! Don't forget Florida! Here's Bill Clinton! It's not much of a message, is it? And, if the party's short of ideas, it's even shorter of stars. The fact that in the most populous state in the nation the two leading Democrats are Gray Davis and Cruz Bustamante is as telling as anything. The gubernatorial pool is where you look for presidential talent, and right now their only star governor is Jennifer Granholm, who can't run for president because she was born in British Columbia. That's why in Thursday's debate half the presidential candidates are sad-sack senators dulled by decades of deal-making and Beltwayspeak and the other half are goofs and oddballs. The shortage of talent is so severe they've had to parachute in Wesley Clark, a man who was playing Republican fund-raisers and waving pompons for Bush and Cheney the day before yesterday. Gen. Clark's star power seemed to have dimmed to a 30-watt bulb by Thursday. The Clark ''bandwagon'' is like those Gray Davis ''tightening'' numbers. Do you really think he'll make it through to New Hampshire?

Oh, well. If I were a Dem, I'd go with Howard Dean. Even if he loses, he'll de-Clintonize the party along the way, which ought to be the most important priority. Otherwise, it's all down to Sen. Rodham Clinton in 2008 -- or, as Paul Maslin would put it, the triumph of the Hill.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 14, 2003 12:00 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Demoncrat

Dean Esmay proclaims that this is the funniest thing currently making the rounds. He's got my vote. A brief excerpt:

The Democrat debate for the presidential nomination raged on as usual.

"I hate Bush!"

"I hate Bush more!"

"I wish I had some policy ideas... but I'm too busy hating Bush!"

"We hate Bush too!" yelled the sympathetic crowd.

"Wesley Clark is not really a Democrat!"

"I am too! You're a doody head!"

"You take that back!"

Suddenly a vortex emerged at the center of the stage. From it emerged a giant figure in black armor with glowing red eyes. "I am O’Yama, eater of souls and registered Democrats!" he screamed, lighting bursting about him and the entire auditorium shaking at the sound of his voice. "I will plunge the world into eternal darkness, raining blood upon the land, all funded by taxing the top one percent who are not paying their fair share!"

The audience applauded.

"I'm sorry," said the moderator, "but you can't just materialize in the debate like this."

"Your soul is mine!" O'Yama yelled, and a beam emerged from his fingertips. Soon the moderator was reduced to nothing but a skeleton.

"Well, I welcome any Democrat to the debate," Sen. Joe Liberman said, "but I'm not sure that eternal darkness is the direction we want to take the country in."

More,much more, at: The Demoncrat

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 14, 2003 11:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Supremes to Take the Pledge

Supreme Court to decide on use of Pledge in U.S. schools

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will decide whether the Pledge of Allegiance recited by generations of American schoolchildren is an unconstitutional blending of church and state....

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the First Amendment and the Supreme Court's precedents make clear that tax-supported schools cannot lend their imprimatur to a declaration of fealty to "one nation under God."

The White House hinted that an administration-written brief in the case could be in the offing, with Scott McClellan, President Bush's spokesman, calling the Pledge of Allegiance "an important right that ought to be upheld."

We're not sure that the "Pledge" is a "right that ought to be upheld." We are sure that by hearing this case, the Supreme Court is going to be sending a big signal on the way it views the current direction of the ship of state.

Just in case they decide that God has no little desk in the classrooms of America any longer, here's a new version of The Pledge of Maybe that we published last July:

To: The Central Committee to Make America Nice Instead of Evil
From: Newspeak Central
Re: The Way Cool New Pledge

Dudes,Dudettes, and Others Between Genders,

At your command Newspeak Central has reviewed the "old and in the way" Pledge of Allegiance. After six months of multicultural diversity focus groups this is the new one. We hope you give us hugs for it.

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

Stinky, right? Who can say that with a straight face? Nobody cool, that's for sure. (Our new version is something MTV could make a video of once Justin Timberlake records it.)

Here's our edit and our thinking:
"I "
[ Too narcissistic -- Alter to "One may or may not"]

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

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

"to the Flag" [ The Flag? You've got to be kidding. No symbols drenched in blood, betrayal, slavery, corporate greed, unbridled lust of global domination allowed. Let's change it to "to the rainbow of diversity"]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You gotta agree that that JUST ROCKS!!!

Stay cool and rock on,
Joe Conason, Head Scribe,
CREEPC: Committee to Re-Elect President Clinton.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 14, 2003 10:46 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Class and Caste on the Internet


You are probably spending far too much time online when you begin to type in URLs found in the captions of cartoons. But, at the same time, you'd be smart to follow any URLs Chris Muir feels are interesting enought for "Day by Day."

That's certainly the case this morning when he points to a fascinating essay on Class warfare on the Internet.

The upper classes are not amused by efforts to level the playing field, and so while the Internet (and college subsidies) happen to do just that, the result is modern class warfare as the upper class fights back, probably by using the Internet's own tools for democracy.

One such tool is the digital identity, or the electronic signature. With Public Key Cryptography you can create an electronic key that cannot be forged, and that establishes the identity part. But these keys can also be signed by someone else, and the goal is the transference of trust: if I trust Charles, and Charles signs Vyvian's key, then I can now trust that Vyvian is who Charles says he is. If Vyvian then signs Reginald's key then Reginald is indirectly trusted, but not as much as Vyvian. If it turns out that Reginald has plans to spoil the party by signing Bubba's key, then everybody can punish Reginald by setting their software to distrust Reginald's key and any key signed with it.

These layers of signatures can be used to build a hierarchy and a new way of identifying class; if you want to create an exclusive Internet club who's members can only be two levels of trust away from Charles, then it's as simple as writing a few lines of code on the login screen. If you want to screen job applicants, then you can require their electronic signature (which could be considered reasonable now that many people apply for jobs online). These networks are cryptographically secure, so nobody from the lower classes can break into them.

A highly worthwhile look at how the Internet may not be the key to a classless society after all along with asides on how sometimes good intentions carry within them the seeds of their own defeat.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 14, 2003 9:41 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Gore, "Liberal TV", and the Investment Method

Hungry for "younger, hipper audience."

Who says there's no good news?


NEW YORK ( -- Former Vice President Al Gore and a group of investors have plans to launch an all-news channel, but it won't be a liberal alternative to Fox News. Instead, it will be aimed at the under-25 crowd.

"Liberal TV is dead on arrival," said an insider advising Mr. Gore and his team. "You just can't do it."

We wonder how much this insider was paid to deliver this message to the Gore Squad? Anything over 25 cents and two Wheaties boxtops was too much. Perhaps they sat down and watched a few hours of news programs on PBS, NBC, CBS, ABC and those guys selling knives over on Home Shopping. Lots of competition out there for any TV company that bills itself as "liberal."

But perhaps this was
Gore's plan all along. He's working the Investment Method That's the method that says the only way to the only way to winkle seed money out of liberals with far too much of it is to assure them that:
1) It is for a "good cause",
2) It is a sure fire bet to lose money
3) It will, dare I say it?, SAVE THE PLANET! Only under these perverse circumstances, are certain folks willing to open their checkbooks.

Al had a lot of success with this during his run for President and he go "so close" that certainly he'll come up a winner this time. Due dilligence that looks too closely at his resume for those entries about companies he has run and the years that he has spent in the private sector is just too tedious to contemplate. Better, much better to kick back and envision about the "Al Gore Media Empire."

Now that Gore's gotten his seed capital, it is time for Round Two. Round Two is the part where you assure people with even bigger checkbooks that: "It won't really lose money, we were just saying that."

And what better way to convince people that your media turkey is really a swan than to trot out your "way new business plan" -- the youth market. After all, everybody knows that the American youth market gets absolutely no attention whatsoever from the American media. Why it is a gold mine, an unexplored gold mine.

Of course, the truth is that the youth market of America has been stripmined down to the bedrock via every media known to marketingdroids right down to DVDs being glued to popcorn bags at the movies.

Nevertheless, the question remains whether or not "a professional news operation reaching an aware, younger, hipper audience" can be brought to break-even by the stunningly numbing Al Gore?

Will it be The Daily Show 24/7?

Will it run clips of Al's music videos in heavy rotation?

Will it hoover endless piles of liberal investors' discretionary income into the bottomless pit of Al Gore's business plan? We certainly hope so. Anything that keeps this man out of office and away from reinventing the Internet will, dare I say it, SAVE THE WORLD!

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 14, 2003 7:13 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
All Relative

Escher's "Relativity" in LEGO

Andrew Lipson has a special place in his heart for LEGOs. That's a good thing since it leads to these "Works of the Lego Masters":

"Daniel Shiu and I worked on this as a joint project after we finished our rendition of Escher's "Ascending and Descending", making it our fourth Escher picture rendered in LEGO. Once again, no camera tricks, but the picture has to be taken from exactly the right place, and boy did we get tired of trying to find where that place was. The whole thing took five or six evenings spread over two or three weeks. Most of the last evening was taken up with setting up the lighting the way we wanted it and trying to get the camera position just right...

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 14, 2003 6:54 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Rise of the Machines: New Martial Arts Robots to Defeat Mankind, Take Over World

"Asia's largest electronics and computing fair in Tokyo -- CEATEC 2003 (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) -- was kicked off Saturday with the unveiling of robots that can do martial arts. A robot called Morph3 has 138 pressure sensors, 30 different onboard motors and 14 computer chips and special programming that enables it to do karate. A Fujitsu robot called HOAP-2 does a Chinese martial art called taijiquan and Sumo stances." [Mike's List: The Raw Feed]

EX-Cuse me, but did anybody in Japan see the Terminator movies? If so, were they poorly dubbed?

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 13, 2003 6:08 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Astronomers date Universe's 'cosmic jerk': Neither Andy Rooney or Rush Limbaugh

New Scientist Oct 13 2003 11:29AM ET [Moreover Science News]

The point when the repulsive force of dark energy overwhelmed gravity and started the accelerating expansion of the Universe that continues today has been revealed.

"It happened five billion years ago," says Adam Riess, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. "That was when the Universe stopped slowing down and began to accelerate, experiencing a cosmic jerk."

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 13, 2003 4:33 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Dinosaurs 16, Small Furry Mammals, 5 Billion

The ever-lucid Clay Shirky has written one of the best essays yet on why the RIAA's cmapaign to make its customers hate the recording industry is doomed in File-sharing Goes Social

The RIAA has taken us on a tour of networking strategies in the last few years, by constantly changing the environment file-sharing systems operate in. In hostile environments, organisms often adapt to become less energetic but harder to kill, and so it is now. With the RIAA's waves of legal attacks driving experimentation with decentralized file-sharing tools, file-sharing networks have progressively traded efficiency for resistance to legal attack.

The RIAA has slowly altered the environment so that relatively efficient systems like Napster were killed, opening up a niche for more decentralized systems like Gnutella and Kazaa. With their current campaign against Kazaa in full swing, we are about to see another shift in network design, one that will have file sharers adopting tools originally designed for secure collaboration in a corporate setting.

Read on to find out the full recipe for failure the record moguls are currently pursuing.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 13, 2003 4:28 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Roll Your Own Segway: Half-off

Weird at Twice the Price

Trevor Blackwell has whipped up his verions of the Segway in the gargage. Let him show you the trips and traps of Building a Balancing Scooter

Self-balancing scooters, like the Segway™ are often thought to be technological miracles, but it is not actually very hard to build one. I built the one described here in about a week using off-the-shelf parts. I spent another week tweaking the high-speed stability, improving the steering control, and writing about it. Altogether it cost about $2000, or $2500 if you include the one-time costs of buying development kits and parts I ended up not using. That's less than half the cost of a Segway.
Warning: while you will save lots of money, you'll still look like a geek on this thing and be clothesline bait to every wiseguy in the city.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 13, 2003 4:15 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Emergent democracy is not the same as direct democracy" -- Wanna bet?

