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We're switching over to a new software for publishing [MT 3.01 for those that are interested], and in the transition theres a new comment spam filter in place.

For now, during the transition, comments to the site are marked for "approval" before being reflected on the post. This will change soon but for now bear with us.

If you post a comment, it will appear just as soon as I can run the approval script on it. Don't think that we didn't get it just because you don't see it. It will arrive -- unless of course you are an evil spammer.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 30, 2003 11:23 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Gentlemen, start your engines.

The tireless staff of American Digest is tired and hungry and has much to be thankful for this year.

We'll be taking a break for Thanksgiving and a road trip after. Perhaps we'll check in and then again perhaps we won't.

Either way, may your turkey day include only those on the table.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 26, 2003 7:15 AM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On Lying

The brilliant Orson Scott Card is worth more than a glance for his essary in War Watch - November - On Lying


[Card] ...I think you confessed something a moment ago when you said, 'You conservatives just can't forget how popular and successful Clinton was.' I think you just confessed your own motive for attacking Bush with such hatred and virulence. The thing you can't forgive him for is that he actually took action after 9/11 -- not just a few token missiles fired at empty training camps, but actual, effective action -- and the army, when it was used for its proper purpose, was extraordinarily successful. You wanted Bush to fail, and you just can't stand it that he hasn't."

[The Anti-Bush] "Hasn't he? Aren't our soldiers still dying over in Iraq?"

[Card ] "Yes, they are. That's because they're still fighting the war in Iraq, and when you fight wars, people die. More people will probably die in the U.S., too, because you can bet that our enemies are doing everything they can to mount another series of terrorist attacks here. But please keep in mind: George W. Bush is not killing our soldiers, our enemies are, and those enemies were killing our soldiers before we invaded Iraq or Afghanistan -- just in case you've forgotten. Bush didn't start this war. He merely carried it to the enemy and started fighting it on their soil, liberating a few oppressed countries along the way."

[The Anti-Bush] "It's another quagmire, like Vietnam."

[Card]"It will only be like Vietnam if a certain party in Congress forbids the President to fight it using the full power of the United States."

[The Anti-Bush] "In other words, you're in George W. Bush's pocket, and he can do no wrong."

[Card]"I'm in nobody's pocket, and if he actually does wrong, I'll be the first to say so -- which I've done on various occasions. But what I'll never do is accuse a man of the kind of vile crimes you've accused him of, on the basis of the same complete lack of evidence that you have for your accusations."

[The Anti-Bush] "You're just naive."

[Card] "You're just partisan. You have no allegiance to truth. You simply tell whatever stories will make your opponents look bad, whether they're true or not."

[The Anti-Bush] "Are you calling me a liar?"

[Card] "That's a funny thing to resent, considering how freely you call George W. Bush a liar. But no, I'm not saying you're a liar. I'm saying you don't actually care about the difference between truth and lies. All you care about is usefulness. All you care about is whether the public might believe your slanderous slogans and send Bush's popularity ratings down. I think that's worse than lying. At least a liar has to keep track of the truth in order to adjust his lies to fit the facts. You simply don't care."

[Pointer via Cold Fury

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 25, 2003 3:41 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Sleep of Reason Breeds Monsters."

SO READS THE INSCRIPTION on the Goya etching above. And Goya had a lot of first hand information on the monsters created by sleeping reason. Demospophia also has a bit to say about that when discussing the Dean Campaign's welcome to the odious Ted Rall into their "League of Decency" in The Ram Dass Perspective on Ted Rall's Endorsement of Dean

"If we are really willing to give Dean a pass in order to accommodate his near-term political exigencies then what prevents a Napoleon from shape-shifting his way into office? If our short term memories have become so "Memento-like," that a candidate can openly rejoice at the endorsement of a half-literate unabashedly treasonous fellow like Rall, and not pay a political penalty a few months later, then why don't we all just drop acid and join Ram Dass in "being here now?" And why not just forget what happened in September, 2001, while we're at it? It's so 9/12."
What prevents Napoleon? Given the current sleep of our nation's reason as we stumble unprepared through the war that is already upon us, little or nothing it would seem. But should we lose a city to our enemies, we will have our Napoleon soon enough. His name is now unknown, but he shape can be seen in the wings, or looming in the background of Goya's etching above.

And he will be welcomed because he will be seen, at first, as an avenging angel.

Though bent on speed; so here the Arch-Angel paused;
Betwixt the world destroyed and world restored

� � � - John Milton, Paradise Lost

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 25, 2003 9:11 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Terrorist Money Trail Passes Through Paris and Bonn

ROGER SIMON asks about the financing of Saddam's terror in: SHOW ME THE MONEY!

My question is--where did this money come from? Where did Saddam get the moolah to reward his henchmen for dragging his fellow Iraqis through the streets or dropping them in shredders? I'm not going to say right now it came straight from the UN Oil-for-Food program, but WHERE IS THAT MONEY?
Yes, where is that UN money? Perhaps it went back to the same FOUNTAIN OF FUNDING for the Masters of Terror the world over, the French and German banks.

Yesterday, in the Wall St Journal, Michael Gonzalez wrote: Vive Le Checkbook [It's available to subscribers only, so I'll just reprint a couple of indicative paragraphs.]

"Follow the money" is an old adage, and it means that economic interest will eventually explain much human behavior. That France opposed the removal of Saddam Hussein because he owed millions to French banks is proof of this. Less well known, but much more troubling, are key French financial links with other U.S. enemies. They raise the belief that the Franco-American conflict over Iraq was just one slice of the action. For France was not just Baathist Iraq's largest contributor of funds; French banks have financed other odious regimes. They are the No. 1 lenders to Iran and Cuba and past and present U.S. foes such as Somalia, Sudan and Vietnam.

This type of financing is shared by Germany, France's partner. German banks are North Korea's biggest lenders, and Syria's -- and Libya's. But France is the most active. In Castro's sizzling gulag, French banks plunked down $549 million in the first trimester this year, a third of all credit to Cuba. The figure for Saddam's Iraq is $415 million. But these pale in comparison with the $2.5 billion that French banks have lent Iran. The figures come from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, and were interpreted by Inigo More for a Madrid think-tank, the Real Instituto Elcano. As he says, "one could think that Parisian bankers wait for the U.S. to have an international problem before taking out their checkbooks." French banks seem to be almost anywhere U.S. banks are absent. They lend in 57 such countries, and are the main lenders in 23 of those. (His report can be read at The report offers reasons why Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin really ought to stop using the phrase "our American friends" every time he talks about the U.S.

The Inigo More report at the Real Instituto ElCano is in Spanish so I am unable to read it, but perhaps those more fluent than I can take a look and illuminate the rest of us.

The Money's Bottom Line, as they say, is that if you want to know of any large, non-Muslim, insititutions that are making it easier for our enemies to kill people of all ilks around the world, you just have to take a look at our 'friends' -- the French and the Germans.

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, the Inigo More report is not to be found on the English section of the link above but only on the Spanish side. Those who search the English side of the site will not see it and will have a null search string returned.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 25, 2003 8:39 AM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Public Relations Bloopers We Love

"Marketing 101 should tell students that if you are a PR spokesman, and a newspaper reporter calls up to inquire about the propriety of selling KGB-logo merchandise for Christmas, you should nod, express interest at the concerns, note that the item is sold as a historical artifact, et cetera. Leave it at that. If you feel compelled to draw explicit parallels to the CIA and the KGB, realize that you are speaking on behalf of a national retailer not yet known for such political views. That sound you hear on the other end? The clicking sound that goes on while you talk, keeps going when you end, then falls silent? It's called typing."

-- James Lileks

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 25, 2003 8:24 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Mr. Fulghum's Neighborhood

THIS JUST IN from Robert Fulghum's Secret Public Journal -- a host of Frequently and Not-So-Frequently Answered Questions


"I am afraid of Vikings and parrots."
That sentence was written in white chalk on the sidewalk two blocks from my house. Several blocks away I found another message: "I have three dead mittens." And in the street many blocks further one, these words: "My teeth sometimes leave my body at night."

So I bought some chalk . . .

Why not get into this person's game? Are they crazy or poetic or imaginative or looking for someone like them or just confused about the messages the world needs to be getting? I don't know. Maybe it's a secret code between members of a non-sequitur club or a message from an alien. Who cares? It would be interesting to know. Why miss the opportunity?

Ah, but what to write? Maybe some questions? This morning early I wandered around Queen Anne Hill on the standard walker's route and wrote close by the Unknown Chalker's statements, these inquiries:

Will I ever learn?

Whatever became of me?

If you love me still, will you love me moving?

Who knew?
There's more right here.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 25, 2003 6:46 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Gift Economy is Alive and Well

The tech boom busted, but according to ALEX STEFFEN
the Tech Bloom is in full flower

The conventional wisdom, during the Tech Boom, was that what drove innovation was the lure of giant piles of cash. That idea now rubs shoulders with the Berlin Wall. What makes creative people tingle are interesting problems, the chance to impress their friends and caffeine. Freed from the pursuit of paper millions, geeks are doing what geeks, by nature, really want to be doing: making cool stuff.

Not just making it, but giving it away. Saying the Tech Bloom is not commercially driven is like saying Mother Teresa had an interest in the poor.

Which may be why the media haven't quite gotten the magnitude of what's happening here: It's not about investments. If the Tech Boom had a graven image, it was the bull on Wall Street. The Tech Bloom is more likely to be found dancing around the desert at Burning Man, the annual festival where money is taboo, everything's a gift and creative participation is synonymous with cool.

While we're deeply suspicious of any activity flagged as "synonymous with cool," we have to admit he's got a point.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 24, 2003 12:39 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"We shouldn't just allow gay marriage. We should insist on gay marriage."

To my mind, this observation by David Brooks is the most lucid thing said to date on the subject of gay marriage in particular and marriage in general: The Power of Marriage

"Some conservatives may have latched onto biological determinism (men are savages who need women to tame them) as a convenient way to oppose gay marriage. But in fact we are not animals whose lives are bounded by our flesh and by our gender. We're moral creatures with souls, endowed with the ability to make covenants, such as the one Ruth made with Naomi: "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried."

"The conservative course is not to banish gay people from making such commitments. It is to expect that they make such commitments. We shouldn't just allow gay marriage. We should insist on gay marriage. We should regard it as scandalous that two people could claim to love each other and not want to sanctify their love with marriage and fidelity.

"When liberals argue for gay marriage, they make it sound like a really good employee benefits plan. Or they frame it as a civil rights issue, like extending the right to vote.

"Marriage is not voting. It's going to be up to conservatives to make the important, moral case for marriage, including gay marriage. Not making it means drifting further into the culture of contingency, which, when it comes to intimate and sacred relations, is an abomination."

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 23, 2003 7:23 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Quiet Rage

On Slaughter, Bad Americans, and Vile Iraqis.

Before he became a simpering dottard the once lucid Norman Mailer wrote a book entitled: Why Are We in Vietnam? The snide defeatism of that title and the content spewed after it are, for the moment, out of fashion with the majority of Americans. But should the apologists and appeasers among us have their way, this will not always be the case. Still, that will be then and this is the now.

For now, were I to take the time to pen a short treatise in the Mailer vein, mine would be titled, Why Are We Not Killing More of Our Enemies Wholesale?

It is not as if we do not know who they are and where they are. Rather it is the case that we are still in the fastidious and polite phase of this war; the phase where little or nothing is asked of Americans at home while nothing short of everything is required from our American troops on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Everything that is, except the freedom to bring the war home to our enemies with every means at our command.

To watch our troops killed day by day fills me, day by day, with a growing rage both at our enemies and at our policies that offer these men and women up for slaughter without a full committment from our government and ourselves.

Listening to those spineless excuses for "Candidates" fielded by the abominable crawling thing that the once noble Democratic Party has become fills me with a quiet rage as well. In a very real sense, they are one of the homefront's reasons that our troops continue to die. Their carping and despicable pursuit of the President and their own cheap ambitions embolden our enemies and encourage the slow war of attrition.

How many times can one listen, after all, to a Kerry or a Dean or their lesser partners in vile ambition stress that they Support the troops and at the same time listen to their message that the war those troops fight is stupid, misguided, a lie, and a crime. Is this not like saying to each and every American soldier, Im behind you 100 percent and am sad that your life and your efforts are an idiotic, confused, and criminally false mission? This is not support. This is subversion.

Ive long accepted that as career politicians grow more desperate they grow more craven and despicable, but of late this acceptance is becoming more


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 23, 2003 5:03 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
One Possibility: Committee for World Freedom

Click for Larger Image

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 23, 2003 12:16 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What's in a Name?

The astute Wretchard of The Belmont Club takes up the question of "The New Committee for a Free World" in a seriously unserious manner. While some of his assumptions are premature, his points concerning names and the other accouterments of organizations are well taken:

This is an unserious post about a very serious subject. The American Digest understands that the battle for domestic public opinion is the decisive theater of operations in the War on Terror. It is trying to organize a nucleus of eminent thinkers -- called the New Committee for a Free World -- who can provide a rallying point for the ideas that must illuminate our journey into the perilous new century,....

I had rather hoped for a more resounding name than 'the New Committee for a Free World', because it lacks the magnificence this larger than life struggle calls for.... We need a name with the sonority of the "Justice League of
America", "The Avengers" or at least "The Four Just
Men". Perhaps nothing quite so Stan Lee-ish, but a name that will bear the freight of its task.

And it needs an oath, a pledge that will appeal to the heart, uplift the spirit and give us strength when we are too tired, weary and heartbroken to go further. It is said that when Chesty Puller's men walked into the relief lines after battling their way past ten times their number at the Chosin River, they pulled themselves erect, dusted off their dungarees and sang the Marine Corps Hymn, so that the Dogfaces might remember them laughing as they emerged from the jaws of death and before they marched into legend. We are their heirs must sing our own song.

"In brightest day, in blackest night,
no evil shall escape my sight!
Let those who worship evil's might,
beware my power.. Green Lantern's light!"

While I'm not ready to run over to Cafe Press and start whipping up the mugs and t-shirts, we have been discussing the name game in the comments to the original article. So far, my own thoughts as stimulated by the comments are:

"That said, perhaps we can look towards a something that is not a "Committee for a Free World" That was something that made sense in the 20th Century when confronted with the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China and client states such as Cuba. The first is history, the second is in the midst of a transformation to another state entirely, and the third is a museum exhibit.

"Perhaps what we need to look for is a Committee for World Freedom. A small change in terms of semantics, but a larger one in terms of potential.

Freedom, after all, is a concept that encompasses many things -- a spiritual outlook, an economic system, an evolving set of social and individual values under the rule of law, a representative republic, an enhancement of the individual, and a method and series of policies designed to insure and advance freedom on all fronts."

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 23, 2003 11:38 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Mother Questions

From the page that I call "Robert Fulghum's Secret Journal".

"What, in the name of God, have you done?"

This is one of three great "Mother Questions."

The second great question is, "What on earth are you doing?"

The third is, "And what will you think of next?"

Children know these questions have no reasonable answers. Any child who has half a brain will go mute, mumbling ,"Nothing, nothing." Or resort to pity-invoking snorking sobs protesting innocence, ignorance and helplessness. "I don't know, (snork) I don't know (snork) . . ."

Now, at some distance from childhood and parenting, I begin to understand that these "Mother Questions" are, in fact, quite profound. They are Life Questions.

