Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
The BlogBorg Candidate

“All your base operating systems
are belong to us.”

Why all the guessing about the high RPM Lazy-Susan smorgasbord of Howard Dean’s positions these days? What’s up with the professed puzzlement of mainline Democrats about Dean’s need to commit public seppuku with his mouth over and over again?

There’s no mystery about where Howard’s coming from. All you have to do is follow the money to find out what’s manipulating Howard Dean. Dean is a creature of the BlogBorg; a man thrown up by the Matrix; a Matrix Reloaded and a Matrix Revolution.

In the end, Howard Dean, given his origins and the sources of his energy, is the First BlogBorg Candidate for President. He has been, quite simply, assimilated by his machine.

Once you understand that Dean’s positions are not his but the positions of the BlogBorg, everything becomes clear.

'George Bush knew about and was the hidden hand that drove the planes into the towers on 9/11?' Very popular BlogBorg theory.

'We’ve to protect Osama’s right to a fair trial?' The BlogBorg will not stand for any crushing of dissent and stands always ready to guard every mass-murderers right to a fair trial.

"I don't know where they're going to go, but they're certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician," says Dean of his supporters and he is right. They’re going to vote for the BlogBorg.

Jesus is just all right with Howard, but He's not the Son of God? Lots of the BlogBorg subscribes to the idea of Jesus as a really nice human being.

Dean's religion is Congregationalism. Why? Because "there is no centralized -- almost no centralized authority structure -- and I like that." The BlogBorg likes that too.

“"I'm just like every other American, I think the Osama is outrageous." Well, perhaps like every 20th online American posting at indymedia. Every other American considers the man just plain evil. But the BlogBorg reserves judgment until 26,745 postings on the issue in Slate's forums, and an email interview on Salon.

"We need a system of instant traceability for all cattle," says Dean trying to pin the Mad Cow tail on Bush. Implant chips are big on the


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 31, 2003 4:14 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Celebrity Poker Showdown: Not Ready for Hollywood Squares

Don't you know you're supposed
to wash your hands before
returning to work?

When the camera showed you the hole cards, a new Grade C Celebrity Showcase was born.

Yes, for years, the only dependable place you could go to find celebrities nobody knew were still walking around was Hollywood Squares. But, after a few nanoseconds of looking at Whoopi Goldberg in the center you were compelled to click to something more edifying such as the latest Bowie knife being offered on QVC.

The downside of this was that you lost the ability to say: "Didn't they kill him off for good on Dukes of Hazzard in the late 70s?" or "Just how many facelifts does that make for Joan Rivers and do I have to start keeping score with my toes now?"

Fear not. Now Bravo has given you a new chance at tracking celebrity obscurity with Celebrity Poker Showdown!

Yes, this offering that lets you know who the losers are just before they lose, opens up whole new vistas of Celebrities that early in their career have sunk below sonar range.

Admitedly, Celebrity Poker scored in one of their early offerings by pitting the cast of The West Wing against each other, but since The West Wing is in heavy rotation on Bravo, we assume the President


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 31, 2003 2:45 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Creche By The Side of the Road

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'

--Eliot, Journey of the Magi

Small moments in long journeys, like small lights in a large darkness, often linger in the memory. They come unbidden, occur when you are not ready for them, and are gone before you understand them. You ‘have the experience, but miss the meaning.’ All you can do is hold them and hope that understanding will, in time, come to you.

To drive from Laguna Beach to Sacramento the only feasible route takes you through Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. If you go after dark in this season of the year, you speed through an unbroken crescendo of lights accentuated by even more “holiday lights.” In the American spirit of "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing," the decking of the landscape with lights has finally gotten utterly out of hand.

Airports, malls, oil refineries, the towers along Wilshire and the vast suburbs of the valley put up extra displays to celebrate what has come to be known as “the season.” All the lights flung up by the hive of more than 10 million souls glimmer, but the exact nature of “the season” seems more difficult to define.

For hours the lights surround you as if they have no end. But they do end. In time, the valley narrows and you come to the stark edge of the lights and drive into a dark section of highway known as ‘the Grapevine.’

The Grapevine snakes up over the mountains that ring the Los Angeles Basin to swirl down the far side into the endless flatland of the Great Central Valley. From entrance to exit is about 50 miles.

So steep is the ascent to the top of the Grapevine that the summit makes its own weather. Comfortable valley nights can turn into snow flurries, sudden fog banks and high winds that shake the car. Every transit of the Grapevine promises (and nearly always delivers) at least one accident seen along the roadside if you are lucky, or directly in front of you if you are not. If you are very unlucky, the accident is yours.

Virtually all traffic to and from Los Angeles endures the Grapevine. It is a dangerous and demanding road, made more intimidating by the swarms of trucks that haul freight up the spine of California. Even in broad daylight the Grapevine seems dark. It is an unloved and unlovely stretch of highway.

It was long past sunset when our yearly Christmas pilgrimage to our families around Sacramento sent us climbing up the Grapevine. My wife was driving because my eyes don’t adjust quickly to oncoming headlights and because she is, by far, the better driver. My stepson was wedged within a small mountain of bags and presents in the back seat, his cherubic face illuminated by the gray-blue glow of his Gameboy.

I gazed out the window at the churning wall of trucks and the slate black slopes. Heavy cloud cover made everything more obscure. Only the streams of headlights coming on and the endless red flares of brake lights in front of us broke the darkness. It was the nadir of the year, two days before Christmas, climbing between


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 30, 2003 1:41 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hanukkah Candles on Christmas Eve


Throughout the night, the cold loomed close,
And wrapped the house in shawls of frost.
Within, four candles gave us light,
And returned to us all that was lost.

Around us, all the village slept.
It's children safe, their breathing slow.
Four candles gleamed beside our tree,
Their flames burned long, burned low.

Then all fell silent round our house.
The snow shown blue, the shadows, slate.
One could almost hear the planet turn.
I stood alone beside our gate.