Joi Ito, current transnational poster child for the "virtual community" set (Remember that one?), is powering his non-stop trans-global conventioneering by spreading the "meme" (Remember that one) of "emergent democracy" (Remember that one? No? It used to be called "direct democracy," but if Ito called it that he'd have no central schtick.)

But like all other tired and discredited ideas that tag something "emergent" in order to get a fresh lap around the track of credulous minds, Ito has a bit of a problem telling anyone the way in which "emergent democracy" is all that different from 'direct democracy." His effort today amounts to:

Emergent democracy IS NOT [Note: the use of all caps at the beginning of a definition of what something isn't is usually a pretty good clue that it is. -- ed] the same as using technology to scale direct democracy. Emergent democracy is about leadership through giving up control, activating the people to engage through deliberation and action, and allowing emergent order to grow from the grass roots. [I have a sneaking suspicion that this used to be called Anarchism before it got a bad name by starting the First World War -- ed ] It's the difference between a couch potato clicking the vote button and a group of people starting their own Dean coalition group.[So that means that clicking a remote is different from clicking a link, right? Why? Because "the people' make the links? Who makes the TV channels? -- ed ]

That's the difference between the Dean Campaign and what just happened in California. They may both be symptoms of people unhappy with the current regime, but they are very different types of democracy.

[Joi Ito's Web]
And that difference would be... would be... that in the California election 10 million people got out of their chairs, went to a polling place, stood in line and cast their ballots, while in the Dean Campaign some tens of thousands (maybe) clicked around and made Paypal contributions while slamming up cloned web sites. Then they went to a rally.

Call us old-fashioned but the California election seems to be a lot more meaningful in terms of Democracy than a bunch of nerds sitting around typing, cutting and pasting for Dean.

Ito seems to be a pleasant enough chap -- full of enthusiasm for his "new ideas," and possessed of a couple of pallets of charm. He puts lots of pictures of "Nerds with the Need to Know," up on his site and seems to spend a lot of time just hanging with the semi-big dogs. But as far as his intellectual weight goes, it strikes us as being a 2003 do-over of the stuff John Perry Barlow used to afflict the world with. The main difference is that Barlow was a much more entertaining lunatic, and you had to go deeper to find out just how shallow he was.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 13, 2003 3:20 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Poseur Alert: The Plame Game @ NPR

This one from The Ombudsman at National Public Radio

[A]stute listeners have noted that the name of Ambassador Wilson's wife has never been mentioned on NPR's air.

News Vice President Bruce Drake had this explanation for a reporter:
On issues like these, where there are questions of privacy or other issues that make you think twice about divulging someone's name, I prefer to err on the side of being conservative. In this case, there was no journalistically compelling reason to name her and keep naming her in our news reports, given that she was already put in a difficult position. She is a bystander rather than a player in this story and I don't think that our listeners lost anything in terms of the important elements by not knowing her name.

While I understand and would normally agree with this logic on most stories where privacy is an issue, the point of not sharing a name that has been in every other medium seems lost. I think it ill-served the listeners in this case. The unintended consequence of leaving her name out caused some listeners to wonder if there is some nefarious political reason behind this. NPR appeared (to me) to be unnecessarily high-minded in keeping the name out of its reports.

Astute listeners will have spotted more than one instance where the items on NPR seem to come from minds that are high.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 13, 2003 11:55 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
First Bluelight Special

A large 500 watt Mazda C-type lamp, just over 9 inches tall. These were the first coiled tungsten filament lamps (which are still used to this date and have remained largely unchanged), introduced in high wattage types in 1913. A year later these "smaller" (but still impressive) 500 and 200 watt types were introduced. Daylight blue glass was used on some of these for factory lighting- it gives a purer whiter light that is more natural and pleasant to work under. This idea is still used today.
From: The Bulb Museum

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 13, 2003 9:49 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Email of the Day So Far

As received...

From: "S. V."
Date: Mon Oct 13, 2003 8:20:11 AM US/Pacific
To: "G. V."
Subject: FW: Jan, The 2004 Trailer Life Directory is here

This is the kind of header that tells you your life is moving in the right direction.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 13, 2003 9:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Yes, Margaret Cho IS William Burroughs Redux Reanimated

That "Deer-in-the-Headlights" Look

Former comedian Margaret Cho has been gratifying her need for attention between her once a decade TV specials, with what can be, I suppose, called a "blog." It's more like one of those LiveJournal Pages one reads where a young girl's angst over life with a big L turns against her and leads to entires referencing her “incineration of beloved Teddy Bears,” the “evil boyfriend/girlfriend,” her “struggle against bulemia,” her “multiple facial piercings,” and then “puppy strangulation” just before the page goes ominously silent.

Alas, silence is not Ms. Cho's problem -- although it could be her solution. Be warned that visiting her page can be as addictive as watching paint flake off the wall, or people check into a detox clinic after going one toke over the line on the neighborhood crack bong.

Today, Ms. Cho has chosen to share with us her uncut mental video tape on the subject of Columbus. She's obviously done a lot of 'original research:

I have been to that island [Where Columbus landed], and will never return, because there is not a moment where I don't feel the pain and the madness, because the ground is soaked with blood, the air is angry and whips around me like a howling ghost, the rain comes down hard to wash the memory of the dead away, but they cannot leave, because the original owners of the property have yet to receive payment even after the FINAL NOTICE remains long overdue. They rage at me, for they can see I know better, that I know to not go there, not to walk over the silver coins scattered on the ground, the Monopoly money left by the crew of the Chris and the Round World Posse, an injurious insult to the body count that can never be tallied because it is too high. Margaret Cho BLOG
Whew! A normal person might assume that Ms. Cho is diving into the Betty Ford before signing a five year contract with Hollywood Squares. But we see it differently.

It is clear to us that Ms. Cho is channeling the late William Burroughs.

Burroughs perfected the writing technique of cutting up newspapers, pasting the strips back in random order, and recording what these prophecies of our modern era told him.

Ms. Cho has taken Burroughs’ technique one step further by eliminating the newspaper and just cutting her mind into strips, hitting the randomize button on her history filter, and spewing the result directly into the web. A brilliant innovation sure to be copied by many in the very near future.

When it is, we hope that many will take the opportunity of reminding Ms. Cho that, while it is okay to emulate dead junkies like William Burroughs, the blatant rip-off of Dennis Miller's rants using leftist lingo tilted far into the fourth dimension while dressed in an Emelda Marcos fright wig is not going to make her the Whoopi Goldberg of the 21st century any time soon.

Of course that's just my opinion. I could be right.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 13, 2003 8:39 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
American Culture's Race to the Bottom Continues

Nevada Outhouse Racers Aim at Royal Flush

AP - With names like "Pee II" and the "Urinator," they rolled down the main drag of this old western town to cheering fans and awe-struck visitors who questioned the locals' sanity....

"It's bizarre," said Brett Coleman, 30, a financial manager from Seattle visiting a friend in nearby Carson City.

"But it combines two popular things: restrooms and racing."

Even organizer Lou Tassone admits the event is a bit odd.

"It's always been kind of a wacky, crazy thing," he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The races began in 1999, when local business leaders first attached wheels to the outdoor commodes. Twenty-two outhouses and portable toilets took part in the competition Saturday and Sunday. [Yahoo! News - Oddly Enough]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 12, 2003 4:19 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"...cohort psychological dependence on their "coming-of-age" experience."

It is not just "the Net of a billion lies" it is also the Net of a million moments of weird synchronicity. No sooner had I posted the item immediately below on the major malfunciton of modern major media mugwhumps, than I clicked over to Slate's "Doonesbury" page. Now I never, ever, bother to read or pay attention to Doonesbury any more -- too much of the "been there, done that, have the T-shirt" quality in that old chestnut. But I had some thoughts about Chris Muir's Day by Day as the Doonesbury of this decade and I wanted to check in on the Trudeau factory and see what it was churning out.

What it is churning out, this week, is this:

You'll have to click and enlarge the image to get a clear idea of the content, but it is exactly what the item below talks about: The ossified intellect of person who came of age in the late 60s, who learned to leverage that sensibility into a comfortable life,and now churns out work in the 21st century that has nothing to do with the times we live in, but everything to do with the times he was young in.

This is no surprise when it comes to Trudeau. He's been struck in an intellectual roach motel ("The ideas check in, but they don't check out!") for over 20 years. But this strip, part of a running "gag", is essential evidence for the propostion that the intellectual ideas of Left/Liberal Americans are, like the American Groves of Academe, stands of petrified forest.

You have the Apocalypse Now 'updated' river patrol, you've got the assumption that the new grunts are the same as the old grunts, and you've got 'Duke' the Hunter Thompson avatar still crazy and still young after all these years. It's tired and it's trivial and it's lacking in new ideas. Worst of all, it isn't funny. At best, it elicits a wry, mocking sort of dry chuckle inside of dry souls.

You can almost hear Trudeau singing as he cobbles this strip together:

V is for the vic-tor-y we blew off!
I is for the inside scoops I got.
E is for the enemy that Jane loved.
T is for the time when I was hot

N is for my ni-hil-is-tic humor
A is for awards that come my way
M is for the money I've been making....

Put them all together,
They spell VIET-NAM!
The word that means
The world
To Me!

So maybe all this really is a bunch of aging media hipsters pining for the fjords of their lost youth. Scanning Doonesbury, buying Michael Moore and Al Franken ephemera, sending in fat checks to Howard Dean... a kind of generational upper-midlife-crisis. That would be one explanation and a benign one. The possibility that they actually still get off on this stuff is too horrible to contemplate.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 12, 2003 3:25 PM | Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Demosophia on When Good News Happens to Bad People

I must admit that Demosophia has a much greater tolerance for endlessly repeated nonsense than I have. Perhaps it is because, being younger, he simply hasn't seen the news repeat itself often enough. But it is more likely that, being smarter, he possesses the ability to make some sort of sense of it. I started to watch the MSNBC Chris Matthews' Grindhouse episode he writes about, but after about ten seconds I decided that things would be more enlightening over on the Home Shopping Network. (Scored another zirconium spatula!)

Still, I should have stuck it out just in order to see what one could make of the Nth recycling of the same old mindset: Iraq = Vietnam.

Alas, poor MSNBC. Two famous parents and it is still an intellectual basket case. You'd think that Bill Gates could put a little of his millions in educational grants into wising up the marks at this shabby excuse for a news channel.

At any rate, Demosophia sums up the commentators' major malfunction with:

But what really perplexes me is how the sort of disinformation campaign that Klein and O'Donnell are promoting can continue without eventually losing readership for their employers, especially if the responsible press keeps reporting things as they are, spurred by direct dispatches from the men at the front. Which reminds me: Isn't a situation where the frontline troops correct the press about being too pessimistic about as different from Vietnam as it's possible to conceive? Why isn't this a lead story somewhere? Or at least the subject of a well written editorial? It's a delicious and instructive sort of irony.