I ask myself, at age 66, "Well, Fulghum, what on earth ARE you doing?" After all these years -- what? From a self-critical point of view I think it useful to enquire of myself regarding the quality of my existence and question my contribution to the commonweal.

Likewise, "What, in the name of God, have you done?" raises concerns about my actions on behalf of all that I believe and hold sacred.

Never mind what I say I believe. What HAVE I DONE?

And, finally, the question with ongoing relevance: "What will you think of next?" Excellent question. Is my mind a stagnant cesspool of worn-out notions or am I mentally active -- still exchanging archaic information for new and better ideas? Am I still thinking -- still asking -- still learning?

When my mother asked me those questions I hated her.

Looking back now I think what I really hated was knowing there were no acceptable answers. She wasn't really asking. She was declaring, in different ways, that I was a klutz, an idiot, and a pain in the ass.

I suppose I was, at least some of the time.

But, then, so was she. Some of the time.

Now I think better of her. And me. And the questions.

Now I finally understand the importance of the questions. Now I know how to answer the questions. Now I am asking me. And now I have some pretty fine answers.

With all this in mind, I hurried around the fence this morning to explain all this to the mother who had been whip-sawing her kid. The kid was gone. The mother was sitting in the car weeping and beating both hands on the steering wheel and talking to herself.

I remember those moments. Bad timing for the appearance of the Unknown Wise Man to explain to this vexed lady the deeper meaning of the Mother Questions. One of the things I also know now is when to mind to my own business. And I didn't want to have to answer another great Mother Question: "Just who the hell do you think you are?"

But, now that I think about it, that's another truly profound question.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 23, 2003 10:53 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The New Committee for a Free World

Yesterday, we thought it might be time for a New Committee for the Free World and wondered who might be part of the core.

Thanks to the The Professor the suggestions were not long in coming. Here's the off the top of the keyboard thinking from the comments to the original post.

As I said before, I have some of my own thoughts on the who and the how of this, but this list certainly broadens my original one. In order, the names to date are:
Bill Hobbs suggests: "Victor Davis Hanson, Michael Ledeen," and... Bill Hobbs. Not at all a bad quartet.

Salamantis lists: "Daniel Pipes, Michael J. Totten, Andrew Sullivan, Daniel W. Drezner, Charles Johnson, Glenn Reynolds, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Whittle, Steven Den Beste and James Lileks." All of whom qualify in terms of insight, intelligence, connectivity and committment.

Roger L. Simon adds,"John Podhoretz, Larry Miller and Daniel Pipes."

Perry R Bransonsays "Mark Steyn, Andrew Sullivan, and David Horowitz."

Stephen observes, "To such a list I would seek to add the name (or names) of an Imam or two who demonstrate an understanding, and perhaps a plan, of how to begin to guide Islam through the same changes made by Christianity".

While Lexington Green rightly states that "... some actual expertise would be nice," and offers up:
"Richard Pipes. He is an old Cold Warrior who is skeptical about spreading democratization in the Islamic world. He'll be a good check on any unreasonable enthusiasm.
Bernard Lewis. The smartest guy on the subject.
David Hackworth. A bit of a crank, but good on the boots-on-ground practicalities.
Bruce Hoffman. Major expert on terrorism."

Hovigtacks on:
And Will Baude ( and Daniel Moore (

AST asks, wisely, "Where's the funding? It has to be more than a mailing list."

To which, without meaning to be glib at all, I would say: If you build it, they will come." Funding follows content and committment. Many things were started by the use of a "mailing list" from the American Revolution to the Dean Campaign. See "multiplying effect of the internet" (above).

Martin Lindeskog points us to "... my blogroll and the different categories."

...while Dean Esmay just steps up to the plate with: "You could certainly count me in for such a project."

Ah, our first volunteer. Mr. Esmay evidently missed the part of Basic Training where they tell you to never volunteer for anything.

If you have anyone to add, please do. More tomorrow.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 22, 2003 9:52 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Running the Numbers

Open Secrets has an illuminating page on presidential candidates, their contributions, and the nature of those contributions. Here's how George Bush and Howard Dead currently stack up in: 2004 Presidential Election

G.W. Bush -- Campaign Funds, September, 2003:
Raised: $84.5 Million
Spent: $15 Million
On Hand: $ 73 Million

Howard Dean -- Campaign Funds, September, 2003:
Raised: $25 Million
Spent: $13 Million
On Hand: $12 Million

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 21, 2003 1:41 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
P. J. O'Rourke on Iraq, Mobs and Fascism

In the current Atlantic Monthly, P. J. O'Rourke has written an extensive analysis of Iraq and Kuwait up until last April. In this Atlantic Unbound | Interview he gets a bit more up to date:

This mob mentality points to something I don't think has been given enough consideration about Iraq: the Baath Party is a Fascist party. It's like the Falange, it's like the Italian Fascists. I won't say that it's like the Nazi Party -- that's going too far. But it's got that same mass movement sort of thing.

The ideology is exceedingly cloudy. The purpose of it is entirely for the people at the top of the party to hold power. It's not like Marxism. It's a sort of omnium gatherum of watered-down modern ideas and Social Darwinism and garbage that's really all about power. Fascism is very much a mob movement. It's been very successful in Iraq. It has created a mob mentality and a mob nation.

This is one of the big problems that we're facing. That was a pretty benign mob I was looking at out there in the countryside out in Safwan, but obviously they're not always so benign.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 21, 2003 1:17 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
As opposed, say, to someone just normally repellant...

"All Dean's "he gets it!" cheerleaders are gonna have some crow to digest if somebody really repellant uses all these tools to get elected in the future."

From: Why Dean matters

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 21, 2003 12:47 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
An Idea Whose Time Has Come ... Again

You do a good work, keep it going

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 21, 2003 12:40 PM | Comments (34)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Robert Fulghum (TA-DAA!) Blogs

I admire this grasshopper in front of me. Not only
is he good at going up, he's good at coming down.
He lands well. That's the secret of getting high and going far.
Landing well.

-- Robert Fulghum

There's a long story I could tell about Robert Fulghum, but I'll save it for another time and another place. Actually, there are many stories about Fulghum, but not all can be told, not all should be told, and some, if told, would result in a visit from "Vinnie, Leg Breaker to the Stars."

No matter, the news right now is that Fulghum, author of "Everthing I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" (New, Expanded Edition Here) and numerous other best sellers, is online at :Robert Fulghum's Journal.

What's it about? It's about living and noticing life as you move on down the road. It is about: bumper stickers seen on the street, things overheard in line at the store, factoids and fantasies, the parts we play in life and our disguises, films seen and American icons... and all manner of things considered in a certainl slant of light.

Here's an excerpt about aging that is as true and as straight as they come:


I seem to have wandered unaware into the Era of Endgame Events. Invitations appear now for golden wedding anniversary celebrations, retirement dinners, big-number birthday parties, class reunions, funerals, and the placing of memorial plaques. All these events honor people who are my age. Now, I am not old. But there are people my age who are old. And I can see Old from where I am.

Others call attention to this fact in a well-meaning way. A child of a child of mine recently offered to take me for ride in her car. I remember doing that for my grandmother -- just to get the old lady out and about. Is it my turn in the passenger seat now?

My wife nudges me in the back at a theater box office when a senior discount is offered and I don't take advantage of it. Being both cheap and younger than I am, she sees me now as the front-man for a discount scam.

And there was that phone call in May. "Bobby? Bobby Lee?" Anybody who calls me that is calling from Waco, Texas. And I know why. Fifty years ago I walked down the aisle, across the stage, and out of high school and into whatever came next.

"Are you coming to the fiftieth class reunion?"

"I don't know. I'll think about it."

I was thinking about it when I was in Crete this summer. Hot. Humid. Still.
Hunkered down in a small patch of shade in an afternoon stupor, I was motionless and mindless. Out of nowhere a big yellow grasshopper landed on the sunlit stone wall in front of me, like a tiny circus acrobat suddenly leaping into the spotlight at center ring. TA-DAA! Then he jumped again -- about twenty times his length and about ten times his height landing further along the wall in front of me. TA-DAA. Amazing. I felt like applauding. He's very good at what he does. I wonder what it would be like to be able to do that. The equivalent for someone my size would be about 120 feet, reaching 60 feet up at the top of the arc. A leap over a five-story building. If I could do that I would want to think about it before doing it even once. Maybe once is all I would ever do it. I suppose I could do it. Take a running leap off a five-story building on the edge of a cliff. Nothing to it. The jumping, I mean. It's the coming down that would concern me. Landing.

I wonder how it was the first time for the grasshopper on my porch. Some grasshoppers can also fly, you know. I don't know about him, but, personally, I would want to be one of those. That would be nice. I imagine the novice grasshopper would suddenly feel the uncontrollable urge to push off. "WOW, I'm really up here! WOW, I can fly!" The grasshopper must have been pleased. I suppose there are klutz grasshoppers who fly themselves into the ground and land on their heads or who get so excited they forget to flap their wings. But I've never seen one. I would probably be one.

I admire this grasshopper in front of me. Not only is he good at going up, he's good at coming down. He lands well. That's the secret of getting high and going far. Landing well.

The day I graduated from high school my daddy told me that I was too young to know what I wanted and to not be in a hurry to decide. He said success in life is wanting what you finally get -- no matter what you think you want now or how far away or how high up you go. The goal is being satisfied with how you end up.

Fifty years from now I intend that my grandchildren shall say of their long-dead grandfather. "He went high, he went far, and he landed well."

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 21, 2003 10:03 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Big Stick

US begins hypersonic weapons program

The US military has begun development of an ultra-high speed weapons system that would enable targets virtually anywhere on Earth to be hit within two hours of launch from the continental US.

Ten companies have been given grants by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Pentagon for six-month "system definition" studies. If the Pentagon likes the results, a three-year design and development phase will begin.

The ultimate aim, slated for around 2025, is a reusable Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle (HCV) that can take off from a conventional runway in the US and strike targets up to 16,700 kilometres (10,350 miles) away.

From: New Scientist

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 21, 2003 8:25 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Wisdom of Al Sharpton"

...[P]opular ideologies like multiculturalism and utopianism have become embedded in the postwar Democratic party. Both notions tend to characterize the American military not as a force for good, but as an extension of American pathology that legitimizes if not promotes an oppressive globalism, racism, sexism, colonialism, and economic oppression.

If one finds that stereotype unfair, remember the pathetic scene of a Gen. Clark during the recent Democratic debate, who castigated the president of the United States at a time of war while deferring to the wisdom of Al Sharpton. Take out a mass murderer, free 26 million, and you will earn charges of incompetence if not treason; slander a DA, fabricate a crime, and fan the flames of riot and racial hatred, and you will win respect from a Democratic frontrunner. For Republicans who must resort to war, the primary challenge will not be the fighting itself, but rather the perception that the United States was inherently wrong to have fought in the first place.

Victor Davis Hanson on U.S. Power

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 20, 2003 1:02 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Walk of "Fame"

"I Just Want To Lay Next To You
For Awhile
You Look So Beautiful Tonight
Your Eyes Are So Lovely
Your Mouth Is So Sweet

"A Lot Of People
Misunderstand Me
That's Because They Don't
Know Me At All

"I Just Want To Touch You
And Hold You
I Need You
God I Need You
I Love You So Much"

-- Michael Jackson: I Just Can't Stop Loving You

"Bad"Misheard Lyrics:

"I'm bent, I'm bent, you know it."
Correct Lyrics:
"I'm bad, I'm bad, you know it."

"Billie Jean" Misheard Lyrics:

"Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl who says I am the one
Who slept with her young son."
Correct Lyrics:
"Billie Jean's not my lover
She's just a girl who says I am the one
But the kid is not my son"

-- Misheard Lyrics, Michael Jackson

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 20, 2003 11:09 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
If You Don't Like the Google News, Make Some of Your Own...

Microsoft Launches Google News Competitor

Now that Google has spurned Microsoft's takeover bid, it can expect the Redmond giant to start rolling out directly competitive services one by one, and building them into the Windows operating system. The first of the lot is a competitor to Google's new and popular News service called MSN NewsBot. Here's the beta version, which was launched in the UK. [Mike's List: The Raw Feed]

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 20, 2003 12:06 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Great Moments in Explosives Training

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 19, 2003 5:49 PM | Comments (20)  | QuickLink: Permalink
New American Foreign Policy Initiative

Speaking in London today, President Bush used visual aids
such as the one pictured above to clarify the current foreign policy
of the United States.

"We must shake off decades of failed policy in the Middle East. Your nation and mine, in the past, have been willing to make a bargain, to tolerate oppression for the sake of stability....Yet this bargain did not bring stability or make us safe....

As recent history has shown, we cannot turn a blind eye to oppression just because the oppression is not in our own backyard. No longer should we think tyranny is benign because it is temporarily convenient....

Now we're pursuing a different course, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. We will consistently challenge the enemies of reform and confront the allies of terror.

From:President Bush Discusses Iraq Policy at Whitehall

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 19, 2003 1:50 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The War: Two Converging Views

Two novelists, Mark Helprin and Orson Scott Card, the first an ex-soldier and the latter a science fiction visionary, are of one mind when it comes to the need to shake off our sleepwalking state and face the reality of what confronts this nation.

Halprin in War in the Absence of Strategic Clarity reminds us that:

The enemy must and can be defined. That he is the terrorist himself almost everyone agrees, but in the same way that the United States extended blame beyond the pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor, it must now reach far back into the structures of enablement for the sake of deciding who and what must be fought.

And given the enormity of a war against civilians, and the attacks upon our warships, embassies, economy, capital, government, and most populous city, this determination must be liberal and free-flowing rather than cautious and constrained, both by necessity and by right.

The enemy has embarked upon a particular form of warfare with the intent of shielding his center of mass from counterattack, but he must not be allowed such a baseless privilege. For as much as he is the terrorist who executes the strategy, he is the intelligence service in aid of it, the nation that harbors his training camps, the country that finances him, the press filled with adulation, the people who dance in the streets when there is a slaughter, and the regime that turns a blind eye.

Not surprisingly, militant Islam arises from and makes its base in the Arab Middle East. The first objective of the war, therefore, must be to offer every state in the area this choice: eradicate all support for terrorism within your borders or forfeit existence as a state. That individual terrorists will subsequently flee to the periphery is certain, but the first step must be to deny them their heartland and their citadels.

Card is even less sanguine when he examines our present situation in light of the Anarchist movment of the 19th and 20th centuries in Fanatic Terrorism from the Past :
I fear that the only thing that will cure the Muslim people of their current love affair with terrorism (for even though the terrorists are few, those who openly sympathize with their barbarities are many and their critics are virtually silent) is the savagery of total war.

The only alternative is the kind of limited, surgical war that America has been waging in Afghanistan and Iraq. The cost of such a war is not trivial, but it is also not total.

But if America and Britain lose heart and do not complete this kind of war, the terrorists will regard our retreat as proof that they were right and Allah supports their actions. More terrorism will surely follow, and the war we failed to complete now our children will have to complete later -- and under far less advantageous circumstances.

... Giving more aid or support to Muslim nations will not be seen as generosity, it will be seen as tribute or ransom money, and the credit will go to the terrorists ... thereby inviting further acts of terror. (This is the pattern that the Palestinian terrorists have already demonstrated for years.)