Behind me, those I loved slept warm,
Protected by the grace of God.
Before me lay our village streets,
And all the roads that we have trod.

The hour was late, the morning near,
Within our house the fire was bright,
But still I walked on gleaming snow
To pray for greater light.

As a child I lived in dreams of stars,
Of peace on Earth -- life's golden seal--
And this night seemed, of all the nights,
The one when all such dreams were real.

Tonight I know this is not so.
The world is not as we would wish,
But as we make it, day by day,
And this, the mystery and the gift.

The candles tell us of this gift.
The stars reflect them high above.
The gift is given to us again,
That we remember how to love.

[We'll be on Haitus for a week or so. God bless you all, everyone.]

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 25, 2003 2:32 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Stillness

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 22, 2003 2:30 PM | QuickLink: Permalink

Chrismukkah (KRIS.muh.kuh) n. A holiday celebration that combines elements of both Christmas and Hanukkah, particularly in households that have both Christian and Jewish members.

-- The Word Spy

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 22, 2003 1:33 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Quitting Time

Quitting Time


They seek a dedication
No passion prints on stone,
Their reverie -- of clouds.
Their benedictions -- moans.
Not one can name their masters,
Nor indenture's date reveal,
Doomed to ride the animal
That runs within the wheel.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 22, 2003 8:38 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Smarm of

One of the things that happens in the background of this and many other weblogs when a post is issued is a ping is sent to to indicate that the page has been updated. But is set to only take a new update every half-hour. As a result, the ping issues a failed message if you are busier than that.

Now a simple administrative message annoucing this would be sufficient, but -- being yet another "innovation" of the aptly named Dave Winer -- isn't having it. Instead, it gives you the following advice:

Ping '' failed: Ping error: Thanks for the ping, however we can only accept one ping every half-hour. It's cool that you're updating so often, however, if I may be so bold as to offer some advice -- take a break, you'll enjoy li..."[sic]
We'll "enjoy li"? What we'd really enjoy would be if Dave Winer would take a five year break from smarm and blather. But that's too much to hope for, isn't it?

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 22, 2003 8:07 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Very Model of a Modern Major Candidate, II

Almost forgotten in the swirl of events in Iraq over the past two weeks was Hardball's Idiot de Jour Gen. Wesley Clark opining that he'd ask for a permission slip from Europe before defending the alternate universe of his United States:

And I would say to the Europeans, I pledge to you as the American president that we'll consult with you first. You get the right of first refusal on the security concerns that we have. We'll bring you in.
It remains to be seen if the Democrats will exercise their right of first refusal on Clark in Iowa.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 22, 2003 7:58 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Must See TV

Tonight on Showtime, a five-episode marathon of Penn & Teller's Bullshit! . First up: Environmental Hysteria: "Here Penn & Teller explore the truth behind fears about global warming, air quality, water quality, acid rain, species extinction, and take a look at Greenpeace's activities."

And it is a good look. Dial it up, crank the Tivo, and pour yourself a frosty beverage.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 22, 2003 7:44 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Facts Found in Poems

"In 1951, as Henrietta Lacks was dying of cancer in a Maryland hospital, one astute physician there removed a pea-sized sample of her tumor to see if its cells would grow in a test tube -- something never achieved before -- and these became the very first human cells to thrive and multiply outside of the body. Now called HeLa cells, today there are so many that they outweigh what would have been Henrietta Lacks's living body 400 times, and have been used around the world in studies on polio, leukemia, protein synthesis, the effects of nuclear radiation, genetic control mechanisms, and more."
-- From Albert Goldbarth's "Budget Travel through the Universe" at Poetry Daily

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 22, 2003 7:18 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Condition Orange Forever?

Tom Ridge's warning is designed in part to prepare the American mind for the flaming bolt out of the December sky, when Osama Bin Laden sets his perverse and fiery star against the original at Bethlehem. And we are ready, though not prepared. -- Belmont Club

By now we've become almost inured to the periodic appearance of the avuncular Tom Ridge announcing that our national terror traffic light has changed. I suppose this reliance on colors to indicate the eagerness of Islamic terrorists to kill Americans wholesale is an effective way of communicating bad news to people of all levels of intelligence and interest, but it also reverses Hannah Arendt‘s observation on the banality of evil to the banality of the good.

Invariably these announcements bear familiar footnotes. “Increased traffic,” “more chatter,” and “credible sources” are chanted in this catechism of immanent death. Yes, all the accouterments of doom are pinned to one color, Orange. Next step, Red. Which means “Get your game face on, it’s going down.”

But what will be “It” and what will rise from the ashes of “It?”

“It” means, in our present era, a successful strike by “fringe” members of the Islamic faith on the American homeland.

A short laundry list of "It" could include things like:
1) “Massacres in shopping malls,"
2) “Large conventional explosions in one or several American cities in a short time that yield hundreds, preferably thousands of innocent and very dead Americans,”
3) “A CBW attack that infects or poisons and kills hundreds or thousands of American in short order,
4) “A ‘dirty bomb’ attack in a major center of commerce such as New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago,”
-- or, courtesy of Iran, North Korea, Russia or elsewhere, --
5) “The detonation of an atomic weapon in an American city”

Any one or combination of the above would be the Terrorists' Trifecta.

“Success” in this instance will be measured in 911 Units (One 911=3,000 dead Americans).

Will we see a 2x911 day, a 10x911 day, a 100x911 day or worse? Given our current policies of slow, careful, considered, thoughtful politically-correct preemption, any one of the above is likely. Indeed, given our leaders' manifest unwillingness to dedicate the nation to a state of total war, it is a virtual certainty that one of these days is already marked on the calendar of the future.

It is no longer a question of whether or not thousands or tens of thousands of Americans will die here upon our soil, it is a question of which Americans they shall be. If not this year, next year or the year after. It is a “when” not an “if.” It will happen in a major city or a major suburb. Yours? Theirs? Near or elsewhere? No real sacrifice equal to that asked of our Armed Forces has yet been asked of American civilians. We have been left pretty much undisturbed in our urban stupor. But our day is approaching.