What's going on with the press has become a matter for social psychologists. I think what's happening is that the Vietnam generation is traumatized by the fact that we are rapidly leaving that era behind, and moving into an entirely different historical landscape. I think this is really about a sort of group or cohort psychological dependence on their "coming-of-age" experience. And it will finally come to a head in the election of 2004.[Emphasis added]

Those last two sentences I find really striking. Mostly because people like Joe Klein et. al. who prate about the Vietnam era are, in a very real sense, my people. They are all about my age. They've all been in and around the news and the media for three or more decades. They were all involved in or the victims of the kind of thinking that was fashionable in the late 60s and early 70s. And, at the time, I admit, that sort of thinking made a kind of sense.

But here they are, over thirty years on, and they are still ruled by it. It is as if nothing that has happened since has made a dent in their thinking, has changed their point of view about the world. They've been in some sort of universe that didn't branch with events but ground on in a steady state so that by now the deviation of their universe from the reality of this one gives their pronouncements and prognostications the same flavor as the back story for Carnevale -- a lot of boom and bluster, endless portents, shaken shibboleths and symbols all adding up to nothing other than a confused muddle. More and more the opinions of these "media masters," these go-to-for-meaning" Golums of cable news, seem to be phoning in descriptions of conditions on the Planet Mongo. People like Klein and Dowd and their ilk more and more seem like billboards for the concept: "A mind is a terrible thing to petrify." But at the same time I know that, at this point, they're all in it for the main chance. They're known to have a certain schtick and sticking to it. How else would the producers of cable talk shows know who to book for a predictable series of responses?

It is sad, really. I look at these commentators, some of whom I've known over the years, and I think about how quaintly historical they've become. I don't think, "God, what happened to you?" I think, "God, what didn't happen to you?"

And as for joining these representatives of my generation in their "cohort psychological dependence on their "coming-of-age" experience" ... well, include me out.

Update: Demosophia rightly takes me to task for assuming that he is younger than I am. I am properly chastened and will endeavor to make no more unwarrented assumptions.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 12, 2003 2:45 PM | QuickLink: Permalink


Forget about the Liberal News Network If Al Gore and his business buddies really wanted to start a media outlet that would benefit America, another Fountain of Feedback is not what we need. Instead, consider the idea T. J. Sejnowski puts forward in Science's Tap into Science 24-7

C-SPAN reaches 80 million U.S. households, providing information on policy and politics 24 hours a day. It provides complete, unedited coverage of speeches and proceedings that affect public policy, without filtering by commentators and pundits. In Washington, D.C., C-SPAN is an ever-present part of the background buzz.

What we need is a C-SPAN for science: a cable science network (CSN). This network would carry live lectures by knowledgeable scientists on topics ranging from climate change to biological warfare, as well as debates on issues from the biological basis of aggression to missile defense. A wide range of programs is available from events such as the AAAS meetings, public conferences (4), and annual lectures (5). It is time for science to join the background buzz.

At times of crisis, such as the anthrax attacks in America in 2001, CSN would provide accurate, timely scientific information. Instead of hearing on a U.S. national TV broadcast that anthrax is a virus, concerned citizens could have had the world's leading experts on infectious disease available 24 hours a day. CSN would be more reliable than government sources: during the anthrax crisis, NIH scientists who had accurate information were not allowed to make public statements, even about the effects of stress on health. The recent outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is another example where timely expert advice was needed.

You'll note he's not calling out for another Discovery or TLC, but a serious science network for serious people.

So, I put it to you, what would be best for the country at this time? A series of shows batting the He Said/She Said politics potato back and forth between the lying liars of DemLibs TV and the Lying Liars of Fox News, or a show that seriously covers and expands this nation's knowledge of science and technology? It's not rocket science. Indeed, the question seems to be more of a nobrainer than the Geraldo Show.

How to actually make it happen? I'm sure the Web has more than ideas. If you find any, leave them here. I'll be scanning as well.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 12, 2003 11:32 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
DADA Points in Modern Cinema

John Gaeta, the art director for the Matrix movies, is currently busy impressing an audience in Barcelona. Besides assuring us that Matrix Revolution is going to have "more bullets" (What a relief that is!), he also is outlining his next 100 years: "I want to make an electrochemical movie. In the year 2099 I'll be 130 years old, but I think around 2063 I'm going to have my brain taken out and have it inserted into a clone who's about 21 years old. Maybe some bionic augmentation upgrades, too."

Call us crazy, but we think dumping your 130 year old brain into a 21 year old clone is enough bionic augmentation for one century.

From :Boing Boing

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 12, 2003 1:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Question of the Day Answered

Mark Frauenfelder asks on Boing Boing:

"Why were computers beige colored? Why were most personal computers colored beige? I seem to remember reading that some researchers (at 3M?) used focus groups to determine that beige was the most non-obtrusive color to use in an office setting, but I can't find a reference. If you know, email me at

Mark, the reason computers are beige is that right after IBM got into bed with Microsoft, IBM found itself lying on its back and thinking, "Beige. I think I'll paint the computers beige."

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 12, 2003 12:58 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Note to Radical Islam: Driving Israel Into the Sea May Not Be Such a Good Idea After All

Israel Can Launch Nuclear Weapons from Subs

Reuters - U.S. and Israeli officials say Israel has modified U.S.-made Harpoon cruise missiles so it can launch nuclear warheads from submarines, the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday.

[ Yahoo News]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 11, 2003 10:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Making the Non-partisan Partisan

An email from our friend Jeanne A. E. DeVoto, states some obvious and not so obvious truths about the bipolar disorder currently afflicting the Democratic party:

Subject: What gets to me that, as far as I can tell from here, the recall *wasn't partisan* until the election was over and the Democrats started trying to make it partisan.

The recall wasn't a popular idea because Californians had suddenly gotten it into their heads that they preferred Republicans; it was because everyone in California wanted Gray Davis ground up and sold as fiber supplement.

I doubt one voter in ten voted along party lines in the replacement election, and Ahnold (for that matter) could have run just as credibly as a fiscally-conservative Dem candidate and I doubt it would have changed the overall outcome.

But. As soon as it became clear that their man had lost, out come the core activists, screaming at the tops of their lungs about how the voters are dumb, we're going to recall Schwartzenegger immediately, this is all Bush's fault, and so on.

Now that's one thing. Core activists are a little crazy, that's why they spend so much energy on factionalism. [emphasis added.]

But here are the Democratic party leaders and spokescreatures, and they're doing exactly the same thing. Bob Mulholland, Terry McAuliffe, that crack from John Vasconcellas about how voters who would do such a thing as elect a Republican don't deserve his service so he might not bother going back to the legislature, that crack from Sheila What's-her-name about how she doesn't think she'll bother going to the State of the State... because the governor's a Republican.

What kind of fool takes a non-partisan situation and makes sure the voters will see it as partisan, AFTER it's clear that their party will be on the losing side if partisanship comes into it? Do they not understand that the voters' feelings about Gray, heretofore not particularly directed at Democrats qua Democrats, are about to be? Do they not realize they are shooting themselves in both feet? --

jeanne a. e. devoto ~
What does not kill us makes us stranger.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 11, 2003 10:24 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Words to Live By

"The limitless euphoria of the beginning belongs to the past,"

-- Arnoud de Kemp, on Bubble Bursts for E-Books

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 11, 2003 10:00 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Desperate Measures from a Desperate Brand

In their ongoing campaign to make their customers hate them, AOL announced this week:AOL Instant Messenger to Run TV-Like Ads

America Online plans to launch a new ad offering in November on its AOL Instant Messenger service that will let marketers deliver creative executions that resemble TV commercials.
You've got to admire a company that is so consistent in identifying what its customers like and then mucking it up. It isn't enough that logging onto AOL most resembles the 30 minutes of ads and previews that come before the movie you've paid to see. It isn't enough that they've covered the earth three times over with their discs. And it isn't enough that their chats rooms spawn more teenage sexual encounters than puberty itself.

No. Now it seems that the mighty brain trust at AOL has decided that the one thing you need to see more of on AIM is .... television commercials! Yes, that is the one thing that America demands in 2003 -- "Give us MORE! television commercials! Especially when we're talking with our friends."

It seems that the craven money grubbing AOL does have its form of corporate shame. The article in ADweek notes that they are just a wee bit nervous that the 30 million users of AIM might contain more than a few people that would react in negative numbers to this new innovation. A spokesclone for AOL claimed that "will run only two of these ads during a 24-hour period and will block the same one from appearing in the same day, " [Only at the beginning, of course...] and that ""We've encouraged our partners to be very creative and go beyond the re-purposed [TV] spot," said Bernstein.

Oh, yes, yes, yes! The "Be Creative" angle... that's sure to cover up the fact that your AIM is being videospammed. It's clear that AOL views the AIM users as possessed of something south of a three digit IQ.

Bernstein remarks he expects advertisers to be attracted to AIM's "bipolar demographic." Bipolar? Too many TV ads in your IM and you'll become bipolar -- if you aren't already there.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 11, 2003 9:17 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
When Good Ideas Go Bad

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Britney Spears can rest easy,
Maryland's first lady doesn't really want to shoot the pop star.
And now she's apologized too.

- - Maryland First Lady Apologizes to Britney Spears

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 11, 2003 8:58 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
What 87 Billion Looks Like

Those two little blotches are a person and an automobile.
Click to enlarge

Eighty-Seven Billion dollars ... This is what the President is asking for. It is 100 feet tall, 250 feet long,ï¿Š and 125 feet wide. A stack of singles would be 28,998,000 feet, or over 5,492 miles, or a round-trip between Washington DC and Los Angeles, California. (2,650 miles, one-way).A Boeing 737-200 jet is 100 feet long. You could fit 2 of those jets nose to nose along the length of this pile, and have room to spare.ï¿Š$87 billion is more than all of the states' current budget deficits, combined.ï¿Š$87 billion is more than twice the amount we're spending on Homeland Security.

A masterful illustration of what $87,000,000,000.00 looks like. From Dave Faris at Crunchland. What is even more interesting is seeing how he gets there from one thin dollar.

Check the link and get a feeling for real folding money.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 11, 2003 8:39 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Packaging of Ideas

"I for one believe that if you give people a thorough
understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes
that produce it, they'll create their own program, and when
the people create a program, you get action."
- Malcolm X

From gillen

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 11, 2003 6:02 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Governator Schwarzenegger (Call for votes)
governator "guh-vern-ate-er" Name for Arnold Shwarzenegger after running for governor, mix between a governor and a terminator. "Arnold Schwarzenegger is running for goverator."

Via: UrbanDictionary

HT: Michael's Web

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 11, 2003 5:05 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Unbearable Clarity of Victor Hanson

I tried to say it here but Victor Davis Hanson, as always, says it much better (and more concisely) inLegends of the Fall: More myths about the current war.

"The war is against 'terror'." As a number of astute observers have reminded us, terror is a method, not an enemy. And we are no more in a war against it than we were once fighting the scourge of Zeros or the plague of Soviet MiGs.

Such vague, loose nomenclature is reassuring, of course, in our therapeutic society. It ensures that we are not really angry at any one person or nation, but rather at an abstraction — as if somewhere there were soldiers with caps embroidered, " Republic of Terror," or crowds chanting "Up with Terror, Down with the USA," or perhaps thuggish leaders in sunglasses and khaki who beat their shoes at the U.N. and warn, "Terrorism will bury you."