That is the thing that the advocates of "peace" just don't seem to understand: Peace cannot be achieved unilaterally. When an enemy is determined to make war -- even a pathetically weak and under-armed enemy -- then a war will be fought ... or the enemy will become your conqueror.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 19, 2003 12:35 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Goons of the New York Times

It seems that the thugs of Iraq are not limited to the criminals and terrorists, some of them work for the New York Times. Here's an extract from a letter from an Iraqi to the eternally boyish publisher of the Times:

My family has a property in the green zone in down town Baghdad on Abi-Nuas street. The New York Times rents the adjacent property. For several weeks now my brother Ali Al Ali has been denied automobile access to our property by security guards. Until two days ago we thought this was a coalition security measure. Now we known these guards are not coalition personal but are instead the private security force employed by your news paper.

The family property has two store fronts. Yesterday (Saturday November 15, 2003) my brother and two hired men were in one of the stores installing shelves. My brother lost his livelihood in the war and needs to open this store to make a living. His efforts were interrupted by several of the security guards employed by your paper. He was knocked roughly to the floor and threatened. Your guards pointed there AK-47 rifles and my brother and his work men and told them they would be shot if they did not leave immediately.

I feel sure if learned the United States Army was responsible an incident such as this you would feel obligated to publish the story and condemn the act.

From a letter to the Publisher of the New York Times

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 19, 2003 10:21 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Down the Rat-Hole to Surrender"

Commenting on Bush in London, David Warren uses an analogy to the life of the late Fitz Cramer:

The monocle-wearing Prof. Kraemer, a curious survival of Wilhelmine Germany, and an accomplished scholar of international law, political philosophy, and history, died of kidney failure at age 95 in Washington on Sept. 8, as I just learned... From a small office in the Pentagon, he taught a generation of U.S. officers not only the principles of geostrategic warfare; but the reasons why it must be fought and won.

Kraemer grasped .... that the great weakness of the United States and the West, after the defeat of Nazism, was identical with the great weakness of Germany that had allowed the rise of Hitler. In each case, it is the existence of an intellectual elite who think about abstractions instead of realities, and whose instinct to appease a mortal enemy is founded in a lazy, cowardly, and conceited moral relativism. Kraemer was father to the phrase, "provocative weakness" -- in two words, the reason why the West is under attack today from such terror networks as Al Qaeda....

Kraemer was a man who believed in fighting for the truth, regardless of consequences; and of fighting with no option of surrender or even compromise with evil. He was no "mere conservative". Donald Rumsfeld is his true protege in the U.S. government today, and to a lesser extent President Bush.

These are men who realize the U.S., and all free peoples, have a mortal enemy in ideological Islamism, and that it must be defeated rather than accommodated. This has made them deeply unpopular with the intelligentsia of our time, and especially with that half-educated reflection of it in the mass media. Europe and Canada are much farther gone down the rat-hole to surrender, but the U.S. itself also teeters....

As I write, the anti-Bush demonstrations are cranking up in the London streets.... A little knowledge is a dangerous thing -- and those with little knowledge of how the world unfolds, demand that America and Britain give up defending themselves against the menace made visible in the morning of 9/11/01.

To what is apparently a majority of polling respondents on the European continent, little democratic Israel is the world's most dangerous country, and George W. Bush its most dangerous man....

As in the 1930s, leftists and pacifists on the streets of Europe directly advanced the triumphs of Nazism, so today the demonstrators work to advance the triumphs of Islamism. For they refuse to acknowledge the consequences of ignoring such an enemy.

And so the bombing of synagogues in Istanbul draws, from e.g. Britain's Stop the War Coalition, no whimper of distress. But the arrival in England of the Western world's pre-eminent statesman ignites a self-righteous outcry....

In their own subjective world of illusions, the demonstrators demand not surrender, but an unobtainable "peace". However, in the objective world of cause and effect, they are the reliable allies of the people who flew airplanes into the World Trade Centre, who blow up Jews in synagogues and supermarkets, who tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and bulldozed their bodies into mass graves.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 19, 2003 10:03 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
When Allah Speaks the World Shall Tremble ("Tremble!")

Better ideas require better arguments. And who can make a better argument for the destruction of America and the rise of Islam as a world government than Allah Himself? Nobody, that's who.

It is time, once again, to check in with the god of our enemies as he tracks Western Civilization's compulsion to off itself on a daily basis:

Anyway, come now, Jews! Come, let us cleanse our palates of western decadence together with a few glorious quotations from today's news. First:

"Dear President Bush, I'm sure you'll be having a nice little tea party with your fellow war criminal, Tony Blair. Please wash the cucumber sandwiches down with a glass of blood, with my compliments. Harold Pinter Playwright"

And second:

"Germans attribute [Michael] Moore's popularity to his mirroring of what is popular thinking in Europe, particularly after opposition grew in France and Germany to the US-led war in Iraq. . . . [A] fan said he gave legitimacy to negative images of the United States and an outlet for frustration with Washington's policies. 'He reinforces all the stereotypes we have of America,' said Stefan Baumann. 'We can point to him and say, see, even Americans are saying that about themselves.' "

Kufr, if this is the famed "European open-mindedness" that Allah has heard so much about, then fucking sign Allah up. Actually, Allah has already signed up: Recently he felt himself doubting whether the Jew really is a baby-eating subhuman species, so he watched "Jew Suss" again and his doubts evaporated. The film, like, totally reinforced his stereotypes. That is European logic in a nutshell, infidels, which is why you are so profoundly silly to be talking to them about fighting a war on terror. To be sure there are still a few pockets of free-thinkers here and there, but even among the holdouts it is only a matter of time. Look at it this way: Where else but in Europe would a government convene an emergency cabinet meeting about anti-Semitism and conclude it by giving $8 billion to Muslims? Where else would your president be compared unfavorably with fucking cancer? Oho! It is going to be another long century, isn't it, kufr?

From:Allah Is In The House:

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 19, 2003 9:04 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Picture Window

Kaanapali Coast,
Maui, Hawaii
March 1978

John Pfahl

From: George Eastman House

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 19, 2003 8:45 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ancient Advice to the New Governor

"Respect the worthy and employ the capable; put talented people in key positions, then all the best of the realm will be pleased and will want to be members of your court."

"In the market-places, charge land-rent, but don't tax the goods; or make concise regulations and don't even charge rent. Do this, and all the merchants in the realm will be pleased, and will want to set up shop in your markets."

"At the borders, make inspections but don't charge tariffs, then all the travelers in the realm will be pleased and will want to traverse your highways."

"If the farmers merely have to help each other with the fields, and do not have to pay an additional tax, then all the farmers in the realm will be pleased, and will want to till the fields."

"If you do not charge fines to the unemployed in your marketplaces, then all the people in the realm will be pleased, and will want to become your subjects."

"If you are really able to put these five points into practice, then the people from the neighboring states will look up to you as a parent. Now, there has never been a case of someone being able to consistently succeed in making children attack their own parents. This being the case, you will have no enemies in the realm. The one who has no enemies in the realm is the vicegerent of Heaven. There is no case of one who attained to this level, and who did not attain to true kingship."


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 18, 2003 12:54 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ten Pillars of Our Civilization

"I pose you your question:
shall you uncover honey / where maggots are?
I hunt among stones"

--Charles Olson, The Kingfishers

It is always good to take a step back from the on rushing churn of our days and try to find some touchstones to steady us in the current.

In 1977 Paul Johnson published Enemies of Society which is now out of print. The central argument of that prescient book concerned the nature of civilization and the absolute necessity for its preservation and advancement. Like any other loaded term in our confused era, civlization is often put into play as a dubious concept, one we can jettison in our quest for whatever new personal freedoms we have come to regard as indispensible to our nature.

But as wise men always remind us, there is no freedom without civilization, only the rule of force and the tyranny of the one or the faction over the many. Because of this it is refreshing and reinvigorating to come back to Johnsons credo. Below is a condensed version of these truths. The essay from which they are derived, "A New Deuteronomy," is found in the extended entry.

Civilization will always be at risk, and every age is prudent to regard the threats to it with unique seriousness. All good societies breed enemies whose combined hostility can prove fatal. There is no easy defensive formula, and the most effective strategy is to identify the malign forces quickly, as and when they appear.

At the same time, there are certain salient principles, valid always but of special relevance today, which we should take particular care to uphold. They are the Ten Pillars of our Civilization:

1. The first, and perhaps the most important, is to reassert our belief in moral absolutes. It is not true that all codes of human conduct are relative, and reflect cultural assumptions and economic arrangements which do not necessarily possess any authority. It is not true that there is no such thing as absolute right, and absolute wrong.

2. Certain acts are intrinsically, always and everywhere wrong.

3. Democracy is the least evil, and on the whole the most effective, form of government.

4. Free institutions will only survive where there is the rule of law.

5. Always, and in all situations, to stress the importance of the individual.

6. There is nothing morally unhealthy about the existence of a middle class in society.

7. When the claims of freedom conflict with the pursuit of other desirable objects of public policy, freedom should normally prevail.

8. The correct and honourable use of words is the first and natural credential of civilized status.

9. Trust science. Science, properly defined, is an essential part of civilization. To be anti-science is not the mark of a civilized human being, or of a friend of humanity.

10. No consideration should ever deflect us from the pursuit and recognition of truth, for that essentially is what constitutes civilization itself.

The entire essay can be found at..


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 18, 2003 12:46 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
US Troops:1 AP Media: 0

Ah, those AP photo editors. They look but they do not see.

US Army soldiers take rest during patrol in Baghdad suburb, Monday Nov. 17, 2003. U.S. forces have reacted to the increasing attacks in which dozens of Americans and their allies have died by mounting a massive show of force in central and northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
From the always admirable: lgf

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 17, 2003 5:56 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Pledge of Me

I pledge (on a revocable basis)
A smidgen of my attention
To The Rainbow of Diversity,

And to The United Planet of Well Meaning Persons,
And to The Elite of Technosavvy, Highly Educated Nice People
For which it stands (sometimes),

And to All Global Cultures and Ethnic Traditions
(Each one just as good as the next), divisible,
Under a Nothing as big as the Universe

With Liberty,
Plus License,
Plus Free cable TV,
Plus Unlimited Weekend Minutes,
And JustUs for All
Those that agree
One hundred percent with Me.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 17, 2003 5:46 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The First 100 Days of Arnold


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

Weve 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. Were 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 hed 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, wouldnt you?

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

Lets go to the video tape and see whats 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 isnt 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 & Robins 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 dont 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.

Arnolds tactics here will be simple and straightforward: The kids get the money


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 17, 2003 4:14 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Infotel Assault on Blogsphere Increases

As a company created to scam, Infotel can't afford shame. But it can afford a nifty Beverly Hills lawyer, Mr. Wayne Brosman,(of Ryan, Brosman, Hammers & Bozo) who evidently takes kindly to the representation of companies even more reprehensible than law firms. His 'demand' letter reproduced by damnum absque injuria makes for some interesting reading.

Infotel Demand Letter
Below is the text of the letter sent by Infotel attorney Wayne Brosman of Ryan, Brosman & Hammers. A scanned version of the letter will follow:
...The California Constitution includes a right to privacy, which requires that you take affirmative steps to stop this threat from being consummated. In addition, you have already violated California law by allowing other postings of personal information, as well as express directions to Infotel's customers to breach their contracts. Enclosed please find my prelimnary analysis of the actionable statements appearing on your website.

Unless your message page is taken down by the close of business today, November 14, 2003, Infotel Publications and the individuals being harmed with [sic] file suit against you and your agents for invasion of privacy, misrepresentation, and interference with economic relations."

The table of "wrongs" that Brosman heaps up following his text are instructive to say the least.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 17, 2003 1:42 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Smells Like Wenner Spirit

Why is this man smiling?

I'm sorry, but the fix is in at Rolling Stone. A USA today report on Rolling Stone's 100 Best Albums (It's certainly a thrill: 'Sgt. Pepper' is best album) is at pains to tell us how this list was arrived at -- special group, large sample, people from all over the music industry, Ernst & Young point system, etc. But it is all balderdash. Anybody who has spent any time watching publsher Jann Wenner over the years knows that the following list is derived from Jann and Jann alone. After all, that's one of the things you can do when you're a publisher. Here we call a cigar a cigar and this is:

Jann Wenner's Best Album List
1. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds
3. The Beatles, Revolver
4. Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited
5. The Beatles, Rubber Soul
6. Marvin Gaye, What's Going On
7. The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street
8. The Clash, London Calling
9. Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde
10. The Beatles, The Beatles (The White Album)

Cynical types might also observe that this list is top-loaded with the unrequited loves of Jann, but we're not that cynical.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 17, 2003 8:36 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Every 11 Seconds A Person Creates A Weblog

...we've got to locate that person and stop him.

For the last few weeks I've noticed that Technorati has been crumbling, but I didn't know why. On my 3rd or 4th email to them I must admit I got a bit testy. But then I hadn't heard about what they were up against. Dave Sifry lays it out in Technorati Growing Pains:

Allow me to give you some growth statistics: One year ago, when I started Technorati on a single server in my basement, we were adding between 2,000-3,000 new weblogs each day, not counting the people who were updating sites we were already tracking. In March of this year, when we switched over to a 5 server cluster, we were keeping up with about 4,000-5,000 new weblogs each day. Right now, we're adding 8,000-9,000 new weblogs every day, not counting the 1.2 Million weblogs we already are tracking. That means that on average, a brand new weblog is created every 11 seconds. We're also seeing about 100,000 weblogs update every day as well, which means that on average, a weblog is updated every 0.86 seconds.
Fairly stunning numbers. I just want to say that I apologize for sending Dave a "What Is Happening!?" flame and promise to ease up on his servers by posting less. Except for this one which will now consume .86 seconds of update time.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 17, 2003 8:00 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Sidelining of the Democratic Pary

In an illuminating response to Chris Bowers' hapless argument for the the "inevitability" of Howard Dean, Demosphia presents The Centrifugal Politics of "Little Democracy". Unlike the Bower's meditation on how wishes become horses, Demosophia does not demolish as much as instruct Bowers on the importance of being lucid rather than a Lotus Eater:

The flaw in [Bower's] reasoning is that it assumes Republicans did something deliberate to increase their vote and support base, when what actually happened is that the electorate was simply returning to the ideological consensus of the founding. It is precisely those founding principles that have worked successfully to produce the electoral resource available to the Republican Party. The reason for the shift of the public to the right, and the decline in the fortunes of Democrats is, I'm afraid, far more serious than any Republican strategy to increase the clout of their constituent groups. It is the failure of many Democrats to understand their own country. They have simply been led to regard the founding values as subversive, and so fewer and fewer voters are willing to entrust the care and maintenance of the nation to them. There may still be a wing of the Democratic Party that remains sensitive to these values, but it may be on the verge of becoming completely coopted by the Republicans.
The sad thing here is that not only will nobody in the Democtratic party recognize this, they cannot recognize it. The sadder thing is not that nobody in the Democratic party will do anything about this, but that there is nothing they can do.

There's a lot of talk about the ultimate candidate "tacking back to the center" after obtaining the nomination and I do not doubt that will happen. But a political party is not a tiny little sailboat but more like a supertanker. Yes, you can change direction and even come to a complete halt, but it takes a good deal of time and foresight. And those two things are no longer resources held by the Democratic party.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 17, 2003 7:23 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How the Infotel Scam Works


"If you're not in the Infotel Business Directories, how will they find you?"
Infotel;"Making the world just a little smaller"

-- Slogans on Infotel Web Site

Over the last few days a lot of attention has been given to a shabby con run out of Canada by the Frank family called "Infotel." Essentially, this is one of those "get the company to pay" bits of sleaze that run as low-level infections throughout the corporate world. It only usually falls apart when the scamsters try to shakedown a small company that knows what it orders and what it doesn't.