The question of why our leaders have not “made America safe” from this day of reckoning is a fair one but the answer is a hard truth.

They have not made America safe from the next catastrophic attack because we have not yet, as Americans, been ready for them to do so. Strange as it may seem, 3,000 of us slaughtered at their desks has not been enough to stir


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 21, 2003 5:27 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Operation: Any Soldier

Don't wait, just click.There's really no deadline for sending a package to Any Soldier in Iraq, but now would be a good time to start. I've got my list and I'm checking it twice. You're going to shop this weekend anyway, why not put some people on your list that matter as much as your friends and family?

Want to send a care package to Any Soldier in Iraq,but have no idea of what to send, who to send it to, or how to send it?

Sergeant Brian Horn from LaPlata, Maryland, is an Army Infantry Soldier with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the Kirkuk area of Iraq who has a reputation for taking care of his soldiers. He has agreed to distribute the contents of any packages that come to him addressed "Attn: Any Soldier" to the soldiers who are not getting mail. This works! Your packages get to real soldiers that need and appreciate your support!

Please note that now we have more soldiers helping with this. We ask that if you send packages and letters that you spread them across the addresses we have below. Soon there will be more, but they are all in Brian's unit, the Sky Soldiers of the 173rd.

The Any Soldier site gives you detailed instructions on what is needed and how to send it. Go there now and get busy.

Well, what are you waiting for? Click here ---> Any Soldier

NOTE: If you are planning to link this item, do not link to here, link directly to Any Soldier

UPDATE: HEATERMEALS -- A much needed and sought after item is offering special prices and packages for the Any Soldier program. Check out the details on their webpage, above. No web orders:"To order HeaterMeals through www.AnySoldier.US, please call us at 1-800-503-4483"

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 19, 2003 8:47 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
No Shortage of Diplomats in New York City, However...

Annan: UN Peacekeeping Operations in Africa Hindered by Lack of Available Troops

"Secretary-General Kofi Annan says peacekeeping missions in Africa are being threatened by a lack of available troops. Mr. Annan voiced concern that Africa may come out on the short end of an increasingly tough competition for peacekeepers.

The secretary-general said the growing number of peacekeeping operations seems to be outstretching the capacity of countries willing and able to help. He said appeals by the U.S.-led coalition are making his life more difficult."

Yes, that wretched US again. Making life difficult for Annan and the UN by asking it to fulfill its purpose. Especially vexing this time of year what with all the parties and such, what?

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 19, 2003 5:22 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
High-flying hack

It's good to see that some things never change.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the invention of the airplane, students took a break from finals on Wednesday morning to top MIT's Great Dome with a replica of the Wright brothers' biplane, "Flyer."

The model, with a wingspan of 45 feet, was discovered by MIT Police on patrol at 6:20 a.m. The dome atop Building 10 is 150 feet high. A dummy was strapped into the position Orville Wright occupied during the historic 12-second flight.

The model has canvas wings, each with a blinking red light, and a 2-by-4-foot stud frame, coupled by hinges and bolts. The structure is connected to the dome by a system of plastic-coated steel cables, eye hooks, carabiners and turnbuckles.

Six students exiting Building 10 via an elevator took responsibility for the prank, police said. None of the students is majoring in aeronautics and astronautics.

One student asked the officers if he could retrieve a laptop computer he had left behind because he needed the machine to prepare for upcoming exams. "Same was retrieved and returned to him," police said.

Aware of the forecast for heavy rain and 25 mph winds, David Barber of the MIT Safety Program and Gary Cunha of MIT Facilities applied additional safety lines to the model, which was already well-constructed and secured. Should the assembly come apart during the night, the safety lines will ensure that pieces do not come down from the dome's roof.

The model was dismantled Thursday by Barber and Cunha, the Institute's hack evaluation and removal team, who salvaged a completed FAA certificate of airworthiness form for the MIT Museum.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 19, 2003 4:52 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Gold Bug


For the computer programmer on your list that has everything, we'd suggest bugs -- gold bugs -- or bugs with rubies, lapis, and other rare gems.

"The larvae I use belong to the families Limnephilidae, Leptoceridae, Sericostomatidae and Odontoceridae, with a preference for the Limnephilid genera Potamophylax and Allogamus.

"I collect the larvae from January to April, in low- and medium-altitude mountain areas, and keep them in an aquarium where the water is oxygenated, circulated and kept at 40% C---this artificial winter prolongs the larvae's period of case-building and delays the process of nymphosis.

"I remove the cap of the larva's natural case at the rear end, and push the larva, which usually stays affixed to the case by means of its two hind hooks, gently forward with a blunt-tipped instrument. Pressure applied to the last ring of the case causes the larva to release its grip.

"Essentially, this in vitro experiment involves the modification of the larva's natural habitat and, more precisely, the replacement of the building materials ordinarily found by the larva (sand, small bits of gravel, sprigs of plants, the shells of planorbid and other water snails) with new materials.

"To begin with, I put the insect in a gold-filled environment for as long as it takes the creature to form a rough case. The larva must be able to move around in its new case and be picked up without any risk of breaking the fragile construction.

"First, I only provided the larvae with gold spangles, but then I gradually added beads of turquoise, opal, lapis lazuli and coral, as well as rubies, sapphires, diamonds, hemispherical and Baroque pearls, and tiny rods of 18-karat gold.

-- Leonardo On-Line: The Wonderful Caddis Worm

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2003 12:39 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Yesterday in Iraq Love Was Such an Easy Game to Play

"rummaging around one quiet afternoon at baghdad international airport (i'm a photographer for a company that's working in iraq), i went into an abandoned store and, naturally, started going through some of the drawers. underneath a stack of year-old pita bread (very, very hard), i stumbled across a small stack of passport photos. there are two things strange about them. one, all the photos are of women. and two, every face has been scribbled on with a red ink pen. very strange.
-- This week's picture in FOUND Magazine

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2003 11:56 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"As a City on a Hill"

"For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God's sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.