In fact, those who employ terror of the type that culminated (rather than began) on September 11 are real people with real government backing. They cannot operate without money, havens, and at least passive complicity. Who are they? Aside from the deposed Taliban, al Qaeda, of course; but also Hezbollah and its sponsors in Iran — as well as Islamofascist groups funded and abetted by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. After 9/11, any autocratic country in the Middle East that had recently gone to war with the United States and cumulatively required 350,000 American air sorties, twelve years, $20 billion of policing, and occupation of two-thirds of its airspace to prevent genocide was an enemy, both de facto and — given Iraq's violation of the armistice accords of 1991 — de jure. That Abu Abbas and Abu Nidal were in Baghdad before the war, and al Qaeda afterward, is the expected calculus of the Hussein regime and its noxious fumes.

While we may be in various stages of bellicosity with differing states, the fact is that after September 11 we will either accept defeat and stay within our borders to fight a defensive war of hosing down fires, bulldozing rubble, arresting terrorist cells, and hoping to appease or buy off our enemies abroad — or we will eventually have to confront Syria, Lebanon's Bekka Valley, Saudi Arabia, and Iran with a clear request to change and come over to civilization, or join the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.

The remainder of Hanson's insights are in the National Review Online

Alert via the ever-watchful LGF ]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 10, 2003 10:25 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Jumps. Shoots. Scores!

Chris Muir's brilliant Day by Day is in the zone today.


Posted by Vanderleun Oct 10, 2003 9:55 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
From Your Mouth to God's Ears

The Current Mayor of San Francisco is on the Left

"... the day before the election, I was feeling really defeated. Bush is President, and Schwarzenegger would likely be my governor -- what next, Sponge Bob Square-Pants as my mayor?"
-- Anne Lamott Given that Anne lives in San Francisco, this would be an improvement.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 10, 2003 9:09 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Salon $191,250 Closer to Breaking Even

One of the last staggering dinosaurs of the era lurched about $200K closer to solvency today when it dropped Michael O'Donnell, the grossly overpaid chief executive. O'Donnell said he felt "it was time to move on," to the relief of his family who were terrified he was about to "spend more time with them."

In a SF Gate article:Salon chief calling it quits after 7 years we are informed:

O'Donnell earned an annual salary of $191,250, with his contract entitling him to nine months of severance pay if he left for "a good reason," according to filings at the Securities and Exchange Commission. O'Donnell declined to discuss his financial arrangements.

David Talbot, Salon's chairman, editor in chief and new chief executive, said the "richly deserved" severance package was "mutually agreeable."

Well, we agree. Although we think that the 54 surviving employees might be muttering, "Where's the Kool-Aid?"

Still, this is arguably the best step Salon has taken since making itself into a pay site where items such as the bulk of Joe Conason's Journal and its carping revisionism are safely hidden behind a begging screen.

Unfortunately for the struggling site, David Talbot remains at the helm to treat us to such car-sized sauropod coprolites as this morning's effort at transforming the quasi-quisling Joseph Wilson into "A true American hero."

[Clue to Talbot from a recent post somewhere in the blogsphere: "Dave, it's about the book deal. It is always about the book deal."

Evidently as long as there are silly silicon millionaires willing to dump pocket change into Salon's always lint-ridden pockets, Talbot's annual quarter-mil plus is secure.

It's good that the investors are all men and not "Mothers Who Think."

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 10, 2003 8:46 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
There's Something Strange in the Neighborhood

In the course of human events, there is a long list of disasters filed under "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time." Following the landslide vote in California on Tuesday, there are many people here and around the nation that are praying the Recall proves to be one of them. They are the same people who in more superstitious times would be whistling through the graveyard humming:

There's something strange in your neighborhood
Who you gonna call?
There's something weird and it don't look good
Who you gonna call?
I ain't afraid of no ghost
I ain't afraid of no ghost

It's clear a couple of days after the Recall that there is something strange in the neighborhood, something strange and it don't look good -- for the Democratic Party, that is. And, in all likelihood, in time, for the Republican Party as well.

Daniel Henninger has an illuminating essay (To Find the Center, Turn Right ) in this morning's Wall St. Journal on the seismic shift that the recall election portends and, as far as he goes, he's correct in his analysis:

"...once the tectonic plates of this recall-cum-gubernatorial election stopped shifting, the one political monument that I saw lying in pieces was the traditional notion of just who and what constitutes a "moderate." As of Tuesday's reordering in California, I think the definition of political "moderate" has shifted seismically to the right....

"... Arnold Schwarzenegger upended two other longstanding shibboleths--media bias and the "litmus test."

Media bias, long thought to be a cyborg that hunts down and destroys GOP candidates, may be morphing into a new engine of GOP voter turnout. And the single-issue litmus test (abortion, gun control, et al.), assumed to be a constant obstacle to GOP success, may also be finished. The overturned dumpster of moldy womanizing stories did not faze either evangelicals or women, the primary target. Among women, 43% voted for Mr. Schwarzenegger (and in this soccer-mom Disneyland, an additional 14% voted for the not-too-cuddly Mr. McClintock). "

Henninger is always an astute commentator on our politics and our culture, but for all that he is right in this article, he is not yet ready to take the next step. He's not quite ready to see that there's a new game in town.

His thesis is that one block of voters shifted from one side of the political spectrum to another part of that spectrum -- a blue shift instead of a red shift, if you will. From my perspective here in a small town on the Southern California coast, the mood Tuesday was more in line with the ee cummings poem that ends with, "listen: there's a hell of a nice universe next door, let's go."

You see, I think what the Recall portends for America across the next two national election cycles is a vast migration to an entirely new political party that is neither Republican nor Democrat. It doesn't have a name yet and it doesn't have a leadership either, but it is forming across the nation just as certain as the law of gravity.

In order to make his case for the center shifting to the right of moderate Republicans, Henninger studies and interprets the "exit polls." That's not a bad idea, and a lot of pundits are going to be popping off Exit Poll Powerpoint slideshows by the thousands in the coming weeks to buttress their positions. But, as we all know, Powerpoint is really beside the point. And reading Exit Polls or any other kind of polls is just our era's version of Arithmancy, Augury, The Tarot and other forms of divination. In the end, the only poll that counts is the one they count on election day. That poll tells us that the people of the previously staunchly Democratic state of California have booted out one staunch Democrat, rejected a paunchy one, and elected ... a hybrid Republican?

In the rooms where the leaders of the National Democratic Party party, the DJ is certainly spinning, "Strange days have found us / Strange days have tracked us down." And as everyone knows, you just can't dance to that song.

But if the Republicans are kicking back and lighting up stogies with Arnold at some Hummer tailgater in Anaheim, they'd better check the filler in those blunts. Because the same bell that tolled clearly for the Left and the Liberal Democrats on Tuesday will be heard by the Republicans once their festivities chill.

What the California Recall signals is not, to my mind, a shift from one party to the other, but a signal that, in a very real sense, the party's over for both parties.

Thinking back over the months consumed by the launching of the recall petition, the accruing of the signatures, the certification process, and the events leading up to the election itself, a dominant theme was "Isn't this just crazy, isn't it a circus, isn't it just so, so California?" And the answer was, "Why yes it is all that. All that and more. So what?"

The voters of California, in their astounding turnout of 7 million, will tell you what.

What it is is that there are a lot of people here in 21st century America who are fed up with a political structure built in 19th century America. Worse than that, much worse than that, they are bored with it. Bored, numb, disbelieving, untrusting, unenchanted and retroactively neither amused nor entertained. They know in their bones, and have known since September 11, 2001, that joke time is over. Up until now the popular way of expressing this deeply disgusted feeling with American politics was, whenever we have an election, to stay away in droves. And for the waning decades of the 20th century, this implicit "None-of-the-Above" vote grew larger.

Yes, we had the regular shirt-tearing plaints of the professional political establishment that it was horrible how fewer and fewer people voted. Yes, we suffered through the tawdry tedium of "Get Out the Vote" campaigns from the League of Women Voters to the banality of MTV video campaigns. The truth, however, was that both parties of the political establishment liked it the way it was.

The fewer people that voted, the easier and cheaper it was for them to load up the vans with the aged, the infirm, and the unionized, and truck them on down to the polls on election day. The fewer people who actively engaged in politics, the better the control of the professional political establishment over them. And the better the control, the more controllable the outcome. And the more predictable the outcome, the fewer the people who voted. As someone said a few days ago, "I try to become more cynical every year, but lately I just can't keep up."

What the Recall in California portends is that the current game in politics is scoreless, deep into extra innings, has few people in the stands, and is about to be called on account of increasingly severe seismic events across the political landscape. As Henninger notes in his metaphoric lead, California is used to living on the fault lines, and the Recall was one of them.

The untidy thing about Democracy is that, every so often, the people remember what it means and what can be done with it; that we can use this large and clumsy tool to change our fortunes, to deal us up "another future from a brand-new deck of cards." And every so often, it is the case that "politics as usual" makes the people so disenchanted and so angry that they begin to move in mysterious ways.

And that, rather than merely to the right, is where the electorate of California is moving. That's a death knell for the Democrats and it shouldn't warm the cockles of the cold Republican hearts either. Any movement on this level can only be, in the end, away from politics as usual and towards a new condition of Democracy. Only in California? Not at all. California may be crazy, loose and experimental but California, much more than the establishment enclaves of the East coast, controls the culture and determines which way the nation moves in the future.

William Gibson has written that "the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed." Well, the future has arrived in California and it doesn't look like the Democrats or the Republicans. I'm not sure what it looks like or what its name is, but I do know it is different, and I do know that the future will, because of what happened Tuesday in California, be very different than the future we had the week before. How do I know this? I'd like to say I've got the polls, and I've got the facts, and I've got the numbers. But I've got none of these things. I don't trust them anyway.

What I have got is a feeling, a feeling I haven't had for a very long time. But I remember when I did.

The last time I had this feeling this intensely was on December 3, 1964 when, as a very young man, I stood on the bricks of Sproul Hall at UC Berkeley and listened to a fiery and impassioned man say:

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!
Last Tuesday, I felt that machine cough, sputter and start to wind down.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 10, 2003 5:42 AM | Comments (38)  | QuickLink: Permalink
More Moore Spew

A three-corner shot from Jarvis to PhotoDude to here:

Moore Cluelessness - Jeff Jarvis notes that Michael Moore was on the Today show this morning, saying, "There is no terrorist threat."

Lester Holt, shocked, says is there not evidence of a terrorist threat just two miles away?

Moore says, "How many people died because of terrorism last year? None."

That may get by Lester Holt, but not the Photodude.
Well, let's check the list. I guess Australians are not people (August, 2002, 202 dead). Kenyans are not people (Nov., 2002, 16 dead). Saudis are not people (May, 2003, 34 dead). Moroccans are not people (May, 2003, 24 dead). Indonesians are not people (August, 2003, 12 dead).

Yet here’s Mikey suggesting these 288 people faced no threat from terrorism this past year. Perhaps they should just quit pretending and rise up from their graves.