Canada, long a haunt for fly-by-night telemarketing con-artists and shabby porn peddlars, gives companies like this shelter from US laws. I guess because Canada needs every sort of business it can bet these days.

At any rate, there hasn't been a lot of detail on how the scam or scams of Infotel are done until now when a 'former employee' has detailed them. The details are fascinating reading [Brackets = Added Information]:

Posted by a "former employee" in the comments section of "damnum absque injuria"


Hey I worked there in Sales; this is [how the scams work]……

Categorized as a Legal Counterfeit Company because the products are real it is still a Telemarketing Scam because of the way the products are sold and there is no way of knowing how many are distributed.

Infotel/CBSI Products: (as seen at )


These are National Business to Business Directories. Because they are National (ex. all the U.S. in one book) they are ... worthless. Nevertheless, they are what they are and are sold as that and no more.

The only illegal premise is the falsifying of the fact that the company was previously listed. This is fraud and the BBB knows it.

The *Paper Rolls are for Credit Card machines etc. This nickel & dime Scam starts with the sales pitch “You are running out of paper etc.” The paper is sold by weight. Again the products do exist. This time around the small fry is caught thinking it’s his supplier calling. Nothing illegal here, just gullible employees.

Part 1 (Directories)

The Scam starts with the Sales Pitch directed at the unknowing small fry at a company: "Would you like to continue your listing in the 2xxx Directory of American Business, it's the National Business to Business Directory, Yellow and White pages."

The Yellow and White pages draw them in. It's a Phone Book to the small fry. They were previously listed? (This is the Scam, they were not)

The Scam continues with a Shipping Department call: "This is so and so from the Shipping Department of Infotel Publications", I am calling to confirm the details..." The Scam here is to get the small fry to admit he/she is authorized to make the purchase. This call is taped.

If yes, the Scam is set in motion. If no, then it is returned to the sales where it may be pitched again to the same company.

With the Scam set in motion, the company is listed in the directory and on the website The directory is sent by UPS to the company.

Part 2 (Directories)

The collection department (known in telemarketing as The BOILER room) handles the non paid invoices which make up a large % of the take. The monitored call, the proof of purchase, the authorized small fry, all contributes to the success of the Scam.

The BOILER room rotates the unpaid invoices trying to keep the calls to companies at the US legal debt collecting limit avoiding BBB & Attorney General Complaints. The goal is to get to the Owner, President, or V.P. etc. This is the turn point of the Scam. The Owner, President, V.P. etc. will pay the Full Invoice price, Partial or a Lower Fee or Nothing.



Who do they target?
Any and all Businesses including Non-Profit Organizations even Churches (But no Synagogues)

Do I have to pay?

How do I stop the Calls?
Call the Better Business Bureau

But Better…..
Alert the Attorney General

Who are these guys?
Canadian Telemarketers aimed at the US and Europe

The Owners
Gordon Frank, Ted Frank, Sean Frank

Even the ... mother (Rosalyn Cobrin) of these CROOKS works there, it’s a FAMILY BUSINESS!

Montreal, Toronto

More info......

Posted by: FORMER EMPLOYEE at October 31, 2003 04:46 PM

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 16, 2003 10:16 AM | Comments (60)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Iraq Connection

Inviting the carping critics of the Iraq- al Qaeda Connection to step-off, is a detailed examination the reality as contained in:Case Closed published in the Weekly Standard.

OSAMA BIN LADEN and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda--perhaps even for Mohamed Atta--according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration. Intelligence reporting included in the 16-page memo comes from a variety of domestic and foreign agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources. Some of it is new information obtained in custodial interviews with high-level al Qaeda terrorists and Iraqi officials, and some of it is more than a decade old. The picture that emerges is one of a history of collaboration between two of America's most determined and dangerous enemies.

What follows is a detailed profile of the memo and the links it exposes. Worth reading and reading widely.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 16, 2003 8:46 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Holiday Shopping 1: For the Geek Who Would Be King

Overcoming several painful years of toil on the auto show circuit (after his original show was canned in 1968), Space Ghost rallied to become the talk show legend that he is today. Celebrate his achievements while carving out a few of your own behind this custom desk inspired by the kidney-shaped fixture that has been on the set of Space Ghost Coast to Coast for almost ten years.

The gracefully curved desk is constructed with a brushed aluminum body and a frosted plexiglass inlayed top. Mood lighting is built into the front overhang and the desktop is self-illuminated.

A 15" Philips LCD television pops up seamlessly from the desktop. A Sony Dream System supplies the built-in sound and a mini-fridge is furnished. The desk includes ports for computer hook-ups and AC power outlets. A cordless telephone is also provided.

The desk comes complete with a Custom Executive Desk Chair. Leather with Space Ghost logo appliqu?, this luxurious chair includes multi-tilt positions with push button adjustability and a four-zone, eight-motor massage system.

Price? A mere $39,000. Order now at: Space Ghost Desk and Chair

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 16, 2003 8:05 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Name the Speaker.
Extra Credit for the Year
"At least 40 million Americans every night, it's estimated, watch the network news. ... In Will Roger's observation, what you knew was what you read in the newspaper. Today for growing millions of Americans, it's what they see and hear on their television sets.

"Now how is this network news determined? A small group of men, numbering perhaps no more than a dozen anchormen, commentators, and executive producers, settle upon the 20 minutes or so of film and commentary that's to reach the public....

"They decide what 40 to 50 million Americans will learn of the day's events in the nation and in the world. We cannot measure this power and influence by the traditional democratic standards, for these men can create national issues overnight. They can make or break by their coverage and commentary a moratorium on the war. They can elevate men from obscurity to national prominence within a week. They can reward some politicians with national exposure and ignore others.

"Nor is their power confined to the substantive. A raised eyebrow, an inflection of the voice, a caustic remark dropped in the middle of a broadcast can raise doubts in a million minds about the veracity of a public official or the wisdom of a Government policy...

"Now what do Americans know of the men who wield this power? Of the men who produce and direct the network news, the nation knows practically nothing. Of the commentators, most Americans know little other than that they reflect an urbane and assured presence seemingly well-informed on every important matter. We do know that to a man these commentators and producers live and work in the geographical and intellectual confines of Washington, D.C., or New York City, the latter of which James Reston terms the most unrepresentative community in the entire United States.

"Both communities bask in their own provincialism, their own parochialism.

"We can deduce that these men read the same newspapers. They draw their political and social views from the same sources. Worse, they talk constantly to one another, thereby providing artificial reinforcement to their shared viewpoints. Do they allow their biases to influence the selection and presentation of the news?..."

Answer: Here

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 15, 2003 9:38 AM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
When Journalists Mate

"Hed Nexisd me! I was really impressed." -- Cheryl Tan

Michael Hale and Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Met: August 2001
Engaged: October 2002
Projected Wedding Date: Feb. 14, 2004

Michael Hale, 43, the floppy-haired assistant editor of The New York Times Sunday Arts and Leisure section, is engaged to Cheryl Tan, 28, a senior fashion writer at InStyle....

The bride plans to wear a halter-topped Narciso Rodriguez gownthe same design that Meg Ryan wore on last Aprils cover of InStyle. To secure the frock, Ms. Tan went on a waiting list at Bergdorf Goodman like anyone else. "It was the first dress I tried on and I said to my sister, Oh my God! Am I going to feel like I married the first guy I slept with?...."

The couple [met at] an Asian-American Journalists Association event at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. "This is going to sound a bit dorky," Mr. Hale said, "but you know, were both journalists, and we take that very seriously." Ms. Tan, a streak-haired, full-cheeked looker who was born in Singapore and attended Northwesterns Medill School of Journalism, was working as a fashion writer for The Baltimore Sun at the time....

They bumped into each other the next day at a cutting-edge panel on how to cover transsexual and transgender communities. Mr. Hale had apparently done a little extracurricular research overnight. "He said Oh, I liked this story, and I liked your treatment of that," Ms. Tan said. "And Im like, Huh? No one reads The Baltimore Sun. But then I realized it: Hed Nexisd me! I was really impressed."

She arrived in New York for Fashion Week in fall 2001 and suddenly found herself covering Ground Zero stories. She was constantly calling Mr. Hale at The Times headquarters, and their romance was rapidly expedited. They began commuting between Manhattan and D.C., playing lots of board games ("Never play Trivial Pursuit with this man," she said darkly), watching The X-Files over the phone when they couldnt be together in the flesh.


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 15, 2003 8:33 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Stan Lee and His Bipolar Comic Books


Freidrich at offers a compelling insight into the "tri-polar" nature of some of America's greatest superheroes. In his precise of "Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book," he notes:

The collaborative nature of the development of new superhero comics is well illustrated in the case of Spider-Man. According to Raphael and Spurgeon:

"In early 1962, Stan Lee expressed the desire to do a teenage superhero using the spider motif. Jack Kirby had long wanted to do an insect-related superheroWith Lees input, Kirby began to craft an introductory tale, rejecting some of the more fantastic Lee story elements, grounding the character in a domestic situation featuring a kindly aunt and uncle, and giving the superhero a secret origin revolving around a neighbor who happened to be a scientist. At Lees request, the character was turned over to Steve Ditko who, working from a synopsis and Kirbys pages, produced an inspired visual take on the character that drove its story for decadesbottle-thick glasses, slumped shoulders, and a homemade costume."

In short, many of the most memorable and human aspects of Spider-Man were actually contributions by Kirby and Ditko. In fact, the 'hybrid' nature of the Marvel comics of the early 1960s led to their most aesthetically distinct feature: Stan Lee's wisecracking dialogue floating over far more serious and, in some cases, even somber art. The tension successfully conveys something of the spirit of being a teenager, but I'm not sure a single 'auteur' could have captured it.

"Something of the spirit?" We'd say that a wisecrack floating on top of a somber spirit is the very essence of a teenager. And it may have a lot to do with the success of Spiderman.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 15, 2003 8:02 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Powerpoint Bumpf at the New York Times

Not the truth that's in it, but the truth of what's outside of it.
Click to enlarge

Today's New York Times, as pointed out by Roger Simon sports a spiffy graphic detailing a number of factors in "Post-War" Iraq. How "Post" the war in Iraq actually is is anybody's guess, but the Times is out, as usual, to control the debate by controlling the Power Point elements.

Powerpoint reasoning has become increasingly popular in the last decade and increasingly stupid, as Edward Tuftes notes: "PowerPoint templates (ready-made designs) usually weaken verbal and spatial reasoning,and almost always corrupt statistical analysis."[Source]

The graphic reproduced above is a classic case of data manipulation. It seems to tell a story about Iraq today, and, in a limited sense, it does. But does it tell the whole story? Of course not. To tell the whole story about Iraq today the very least you'd want to have is a graphic that takes a look at an entire year. After all, that's when we like to get the story about corporations, our lives, and other significant personal and public histories.

Here's an example of what the Times might have done it it was actually dedicated to the a fair and balanced" snapshot of conditions in Iraq. It would have made it for a year and included, perhaps, this list of numbers indicative of Pre-War Iraq:

Some of the figures are easy to ascertain, but it would have been a service to the nation for the Times to put its staff on the project so that all the relevant indicators could be filled in.

Security Indicators in Pre-War Iraq
Top 55 Baathists at large: 55
Total Baathists Killed or Arrested: 0
Iraq citizens in mass graves: +300,000
Top Baathists in graves: 0
U.S. Troops in Iraq: 0
Non-US (Iraqi) Troops in Iraq: 375,000
Number of dictators: 1
Typical number of daily attacks by the state on Iraq citizens: Unknown
Iraq citizens killed by Iraq: Unknown
Annualized State Murder Rate: Unknown
Number of Republican Guards: 80,000
Number of tons unaccounted Anthrax: 17
Iraq citizens killed by gas: +5000
Villages destroyed: +3,000
Iraqi children "killed by sanctions": 500,000

Economic trends in Pre-war Iraq
Non-Baathist Unemployment rate:
Average Government monthly salary: $3.50
Electricity produced nationwide:
Electricity produced Baghdad:
Oil Production:
Diesel and Kerosene Available:
Percentage of GDP controlled by Hussain:
Percentage of GDP controlled by citizens:
Number of independent newspapers:
Number of independent media outlets:
Non-Baathist life expectency:
Internal Deportation of Kurds and Turkomen populations: 900,000
Inflation since 1991: 900%

Just a few of the points that might have been added to give the NYT powerpoint some persuasive power.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 14, 2003 2:47 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hi-Q, Low-Q, and No-Q

DANIEL HENNINGER, in today's Wall Street Journal, proposes applying the metric of television stars to the current herd of Democratic contenders. That metric is knows as the "Q-Factor." In plain english that means "likeability." Used for years by television stations in figuring out who to choose and/or maintain for their on-air slots, the Q is determined by asking a bunch of people who they like better, A or B or C, etc.

Finding the professional marketing companies unwilling to take on a Q study of the candidates, Henninger launched his own. His conclusions?

...of all the marquee candidates, Dick Gephardt, John Edwards, Joe Lieberman and Wes Clark would have low Q, below the 19 minimum. Rating candidates for the U.S. presidency in this way is of course ridiculous, but they bring it on themselves. Television, amid the vapors of its two dimensions, somehow exposes artifice, and when these men speak, you can hear the gears shifting to match the audience.
Henninger is prevaricating here. The most natural thing to do with the crop of candidates is to assign them a Q. We all assign them Q's whenever we watch them, which of late is far too often for our shared mental health.

As the Q goes, so goes the nation, but will the nation go towards John Kerry? Face it, you knew weeks ago that Kerry was wandering around the country with a large black "L" tattooed on his forhead. And the Q catches this as well:


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 14, 2003 10:39 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Try-Works


"The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomon's, and Ecclesiastes is the fine hammered steel of woe. 'All is vanity'. ALL. This wilful world hath not got hold of unchristian Solomon's wisdom yet. But he who dodges hospitals and jails, and walks fast crossing grave- yards, and would rather talk of operas than hell; calls Cowper, Young, Pascal, Rousseau, poor devils all of sick men; and throughout a care-free lifetime swears by Rabelais as passing wise, and therefore jolly; -- not that man is fitted to sit down on tomb-stones, and break the green damp mould with unfathomably wondrous Solomon....

"There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar."

From:Moby-Dick, or, The Whale published on this day in 1851

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 14, 2003 8:51 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
An Infinite Number of Pigeons Pecking...

How does Google keep up with the Web? It doesn't, but it tries hard. A key factor in this effort is the Google PageRank method of search and deploy. But what technology underlies PageRank? As Google itself explains, the engine that drives PageRank is pigeons, lots of pigeons:

Why Google's patented PigeonRank works so well

PigeonRank's success relies primarily on the superior trainability of the domestic pigeon (Columba livia) and its unique capacity to recognize objects regardless of spatial orientation. The common gray pigeon can easily distinguish among items displaying only the minutest differences, an ability that enables it to select relevant web sites from among thousands of similar pages.

By collecting flocks of pigeons in dense clusters, Google is able to process search queries at speeds superior to traditional search engines, which typically rely on birds of prey, brooding hens or slow-moving waterfowl to do their relevance rankings.