"And to shut this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithful servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israel, Deut. 30. "Beloved, there is now set before us life and death, good and evil, therefore choose life."

-- From John Winthrop's "A Model of Christian Charity" (City on a Hill)

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2003 11:09 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Hammer. Nail. Bang.

From Nelson Ascher at EuroPundits comes this clear and concise statement of the nature of our current experiment:

Besides deposing a bloody and threatening tyrant, the invasion of Iraq had, as its most obvious goal, the establishment of American military bases right in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, in order to keep and eye on the rest of the region and to be able to intervene there whenever necessary.

But maybe there was still another objective. Actually, we do ignore whether Islamicisim, politically militant radical Islam, is the sickness of a minority or has already infected the majority of Arabs and/or Muslims; and though we usually blame their despotic regimes and corrupt elites for the hostile climate of opinion they have generated, all over that part of the world, against the West, the US, Christians, Jews atc., the truth is that we cannot be sure about this.

What if those are and have always been the true feelings of the majority? Speculation won't do and there's only one way of knowing: you pick an Arab/Muslim country, remove the tyrant and the corrupt elites, give the people the possibility of developing civilized institutions. We might call this a very ambitious empirical/cientific experiment. If it works, then a causal relationship between tyranny and fanatical religious and nationalistic madness can be established. If it doesn't, and we discover that, in spite of all, they have been thinking, feeling, behaving in such a way not because of Saddam, but out of their own free will, then the conclusion will be that plan A (the liberation and democratisation or the Arab/Muslim world) is not the solution and it will be time to try out plan B, whatever this is.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2003 10:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
It Can't Happen Here. Right?

"France is not really a democracy but a bureaucratic state in which, instead of voting for change, interest groups take to the streets to make themselves heard on various issues."
-- Roger L. Simon: BEHIND "ENEMY" LINES

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2003 10:18 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Words Worth

"So far, bad philosophy has killed a lot more people than biotechnology. Perhaps we should regulate it. . . ." -- Glenn Reynolds

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2003 10:12 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Every Day, in Every Way, Salon Gives Us One More Reason Not to Care

Top of the scroll on Salon Salon this morning greets us with:

American gothic
The revelation that Strom Thurmond fathered a child with his black maid raises a host of thorny questions about race, sex, power -- and media silence

By Rebecca Traister

Nice to see that Salon is getting down hard on those stories from 1925. But really, SO WHAT?

The man is dead. The daughter who has now 'boldly' come forward for the book advance ("I Was Strom's Luv Child") is 72.

Questions with thorns about "race, sex, power" and the dreaded 'media silence' abound across the vast wasteland of what passes for intellectual life in America today. Indeed, you can hardly take a step in America Deserta without stubbing your sore toe on the thorns of race, sex, power and media silence. Why, the "media silence" on these issues is so deafening that you could have a demonstration for democracy in Bagdhad and nobody would hear it.

This story, in journalistic circles, is known as a "thumbsucker." Nothing more and nothing less.

It is well that Salon now hides these little thumbsuckers behind the vast wall of it's subscription only service, otherwise wise we might actually have to read it. Which would compel us to comment "So what?" at every line instead of "So what?" at the title and tease.

The Salon items that do concern us, however, are things like this one from Salon Personals -- Catch of the Day


"I am an agnostic pantheist, pragmatic idealist of eco-liberal tilt, ambiverted, spirited, 6ft, fit, playful, good partner."

The "catch" appears to be of the male persuasion, but lacks a signifying erring. Color him ambiguous and take protection. Nevertheless, a perfect example of the demographic that now reads Salon.

Bottom line:

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2003 9:41 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How a Great and Enduring Magazine was Conceived


The Paris Review, to the amazement of the moribund magazine industry, is 50 years old. Here's what the late and great George Plimpton has to say about its inception:

[In 1953]The cost of a loaf of bread was fourteen cents, unemployment was three percent. RCA introduced color TV, the microwave oven was patented, Jonas Salk introduced the Polio vaccine, frozen sperm was used for the first time to impregnate a woman (in Iowa), Saran wrap was invented, the Soviet Union tested its first hydrogen bomb, and that same year, 1953, Stalin died.

While all this was going on, two young writers in Paris, Peter Matthiessen (working on his first novel, Race Rock) and H.L. (Doc) Humes (who would later write two impressive novels, Underground City and Men Die), and later joined by the undersigned, then studying at Cambridge University, sat in the cafs along the Boul' Mich and discussed the principles by which their magazine's course would be determined. These were disarmingly simple: the main idea was to devote the magazine largely to creative work (short stories, novel excerpts, and poetry) and put the critical material (which tended to be the main fare in the literary magazines of the time) in the back of the book, if there at all. If any concessions to critical evaluation were to be made, the editors, rather than giving the task to critics, would find knowledgeable persons to go to the novelists or poets and in an interview get them to talk about their work, in particular about the craft of writing. The first author interviewed was E.M. Forster (A Passage to India, Howards End) who at the time was an honorary fellow at King's College, Cambridge. He confessed how much trouble he had controlling his characters, and because of this had not written a novel since 1924. His interview caused quite a stir (the interview form was rather novel back then) and was the first of over 250 done since with distinguished writers -- a pantheon indeed!

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 17, 2003 12:30 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Americanization of Iraq

Okay, these insurgents are getting far too savvy about western ways.

From --

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 17, 2003 12:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
They Hate Us Because We've Got the Groove

Exhibit A in the case for having the groove is this season's smash online box office hit 'Gay Boyfriend'in which the creator knew that:"With my out-of-pocket budget of $1800 and no one begging us for the final product, the production had to be as simple as possible. " And it was, but in a brilliant way that makes you step back and say "Only in America."