It seems to me that people are wrong to get upset with Moore for putting these obviously shallow and incorrect notions out into the world. Putting shallow and incorrect notions out is his profession. He probably practices saying these things in the mirror the night before. And why not? He battens very well off the crudulity of his believers. They need him. They really, really need him.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 9, 2003 5:07 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
At Evening Near Moab, Utah

Click to Enlarge

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 9, 2003 4:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Souring Grapes of Wrath

This is why a majority of California voters are fed-up with traditional politics in the state. Plucked fresh from a site called Lisa Rein's Radar, we have the left's bitter politics of spite and recrimination in one slogging paragraph:

Well guys, we tried hard, but we were outnumbered by the sheep. However, it's not over. If I understand correctly from the little birdies I know, the next step is Recalling Arnold. People will start collecting signatures soon so keep an eye out. This isn't over yet. We won't just hand our state's future over without a fight. It may seem a little silly to go around and around like this, but they started it. In the mean time, try to keep your spirits up. At least Prop 54 didn't pass! I've got to go to a meeting this morning... [On Lisa Rein's Radar]

Note the tone of the embattled, defeated, but unbowed "good person" who has fought the "good fight." Note equally the scorn she has for the citizens of California, "the sheep." This is the kind of stuff you usually see in films about the inside secrets of some socialist/fascist regime where the brainwashed comrade Klara is reporting on her failures to the commissar but promising more ruthless tactics in the future until the People's Paradise is a reality.

Nowhere is there a smidgen of understanding that, in a democracy, and especially in an election whose turnout was far beyond expectations, the people (those dastardly sheep) really get to make the decision. It would seem Ms. Rein probably cut that class in Government to get out on the picket lines where the action was.

Then we have the snivel about 'little birdies' planning to get out and shove a Recall Arnold down everybody's throats. All I can say is, hey, make our day. It's not going to happen, but if it distracts fascists such as Rein from making mischief elsewhere, I'm for it.

And finally, Rein notes that she and her friends are not going to "hand our state's future over without a fight. " Again, she misses the fact that it really isn't the state of her and her friends. It is our state. All of us. That's the deal and that's going to stay the deal.

That meeting Lisa Rein alludes to? It's "at my local elementary school, where I'll be starting soon as an SF School Volunteer."

They'll probably have her teaching Civics.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 9, 2003 4:34 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Note to Poet George: Don't give up your day job.

A Pome by George W. Bush to his wife:

"Roses are red
Violets are blue
Oh my, lump in the bed
How I've missed you."

"Roses are redder
Bluer am I
Seeing you kissed
by that charming French guy."

This either signals a thaw in Franco-American Relations or a prelude to Defcon 1.

From: Laura Bush hosts Book Festival as president writes her a poem

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 9, 2003 4:04 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
ARNOLD:The Re-Makes

Maria: I can't believe it, it's like a dream. What's wrong?
Arnold: I just had a terrible thought: what if this is a dream?
Maria: Well then kiss me quick before you wake up.
-- Total Recall

We’ve just seen the remake Total Recall, and we know what that looks like. Not bad. Exciting. Multimedia. Real time. With a bit of sex, drugs and rock and roll thrown in to keep you interested. But what, just what, will come next? It is puzzling Punditland to no end, but then it is their nature to be puzzled. We’re here explain it all with a simple formula.

Granted it is difficult to tell what a political wild-card will do once he ascends to power. Who could have known 2 days after Ronald Reagan was elected Governor of California that he’d one day be President of the United States (other than Nancy and her astrologer, that is)? Who could have known that Jesse Venture would spend the better part of his tenure as Governor of Minnesota body-slamming himself into the tarmac at every opportunity (other than James Lileks and 145,252 bloggers locked inside Live Journal, that is)?

But with Arnold, we can see what he is about to do by looking at his past. Now that his Life Achievement Oscar is in like Flynn for 2015, he can relax and use his office to relive, revitalize and remake his movies in real life. Hey, wouldn’t you?

Yup, the best way to figure out what’s about to happen is to amble down to your local video store and check out every Schwarzenegger film they’ve got for an at-home Arnold festival. If you do, you’ll be in a Vulcan mind-meld with the new governor and nothing that’s about to happen will surprise you. After all, he knows the scripts and if his opponents do not, well they’d better scramble over to and start boning up.

Let’s go to the video tape and see what’s in store for California.

Conan the Barbarian:
Long held by those with exquisite taste in films to be the best Arnold movie ever. A film in which the essential Arnold is first exposed (in more ways than one) to the world at large. A film that has too long been allowed to languish in B-movie purgatory as a two-fer-one with "Bucket of Blood" at With the inaugural moment, Arnold will signal the touchstone of his political philosophy during a photo-op with the President:

George W Bush: Arnold, what is best in life?
Arnold: To crush Democrats, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the feminists!

Wherein Arnold plays last man standing and uses primitive weapons to destroy an invasive alien species.

This film telegraphs that the borders down Mexico way are about to get a bit more dangerous to cross. Nobody sneaking into California can now really be sure that there isn’t some very large and heavily spiked tree trunk set to unload on them as they crawl through culverts. Flaming arrows following blood-curdling battle screams are going to keep San Diego up nights for some time to come.

Dillon: Simple set-up. One day operation. We pick up their trail at the border, run 'em down, grab ‘em and bounce them back across the border before anybody knows they were here.
Arnold: Whaddya mean "we"?
Look for razor wire bouquets from the Pacific to Nevada. Get long on companies that manufacture land mines.

Batman & Robin’s Mr. Freeze:
This is an easy one. Those “essential” programs essential only to about one half of one percent of the population?

Freeze: I'm afraid my condition has left me cold to your pleas of mercy
As for the Indian casinos getting to keep their all their money?
Freeze: Tonight, hell freezes over!

Kindergarten Cop:

“Oh come on... STOP WHINING! You teachers are soft! You lack discipline! WELL I'VE GOT NEWS FOR YOU, YOU ARE MINE NOW! YOU BELONG TO ME!”
Arnold has sworn to sift the crap out of the fouled sandbox that passes for public education in California.

Well, it is time to pass a note over the head of the local teachers’ union that says: JOKE TIME IS OVER.

Teachers’ Union: So who are you, man?
Arnold loads his shot-gun
Arnold: I'm the party pooper.

Prepare to hear the massive wails of tens of thousands of teachers working six hours a day and effectively seven months a year that they just don’t get ENOUGH MONEY for this part-time career.

Look for legions of underemployed and underbrained school administrators to start filing for early retirement at full pay before the frost is on the pumpkin.

Arnold’s tactics here will be simple and straightforward: The kids get the money and the milk and the cookies. Great teachers get a date and get kissed. The vast legion of slackers and freeloaders that comprise the Teachers Union get Schwarzenized. Well, not all of them. A couple of teachers walking around on stumps in every school will get those test scores soaring overnight. (And, no, he’s not going to yell at the little kids. He learned that lesson in the movie.)

Terminator, The:
Hasta la vista the car tax.

“Democratic party hacks. Old... powerful... hooked into everything. Trusted to run it all. They say they got smart. A new order of pork barrel. Then it saw all citizens as a piggy bank not just the ones on the other side. Decided our fate in a millisecond: triple taxation.”
Short form. It won't be back.

Terminator 2 -- Judgment Day:
Drivers Licenses for Illegal Aliens get taken away in an old-time strip search.

Arnold: I need your clothes, boots, your driver’s license and your badges!
Illegal: Badges? Badges? We don’t got to show you no steenkin’ badges!

Director’s Cut Special Feature:
Look for the bozos who came up with this law in the first place to have their license to legislate taken away from them in 2004.

Terminator 3 -- Rise of the Machines:
In which the Democratic Party of California and points east ceases to exist if it doesn’t get a clue, a candidate, a reason to live, and a witness in a nanosecond.

Bill Clinton: Put down your weapon! And the coffin! Please? ... Pretty please.? ... Hey, you into wife-swapping?”

This is a toughy. It was such a short campaign it is hard to know who Arnold owes and who his cronies are. Obviously you wouldn’t want the Baldwin Brothers in charge of the State Liquor Control Board. On the other hand Arnold could demonstrate the magnanimity of victory by appointing Ariana Huffington and Gary Coleman as Safe Sex Ambassadors to the California Penal System and San Francisco, respectively.

Arnold: I don't know what the problem is, but I'm sure it can be solved without resorting to violence.

Red Sonja:
Arnold’s old pal, Brigitte Nielsen, is sent into the California Legislative Chambers to enforce compliance with a sword and a bustier. A win-win all around - - except for the ten aged senators whose Pacemakers explode on the first day.

Legislator: California is my land, all that pass through pay me tribute.
Red Sonja: (drawing her sword) Suppose I don't. Suppose instead I open that great, fat belly of yours?

This is one of Arnold’s most instructive ‘taking care of business’ movies. It teaches that when he finds a bunch of thugs have kidnapped something dear to him, such as a state, it’s clobberin’ time. Look for him to make an impression on various legislative committees by sending around this 15 second outtake from his recent remake of Commando:

Arnold: Remember, Arianna, when I promised to kill you last?
Huffington: That's right, Arnold. You did!
Arnold: I lied.

Pumping Iron:
Arnold’s overall economic program has been foreshadowed by this film in which he plays, tellingly, himself:

“I don't have any weak points. I had weak points three years ago, but ... my goal always was, to even out everything to the point ... that everything is perfect. Which means if I want to increase expenditures a half inch, the state’s productivity has to increase. I would never make a program increase or decrease, because everything has to fit together, and all I have to do is get my budget routine down more perfect, which is almost impossible to do, you know. It's perfect already.”
Those who find this too simplistic for their tastes can take solace that it is a vast improvement over Arnold's original economic theories as expessed in Hercules in New York:
Hercules: Bucks? Doe? What is all this zoological talk about male and female animals?

Jingle All the Way:
A brief perusal of this otherwise mercifully forgotten film instructs us on the method Arnold will use to “Just Say No” to special interests, no matter what they promise him.

Trial Lawyers: Hey, Pal, you want a Turbo Man for Christmas?
Arnold: Forget it, I'm not gonna sit on your lap. You guys are nothing but a bunch of sleazy conmen in Armani suits. You heard me right. Conmen. Degenerates. Low-lifes. Thugs. Criminals!
Trial Lawyers Association: In Sacramento them are compliments, Partner.

It won’t be enough to just stop new taxes from being force fed to Californians. We’ll expect Arnold to roll back the stone from our chests, even if he has to resort to extreme measures.

Agent: This is Arnold. He'll be handling your personal security.
California: My protection?
Arnold: New identity, relocation, I'll take you through it step by step.
California: What are you talking about? I'm not going anywhere!
Arnold: You're in an extremely high risk situation,California. That should've been explained to you.

Red Heat:
Tired of having the immense cost and abiding failure of the War on Some Drugs messing with your life? Arnold’s "Red Heat" has a program that will not only end the war on drugs, but put a little more cash back into the budget as well as clearing up the messy problem of career politicians.

Arnold: Chinese find way. Right after revolution, they round up all drug dealers, all drug addicts, take them to public square, and shoot them in back of head.
Advisor: Ah, it'd never work here. Politicians wouldn't go for it.
Arnold: Shoot them first.

The Running Man
Is this the first and last step into politics for Arnold. Las Vegas is currently running a pool to see how long it takes for the first committee to re-elect is formed. But will he run and if elected will he serve?

Gray Davis: You bastard! Drop dead!
Arnold: I don't do requests.

Meanwhile, back on the set of Total Recall 2003:

Arnold: Where am I?
Johnnycab: You're in Sacramento.
Arnold: What am I doing here?
Johnnycab: I'm sorry. Would you please rephrase the question?
Arnold: How did I get this job?
Johnnycab: They held an election. You got in.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 9, 2003 2:34 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Literacy In America: The Continuing Crisis

Click to Enlarge

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 9, 2003 10:44 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
How Low Can the AOLization of Marketing Go?