When a search query is submitted to Google, it is routed to a data coop where monitors flash result pages at blazing speeds. When a relevant result is observed by one of the pigeons in the cluster, it strikes a rubber-coated steel bar with its beak, which assigns the page a PigeonRank value of one. For each peck, the PigeonRank increases. Those pages receiving the most pecks, are returned at the top of the user's results page with the other results displayed in pecking order.

Read all about it at:Google Technology

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 13, 2003 9:53 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Minim of the Moment


He who would achieve great things must first be born.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 13, 2003 8:30 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play."

Michael Van Winkle at The Chicago Report has some sage advice for Howard Dean in Iowa: "Fergeddaboutit."

"If I were Dean I'd forget about Iowa. I would not fret about it, apologize for it, or hesitate for a second. I wouldn't spend another dime trying to take on Gephardt. Cut my losses, it's as easy as that. This is not a mystical revelation, its a simple cost benefit analysis..."
The complete analysis at: CR: Election 2004

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 12, 2003 6:32 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Psychedelic Slang
  • ACED:"We aced him out!"
  • AX:"He blows a bad ax."
  • BAAAD:"Hey, I checked out yer old lady today.She's baaad,man."
  • BARF:"You barf after the peyote milkshakes, bro, but, hey, it's beautiful."
  • BALLSY:"She is one ballsy chick."
  • BALLING:"So we smoked some righteous reefer and spent the afternoon balling our brains out."
  • BLOW YOUR COOL:"What ever you do, don't blow your cool."
  • BLEW HIM AWAY:"The pigs just blew him away with their shotguns."
  • BOONDOCKS:"Let's make it to this pad I scammed out in the boondocks."
  • BREAD:"Dope will get you through times without bread better than bread will get you through times without dope."
  • BRING DOWN: No, oh, no, dont bring me down.
  • BUMMER:"Bummmmmmmmmer!"
  • BUBBLEGUM MUSIC:"Scott McKenzie, my ass! He's the king of teenyboppers and bubblegum music."
  • CATCH SOME RAYS:"You've caught enuf zzz's, let's hit the beach and catch some rays."
  • CLICK:"That town's about 50 clicks back in the boondocks."
  • COPE:"I've got no dope and cannot cope."
  • CRASH:"I just wanna flash before I crash."
  • CRASH PAD:"Flash runs a shooting parlor and crash pad for teenyboppers in the Haight."

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 12, 2003 2:10 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Tang's Out, Strawberries Are In

Strawberries may boost astronaut performance
Frozen fruit protects rats' brains from harmful rays.

Snacking on strawberries may help astronauts to perform better on long space missions. A daily dose of the frozen fruit boosts brain function in rats exposed to a lab version of cosmic radiation.


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 12, 2003 1:58 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Illegal Upholstery

Bent out of shape...
illegal aliens caught in desperate attempts to cross U.S. border

Every year, federal officers from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and U.S. Customs Service discover increasing cases of "human contraband" secreted in unusual places and wrapped in innovative disguises. The man in the photo below was actually hidden inside an automobile seat occupied by another "legal" occupant.

From:U.S. Customs Today

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 12, 2003 1:32 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Hop, Skip and A 25,000 Light Year Jump

The Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy:
Get the Big Picture here
Take a trip to the galaxy here

Milky Way's nearest neighbour revealed

The nearest galaxy to our own Milky Way has been revealed. It is so close that the Milky Way is gradually consuming it by pulling in its stars. But it will be few billion years before it is entirely swallowed up.

The previously unknown galaxy lies about 25,000 light years from Earth and 42,000 light years from the centre of the Milky Way, beyond the stars in the constellation Canis Major. It is twice as close to the centre of our galaxy than the previous record holder, the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy, which was discovered in 1994.

More at:New Scientist

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 12, 2003 12:40 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Waking by Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.



On this day in 1935, the poet Theodore Roethke was hospitalized for a manic-depressive breakdown, the first of many he would endure. Whatever the causes of his mental problems, Roethke's biographers say that he kept working with characteristic intensity even when ill; one of his psychiatrists said, "I think his troubles were merely the running expenses he paid for being his kind of poet."

From:Today in Literature

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 12, 2003 12:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Book Deal of the Day... So Far

As reported in Publisher's Lunch Weekly:

Deputy Commissioning Editor at Britain's Channel Four Sarfraz Manzoor's GREETINGS FROM BURY PARK, about how this second generation immigrant from Pakistan escaped the humdrum tedium of life in the English suburbs and the restrictions of his culture by becoming obsessed by Bruce Springsteen ending up with how he reconciles his love of Springsteen and all things American with his religion and the post 9/11 situation, to Mike Jones at Bloomsbury, in a pre-empt, by Kate Jones at ICM.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 11, 2003 9:28 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of Duh!

Palestinian Leadership Confusion Intensifies


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 10, 2003 5:36 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The All-Purpose Instapundit Posting

UNEMPLOYMENT IS DOWN, and employment is up -- by more than economists expected. Steve Verdon is happy. (And for God's sake man, scroll up for some interesting information on manufacturing jobs).

UPDATE: Michael Gersh thinks this is a big deal.

UPDATE: Darren Kaplan thinks so, too. So does Daniel Drezner.

UPDATE: Reader Aaron Hegeman emails me his resume.

UPDATE: Stephen Green comments on the baldfaced lies in Hegemans resume.

UPDATE: Michael Barone emails the entire membership of AOL a buylink to his latest book on unemployment.

UPDATE: A reader wants to know what digital camera I use to post unemployment figures.

UPDATE: Greg Burch has thoughts on unemployment based on his personal experience. He's optimistic.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Robert Tagorda has a roundup of reactions to a speech by some guy named Bush which might have been about unemployment.

UPDATE: Patrick Belton points out how The Guardian got it wrong back in May.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing notes that he pointed this out over a year ago. And he's quite pleased with himself about it.

UPDATE: Read this or I shoot the dog.

UPDATE: After injecting crystal meth into your skull, read this post on Europe, from PeakTalk, too.

UPDATE: Reader Doris Douthat thinks it's 1943. I cant help her.

UPDATE: Robert Tagorda discovers that the most people still unemployed are blogging.

UPDATE: There's more on how this is being treated here.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Perry De Havilland says that there's an important lesson for America's children in this: "The State is not your friend except if it wants to give you a checkup and a check."

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here are a couple of more representative resumes of the hardcore unemployed, one from the homeless and one from Al Sharpton.

YES, ANOTHER UPDATE: You can see the video here. And here's the home page for Unemployed Bloggers of America.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: You ARE COMMANDED TO SEE a short video clip that I took with the camera of my unemployed brother-in-law -- here.

PENULTIMATE ANOTHER UPDATE: And read this 2,187 page report, too, or else.

THE LAST ANOTHER UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg thinks unemployment will be remembered. His mother, in a first, has no opinion.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 10, 2003 2:59 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Answer is Now as the Answer Was Then

The thoughtful Belmont Club writes in "The Hinge of Fate:"

President Bush has set out the major strategic goals of the war in a policy address before the National Endowment for Democracy. They are to bring democracy to the Middle East and Northwest Asia, and by implication, overthrow or seriously reform every government in the region, including Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Iran. That implication was not lost on the regimes, who immediately told Washington to mindits own business.

But will we mind our own business? The fact is that the future of the Middle East is now our business, up close and personal. And the answer is now as the answer was then:

Americans are asking, "How will we fight and win this war?"

We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence and every necessary weapon of war -- to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network. Now this war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat. Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.

Excerpts of President Bush's address Sept. 20, 2001 to a joint session of Congress.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 10, 2003 12:26 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Wondering About Wesley

Our New National Nightmare

The entry below set me to thinking about the Clark Campaign. Only a bit since, as currently constituted, the campaign does not require a lot of thought.

Still something occurs to me that I don't have the answer for and I'm wondering if anyone else does.

Question: Can Wesley Clark, after setting up his campaign machine -- volunteers, blogs, media appearances, money-raising mechanisms, all the bells and whistles of a campaign -- can Clark then decide to withdraw and hand over his support and campaing machinery to a new candidate? A previously unannounced candidate? A candidate with no visible electoral machine but a lot of Democratic support? A candidate like the distinguished senator from New York?

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 10, 2003 11:25 AM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
More Mush from the Wimp

“MORE MUSH FROM THE WIMP”… was the famous headline from the Boston Globe mistakenly left on a story about Jimmy Carter’s views while he was president. Evidently some typesetter who didn't share Carter's enthusiasms slugged it in while waiting for the real head to come down from editorial. It never made it and the story ran with a more accurate if less polite headline.

We've come a long way since then. Now we don't have to wait for the big media to filter the candidates views to us. No. With the blight of online campaign blogging we can cut right through the media filters and reap the spew of the various presidential wannabes right from the source! Why we can read their very thoughts as their very hands type them in to the blog.

Yes, we can get our mush straight from the wimp.

Take the hard blogging disgraced general Wesley Clark. He's posting away with a vengence on his blog -- probably using that leetle thumb keyboard on Blackberry.

Clarkites across the net are panting with passion at his "Generally Speaking" notes. ("Oh...My...God! It's Wesley taking the time to type to me, just to me!")

Yes, it is a communication breakthrough daily as Clark takes time out from his whirlwind tilt at the White House to share these intimate thoughts with us:

And I keep thinking about Harriet Johnson, mother of Army soldier Darius Jennings who was killed on the CH47 shot down last week. I visited with her on Thursday...I've seen many grieving families...often from accidents that should have been prevented. But these casualties in Iraq are coming from a badly misguided and misconceived policy, and a war we didn't have to is so sad, and it was so preventable...and with each grieving family we should harden our determination that we'll get out of this mess, the right way...and that's the success strategy I presented on Thursday.

From: Official Clark '04 Campaign Blog: Generally Speaking...: Note From the General

I'll say this for Wes, he's really got the common touch and the common tone honed to perfection here. The trotting out of the bloody shirt, the crocodile tears, the carefully choreographed descent into .... well, into..... into the dots between sentence fragments as he condemns the war... you... can.... almost hear... the.... the.... the sobs, the choking up as he considers the cost, the human cost... why wouldn't you want this man to be your leader? After all, he gets misty online as well as his mentor Clinton did on camera.

Just imagine this man as President. Just imagine a remorseful nation's reaction: "It is so sad, and it was so preventable."

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 10, 2003 10:55 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
American Exceptionalism
From the outside, the best indication of American exceptionalism is military power. America spends more on defence than the next dozen countries combined. In the nearest approach to an explicit endorsement of exceptionalism in the public domain, the National Security Strategy of 2002 says America must ensure that its current military dominance—often described as the greatest since Rome's—is not even challenged, let alone surpassed.

In fact, military might is only a symptom of what makes America itself unusual. The country is exceptional in more profound ways. It is more strongly individualistic than Europe, more patriotic, more religious and culturally more conservative (see chart 1). Al-Qaeda's assaults stimulated two of these deeper characteristics. In the wake of the attacks, expressions of both love of country and love of God spiked. This did not necessarily mean Americans suddenly became more patriotic or religious. Rather, the spike was a reminder of what is important to them. It was like a bolt of lightning, briefly illuminating the landscape but not changing it.

From:The Economist


Chart 1

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 10, 2003 10:39 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Our Utopian Musings
"We have the leisure to engage in utopian musing, assured that our economy, our unseen soldiers, or our system working on autopilot will always ensure us such prerogatives. And in the la-la land of Washington and New York, it is especially easy to forget that we are not even like our own soldiers in Iraq, now sleeping outside without toilets and air conditioners, eating dehydrated food, and trying to distinguish killers from innocents.

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

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

We Could Still Lose by Victor Davis Hanson

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 10, 2003 9:37 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
On Reading Hitchens, Marshall, and New Scientist

In looking through a variety of information sources, the value of serendipity cannot be overestimated. Today, I first browsed to Restating the Case for War - Waiting for Saddam to change is what got us into this mess in the first place. By Christopher Hitchens to discover Mr. Hitchens in fine form.

The question then, becomes this: Should the date or timing of this unpostponable confrontation have been left to Saddam Hussein to pick? The two chief justifications offered by the Bush administration (which did mention human rights and genocide at its first presentation to the United Nations, an appeal that fell on cold as well as deaf ears) were WMDs and terrorism. Here, it is simply astonishing how many people remain willing to give Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt.

Immediately after I found myself at the popular but excrable Josh Marshall peddling his less-than-fine whine to the converted in: Silly word games and weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Marshall spends a lot of silly words on parsing word games, of which he is a master. To wit:

It's true that administration officials avoided the phrase "imminent threat." But in making their argument, Sullivan and others are relying on a crafty verbal dodge -- sort of like "I didn't accuse you of eating the cake. All I said was that you sliced it up and put it in your mouth."

The issue is not the precise words the president and his deputies used but what arguments they made. And on that count, the record is devastatingly clear.

To call something an imminent threat means that the blow could come at any moment and that any delay in confronting it risks disaster. Webster's defines "imminent" as "ready to take place; especially: hanging threateningly over one's head." That gets it just about right. The White House described the Iraqi threat as a sword over our heads, a threat we had to confront now.

What is one to think of a person playing silly word games writing on how silly word games are.

Ah well, Josh Marshall is too invested in his schtick and making too much money off of it to change his thinking. If only there were a word or an image that fit his style of subtle anti-Americanism.

But then, there was.

The very next link brought me this ground-breaking bit of news from the site of the of science:New Scientist

Fish farting may not just be hot air

Biologists have linked a mysterious, underwater farting sound to bubbles coming out of a herring's anus. No fish had been known to emit sound from its anus nor to be capable of producing such a high-pitched noise.

"It sounds just like a high-pitched raspberry," says Ben Wilson of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Ah, Josh Marshall and his silly word games considered as "a high-pitched herrings' raspberry." There's a poetry in that as well as no little truth.

I'll go with it.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 9, 2003 2:19 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Iran Decides It Has Enough for Nukes

In a widely-praised announcement, Iran acknowledged that it now had enough enriched uranium to build all the bombs it needs:

"Iran's foreign ministry says the country will suspend its disputed uranium enrichment program in coming days in line with demands from United Nations nuclear weapons inspectors."
The announcement serves two purposes:
1) It gives Iran the figleaf of UN compliance without having to comply.
2)It gives it insulation against UN inspections of nuclear weapons programs for at least long enough to build a few bombs.

The event was heralded at a "victory for diplomacy."

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 9, 2003 1:11 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Goodbye to All That

Europeans are worse than cockroaches:
There is a Cold War between the US and the EU, says Mark Steyn, and it will end with the collapse of Old Europe--

Europe is dying. As I’ve pointed out here before, it can’t square rising welfare costs, a collapsed birthrate and a manpower dependent on the world’s least skilled, least assimilable immigrants. In 20 years’ time, as those Dutch Muslim teenagers are entering the voting booths, European countries, unlike parts of Nigeria, will not be living under Sharia, but they will be reaching their accommodations with their radicalised Islamic compatriots, who like many intolerant types are expert at exploiting the ‘tolerance’ of pluralist societies.

How happy what’s left of the ethnic Dutch or French or Danes will be about this remains to be seen. But the idea of a childless Europe rivalling America militarily or economically is laughable. Sometime this century there will be 500 million Americans, and what’s left in Europe will either be very old or very Muslim. That’s the Europe that Britain will be binding its fate to. Japan faces the same problem: in 2006, its population will begin an absolute decline, a death spiral it will be unlikely ever to climb out of. Will Japan be an economic powerhouse if it’s populated by Koreans and Filipinos? Possibly. Will Germany if it’s populated by Algerians? That’s a trickier proposition.