P.S. Don't miss the "making of" featurette. You'll be inspired to go out and make one of your own.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2003 11:24 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Paintings and Prints of Robert Fulghum


"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge --
That myth is more potent than history --
I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts --
That hope always triumphs over experience --
That laughter is the only cure for grief,
And I believe that love is stronger than death."

Robert Fulghum, Artshow

"The seven paintings are done in acrylic and gold leaf on canvas. Some of the work is representative and some abstract. Some of the canvas is stretched and some left soft and loose, like banners. The canvases are large - four feet square or six feet by four feet in the diptychs and four feet by six feet in the triptychs. The latter works are hinged together, with the wing sections folding out when hung on the wall. Most of the paintings have writing on them in several languages - too small to see on the computer screen - a dialogue between the painting and me. There is one photograph of the soft paintings hanging from the ceiling in a studio space."

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2003 11:00 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Fish. Barrel. Bang!
"The capture of Saddam has not made America safer."....

Give Dean this: He is, in a certain perverse way, eloquent. It's not easy to cram so much idiocy, mendacity and arrogance into nine little words, but he did it.

-- James Taranto

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2003 5:53 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Power of Myth


Into The Sunset

The headlines are flooded with good, but slightly disconcerting news. Iraq: France, Germany, U.S. Agree On Debt Relief , Fewer Palestinians back suicide bombings - poll, Iraq Official: U.N. Failed Us and Should Help Now, Iraqi council, neighboring nations clamor to prosecute ex-dictator, Schroeder says Germany ready to help on Iraq. It's the townspeople rushing to congratulate the sheriff at the conclusion of High Noon. The shadow has been dispelled. Saddam's capture showed them it was safe to venture out into the sunlight.

Or maybe we're in the wrong movie. The War on Terror turned out to have a mythical component. The bad guy, who for decades terrorized whole towns and destroyed every challenger until he became a force of nature, seemingly immutable. Till one day a stranger rode in from the edge of dusk and only the children guessed who he might be. And in the midst of the celebration of the villain's fall it may only be the children, not the men of the world, who will wonder at the silver wings dwindling into the sunset, bound for Landstuhl or carrying a last cargo home. Come back Shane, come back.

-- From the Belmont Club, a place that knows how important it is to push the myths.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2003 5:42 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Facts Cannot Trump Environism

Author Michael Crichtone, a man who knows a bit about the past and the future, is not taken with the modern and corrupt religion of environmentalism:

With so many past failures, you might think that environmental predictions would become more cautious. But not if it's a religion. Remember, the nut on the sidewalk carrying the placard that predicts the end of the world doesn't quit when the world doesn't end on the day he expects. He just changes his placard, sets a new doomsday date, and goes back to walking the streets. One of the defining features of religion is that your beliefs are not troubled by facts, because they have nothing to do with facts.

So I can tell you some facts. I know you haven't read any of what I am about to tell you in the newspaper, because newspapers literally don't report them. I can tell you that DDT is not a carcinogen and did not cause birds to die and should never have been banned. I can tell you that the people who banned it knew that it wasn't carcinogenic and banned it anyway. I can tell you that the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people, mostly children, whose deaths are directly attributable to a callous, technologically advanced western society that promoted the new cause of environmentalism by pushing a fantasy about a pesticide, and thus irrevocably harmed the third world. Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in the twentieth century history of America. We knew better, and we did it anyway, and we let people around the world die and didn't give a damn.

I can tell you that second hand smoke is not a health hazard to anyone and never was, and the EPA has always known it. I can tell you that the evidence for global warming is far weaker than its proponents would ever admit. I can tell you the percentage the US land area that is taken by urbanization, including cities and roads, is 5%. I can tell you that the Sahara desert is shrinking, and the total ice of Antarctica is increasing. I can tell you that a blue-ribbon panel in Science magazine concluded that there is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of carbon dioxide in the 21st century. Not wind, not solar, not even nuclear. The panel concluded a totally new technology-like nuclear fusion-was necessary, otherwise nothing could be done and in the meantime all efforts would be a waste of time. They said that when the UN IPCC reports stated alternative technologies existed that could control greenhouse gases, the UN was wrong.

I can, with a lot of time, give you the factual basis for these views, and I can cite the appropriate journal articles not in whacko magazines, but in the most prestigeous science journals, such as Science and Nature. But such references probably won't impact more than a handful of you, because the beliefs of a religion are not dependant on facts, but rather are matters of faith. Unshakeable belief.

-- Remarks to the Commonwealth Club 9/15/2003

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2003 5:10 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Who Says Dean and His Ilk Have No Sense of Humor?

DEBORAH ORIN at the New York Post reports on the "no-videos-allowed" Dean fundraiser in New York inHOWARD'S HATEFEST [Emphasis added]

[T]here were no TV cameras last Monday night when pro-Dean comics took the stage on West 18th St. in Chelsea at a $250-a-head Dean fund-raiser (reduced from $500) and competed to see how often they could use the F-word in the same sentence.

Comic Judy Gold dissed President Bush as "this piece of living, breathing s---" and Janeane Garofalo ridiculed the Medicare prescription-drug bill that Bush had just signed as the "you can go f--- yourself, Grandma" bill.

Just a few days before, rival John Kerry had used the F-word to attack Bush in Rolling Stone magazine in an apparent bid to sound hip, but Dean's event was "enough to make John Kerry blush," as rival Dick Gephardt's spokesman Erik Smith tartly put it.

And the Dean event got a lot worse. Comedian David Cross used the N-word for blacks in a disjointed "joke" apparently based on the premise that it's fine for a pro-Dean comic to use racial epithets as long as the goal is to claim Republicans are racists.

Comic Kate Clinton evoked Michael Jackson (hit with new child-sex-abuse charges) and said: "Frankly, I'm far more frightened of Condoleezza Rice" - the Bush national security adviser who has nothing in common with Jackson except being black.