As low as it wants to go in order to get one more kid's attention and money. In Mike's List: ISSUE 72 Mike Elgan points to the way in which the AOL Disc Marketing Virus has spread to the rest of the marketingnoids that afflict the public. Their new targets? Children, of course:

In the old days, the disk-spamming industry meant that AOL was marketing to adults. Now, it's everybody -- including AOL -- marketing mainly to kids.

Adults, after slaving over a computer at work for 12 hours aren't likely to grab a free CD at blockbuster and shout "Wow. A Free CD! I think I'll spend my evening exploring these exciting offers."

But kids, the marketing geniuses have learned, are easy targets for these giveaways. I went to the movies last night, and there was a CD glued to my bag of popcorn. The CD envelope was clearly targeting teenagers, trying to get them to install the disk and check out movie trailers and buy movie-related junk.

This is, of course, a minor annoyance, but then our culture seems to be filling up with minor annoyances making for major headaches.

And why shouldn't the marketingoids go after kids using the AOL model? After all, the AOL chatrooms pioneered the proliferation of porn and inappropriate sexual suggestions to and between the young. DISCS4KIDS just a logical brand-tooling extension of the "more is better for you" mindset.

It seems strange to me that with all the frantic activity to control "Spam on the Net," nothing seems to be done about the Spam in our postal mailboxes, Spam dropped on our doorsteps (How many different Yellow Pages do you need?), and Spam shoved into our shopping bags, hands, and under our windshields.

In New York City, thousands of people stand around on streetcorners pushing flyers for everything from Pedicures to Laptops to Lapdances into your hands. The primary purpose of this, as is readily evident down the block, is "litter distribution." Yet nobody seems to be mounting a 'nationwide online campaign' to "Stop the Drop!" Nope, it would seem that Americans can put up with any method of dispersing marketing garbage into the environment as look as they don't have to delete Spam from the subject lines of their inbox every day.

The "AOL Disc virus" is just a place holder for vast foetid shoals of marketing detritus that sweeps over your daily life in a volume that will fill the most commodious recycling containers in the world. We've got the AOL disc virus everywhere, we've got the nationwide kid's scavenger hunt for the Oreo that turns your milk blue and makes you sort of rich. There's always more at the door.

Eliminate Spam in email? Otay! But don't stub your toe on those phone books on the way out the door to the local multiplex where you'll kiss ten bucks goodbye in order to sit through five commercials and sixteen previews before getting what you paid for.

Look for those popcorn boxes at the movies to contain Trojan Condoms -- the trial size -- soon. The only questions are when, and will they only be slipped in during R-rated film? Well, at first. But then, in order to "increase market-share" and imprint brands on children, look for them to show up in Disney films within the decade. Complete with a cute little booklet where Mickey shows you how to use them. Safe Sex and Popcorn. Let's do it "for the children."

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 9, 2003 10:12 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Whistling Through the Graveyard

Facing subscription cancellations in the thousands over his newspaper's pre-election mugging of Schwarznegger, editor John Carroll issued this lame claim:

"In the long run, I believe this will strengthen the paper's relationship with the readers," he said, because they will respect the paper's commitment to the truth.
But will they respect you in the morning, or just stiff you the price of a paper and walk?

From: Times faces lingering feelings of bias / Schwarzenegger backers still angry over groping articles

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 9, 2003 9:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Just What Is NASA's Major Malfunction?

If Columbia had one of these, it might have survived.

We're all going to have to rethink the phrase, "It's not rocket science" to indicate that something doesn't require a lot of brains to accomplish. It is becoming very clear that those who do rocket science often do so without a brain in their head.

Underscoring the fact that NASA needs a cold reboot, is this depressing and distressing item concerning what it would have taken to repair the Columbia before its fatal reentry: Paint Brush May Aid in Repair of Shuttle

As it turns out, the massive number of "experts" had previously concluded that repairs to the foam of the shuttle in orbit were just "too difficult." But after being forced to take another look at the issue in the wake of the Columbia disaster, it turns out that perhaps it wasn't "too difficult" after all.

It would seem that the repair would involve putting in some expanding foam and smoothing it out. The tool to do this? A 45 cent foam brush from any hardware store. I've got about five of these sitting around in the garage. You probably have some too.

For want of a nail
the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe
the horse was lost.
For want of a horse
the rider was lost.
For want of a rider
the battle was lost.
For want of a battle
the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want
of a horseshoe nail.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 9, 2003 9:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Gray Davis: The Once and Future Mayor of San Francisco

CA Secretary of State - Vote2003 - Map - - Shall Gray Davis be recalled?
Click to enlarge.
"Explanation: "Yes" and "No" are each identified with a color/pattern combination (see legend). The color/pattern combination in each county indicates whether the majority of voters in that county voted "Yes" or "No". The number in each county indicates the percentage by which the majority of voters voted "Yes" or "No" in that county. "

Prediction: If the colors and numbers above tell a story (And they do.), and if Gray Davis is out of a job (And he is.), and if Citizen Davis wishes to remain in politics (What else can he do?), then a quick perusal of the numbers tells us what Davis's next move has to be. With 80% of San Francisco voting to retain Davis, Willie Brown had better be looking over his shoulder.

Come to think of it, are there any Indian Casinos in San Francisco? And if not, why not? Frisco's been tribal for centuries.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 8, 2003 2:35 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Future's Already Here. It's Just Not Evenly Distributed."


"What we are witnessing is the beginning -- the early movement--in the death of the two-party system as we know it. This is a revolt of the pragmatic center. And that is a good thing for the American people because those parties and the media that feed on them have indeed become a form of nomenklatura. They depend on each other. They are the mutual gate keepers of an old and sclerotic bureaucracy from which their jobs flow in a system of patronage as elaborate as the Czar's. No wonder watching CNN tonight I felt as if I were watching a wake. They are threatened by what is going onï¿‘as they should be." -- Roger L. Simon: Mystery Novelist and Screenwriter

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 7, 2003 9:43 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Koi Dreams

Click on image for larger view.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 7, 2003 9:25 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Arnold the Inevitable

From OpinionJournal's Political Diary

The Los Angeles Times maintains that California's recall is too close to call, and even a broken clock is right two times a day. But we don't think so. The pro-Arnold recall will win by a decent margin. Pundits will be quick to pronounce a political earthquake. But, remember, political earthquakes are when voters behave in ways not prescribed by pundits.Since his name was first floated during California's electricity crisis three years ago, Arnold has been inevitable. He sensed it. We sensed it. And sit tight for what might be an even more startling second act: Arnold as Governor. His standout confidence in his own leadership and (just as importantly) in the followership of others could make him a phenom not just at the ballot box but in office.

One advantage of being a candidate drafted from another walk of life by voters fed-up with the current crowd is that those same voters accept that you did things and behaved in ways that you wouldn't if you'd spent your life perfecting your "political viability," in the words of one lifelong pol. What sticks out now is the aplomb with which he handled allegations of loutishness with women, at once admitting and minimizing the incidents, and only seeming the more inevitable for it.

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 7, 2003 6:11 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Duct Tape: A Short History


"What has a dark side, a light side
and holds the universe together?"
"Duct Tape!"

Not all there is to know, but all you need to know about this sticky issue according to American Hertitage:

The first duct-tape users were not reluctant handymen hastily shoring up sagging gutters with a prayer and a dozen yards of tape, then hurrying back to the couch before the second-half kickoff. The original olive-drab version of the tape was developed during World War II for a specific purpose: The military needed a tough, waterproof adhesive tape to seal ammunition cases and other containers.

At Permacell, a division of Johnson & Johnson, a research team led by John Denoye and Bill Gross set to work on a cloth tape that would be similar to surgical tape but tougher and water-resistant. They came up with a strip of cotton-mesh cloth coated with a polyurethane sealant on one side (making it waterproof and allowing the tape to be peeled off the roll) and a thick coating of rubber-based adhesive on the other. According to an undocumented tradition, military personnel called the stuff duck tape, either because water rolled off it or because of the layer of cotton-mesh cloth that formed its base. The amphibious vehicle known as the "duck" (from DUKV, the manufacturer's classification code) may also have something to do with the name. Its use on ammunition cases led to another name, gun tape.

More here...

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 7, 2003 2:19 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
It's Just a Box of Wine

And it's just a box of wine,
I don't know who put it there,
Believe it if you need it,
or leave it if you dare.

Kevin Kelly has written the best rationalization for drinking (or drinking more) that we've seen since just before our last bender:

Until now I didn't drink. Never liked the taste of beer, and wine didn't tickle me either. Hard stuff had no appeal at all. But recently the medical benefits of wine have become so established that it's hard to ignore. One respected study published in JAMA in December 2002 claims that not drinking at all was as bad for the heart as morbid obesity, and that moderate alcohol has health benefits equal to one hour of physical exercise a day. Take that you gym rats! And just this summer another high-profile study at Harvard published in Nature revealed that an ingredient in red wine -- resveratrol -- carried huge longevity effects, extending the life of yeast 60-80%.
His solution? Buy it by the box and avoid all the blather. Just tap into longevity.

Unoxidated wine as medicine [Cool Tools]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 7, 2003 1:32 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
More Bad News for New Hampshire

First the libertarians did the Internet. And you know what happened then. Now they're on their way to New Hampshire. Be Afraid. Be Wery, Wery Afraid.

The Free State Project has chosen New Hampshire

Unnoticed by the wider public, a group comprising some 5000-ish libertarians has voted New Hampshire as their "Free State". Now they plan to recruit another 15,000 members, and relocate there en masse.


Posted by Vanderleun Oct 7, 2003 1:03 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why the Democratic Party Gets a Hall Pass From the Daily Show

The USA Today profile of Jon Stewart -- Fans like their dose of 'Daily' news -- has this nice little squib:

A favorite target is the Fox News Channel, but Stewart says that's not liberal bias: Republicans -- and conservative-leaning news outlets -- are simply richer comic territory. ''What makes them successful is also what makes them mockable, and that is they have the clearest point of view of any of the networks. It's harder to mock something that doesn't know what it is.''
True enough. Imagine the problems in trying to book the 10... er.. 9 ... er...8? Democratic candidates for President on the same show. Humm.... on the other hand.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 7, 2003 12:53 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Shift key breaks CD copy locks

Hey, why invest any part of your corporate brain-stem in figuring out copy protection schemes? In the recording industry's grinding ground war against its customers, nothing works like a lawyer. After all, the suits agree that lawyers are obviously not making enough money scamming the artists out of a phenig of royalties. Besides, what better way to make up for lost revenue than suing widows and orphans?

Meerkat reports:"A Princeton University student has published instructions for disabling the new anticopying measures being tested on CDs by BMG--and they're as simple as holding down a computer's Shift key."

In a paper published on his Web site this week, Princeton Ph.D. student John Halderman explained how he disabled a new kind of copy-protection technology, distributed as part of a new album by BMG soul artist Anthony Hamilton.

Under normal circumstances, the antipiracy software is automatically loaded onto a Windows machine whenever the Hamilton album is run in a computer's CD drive, making traditional copying or MP3 ripping impossible. However, simply holding down the Shift key prevents Windows' AutoRun feature from loading the copy-protection software, leaving the music free to copy, Halderman said.

[Meerkat: An Open Wire Service]

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 7, 2003 12:11 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Minim of the Day

You'll get further with a kind word and a gun
than with a kind word alone.

From Tom Weller's MINIMS

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 7, 2003 12:11 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Mother of Mercy, Nine Years of Dave Winer!

I am saying that I have
something to say about how
to say what I have to say.