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2003 7:59 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
That'll be $7 for the smokes, $2,000 for the ashtray

Ashtrays – the New Contraband

Getting caught with an unregistered gun can get you busted in New York City - and so can possession of a new form of contraband.

Brooklyn video store owner Marty Arno learned that lesson the hard way - he's facing a whopping $6,000 in fines after two of Mayor Bloomberg's anti-smoking goon squad storm troopers caught him harboring one of these deadly items.

Today's New York Post reveals that city inspectors M. Dundas and S. Holloway gave Arno, owner of Brooklyn Heights Video, a ticket last month charging that they had uncovered not explosives, not guns, not knives, but "One (1) ashtray with cigarette butt, and ashes," which was "seen on the counter of the establishment."

For this criminal offense Arno faces a hefty $2,000 fine plus two other similar fines because the -inspectors discovered he did not have "No Smoking" signs and had not put up a sign displaying his store's official nonsmoking policy.


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2003 2:43 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Right Idea. Wrong Lawyer

"...firms "risk becoming poster children
for attorney greed at a time when the
profession is already under attack

Tobacco lawyers to Mass.: we'll sue for the whole $2 billion

Law firms Brown Rudnick Berlack & Israels and Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein now say they'll sue the state of Massachusetts for the whole $2 billion they say they're entitled to -- a 25 percent contingency share of the state's $8 billion tobacco-settlement booty -- rather than accept the measly $775 million they've been awarded in arbitration. The Associated Press says the firms "risk becoming poster children for attorney greed at a time when the profession is already under attack for high damage awards. 'This lawsuit is about greed and it's about selfishness. They should be ashamed of themselves,' said former Maine Attorney General James Tierney, who worked with attorneys general from around the country to help negotiate the $246 billion master settlement." ("Law firms go to court to make Massachusetts pay full tobacco legal fee", AP/San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 3; Steve Bailey, "Pigs at the trough", Boston Globe, Oct. 10) For earlier coverage of the Massachusetts fees, see May 19; Jan. 2-3, 2002; Aug. 13-14, 2001; Dec. 22, 1999.


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2003 1:53 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Americans Demand Increased Governmental Protection From Selves
NEW YORK:Alarmed by the unhealthy choices they make every day, more and more Americans are calling on the government to enact legislation that will protect them from their own behavior. Americans Demand Increased Governmental Protection From Selves

"The government is finally starting to take some responsibility for the effect my behavior has on others," said New York City resident Alec Haverchuk, 44, who is prohibited by law from smoking in restaurants and bars. "But we have a long way to go. I can still light up on city streets and in the privacy of my own home. I mean, legislators acknowledge that my cigarette smoke could give others cancer, but don't they care about me, too?"

"It's not just about Americans eating too many fries or cracking their skulls open when they fall off their bicycles," said Los Angeles resident Rebecca Burnie, 26. "It's a financial issue, too. I spend all my money on trendy clothes and a nightlife that I can't afford. I'm $23,000 in debt, but the credit-card companies keep letting me spend. It's obscene that the government allows those companies to allow me to do this to myself. Why do I pay my taxes?"

More at:The Onion

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2003 1:26 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
At the Shoreline

Koi Dreams

The Hunt Among Stones


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2003 9:41 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Another Story Normalized

Why should it bother me that no one cares
How hard it was to lug my ex-wife's stuff
From our new house and up three flights of stairs
To Marianne's? Who hasn't had it rough?

Besides, I got to keep the cat and plants
And sometimes see my daughter—till they moved—
And mow the grass and look for new romance—
There's nothing like it! Nothing! It's been proved!

The only things like anything are things
Too small to pet or whisper to at night
"O little quark your strangeness weaves the strings
Of everything but leptons and the light!"

What mulitudes I am, still incomplete.
My mother claims my father's breath was sweet.

From: Mike Snider's Formal Blog and Sonnetarium which alone may ensure the survival of the sonnet.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2003 9:17 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Age of Liberty
The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom -- the freedom we prize -- is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.

Working for the spread of freedom can be hard. Yet, America has accomplished hard tasks before. Our nation is strong; we're strong of heart. And we're not alone. Freedom is finding allies in every country; freedom finds allies in every culture. And as we meet the terror and violence of the world, we can be certain the author of freedom is not indifferent to the fate of freedom.

With all the tests and all the challenges of our age, this is, above all, the age of liberty.

President George W. Bush

Pointer via: LGF

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 7, 2003 1:00 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Flare out

Video of Flare: Here

Tonight's the night when the lastest sunstorm is expected to hit the magnetosphere and produce auroras.

It's overcast here, and expected to get worse.

Meanwhile, here's on the event producing tonight's light show:

SUPERFLARE: Astronomers won't soon forget Nov. 4th, 2003--the day of the biggest explosion ever recorded in our solar system. The blast originated from giant sunspot 486, and on the Richter scale of solar flares, it measured X28. Smaller flares in the past have caused power outages and widespread auroras. The Nov. 4th explosion was not directed squarely toward Earth, and its effects so far have been relatively minimal. Even so, it was a flare to remember.

[Doc Searls]

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 7, 2003 12:11 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Listening to...

Bob Dylan's Dream

While riding on a train goin' west,
I fell asleep for to take my rest.
I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.

With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon,
Where we together weathered many a storm,
Laughin' and singin' till the early hours of the morn.

By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung,
Our words were told, our songs were sung,
Where we longed for nothin' and were quite satisfied
Talkin' and a-jokin' about the world outside.

With haunted hearts through the heat and cold,
We never thought we could ever get old.
We thought we could sit forever in fun
But our chances really was a million to one.

As easy it was to tell black from white,
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right.
And our choices were few and the thought never hit
That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split.

How many a year has passed and gone,
And many a gamble has been lost and won,
And many a road taken by many a friend,
And each one I've never seen again.

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain,
That we could sit simply in that room again.
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat,
I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 5, 2003 11:32 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
God vs. God vs. GOD Himself

Batter my heart, three-personed God

These days it seems that everybody has a blog except John Markoff. Even the Higher Powers are getting in the game.

First we've got the besotted Allah flatulating away:

Why are there no radical Muslims on American television, kufr? Have you noticed this? Last night Allah was watching the profane, retarded piece of dog shit you call "The Next Joe Millionaire" ... [Allah Is In The House]
Then ye olde curmudgeon Yahweh chimes in with:
Welcome to the blog of Yahweh, the one and true God for the faith of Judaism. Yahweh would like to give mad props to Idiot Villager for hosting His page, as well as providing him with a spiffy email address.... [Yahweh Is In The House]
And if that weren't enough, now God Himself is linking into this daisy chain:

Junior(Why hadn't I created Row v. Wade before he was a bun in the oven? ) wants to know, since he is subject to overwhelming fits of mental flatulence:

Why are there no radical Muslims on American television, kufr? Have you noticed this? Last night Allah was watching the profane, retarded piece of dog shit you call "The Next Joe Millionaire" and it struck him that there were no muslims... [Allah Is In The House]
The Muslims, and their ergot-addled deity, Al, are clearly not ready for Prime Time, Cable, or PBS (Even though they slip in there from time to time by waving their scimitars, dropping cash, and promising camel humps to the young producers of all four sexes.)

The Muslims, in case you haven't been paying attention, are more of a work in progress than the platypus. I keep meaning to tweak their DNA and get them in the groove, but frankly its a pain in the ass and I have more interesting things to do than sort out a bunch of camel jockeys whose idea of a good time is to strap on some C4 and play spank the monkey with the detonator.

I'll get around to it soon, but right now I've got my whole staff pulling an all-nighter on the sixth planet of Denebutarq in the Crab Nebula trying to get this advanced methane slime mold to emit nitrogen. So hang in there until I can get this done. Okay? [GOD Is The House]

What's next? Buddha? What is the sound of one hand blogging?

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 5, 2003 5:29 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Che's in the House with the Mouse

Yesterday we asked "Where are the Ches of Yesteryear?" It turns out, according to a link in our comments that they have made an unholy alliance with Disney in the struggle to keep up with pop culture tsunamis:

I'm cool with this, but if Che starts talking to Hello Kitty....

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 5, 2003 9:34 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Smoking Dopes of the Democratic Party

Roger Simon, that Hollywood Hyrcynian is holding a contest on:Who Smoked Dope?

Now, as most would agree, the best smoking partners were either very attractive members of the opposite sex (or same, if you were gay) or people who were really and truly funny. So that made answering the question last night for me relatively simple. And the winner is:
You'll have to go there to know.

But for me the more interesting question is not who smoked it then, but what are they smoking now? What ever it is, they're obviously down to seeds and stems. Why doesn't somebody take them into a small, dark room and give them all a couple of bit hits from the ClueBong?

Oh, that's scheduled for November 12, 2004? My bad.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 5, 2003 9:02 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
I'll Have One Democratic Party On the Rocks

Here's the bitter brew this morning, nicely served neat by Stephen Green at VodkaPundit - Chill Before Serving

In 2000, Democrats lost a nailbiter to George W. Bush. They comforted themselves by claiming a "stolen" election, and by recapturing the Senate the next summer – because one senator switched from Republican to Independent.

Two years later, Democrats lost two Senate seats, and control of the Senate. Contrary to all historical expectations, they even lost six seats in the House. But they comforted themselves knowing they'd picked up a couple of governorships, winnowing the Republican lead to 24-23.

Last month, Democrats lost control of the California governorship to Arnold Schwarzenegger, but comforted themselves with the knowledge that "hey, even we don't like Gray Davis."

As of today, Democrats will control only 21 states – with Republican-leaning Louisiana yet to be decided. Perhaps the Democrats will find some comfort next week in Baton Rouge

Let's not forget that governor's mansions are the breeding grounds for future presidents. Bush 43, Clinton, Reagan, and Carter were all governors before becoming President. Every Senator may "look in the mirror and see a future President," but other than Kennedy, can you name one Senator this century who made the jump right into the White House? There's damn little comfort to be found there.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 5, 2003 8:18 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Carnevale and the Democratic Party Suicide Watch

"The beauty parlor's filled with sailors.
The circus is in town."

-- Dylan, "Desolation Row"

Mike at Cold Fury has taken a victory lap around the concept of why the Democratic Party is currently being held in Jonestown with an open bar serving Jim Jones Kool-Aid to all comers. And, surprise, he's not mourning the destruction of The People's Temple:

We certainly do need a solid, patriotic opposition in this country, but the Dems as currently constituted simply ain’t it. They sold their party down the anti-American/Eurocentric/collectivist river a long time ago, and it’s soon coming dues-paying time. They’re responsible for their own fate, they richly deserve it, and I for one am content to sit back and enjoy the spectacle as they slowly and inexorably reach up out of the bowl for the flushing lever - and slide themselves down the wastepipe of history. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch if you ask me.
Along the way, Mike performs a great service for bringing into tight focus a few, and only a few, of the last week's exhibits of Hemlock Binge Drinking on the part of the Democrats.

Chief among these is the vile note from the Democratic Underground (Now mysteriously vanished from the Web) that says:

Soldiers usually did that directly—i.e., fight those invading and harming a country. This time they need to die in defense of a lie from a lying adminstration to show these ignorant, dumb Americans that Bush is incompetent. They need to die so that Americans get rid of this deadly scum. It is obscene, Barbie Bush, how other sons (of much nobler blood) have to die to save us from your Rosemary’s Baby spawn and his ungodly cohorts.
That, and the comments that answer it in aggregate give you a clear picture of the psychopathology that is building deep in the Party's soul.

Mike then routes us to that paragon of prognostication: Eric Raymond for a nod to the Now and a wink at Things to Come:

I expect the Democrats to lose heavily in today's elections. Like VodkaPundit, I expect the loss to change not a damn thing. The DLC will continue to wring its hands, and the New Lefties, comforted by convenient rationalizations in the major media, will continue to march the Democratic Party towards a cliff's edge.

Suppose they do succeed in self-destructing. What then?

No crystal ball is required to answer that question, just a look at the minor-party voting statistics. If the Democrats crumble, the big winners have to be the Greens and the Libertarians. The New Lefties who run most levels of the modern Democratic apparat would run to the Greens en masse; in fact, whatever organization emerges would probably view itself (with some justification) as the Democratic Party's successor. They'd probably take the public-employee unions with them.

The interesting question is whether the black establishment would follow.

To which the long and the short answer is, "Yes." It has been becoming clear in recent years that, absent the embedded career black rights advocates in the public and non-profit sectors, and the embedded underclass in our metropolitan wastelands, established African-Americans are becoming increasingly alienated from the Democratic Party.

Habitual voting patterns may persist and, like other lifelong habits, be especially hard to break, but it can be done. And if you have one party whose pathological elements are calling for the death of US Soldiers in order to purge the White House, and if a large part of the military is composed of African-Americans, and if they or their famlies perceive the hardening of this position in the Democratic Party, all bets are off. And they won't be running to the Greens or the Libertarians.

Once upon a time, there was talk in the Democratic Party of having a "Big Tent." But that tent, which could once contain "The Greatest Show on Earth," is getting smaller and shabbier by the day.

This morning the Democrats' Tent looked a lot like those rotting rags the cast of "Carnevale" drags from dustbowl to dustbowl; from one played out town inhabited by the dead to the next in search of the God That Failed.

During the primaries we'll be treated to the current contenders' version of the hootchy-cootch with a blowout at the end. After that, on the morning of November 12, 2004, we can all line up and, for one thin dime, walk through the tattered tent to look at the body with the word "Harlot" carved on its forehead.

Coming back out into the sunlight, it's my bet that a lot of recovering Democrats will say, with ee cummings, "Listen: there's a hell of a good universe next door; let's go."

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 5, 2003 7:47 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lileks: It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

For those who don't know, there's more to Lileks than the bleats. If you haven't checked out the rest of this amazing site, get cracking. This timeless timely reminder is from The Advertising Archive of the Institute of Official Cheer.

Lileks: Now more than the day before.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 4, 2003 11:35 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Some People Have No Sense of Proportion

Yes, that's a jet engine. Wheelies, anyone?

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 4, 2003 9:54 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Roger Simon T-Shirt Fund

Simon:"Where are the Ches of Yesteryear?"

Roger Simon, blog sage and mysterious mystery writer has made many confessions of late, sometimes to the distress of the revisionist running rodents of political recidivism. But until now he had hidden the Proustian moment of his semi-religious conversion experience. It would seem that his re-visionary state stems not merely from a loss of faith in the god that failed, but from the loss of iconic underwear. Today he illuminates us when he writes:

"I don't have heroes anymore. They went the way of my old Che Guevara t-shirt that got lost in the laundry some years ago. ..." [Roger L. Simon]
I don't know about you, but when I read that, "Whap!" went my palm to my forehead and I thought, "Of course, of course, that explains everything!"

After much intense searching that involved hitting the 'I'm feeling lucky' button at Google, I've located Simon's madeline here. So, it is up to you. You can send Roger Simon this memory of his extended summer vacation in the realms of red, or you can hit the back button.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 4, 2003 9:35 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Where's the Outrage?