Rice seems to drive liberal woman comics especially nuts. Sandra Bernhard insulted her in racial terms with a "Yes Massa" accent at another Dean fundraiser the same night. Perhaps the pro-Dean comics find it unbearable that the most powerful black woman in U.S. history, close friend to the president and his wife - and a brilliant classical pianist to boot - dares to be a Republican.

Actually, there was something to offend everyone. Dean rival Joe Lieberman got ridiculed for being unable to campaign on Jewish holidays because he's Orthodox. Vice President Dick Cheney was accused of talking "like Mary Jo Buttafuoco."

Cheney's wife Lynne was called "Lon Chaney" - the long-ago movie star who specialized in playing ghouls in horror films. And Cheney's daughter Mary, who is gay, was called "a big lezzie."

Even the apolitical "jokes" were ugly - like a suggestion that it's bizarre to see an Asian baby with Asian parents because so many Asian babies are adopted by whites.

Dean was present and later deplored the racist tenor of the jokes, but took the cash and let credit go.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2003 4:19 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Religion of Peace and Justice

The Vatican struck a blow for bovine rights the world over today: Cardinal Says U.S. Treated Saddam 'Like a Cow'

Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Justice and Peace department and a former papal envoy to the United Nations (news - web sites), told a news conference it would be "illusory" to think the arrest of the former Iraqi president would heal all the damage caused by a war which the Holy See opposed.

"I felt pity to see this man destroyed, (the military) looking at his teeth as if he were a cow. They could have spared us these pictures," he said.

Only if Saddam would have spare us these pictures: The Mass Graves. [Warning: These will be more than you can bear or imagine.]

Cardinal Renato Martino: We suppose he is a man. We note that he is a Catholic. We see that he has risen to Cardinal. We mark that he has been an envoy to the United Nations.

We ask: On what planet?

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2003 3:58 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Indie Channel" Home Eludes Al

Darn, lost another loan to Ditech.

The NY Post tells the sad tale of Barry Diller giving the "Nyet' to Al Gore when it comes passing his control of News World International over to Al for his "vision." But just what is that vision today?

Gore envisions creating a youth-oriented cable news network with a left-leaning political slant.

The group advising Gore - which includes big Democratic Party fund-raiser Joel Hyatt, who is Gore's largest financial backer - is deciding whether to locate the network in San Francisco or New York.

Two names for the channel are being debated: The Indie Channel and VTV.

Oh, those frustrating locating and naming debates. So crucial, even before you've got anything to locate and name.

We're here to help, because the answers are obvious.

1)Location, Location, Location: That would be San Francisco. The best town in the world if you need to be told you are saving the world while losing your shirt.

2) What's in a name besides the whole game? Once you're in San Francisco, your choices are made for you: The IndyNewsNetwork Channel or STDV. Take your pick.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2003 12:08 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Springtime for Liberals

In the category of "There Is No 'Try,' There Is Only 'Do.'":

"And if I do this radio show, I'm going to try to do it drug-free," [Franken] added, taking a crack at the Florida-based talker, who recently spent time in rehab being treated for an addiction to painkillers.
--Franken Sees Liberal Radio In Spring

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2003 10:37 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"I have nothing to say and I am saying it."

Timothy Noah, Slate's aptly named "Chatterbox" gives blatherers a bad name with his mewling little Good Mission, Bad Name - Why bring the movie Red Dawn into it? . In this item that nobody other than his mother will little note nor long remember, Noah opines:

The problem with calling Saddam's capture Operation Red Dawn is that it subverts the righteousness of our action with Orwellian Newspeak. (By sheerest coincidence, Red Dawn was released in 1984.) The U.S. military isn't mounting an insurgency against a foreign invader. It is the foreign invader. The real insurgents in Iraq -- its Wolverines -- are the Baathists and Islamist extremists who continue to wage guerrilla war against the American occupation and its Iraqi collaborators. By stating this, Chatterbox does not mean to insult our troops or pay any sort of compliment to the Iraqi opposition. In this particular situation, Huge Invading Force = Good Guys, and Scrappy Wolverine Resistance = Bad Guys. Even the most vocal critics of the war usually concede this point. Now the Pentagon has undermined this clarity by introducing an unhelpful vocabulary that invites disaffected Iraqis to make stupid comparisons between the United States and the former Soviet Union. How inept can propaganda get?
Ask rather how inept can a column get when everybody else has said everything about your subject that can be said? It can, I suppose, take on the level of meaningless granulation we get from Noah.

I noted the "Red Dawn" allusion when it went by in the Infostream, but it was clearly not important. Indeed, it was insignificant. But I guess it was the only scrap left when Noah recovered from his 10 Tequila Slammer Saturday night and had to, just had to, write something, anything, about this. That's one thing. But publishing this bit of whining tripe is another. One wonders if there isn't a "designated editor" at Slate to save the chatterers from flipping their brain over a guiderail like this.

First, let us step up to the whiteboard and write on one side "Reality" and on the other side "Movie." Let us draw a line between them and then step back to see how different the connotation and denotation of the words are. It would seem that Noah's gripe is that reality doesn't mirror the movie world, right? Right. Pass the popcorn.

Then let us note that while movies are known for the ability to have many different takes to a scene and massive meetings on nomenclature, reality -- war reality -- runs against a clock and often doesn't have time for the little touches that would warm Noah's heart and give him the confidence in his country and his army that he evidently needs to feel whole. It's evidently of little import to Mr. Noah that this man was caught due to massive effort extending over many months. No, what's important here is that the title was "wrong."