Uberblogger, Harvard Auditor, and self-confessed software genius Dave Winer celebrates nine years of all-Dave-all-the-time at: Scripting News in Manila

Nine years ago on this day I wrote my first DaveNet essay. This was the first of a rapid string of epiphanies that led to this one: I can publish my own ideas. I don't have to wait for anyone else to get it.
Nor wait for anyone else to edit it. At least, he didn't claim to have invented it.

His epiphany for today is:

"One of the things I miss most about living on the West Coast is the ability to call people on the East Coast at 5AM. "

Rumors a petition is being circulated in the Blogsphere to Recall Dave Winer are probably untrue.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 7, 2003 11:03 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Big Dummy's Guide to Throwing the Recall into the Courts

Slate inadvertently points towards a likely ACLU tactic for taking the Recall to court in Wanted: A Legible Voting Ballot.

A study carried out by USA Today and seven other newspapers in 2001 concluded that faulty design, not punch-card machines, was responsible for voters' confusion in Palm Beach County in 2000. Despite this finding, states have focused their election-reform energies on upgrading old punch-card machines to optical-scan systems or on implementing electronic voting. They have dismissed or ignored the butterfly layout's problematic design as an aberrationï¿‘a stupid mistake on the part of local officials.

Seems to me that any lawyer with a thirst to throw the Recall into the courts could just find a willing judge to agree with him that people are just too stupid to figure out an "illegible" ballot design.

ACLU: "Your honor, surely you can see that this design can only confuse and baffle voters with IQs less than room temperature. How can democracy be said to be fair if we haven't got 1,000 unemployed web designers throwing up 10,000 proposed designs for ballots before any election is allowed to take place. This design is a blot on democracy and may well cause the Democratic Party to lose!"

JUDGE DOH:"To lose! My God man you're right! Can't have that. This election is hereby placed in escrow until further notice!"

Why not? Isn't it clear by now that defeating the will of the people is only a matter of finding the right judge? After all, the ACLU were able to find three judges last month to agree with them that minority voters were too stupid to figure out punch-card ballots.

Now the argument will be that voters are too stupid to correctly because the ballot wasn't well-designed. Hey, somebody has got to protect voters who have managed to register while being utterly illiterate. Why not the ACLU?

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 7, 2003 10:24 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
McClintock Supporters in Late-Breaking Religious Frenzy
"People are saying 'Thank God you stayed in the race,'" McClintock told MSNBC-TV.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 7, 2003 9:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Mail-In Vote

The Weekly Standard takes a look at the meaning of the absentee ballots in Postcards from the End

SOME THOUGHTS ON TODAY'S VOTE: Davis could win, but it's more difficult than the media would have you to believe. Let's suppose turnout is as strong as expected--in the neighborhood of 10 million votes. That means Davis needs 50 percent of today's vote, plus one, to win. Right? Wrong. Some 2 million absentee ballots already have been cast--and mailed in before Arnold was hit with the groping and pro-Hitler allegations. If those ballots track with the pre-groping polls, Davis will be lucky to pick up 44 percent of those 2 million-plus votes. That means Davis has to win 52-53 percent of today's walkup to defeat the recall question. No poll has him close to that.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 7, 2003 9:11 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"A Taxonomy of Art Students"

Anyone who has served time in an art school will recognize the types showcased in2blowhards' continuing series of John Leavitt's True Art School Tales. Here's a sample, by major:

Ad Design:
Smug. Greedy. Dumb. Dress embarassingly up-to-date. Can't draw.

Graphic Design: Jerks. Undeservedly big egos. Neophiles (in love with everything new). Overly cozy with Ad Design. Can't draw.

Fine Arts:
Drug-addicted. Lazy. Talentless. Dress like hobos despite trust funds. Can't draw.

There are, of course, many more art majors than you ever knew existed.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 7, 2003 8:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Election Day in California


"Deal me up another future
with some brand new deck of cards."

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 6, 2003 5:25 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
RUSH: The Instant Replay

Brandon Stahl's got the play-by-play action over at
LostBrain Entertainment with "The Rush Limbaugh Timeline:"

All news and sports media: We are continuing minute 12 of our round-the-clock coverage of the Rush Limbaugh scandal. We have camped outside Donovan McNabb's home, waiting word to see if he has yet committed suicide over the crushing blow that was Limbaugh's comments. We have presidential candidate and general Wesley Clark here to help us answer some questions. General Clark, tell me, if you were the target of a viscous racial attack like this, how close to suicide does it bring you?
Clark: Let me tell you, very close. Especially with remarks as insensitive as these.
News: Uh huh. And tell me, if you were going to commit suicide from these remarks, how would you do it?
Clark: I'd probably want it to be quick and painless, so I'd likely put a gun to my mouth. But we can't rule out Donovan wanting to walk into a school cafeteria, and taking out 35 children before he turns the gun on himself.

News: Frightening world we live in.

National Enquirer: We feel this is the perfect
time to announce that Rush Limbaugh is a pill-popping drug

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 6, 2003 9:37 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Military Maxims

"Aim towards the Enemy."
— Instructions printed on a US Rocket Launcher

"When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend.
— U.S. Marine Corps

"Bombing from B-52's is very, very accurate. The bombs are guaranteed to always hit the ground."
— U.S.A.F. Ammo Troop

If the enemy is in range, so are you."
— Infantry Journal

"A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what's left of your unit."
— Army's magazine of preventive maintenance

"It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed."
— U.S. Air Force Manual

"Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo."
— Infantry Journal

"Tracers work both ways."
— U.S. Army Ordnance

"Five-second fuses only last three seconds."
— Infantry Journal

"Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid."
— David Hackworth

"If your attack is going too well, you're walking into an ambush."
— Infantry Journal

"No combat-ready unit has ever passed inspection."
— Joe Gay

"Any ship can be a minesweeper... once."
— Anon

"Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do."
— Unknown Marine Recruit

"Don't draw fire; it irritates the people around you."
— Your Buddies

"If you see a bomb technician running, try to keep up with him."
— U.S.A.F. Ammo

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 6, 2003 9:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Noted in Passing
A linguistics professor was explaining to his class how the use of the double negative varies in different languages. In English, the double negative results in a positive statement. This is not necessarily the case in other languages. But, he said, in no language does a double positive result in a negative. From the back of the class came a reply: "Yeah, right!"

Via Straight Up with Jan Herman: October 03, 2003

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 6, 2003 2:03 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Dept. of "You Can't Make This Stuff Up"

Mon petite chou, Merde in France reports on the very latest example that the little Red ChouChou of the French has gone right round the bend...

Paris mayor Bertrand Delano has bestowed honorary French citizenship on Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted cop killer, who is on Pennsylvania death row. In an anti-American hatefest, speakers present at the ceremony bleated out support for Mumia and condemned American unilateralism, the US military presence in Iraq, and the use of the death penalty in the US.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 6, 2003 1:44 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The End Result of Too Many Lawyers in America

The following as found at the beginning of the abstract to: Civil Obedience

This paper is an attempt to construct a theory of legal ethics that takes justified moral disagreement as a central, rather than a marginal case. It assumes that people disagree in good faith about rights, justice, and moral obligations, but must nevertheless find a way to leave together in a stable, ordered society.

We agree. One more lawyer in the society and we're leaving too.


Posted by Van der Leun Oct 5, 2003 5:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Iraq Campaign Continues

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 5, 2003 3:36 PM | QuickLink: Permalink

Posted by Vanderleun Oct 5, 2003 3:35 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Foulkrod? Foulkrod?

This bizarre tidbit fromSEX, LIES & HIDDEN AGENDAS

Apart from the testimony of the groping victims, both of whom were convincing, the most honest thing I heard came from film producer and Codepink activist Patricia Foulkrod.

She admitted that Bill Clinton's sexual peccadilloes were as inexcusable as Arnold's. "The difference is that Clinton was so brilliant," she said.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 5, 2003 3:07 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright in the Projects of the Night

Jack Reno at edge has got the tiger in the New York housing project highrise figured out.

Word is that the owner kept his private zoo happy by feeding them rats -- a virtually inexhaustible resource in New York City with a particular liking for the projects. Still, if we were investigating this little bit of urban horrror, we'd be looking at any reports of missing children or elders coming out of this particular node of Housing Project Hill.

It all begs the question of just what the hell was going on in this high rise. Call us incredulous but, from the small experience we've had with tigers at zoos, they are both stinky and noisy. Tiger scat is nothing that can be trumped by a few Air-Wick Herbal Glade plugins. And the sound of a tiger just clearing its throat is enough to get the attention of the hairs on the back of your neck rapidimente compadre.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 5, 2003 1:51 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Clue Left Off the Cluetrain

Doc Searls, who has to be one of our Living Internet Treasures, gives us one of those fascinating, to the side, insights in Reconstructive Journalism October 3, 2003

One of my theses that didn't make it into Cluetrain, because my co-authors correctly considered it off-topic, was this: You are where you come from. The second person singular I'm using here - - the you - - refers to the organizational as well as the personal personality. It's what I was talking about when I wrote the email to Dave that became Doc Searls on Steve Jobs. Apple always came from the Steves, but Jobs especially. It'll still be his company, even (should the company survive) after he's dead and his portrait is hanging in the lobby of the company headquarters.

Leaving aside the insight into the core nature of Apple (Who else would have put an otherwise perfectly good computer into a Lucite cube?), Searles is on target with "You are where you come from." How many times have we heard, "If you know where I'm coming from?" and nodded a vague assent even though we haven't the slightest clue?

Perhaps this argues for a more detailed use of the "About Me" page everywhere. (We could even laminate them and hang them around our necks on a lanyard for easy access at conventions and on the street.)

Newspapers and magazines are in the habit of including a "Where this writer is from" squiblet at the bottom of non-staff articles that sometimes give a slight clue as to where the writer is coming from. Alas this format often hides more than it reveals. ( "H. Beowulf Schniptule is a staff analyst at the Institute for Advanced Smegma Studies") More often or not you've got to google Beowulf, and then hop around their links to get even the hint of a clue. And when it comes to the staff of said magazines and newspapers, well, your impression of individual writers can only be derived from your impression of the magazine.

Perhaps, in order to know where pundits and reporters are coming from, we should develop an International Bias Symbol code similar to the driving symbols. Then we could just attach them at will to ops and to eds and gain a little more insight into where there be dragons in the increasingly large and uncharted infoseas of the world.

== == ==

BTW, just what were the other clues that didn't catch the Cluetrain? It strikes me that it is just about time to give that hoary manifesto another look.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 3, 2003 11:03 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Department of Say What?

"Nanotechnology has potential to be what electricity was 100 years ago."
- - Martin Jischke, President of Purdue University

Noted as the Cryptic "Nanotech Quote of the Week" by the otherwise lucid Forbes Wolfe

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 3, 2003 10:49 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Coming Soon to a Supermarket Near You: Spy Chips

You know those "loyalty cards" you carry around to get a buck or two off at the supermarket? Well, the same folks who are watching everything you buy from the store, will soon be able to watch everything you handle in the store. Relax, what could possible go wrong? Who would possibly misuse the knowledge of what's in your hands and shopping cart? Well, there's a little list in the fascinating article Card Games by Joab Jackson in the Baltimore City Paper.