John Podhoretz asks a key question in his NY Post article: BEWARE THE 'FILTER'

You might think that an attack that killed 15 Americans and wounded hundreds more might inspire even the merest hint of anger on the part of those Americans whose job it is to write about it. Their articles might offer some perspective on how those seeking to kill Americans in Iraq are working for the restoration of one of the most barbaric regimes in world history. They'd ask the key question raised by such an attack: What is to be done to smoke out these barbarians?
Strange how this key question never seem to find their way into the headlines, or even into most copy. You'd almost think some media outlets care more about defeating Bush than they do about the lives of American soldiers. But that's can't be true. Can it?

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 4, 2003 1:28 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hotel Eden


Joseph Cornell

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2003 11:49 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"I try to become more cynical every year, but lately I just can't keep up."

Michael Ledeen's article in the National Review has been pointed to with increasing frequency over the last few days. His theme follows his title:Unpunished Failure: What are we waiting for? It asks why nobody, and I mean nobody, has lost their job over the last two years in the "War on Terror?" His conclusion is summed up with:

”All of which can be briefly and sadly summarized: We don't have a war cabinet, and we are once again giving our enemies time and opportunity to figure out how to kill us.”
My colleagues in the commentary game are almost of one mind in underlining and bewailing this. But my take is somewhat different, if, I pray, utterly fantastical.

In the vein of trying to "become more cynical," I'd say that this country does not yet have it's game face on for what it really confronts. I'd say that this country is still happy to be having a busman's holiday of a "war on terror" that does not really involve 99.99% of the population in anything other than lip service, be it for or against. I'd say that we still have not, as a people, looked into the face of the monster that confronts us and taken the full measure of what defeating it may involve.

We are a simple and slap-happy people. Simple in that we think that if we just knock off a couple of distant third world totalitarian regimes, take a few dead and wounded here and there, and plant a flag and/or a hodge-podge capitalist institution, everything will turn out hunky-dory. Slap-happy in that if all that is asked of us is that we vote this or that slate of candidates in, and give a few bucks to the fund for the widows and orphans of soldiers killed overseas, we'll be able to continue in our soft, fuzzy bubble of American dreaming.

That is what, en masse, is entailed in our “War on Terror” program to date. Simply put, "We live in hope."

Well, live in hope and die in despair. Not everyone in this country sees it this way and I'm starting to think that a lot of those people are sitting about in Washington, gauging the public sentiment, and knowing, knowing in their bones, that if they are ever going to get this war off the ground at the level we need for a conclusive and world-altering victory, this country is going to have to get hit again in a manner that makes everybody, and I mean everybody, experience a "Come to Jesus' moment in the most literal meaning of that phrase.

My idealistic side says, "Please, you don't really think that the government of this country would really be so lax in its policy that it would allow another September 11th to happen?"

My cynical side says, "Given the soft and indulgent nature of this culture at this point in time, how else can the nation be polarized and energized to pursue a war at the level it takes for victory? How else can a draft be brought back? How else can we add five divisions to our armed forces? How else can we justify the destruction of the strategic and spiritual centers of our enemies? How else, other than through the sacrifice of one of our cities, can we hope to transmute the soft sensibility that has evolved in this nation over the last five decades into something approaching the resolve necessary to eliminate this last global manifestation of Totalitarianism?"

My cynical side says, "Three thousand dead on our soil was only enough to stimulate a couple of policing expeditions using the resources we had on hand. Those resources are clearly incapable of taking on a global war with several fronts. To do that, more Americans will have to die in America. Only that will wake us from the fitful sleep into which we are slowly returning."

My idealistic side says, "Surely you don't really believe that the inevitable demands of realpolitik is driving our government to go light on facing up to clear and present dangers? Surely you don’t think that they would, if not engineer such a catastrophic attack, invite it by doing little or nothing to really prevent it?”

My cynical side says, "I try to become more cynical every year, but lately I just can't keep up."

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2003 9:33 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Desperation Politics:" Revenge of DemNerds

Driving through a host of dying rural towns out west last September, one of constants were the community-based wall murals that decorated this or that building on vacant Main Streets. In a town in Nevada where the mines had died, there was an art gallery called, fittingly, "Desperation Arts." Next to Desperation Arts was a parking lot and on the wall was a 80 foot by 30 foot mural depicting the glory days of the town. Down the main drag there were about five other murals with the same sort of community spirit themes. My traveling companion, who had seen a lot more of small western towns than I had, gave a nod to the last one we passed heading out and said, "When the big murals show up, the town has pretty much had it."

That comment came back to me this morning when reading about the latest twitch in the corpse of what once was the Democratic Party: Voter registration gets high-tech twist, which announced -- DEMOCRATIC PAC IS HOPING TO USE WIRED COFFEE SHOPS TO DEFEAT BUSH

Call it the attack of the new ``latte liberals.''

A new Democratic political action committee recently unveiled in Silicon Valley hopes to plug into the latest technology craze -- wireless-enabled, or ``WiFi,'' coffee shops -- to help defeat President Bush in next year's election.

The Committee to ReDefeat the President -- a jab at Bush's loss of the popular vote in the 2000 election -- hopes to register 1 million new Democratic voters and get them to the polls next November....

How... how... well, quaint. And done in the key of what might well be called "Desperation Politics."

Here you have an effort to somehow organize folks hanging about coffee houses, whose single guiding passion is a hate of the President (That har-de-har-har "ReDefeat" replete with that capital letter in the midst of the word that signals Nerd group), to put on a cell-phone blitz. Yes, this is a political tool made up of Starbucks and unlimited nationwide minutes.

Here's the founder and the 'vision' statement:

The PAC is the brainchild of David Lytel, 45, a Washington, D.C., high-tech investment analyst who helped launch the first White House Web site while working for President Clinton from 1993 to 1994....

Lytel's hope is to help a new class of volunteers who are committed to defeating Bush in 2004 but who live in Democratic-controlled regions, such as the Bay Area, that are unlikely to be closely contested in next year's election....

``Via cell phones, laptops, Web-enabled technology and WiFi, I can put the tools of being a very successful volunteer in the hands of people who have a few hours to give,'' Lytel said.

Hmm, people who have a few hours to give while hanging about in coffeehouses. Sounds like we're dealing with the hard-core unemployed, especially if the current economic trends continue.

We can just hear them working the cell-phone WiFi Wiki now:

"Can you hear me now?"
"Is this Mrs. William Midamerica or 118 White Pines Road, Omaha?"
"Hi. You don't know me but I'm calling from a Starbucks in Seattle and I wanted to talk you into defeating the unelected President and ruler for life George W. Bush."
"Well, my son in the Marines ..."
"That's just the point. We want to bring him home alive and well by throwing out this unilateral UN hating tax cutting evil evil man which we know you'd hate if you could only live in Seattle for ten years."
"... my son in the Marines was burned to death when the plane hit the Pentagon back in 2001. He was one of the 3,000 Americans that died that day. My other two sons have joined up since then and they are serving in Kabul and Baghdad. We have no choice in this war. They will kill us all if we let them. You probably don't realize that since you will probably never, ever, serve your country, will you?"
"Does this mean you are not going to vote Democratic tomorrow?"
"It means that I will never, ever, vote for a Democrat again in my life. Nor will any member of my family or friends. Goodbye young man. I hope sometime you find something worthy of believing in beyond your spite and hate for the President of the United States."
"Ah, have a nice day." Hangs up. " fascist bitch."
It's all there. The big vision by the Clinton-era web guy. The Net, always the Net, as the killer app that will save the Democrats! from themselves.

It is never the message being sent, it always that it is not being received. It is never the liberal vision being broadcast, it is always that it is not being tuned in. It is never the candidates and their content that is killing them, it is always the lies of the Resident. It is never their policies that are polluting them, it is always that those policies are not being listened to and believed. It is first, last and always not the fault of the Democratic Party. It is America's fault for just not listening.

The only way to counter this is to play the Net tech card which says that Tech trumps Truth; which says that if you just get enough tech out there, you'll find that hidden majority that shares your hate of the President and wants, really, really wants to pay more taxes. All you need is a few more hi-tech volunteers and you can turn this whole thing around.

Lytel's plan has it all. The cell-phone. The WiFi. The Net. And that staple of marginal political parties since the 17th century, the coffee house.

So draw that big picture on the walls of high tech, Lytell. Whip those partisans into a latte-frothed frenzy. Perhaps slap a CD on the Starbucks stereo that's a compilation of Kumbiya, Blowin' in the Wind, and This Land is Your Land. It'll make for a nice atmosphere.

Keep those lattes coming. Fire up the browsers, whip out the flip phones and let your fingers do the walking.

When the unlimited minutes reach their limit and you're tired of phoning home to America, you can go outside and paint a large mural of FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton on the coffee house wall. Make each figure smaller than the previous one so that we can mark the amazing progress of a major political party from the party of Hope to the party of Hate in less than fifty years.

"When the big murals show up, the town has pretty much had it."

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2003 5:49 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bulletin: This Just in from Allah

The up-to-the-minute word from Allah Is In The House. And who would know better about this than that Being before whom all worlds tremble ("Tremble...."), but who still remains a little light in the loafers when it comes to spellcheckers?

By the way, kufr, have you heard that the temperature in New York City today reached an all-time high for this date? Allah has a feeling that the trend shall continue. Oho!

Allahu Akbar.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2003 4:28 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Now is the end, perish the world..."

Don't ask. Just click:

The End of the World

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2003 3:51 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Tide on the Turn in the Culture Wars

The 4 Horsemen: Fox News, South Park, Pundit and Publishing

The new issue of City Journal (pointer via the astute 2B leads off with an analysis by Brian Anderson of why We're Not Losing the Culture Wars Anymore. The conclusion reads:

Here's what's likely to happen in the years ahead. Think of the mainstream liberal media as one sphere and the conservative media as another. The liberal sphere, which less than a decade ago was still the media, is still much bigger than the non-liberal one. But the non-liberal sphere is expanding, encroaching into the liberal sphere, which is both shrinking and breaking up into much smaller sectarian spheres -- one for blacks, one for Hispanics, one for feminists, and so on.
The forces that cause this? Anderson lists three.

First: The Rise of Cable News and Fox

“Fox News lacks the sense of out-of-touch elitism that makes many Americans, whatever their politics, annoyed with the news media,” maintains media critic Gene Veith. “Fox reporters almost never condescend to viewers,” he observes. “The other networks do so all the time, peering down on the vulgar masses from social height (think Peter Jennings) or deigning to enlighten the public about things that only they understand (think Peter Arnett).” This tone doesn’t mark only Fox’s populist shows, like pugnacious superstar Bill O’Reilly’s. Even when Fox goes upscale, in Brit Hume’s urbane nightly Special Report, for example, the civility elevates rather than belittles the viewer. For Ailes, Fox’s anti-elitism is key. “There’s a whole country that elitists will never acknowledge,” he told the New York Times Magazine. “What people resent deeply out there are those in the ‘blue’ states thinking they’re smarter.”
Not a surprising call, but well articulated with a lot of interesting facts and figures.

Then there are cited, somewhat surprisingly, comedy shows on cable:

Lots of cable comedy, while not traditionally conservative, is fiercely anti-liberal, which as a practical matter often amounts nearly to the same thing. Take South Park, Comedy Central’s hit cartoon series, whose heroes are four crudely animated and impossibly foul-mouthed fourth-graders named Cartman, Kenny, Kyle, and Stan. Now in its seventh season, South Park, with nearly 3 million viewers per episode, is Comedy Central’s highest-rated program.

Many conservatives have attacked South Park for its exuberant vulgarity, calling it “twisted,” “vile trash,” a “threat to our youth.” Such denunciations are misguided. Conservative critics should pay closer attention to what South Park so irreverently jeers at and mocks. As the show’s co-creator, 32-year-old Matt Stone, sums it up: “I hate conservatives, but I really fucking hate liberals.”

A very interesting call on South Park. At least to one who never watches it, but has now put it on his must-view list.

Second, and no suprise at all to those reading this, the Internet and the rise of the Blogger:

Debunking liberal humbug is one of the web’s most powerful political effects: bloggers call it the Internet’s “bullshit-detector” role. The New York Times has been the Number One target of the B.S. detectors—especially during the reign of deposed executive editor and liberal ideologue Howell Raines. “Only, say, five years ago, the editors of the New York Times had much more power than they have today,” Andrew Sullivan points out. “They could spin stories with gentle liberal bias, and only a few eyes would roll.” If they made an egregious error, they could bury the correction later. The Internet makes such bias and evasion harder—maybe impossible—to pull off. It was the blogosphere that revealed Enron-bashing Krugman’s former ties to Enron, showed how the paper twisted its polls to further a liberal agenda, exposed how it used its front page to place Henry Kissinger falsely in the anti–Iraq war camp, and then, as the war got under way, portrayed it as harshly as possible.

It’s safe to say that the blogosphere cost Raines his job.

And that is only the beginning, only the beginning of the beginning.

Third: (And who woulda thunk it?) The rise of Regnery and other conservative book publishers or publisher's lines within previously immune liberal wanktanks like Random House.

What really overcame the big New York publishers’ liberal prejudices is the oodles of money Washington-based Regnery was making. “We’ve had a string of best-sellers that is probably unmatched in publishing,” Regnery president Marji Ross points out. “We publish 20 to 25 titles a year, and we’ve had 16 books on the New York Times best-seller list over the last four years—including Bernard Goldberg’s Bias, which spent seven weeks at Number One.” Adds Bernadette Malone, a former Regnery editor heading up Penguin’s new conservative imprint: “The success of Regnery’s books woke up the industry: ‘Hello? There’s 50 percent of the population that we’re underserving, even ignoring. We have an opportunity to talk to these people, figure out what interests them, and put out professional-quality books on topics that haven’t been sufficiently explored.’ ” Bellow puts it more bluntly: “Business rationality has trumped ideological aversion. And that’s capitalism.”
Put even more bluntly, there's not only a realignment taking place in American politics, there's a new course being charted in the American culture. Anderson's article provides you with a couple of fresh compass headings.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2003 2:27 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
45 States for Bush in 2004

Kevin L. Connors (Orange County, California) is out in front of the pundit pack at Samizdata with: " My prediction for the week"

George Bush, in the upcoming election, will take at least 45 States. To a 70% confidence factor, he will sweep all but his Democratic opponent's home State. The reasons for this are as one might expect:

  • Even the liberal media and Democrats in Congress are beginning to admit the war on terror overseas is going well.
  • All the contenders for the Democratic nomination, with the exception of Joe Lieberman, who's candidacy looks quite shaky, are turning strongly away from the center.
  • With no need to spend any money on a primary campaign at all, Bush will go into the general election with an unprecedented war chest, which may exceed $170,000,000.
  • Bush's one possible Achilles' heel, the economy, is showing strong signs of recovery.

  • Why Mac OS is God's OS

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    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2003 4:00 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Last One Out Delete the Spam Please

    MarketingWonk: sees the last, lone AOL subscriber by 2013. Probably stuck in a private chat room since 1999.

    DM News: AOL Subscriber Loss Continues; Ad Sales Stabilize

    At the current rate of subscriber losses, AOL will have only one member left on August 17, 2013. Losing about 700,000 subscribers this past quarter, despite its loss-stemming effort in introducing the new AOL 9, AOL reported a one third decrease in advertising spending, due mostly to the fact that many of its largest advertisers couldn't wait to get out of the dumb contracts they signed years ago.