This is why the Army doesn't have a battalion of chatterboxs like Noah on retainer vetting its titles and why Slate has a chatterbox like Noah on its payroll in order to ... well, in order to.... chatter. In this, he has shown he has no equal.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2003 9:12 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Mission: Possible

Of course, American political candidates who stake out a "this will never work, so stop trying" stance are is in a tough position once the impossible is proved possible. But in the early morning hours of Sunday, they found a solution. First, release a short statement saluting the troops. The second step is to avoid any sense of backtracking or reconsideration of the candidate's previous position. In fact, the subtext of the statement should infer that the candidate had been urging Paul Bremer, Gen. John Abizaid, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to look in a spider hole at a farm in the town of Ad Dwara all along.
-- Jim Geraghty on Saddam Hussein: Captured

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 15, 2003 11:07 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Get Me Rewrite!"

THE NOTE notes:

"Senator Kerry speaks about Medicare in Iowa today. On Tuesday, he will deliver a speech titled "Foreign Policy in a Post-Saddam World: Rebuilding Our Alliances and Iraq" in Des Moines...."

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 15, 2003 10:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Very Model of a Modern Major Candidate

Dreamteam: "He's tanned, he's rested, he's ready."

Iowahawk has future history covered with:

Dem Campaign Heats Up As Saddam Tosses Hat In Ring

Des Moines, IA - Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and his upstart "Straight Talk Jihad" presidential campaign completed the third day of a campaign swing across the Hawkeye State Friday, buoyed by a new Des Moines Register poll showing growing support among core Democratic voters.

The latest Register Iowa Poll of likely Democratic caucus voters, conducted between July 27 and July 29, shows Saddam leading the field with 23% support, followed by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean with 17%, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry with 16%, and write-in candidate Pol Pot with 8%.

Saddam showed even higher positives on specific key Democratic issue items, such as "the candidate who cares most about people like me" (46%), "most likely to stop the war" (59%), and "most likely to feed Donald Rumsfeld into an industrial shredder" (71%).

It was a heady showing for a political outsider who only entered the race five days ago, and only seven days after surfacing at ACLU headquarters in Washington, D.C. to request political asylum. When he announced his candidacy at an International ANSWER anti-war rally in Portland, Oregon Monday, he was widely dismissed as a dark horse.

Instead, the fiery Iraqi ex-president has proven to be a formidable force on the stump, attracting large and enthusiastic crowds of party activists and injecting life into the moribund race for the Democratic presidential nomination, forcing party rivals to defensively modify their messages.

From dark horse to frontrunner

At an AFSCME union 'town hall' meeting in Davenport Thursday, Hussein garnered foot-stomping cheers when he promised to "send the president-select and his cronies in Washington a message - I am going to put America to work again, bring the troops back home, and roast their infidel bellies in a sea of flaming blood."

The entire vision is worth seeing HERE

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 15, 2003 8:06 AM | QuickLink: Permalink

(Click for larger image)

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 14, 2003 4:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Win $50.00! Three Days Left!

You'd think they'd see this one coming.

That's right. $50 American Dollars to the Best Photoshop Goof on images below. Contest ends on December 15, 2003.


Who will decide what's the Best? Hey, it's my money and I'll decide. But I will be fair and balanced. Promise. Read on.

Khoi Vinh's elegant Subtraction notes the predictably lame efforts of the New York Time's usual suspect designers to come up with inspiring:Posters for President

It was a charming idea for The New York Times Magazine to commission nine prominent graphic designers to design posters for one of the nine Democratic candidates vying for the presidential nomination, but charming is exactly the problem. Each designer drew a candidate’s name from a hat, so there was no deliberate synergy in politics or artistic temperament, which may explain why most all of these posters are so flat and lifeless, but it doesn’t explain why, first of all, almost none of these designers really bothered to address the central challenge of the exercise, and second, why a disproportionately high number are all drawn from the same source.

Take a stroll through the posters on the slide show and Photoshop them at will and with a vengeance. Then compress the image to a webable size. (+/- 50kb) and mail them to the Publisher at American Digest.

Rights? You own your own rights except that I get to reproduce entrants at will, once.

Fair enough? Fark or do Something Awful at will.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 13, 2003 8:37 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Robert Fulghum on Salt

The New Stories page from Robert Fulghum's web site continues to amuse, inform, and simply make you feel a little better and a little more human:


Common table salt is sodium chloride. One atom of sodium plus one atom of chlorine. It is the product of a reaction between hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide.

Uncommon, boutique table salt is the same stuff, just different in size and purity and additives. Simply said, it's all sea salt. Either mined below ground from deposits laid down by ancient oceans, or else collected from evaporation ponds -- with slight color and slight flavor differences depending on what is left in it -- remnants of soils and algae and minerals and stuff.

Still, salt is salt, chemically speaking.

So, then, you might ask why I have so many kinds of salt on my kitchen shelf? There's Kosher salt, fleur de sel from the Camargue region of France, black salt from India, fossil salt from Utah, and pink salt from Hawaii.

Answer: Poetry. Romance. Mental travel. A need for soul food.

Just this morning I shook a tiny spoonful of French sea salt harvested from the Mediterranean over my scrambled eggs. Made me think of a trip to Aigues Mort to watch the gypsy festival. Great memory.

In the same spirit I used brown eggs, not because they differ from white eggs on the inside, but because brown eggs are beautiful. The coffee beans I ground came from Ethiopia. And the water I used to make the coffee is Evian -- out of springs fed by French glaciers. The orange juice was squeezed from mandarins just in from Japan. Irish butter. Lemon marmalade from Spain. And a shot of seven-star Metaxa brandy from Greece.

Sitting at my breakfast table I traveled the world this morning. The ingredients were a bit pricey, but not by much, and it was cheaper than going out for breakfast. Above all, I set off into the dreary day in a lovely mood, digesting memories, salted away and preserved in mind and body.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 13, 2003 5:56 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And hey, what about that web site?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 13, 2003 5:17 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 13, 2003 11:14 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Subconscious Yearning for American Defeat

Roger Simon is on the money (again) with his summation of the American death wish that seems to operate on some subconscious level in much of the American media:

These days the media is referring to our adversaries in Iraq by the seemingly objective term "insurgents," a word Merriam-Webster OnLine defines as

1 : a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government; especially : a rebel not recognized as a belligerent
2 : one who acts contrary to the policies and decisions of one's own political party

Definition 2 does not seem to be relevant, but what about 1? Are the guerrillas in Iraq merely people revolting against civil authority or are they something more specific? According to virtually every report, they are Baathists and their sympathizers, Islamic fundamentalists and their sympathizers or paid thugs working for either or both of the foregoing two groups. So what are they all together? Quite simply they are fascists or at best fascist fellow travelers.