CASPIAN's McIntyre paints a picture of a consumer-friendly Orwellian nightmare in an RFID world. For instance, she postulates, it would be possible, if not probable, for some fiendish corporation or government agency to collect a list of every item you own, using the tag numbers of the items you purchased. Then it could track you down, merely by scanning the landscape for those tag numbers. With such tags sprinkled about your person, a retail store could identify you the moment you enter the front door, identifying you from previous purchases you're wearing or carrying. "Immediately you can be tracked," McIntyre says. "They will know where you're going and how long you linger. How much comparison shopping you do."

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 3, 2003 9:31 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Clinton Redux Yet Again Encore

"Ain't a free country if a man
can't blow what he pleases."

Bret Stephens outlines the late and not so great career of our tragically hip ex-President in On Being a 'Clinton-Hater' -- Why I lost faith in the man I backed in 1992.

And he's got his reasons.

Anyway, Mr. Clinton was there. Already he had brought the crowd to its feet at the Mann auditorium in Tel Aviv, singing John Lennon's "Imagine" with a group of Arab and Israeli schoolchildren ("Imagine there's no countries/ It isn't hard to do"). Now he had something personal to say. He had been in Srebrenica the day before, he said. There he had met a woman who was burying her husband and six children. He told us to be mindful that ours was not the only country visited by horror. He told us that Mr. Peres was a man who knew that vengeance belonged to God, not man.

He said all this in a hoarse and mournful and significant tone of voice. I wanted to puke.

There are a sheaf of other reasons that don't involve involuntary regurgitation, but they're worth reading to remind yourself that term limits and Republicans are not always bad things.

Come to think of it, I backed him 1992 as well. I plead "Intellectual Insanity."

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 3, 2003 8:57 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Where Are the War Toys of Yesteryear?

Sonic Blaster, 1966

"The Mattel Agent Zero M Sonic Blaster 5530 fires compressed air with a deafening blast. Our measurements top out at 157 dB-above a level that can do permanent damage to the hearing of an adult. We rate the toy Not Acceptable."

Well, it's obvious that nobody asked a nine-year old boy. These days he'd rate it: "Very-cool-can-I-buy-it-I'll-pay-you-back-honest."

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 3, 2003 8:41 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Butt End of the Tobacco Settlement

Friedrich at 2 Blowhards (Can they possibly switch to a new name?) posts an amazing summation of what's happened to all that tobacco money that was supposed to make life better in: Policy Break: 5 Year Anniversary of the Tobacco Settlement. The short form: You didn't really expect the sick, the young, the lame and the halt to get one red cent, did you? You did? Fool.

The private tort lawyers who participated in the MSA and have been awarded well over $10 billion in fees. (For a scathing look at these fees and exactly how they were awarded, you should check out this American Lawyer story here.) And beyond the actual cold hard cash, the tort bar has been inspired by the fact that Americans tamely submitted to a significant tax increase imposed by litigation (unlike the old fashioned kind that requires, you know, elections and voting and stuff.)

What an unholy trio -- politicians, tobacco companies, and tort lawyers. Maybe next time the public will look a little more askance when these Three Amigos come calling, bearing so-called public health gifts.

As an acquaintance of mine remarks—“You know, I get more cynical every year, but I just can’t keep up.”

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 3, 2003 8:30 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Rumors Gray Davis Has Ordered One are Unconfirmed

User-operated amusement apparatus
for kicking the user's buttocks: United States Patent: 6,293,874

An amusement apparatus including a user-operated and controlled apparatus for self-infliction of repetitive blows to the user's buttocks by a plurality of elongated arms bearing flexible extensions that rotate under the user's control. The apparatus includes a platform foldable at a mid-section, having first post and second upstanding posts detachably mounted thereon. The first post is provided with a crank positioned at a height thereon which requires the user to bend forward toward the first post while grasping the crank with both hands, to prominently present his buttocks toward the second post. The second post is provided with a plurality of rotating arms detachably mounted thereon, with a central axis of the rotating arms positioned at a height generally level with the user's buttocks. The elongated arms are propelled by the user's movement of the crank, which is operatively connected by a drive train to the central axis of the rotating arms. As the user rotates the crank, the user's buttocks are paddled by flexible shoes located on each outboard end of the elongated arms to provide amusement to the user and viewers of the paddling. The amusement apparatus is foldable into a self-contained package for storage or shipping.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 2, 2003 12:39 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Greatest Show Off Earth

Click to enlarge

The Sombrero

The Hubble Heritage team of astronomers, who assemble many of the NASA Hubble Space Telescope's most stunning pictures, is celebrating its five-year anniversary with the release of the picturesque Sombrero galaxy. One of the largest Hubble mosaics ever assembled, this magnificent galaxy is nearly one-fifth the diameter of the full moon. The team used Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys to take six pictures of the galaxy and then stitched them together to create the final composite image.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 2, 2003 12:14 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Martian Chronicles -- This Time for Real

Martian Chronicles I

Three spacecrafts are now hurtling toward the Red Planet to look for evidence that it might once have been wet enough to sustain life. Orbital projections of where Europe's Mars Express and the two NASA Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) are right now, can be continuously monitored over their half-year journeys.

Experiments performed by the MERs will help to determine whether water might have once existed in volume on the red planet. The two Mars Exploration Rovers are targeting what imagery indicates might have been ancient dry lake beds and other geologically interesting sites in early 2004.

The Martian Chronicles series gives an inside view of what it takes for scientists to deliver such a complex mars mission. The journal entries are from Cornell's Steve Squyres, the Principal Investigator for the Mars Exploration Rovers' scientific package called Athena.

The chronicles begin sequentially from the beginning of July 1999, four years before launch, and will culminate in the dramatic landing of the twin rovers on Mars in January 2004. The expected mission time roaming the red planet is ninety days, from January to April.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 2, 2003 11:49 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Jurassic

"Biggest Fish Ever Found" Unearthed in U.K.

"It's by far the biggest and most complete Leedsichthys problematicus ever found, which makes it the biggest fish ever found," said Mike Barker, head of paleobiology at Portsmouth University.

Equipped with massive, teeth-lined gills, experts say the creature was probably one the first giant planktivores. A Jurassic version of the baleen whale or basking shark, it would have filtered out huge quantities of tiny shrimp and other marine organisms while cruising over what is now central England.

The Peterborough specimen's estimated length is 22 meters (72 feet) - - almost twice as long as a whale shark, the largest fish swimming today. Those working on the fossil reckon the species may have reached sizes to rival the blue whale.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 2, 2003 11:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Ask But Don't Tell

AS USUAL, Glenn Reynolds gets to the nub of the Wilson Scandal in SECRET SOURCES

If, as some claim, government officials deliberately broke a secret agent’s cover out of spite, then those responsible should be sacked, and perhaps even prosecuted as it may, depending on circumstances, even be a felony. At the moment, however, we really don’t know what happened.

And that’s the interesting thing. Because — this is all about leaks to reporters, remember — quite a few reporters do know what happened, but aren’t talking, because they don’t want to give up their sources — who are, presumably, the leaker or leakers. So as the press runs around in a frenzy about the need to get to the bottom of a major national security story, the press, in fact, already knows the answer, but won’t tell.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 2, 2003 8:25 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
No Delivery, Just Take-Out

North Korea Says It Is Using Plutonium to Make A-Bombs

With nuclear talks expected in weeks, North Korea said today that it had completed reprocessing 8,000 spent fuel rods and is using the plutonium to make atomic bombs.

But with an eye to a "red line" unofficially drawn by the Bush Administration, a North Korean diplomat said in New York that his impoverished nation would not export its bombs or its bomb-making capacity to other countries.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 2, 2003 7:21 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Getting Plastered for Peace

Youth, a bad haircut, and a
burning down drinking problem>

Would somebody slip Ani DiFranco a big clue about AA before she kills herself with drink? Let's run a tab on Peace Not War: Ani DiFranco, shall we?

"so here's a toast to all the folks who live in palestine
el salvador
here's a toast to the folks living on the pine ridge reservation
under the stone cold gaze of mt. rushmore
here's a toast to all those nurses and doctors
who daily provide women with a choice
who stand down a threat the size of oklahoma city
just to listen to a young woman's voice
here's a toast to all the folks on death row right now
awaiting the executioner's guillotine
who are shackled there with dread
and can only escape into their heads
to find peace in the form of a dream "

We make that four tequila shooters in less than a minute. Little wonder that she's confused about the retroactive absence of the guillotine as an instrument of execution in the Western World. Where do they cut people's heads off these days, Ani? Would it be certain countries in the third world?

[Pointer via: Eye on the Left]

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 1, 2003 11:24 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
3 Spies at Gitmo vs. 2 Leakers at the White House?

With the nation's glazed eyes being held hostage by the CIA airball tossed around DC and the "responsible" media, the spy score at Gitmo kicks up another notch:

A physician working for the U.S. prison camp for terrorists in Cuba is facing charges Tuesday in Massachusetts.

NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that Ahmed Mehalba was stopped at Logan International Airport Monday when customs agents noticed documents that may have come from the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Customs officials said that Mehalba was acting nervous, so they decided to turn Mehalba over to FBI agents for questioning after flying in from Cairo, Egypt. Documents and CD ROMs that appeared to contain classified information were found, according to officials. Federal authorities brought him to court to face charges of making false statements to FBI agents at the airport. Mehalba has been working as a translator at the prison camp, where suspected terrorists are being detained. [Pointer via Regnum Crucis]

The Belmont Club comments:

Dan Darling at Regnum Crucis wonders about the comparatively high percentage of suspected traitors at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. "We now have at least three moles at Gitmo (which isn't all that large a facility), I don't think it's all that implausible to suspect that they might have been working together"  -- that is, two translators and one Muslim chaplain. To put that number in perspective, there are 80 translators at Guantanamo and 12 Muslim chaplains in the US Armed Services. Although the high percentage of suspects among chaplains (as compared to translators) is affected by the small sample size and the unfortunate choice of the institutions chosen to supply the chaplains,  the situation among the translators is also disturbing given that one of the suspects was already "a supply clerk before being pressed into service as a translator at Guantanamo Bay". And there may be more. Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "we don't presume that the two we know about is all there is to it".


All the suspects were American citizens; the chaplain native born and a graduate of the United States Military Academy. None were obviously oppressed or disadvantaged by the United States. Their presence in the sanctum sanctorum of the War on Terror, which may represent only the tip of the iceberg, should make everyone hope that the Syrians are "the enemy".

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 1, 2003 11:01 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Pix and Font Virus Proliferates

The astute Michael at nails down the current plague of eyewash trumping lucidity.

Still, the Quark-and-Photoshop revolution has delivered some -- OK, many --evils to us too. Foremost among them, as far as I'm concerned, is the vogue for what's known as "reversed-out" type -- white (or light) type set over black (or dark) backgrounds. Have you noticed how common reversed-out text is these days? It's everywhere. Type on top of dark photos, type on top of color blocks and swirls.

The eyes boggle -- which can be exciting and/or cool. What's not cool, IMHO, is when the eye-boggle goes on too long.

About three nanoseconds from where we're sitting, Michael. We can't hit the back button quicker than that.

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 1, 2003 10:01 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
E.B. White on New York, 1949

Excerpts from "Here Is New York" by E.B. White who died on this day in 1985.

The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now; in the sounds of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest editions."

"All dwellers in cities must live with the stubborn fact of annihilation; in New York the fact is somewhat more concentrated because of the concentration of the city itself, and because, of all targets, New York has a certain clear priority. In the mind of whatever perverted dreamer might loose the lightning, New York must hold a steady, irresistible charm."

Posted by Van der Leun Oct 1, 2003 3:11 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
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