    Faced with the prospects of significantly less barter media within the Time Warner network (decreasing by $36 million this past quarter); a subscribership that is realizing slowly but surely that the online service is really just an Internet service provider; and a stable of major advertisers that aren't suckers anymore, the worlds largest online service will need to start providing competitive value to both advertisers and subscribers in order to maintain a revenue level lower than the peak it experience a couple years ago.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2003 2:18 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Beatles Songbook, Revised

    There's be a bit of back and forth this week about whether or not this really is a "War of Civilizations." Jack Reno's been busy with the theme song over at:edge

    "War of Civilizations"

    You say you want a War of Civilizations
    Well, you know
    Everybody wants to rule the world
    You tell me to join Allah's Nation
    Well, you know
    Every god wants to rule the world

    But when you talk about terrorism
    Don't you know we're gonna hunt you down
    Don't you know it's gonna be good night
    Don't you know it's gonna be good night
    Don't you know it's gonna be good night

    You say you got a real religion
    Well, you know
    We'd all love to see it walk on water
    You ask us to be your congregation
    Well, you know
    We'd rather free a nation.

    But when you strap bombs on people with minds that hate
    All I can tell you is that for you it's too late
    Don't you know it's gonna be good night
    Don't you know it's gonna be good night
    Don't you know it's gonna be good night

    You say you'll change our Constitution
    Well, you know
    Everybody wants to rule the world
    You say you'll wreck our institutions
    Well, you know
    You don't wanna see our flag unfurled

    And if you go off on a jihad from Allah
    You'll be erased with all those that follow
    Don't you know it's gonna be good night
    Don't you know it's gonna be good night
    Don't you know it's gonna be good night
    Good Night, Good Night...

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 2, 2003 11:42 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 2, 2003 11:04 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Lessig Mental Meltdown Noted

    Larry Lessig whose mind was once a steel trip for the copyright obsession of the Web and other items filed under "Civil Liberties (Threatened)" has either sunk to new lows of sarcasm or new lows of dementia. In a recent entry to his online diary he writes: has announced a "political advertising contest" for the best ad that "tell[s] the truth" about President Bush. I take it that "the truth" could be for or against the president, but all submissions must be CC.

    [Lessig Blog]
    "Could be for or against President Bush..." Well, he should click on over to the contest page and review the "judges," and then accept a core dump on what is know about the nature of MoveOn.

    Please, Larry, tell us you were just making with the humor. We'd hate to think you've been boiling your vegetables in aluminum pans for the last 30 years.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2003 11:27 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    First Nerd

    According everything I've been able to discover, the word "nerd" first appeared in 1950 in Dr. Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo:

    Dr. Seuss's Nerd:
    "And then, just to show them, I'll sail to Ka-Troo And Bring Back an It-Kutch a Preep and a Proo a Nerkle a Nerd and a Seersucker, too! “

    From Nerd Corner: A Brief History of the Nerd

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2003 10:45 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Worst Use of "Allegedly" in a Newspaper

    Verbatim Caption on Page 1 of the LA Times
    "Videotaped: Attorney Gerald E. Curry of
    Simi Valley uses a tree for protection after
    he was allegedly shot by the man at the left
    at a Van Nuys courthouse. A news crew
    taped the attack."

    Question: Do the LA Times people that write a caption that uses "allegedly" in this context feel mentally empty when they do it, or don't they notice any longer?

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2003 9:42 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    It's Only a Metaphor But We Can Dream
    "I'm sitting in a pleasant reverie at my desk when the phone explodes..."

    -- Tina Brown in her horrid new column, After Oscar Video Ban, Screening All Calls

    These droppings will appear in the Washington Post every Thursday. You have been warned.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2003 8:33 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    LA Times Shocked, SHOCKED, at Fox News Bias

    Fox News: How can you criticize me? On what grounds?
    LA Times: I'm shocked, shocked to find that bias is going on in here!
    [A team of reporters hands LA Times Arnold the Groper stories]
    Hacks: Your fair and balanced recall reporting, sir.
    LA Times: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

    Tim Rutten, the LA Times media columnist, is one of the few bright lights at that paper. Indeed, if they had one more like him and one less like Robert Scheer, their circulation would increase. Rutten is a fine reporter and a man with a point of view I can respect even as, from time to time, I disagree.

    I also know, from some experience, how difficult it is to keep you head in the news business when all around you are losing theirs. It is also tough to pass by a fat juicy story on the media when you job is to write about big media from inside big media. Dogpile is the name of the game in Mediaberg.

    Hence it was no surprise this morning when I picked up the Saturday LAT and saw Rutten's Miles from 'fair and balanced'

    Now I realize that, in general, newspaper columnists don't write the cut headlines that display above their copy when it jumps to the inside, but it was a rich moment of morning irony in my coffee when I saw the LA Times print in 48pt type "Fox News accused of systematic bias." From within this frame, Rutten reports

    A veteran producer this week alleged that Fox News executives issue a daily memorandum to staff on news coverage to bend the network's reporting into conformity with management's political views, refocusing attention on the partisan bias of America's most watched cable news operation....

    The corporate boards and family investors who control most of the American news media generally feel obliged to maintain a wall of separation between news and editorial opinion.

    Sigh. It's tough being a columnist at a paper whose daily agenda includes such items as 'get Fox news' transmitted not with a morning memo but a nudge and a wink. Still, I'm not suggesting that Rutten covers this because it might make his bosses happy. No. He covers it because it is a genuine story about the media and it is his job.

    My deeper problem is that this story about "bias at Fox News" is always cycling through the infostream like some persistent Santa Ana that just keeps blowing. Ditto for the story of "Left-Wing bias" at obviously liberal media outlets. The short form is, in short, "So what?"

    The longer form about bias in the media is.... this is NOT news! The Bias stories ceased being news sometime in the, what, 18th century? Bias in the media is something we all know about. "Objective reporting" is something they teach kids in journalism schools before letting them out to find jobs teaching in other journalism schools.

    If ye would know the bias of a media organization, do not seek within the scribbling and babbling editors, seek it in the Publisher's office. It beings there and it will, trust me, flow through in shaping and sustaining the company.

    Is Fox News conservative in its selection and presentation of the news? Well, yes. That can hardly escape an educated human's perception for more than five minutes after first being exposed to their presentation. Are the LA Times and the New York Times, NPR, PBS and CBS/NBC/ABC bastions of liberal sentiment and slant. Well, yes. That can hardly escape an educated human's perception. except that ....

    Except that before the advent and success of Fox News, that perception did escape notice. Why? Because in the absence of a sharp contrast, liberal news operations appear, to the vast majority of those working within them and those depending upon them, as more normal and centrist than they are.

    Note in the excerpt from Rutten above when he writes, "The corporate boards and family investors who control most of the American news media generally feel obliged to maintain a wall of separation between news and editorial opinion." [Italics added]

    Yes, they 'generally' feel that way if you toss all of them from the Milpitas Muckracker to the New York Times into the same sample pool and generalize. But it is an open secret that the news sources that matter, such as the New York Times, exist in an eco-niche whose composition is controlled by the owners. (Indeed, the "family investors" of the NYT take pains to install a member of their family as the Publisher.) Those that reflect the owners' views thrive while those who do not are only hired as tokens or do not exist within the newspapers' ecology at all.

    When the New York Times hires a person whose job is to write a daily item in the Times exposing the bias of the Times' news and opinion and business practices ... get right with God and ready for the Rapture.

    "Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
    to see oursels as others see us!
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us
    An' foolish notion."

    -- Robert Burns: "To a Louse", 1786

    Once you are inside of a specific media ecology of long standing, bias is not an issue. Bias isn't noticed. "Bias" is a resented word for "normality" inside our various media Biospheres.

    That's why liberals and conservatives in the media have such a difficult time seeing themselves as "biased." In their minds they see themselves as simply "normal human beings" with the "normal opinions" that all the other "normal" humans around them share.

    Asking a member of the liberal press to realize he has a liberal bias is like asking a fish to see the ocean as water. Yes, there might be something outside the ocean but no fish that has gone there for very long has returned, so how do we know?

    We start to know when we swim to the surface of our pond and notice the wavering forms of things on the other side of Waterworld; the surface and things beyond the surface.

    We start to notice when messages in the forms of hooks and nets start to drop down on us and haul the unlucky up and into oblivion.

    At that time, we start to question the world around us and ask if everything really is the water we are swimming in with all our friends. Any evidence of the other world makes us question our own normalcy and, of course, the strongest reaction to these questions is to deny that there's another world above the water; to deny that we are in a universe that has something called land as well as water. We might even send some amphibians out to check on it, but their reports are widely discredited especially among those that exist at greater depths.

    Recently, "the Fleet Street model" of a rough and tumble press has landed on their shores in the form of the always-monstrous Rupert Murdoch, the most brilliant press lord of our era. His method is to create media with obvious bias and with a discernible slant. The reason? So people can identify with them, patronize them and earn money for the media operations.

    Murdoch's sin is that he is obvious about this and, not only that, it works. The polite fiction of American big media for many decades before Murdoch's arrival was, "Biased? Us? Ridiculous. And if you don't like it you can go elsewhere." Except that before Murdoch there was no big elsewhere to go to.

    Murdoch's genius was to find the need for another voice, another universe, in American Media and fill it. And what the liberal media cannot stand is that this approach to unfair and unbalanced and Rightwing news is that, well, people love it. They buy it. They support it. Why? Because they happen to believe that it is, for them, The Truth.

    Liberal media, which had a corner on The Truth for a long time, is now finding itself ignored by many people. It is finding that it now longer is in possession of "The Truth" but only "A Truth." Monopolies of Sensibilities don't like it when they lose to a different Sensibility. It costs them both revenue and vindication.

    As audiences fall away and readers cancel, the businesses and assumptions of the Truth Monopoly get very, very nervous and unhappy. And they seize upon memos such as the one that started all this and begin to pump and hype them as if they were New News. The memo in question states in passing:

    The fact is, daily life at FNC [Fox News Corporation] is all about management politics.I say this having served six years there - as producer of the media criticism show, News Watch, as a writer/producer of specials and (for the last year of my stay) as a newsroom copy editor.Not once in the 20 years I had worked in broadcast journalism prior to Fox - including lengthy stays at The Associated Press, CBS Radio and ABC/Good Morning America - did I feel any pressure to toe a management line. But at Fox, if my boss wasn't warning me to "be careful" how I handled the writing of a special about Ronald Reagan ("You know how Roger [Fox News Chairman Ailes] feels about him."), he was telling me how the environmental special I was to produce should lean ("You can give both sides, but make sure the pro-environmentalists don't get the last word.")
    What a charmed life in the ocean it must have been for this fellow during all those years swimming in the vast and warm liberal seas. What a rude awakening to have to descend to a job at Fox News and to discover (since he strangely couldn't see it going in) that the operation had clear and obvious agendas. What a terrible thing to be told that, yes, he had to please his employers by actions rather than just by moving his gills. It must have been shocking and he was, in time, after he left, appropriately shocked, SHOCKED, that Fox News was biased.

    Somehow it would have been more admirable if he said it while still employed there. But that would have been too objective and unbiased, wouldn't it?

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2003 3:34 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    World's Oldest Self-Selects New World's Oldest

    The world's oldest person dies at 116

    AFP - Kamato Hongo, the world's oldest person, died at the age of 116 years, with her sense of humour still intact until her last days. [Yahoo! News - Most Viewed]
    The New World's Oldest is now:
    "compatriot Mitoyo Kawate, a 114-year-old woman from western Hiroshima city, born on May 15, 1889, the London-based Guinness World Records said later Friday."
    Previously third in the race but now moving up to second is an American:
    Charlotte Benkner of North Lima, Ohio, is the nation's oldest person, according to the Gerontology Research Group. The German-born woman will turn 114 on Nov. 16.
    And the beat goes on.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2003 6:01 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Most Brilliant Website in Known Cyberspace

    Since 1986, I've seen a lot of the Net...Dave's Cave BBS, FidoNet, The Source,, CIS with a 6 character command line interface, Picospan at The Well, Gopher, Lynx and, after what seemed a long time and overnight, the Web. I'm well aware you can't see it all, you can't even see the beginning of the beginning of it all. And sure, I know that a site brand new to me has been seen by tens of thousands before. Right. Next. Still, because the Net has been good to me, I've seen a lot.

    And, as happens when you see too much of something, I've become jaded -- "Been there, Clicked That, Bought the T-Shirt at CafePress." There are days when it all feels like I should be pulled over and booked for click and run.

    But then an email brings a pointer, or a site posts a link, and, in an instant, you know you've found one of those sites that keeps you coming back.

    The site pointed to below is one of those.

    It is one of those sites that you know in an instant is going to be a time-sink the size of Jupiter's Red Spot and that you are going down.

    It is a site that proceeds from pure imagination to meld words and images into a bright fusion. Combine that with a talent to bend HTML to serve the artist's ends rather than the other way around, and you are into "something rich and strange" -- the Sublime.

    This is a site that exists to the side, in another dimension, an alternate web universe long ago and far away from these mundane uses. Above all, it is a site that challenges others to be even five percent as good. It's one of those places that show you what this medium could be rather than what is.

    If you don't believe me, listen to ...The Pusher:

    I'm beginning to feel like your local drug dealer.

    First, I warn you about Quicksilver (which, of course, signaled many of you to just go out and buy it, and there's no help for you.

    Then, I carefully warned you about this site, and I have no doubt many of you not only clicked, but you may have bought.

    But neither of these are as dangerous as what I'm about to present.

    This site is a diabolical combination of art, writing, and technology that is guaranteed to suck you into hours of, enjoyment. And, you better pay for it.

    I suggest that your first experience begin with this. It's not quite as strong as the other installments, but will give you an eye-opening introduction. And, oh, if you don't get it, look at the bottom of your browser window. You have to scroll right.

    The next is up to you. If you believe you're a right wing-conservative, or a left-wing liberal, then this work will prove appealing.

    If you're into the Bible, then you should consult this, which is an interesting take on the Book of Revelations.

    I could go on an on. But I won't. I've done enough damage. Please forgive me.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2003 2:00 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Vote Kerry: Indulge Your Inner Coward


    What is wrong with our major media? Why haven't they alerted the public that they only way they can be safe from terrorism is to vote for Kerry state-by-state? Why haven't we seen the text of the real offer from Al Queda?

    THE OFFER: "Any U.S. state that will choose to vote for the white thug Bush as president has chosen to fight us, and we will consider it our enemy, and any state that will vote against Bush has chosen to make peace with us, and we will not characterize it as an enemy." -- Osama Bin Laden

    You would think that knowing the details of Bin Laden's offer (American Digest: Trying to Divide the House Against Itself), all the major networks would be warning people to "VOTE KERRY OR YOUR STATE WILL DIE!"

    Where are the banner headlines that inform the public (which surely has a right to know) that the only way to live is to vote for John Kerry: OSAMA TO US: VOTE BUSH, DROP DEAD. VOTE KERRY, I'LL LET YOU LIVE!

    For that matter, why isn't the Kerry Campaign putting this out big-time in the last day? What a selling point! What a deal closer!






    Ah, the possibilities are endless. And the meaning of a vote for Kerry could now not be clearer. After the offer is widely known, it won't really be a case of voting for Kerry because of his "plans," or even voting for Kerry to vote "against Bush." No, now it will be much simpler.

    A vote for Kerry will simply and clearly mean, and be understood by everyone else to mean, that the voter simply wanted to save his hide. Makes all those Kerry-Edwards bumper stickers and lawn signs a lot clearer, doesn't it?

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2003 1:12 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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