But the media never say the "F" word. They never write the "fascists" did this or that (as they certainly did in other wars). They persist in using the benign "insurgents." Why? I don't want to think that Noah Oppenheim is correct in writing that many in the media quite seriously don't want us to win, but tonight of all nights it seems more likely that could be so. As I type these words at ten p. m. PDT... maybe I missed something... maybe I didn't click far enough... but I see no reports of the large pro-democracy/anti-terror march of Iraqis in Baghdad today in tomorrow's New York Times or Washington Post or in the Los Angeles Times(at least on their websites). Or on the CNN site. Or on MSNBC.... Do you think for one moment that if thousands had been marching for Saddam... for the fascists... excuse me "insurgents"... it wouldn't have been front page news? I don't. What's going on?

One is tempted to say that "God only knows," but that's false. What's going on is a massive, subconscious desire on the part of thousands of our fellow Americans to ensure that America loses -- not only in Iraq, but in the wider First Terrorist War. But why?

The French have an idiomatic phrase nostalgie pour la boue which means, roughly, yearning for the mud. It's a compulsion that comes over people when they have, for complex reasons, a need to immerse themselves in self-degradation. It's usually a mix of drink, drugs, and weird sex until the soul is obliterated by the abused flesh. Most people try this sort of thing a time or few in their youth, but soon grow out of it when time and experience get the upper hand. Others grow out of it via deep psychoanalysis and a few trips to the rehab clinic. Many, however, never kick it and were, in the past, thought of as "perverts" but are now more kindly seen as "differently minded."

A minority of the last group make a career of nostalgie pour la boue and are generally known as "celebrities."

There's a lot of cross-over of all kinds between celebrity culture and media culture. Indeed, at a lot of levels, it is becoming hard to tell them apart. Both live, for the most part, in an insulated bubble that is impervious to moral, psychological, or political change or exacts the penalty of expulsion from the bubble in the event of such change.

I'd like to suggest that there's another kind nostalgie going around in this hybrid culture:nostalgie pour la défaite.

Nostalgie pour la défaite is that state of the soul when an American, who either came of age in the Vietnam era, or who was taught and mentored by a leftist or liberal of that vintage, yearns for the defeat of America. This state is then seen as confirmation that his or her world view and social milieu is the right view and right milieu. To operate otherwise would throw not only all the professional views and actions of the last thirty years into question, but the entire structure of the afflicted personality as well.

An America that is ascendant rather than retiring, an America whose policies are aggressive and not apologetic, is an America they are simply unequipped to inhabit or report on. They have, quite frankly, an empty tool box when it comes to this task and no raw materials with which to build.

American media personalities and American celebrities with nostalgie pour la défaite are derived from decades of beliefs in an America that is best as a "pitiful, helpless Giant." It is literally the only America they know and their entire professional and personal lives, from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, from the Hamptons to Beverly Hills are based on this grand assumption. They've had Presidents that, commuting to and from these locales, have confirmed it to them. Their coworkers in their jobs confirm it to them. Their significant others, drawn from the same ranks, confirm it to them. The parties they attend, the awards they give and receive, the places they vacation, the books they read and the films they make and see, all confirm it to them over and over again. It is not only the only America they know, it is the only America they can know.

Anything that confirms the nostalgie pour la défaite is news they can use. Anything that does not, is not, by definition, news at all.

The result is not that they are "bad" Americans. They are simply Americans raised and trained to desire that, in all things, America should lose and become less of an important force in the world. The results of a weaker America do not concern them. It is only important that America remains weak and hamstrung.

What do they propose in its place? The short form for their vision of the future is "an empowered United Nations." At which point they step from nostalgie pour la défaite into nostalgie pour la boue -- the yearning for the mud. In the final analysis, it isn't that big a step.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 11, 2003 3:28 PM | Comments (32)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Real Radicalism
"The matter on which I judge people is their willingness, or ability, to handle contradiction.... It's important to try and contain multitudes.... The only real radicalism in our time will come as it always has - from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject party-mindedness."
-- Christopher Hitchens

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 11, 2003 12:27 PM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Fear of Fritterware: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Last night I had one of the most frightening dreams a man in 2003 can have. I dreamt that someone, who hated me very deeply, got me a new computer for Christmas. I woke up screaming, but the dream persisted. The horror! The horror!

A new computer! I could just see it. It had everything: a speed so fast that it was measured in googlehertz rather than megahertz, more ram than the entire sheep population of New Zealand, a hard drive bigger than the Great Plains, and a megaplex sized-monitor capable of displaying 2.5 trillion ordinary colors at warp six. A broadband connection so huge it could suck the Library of Congress dry in a nanosecond. The CPU was covered in sable. The keyboard fashioned from rare woods. The wireless mouse was surgically implanted in my finger tip so all I had to do was gesture mystically.

It got worse.

This Christmas puppy came loaded with Fritterware. It had Pantless OS, BrokenWindows 2010, HomelessOffice 2004, Internet Deplorer, Fretscape, Opensource Godzilla, iEverthingEverywhere and Pong. The Paperclip was back as the host of a computer training program aptly named RageMaker. When I opened the box in my nightmare my first impulse was to rip open all the other presents in hopes that someone had given me a gun so I could just shoot myself.

Nothing is worse than life itself than a fully loaded new computer, and I've been using them for nearly 20 years. Setting up a new computer is like getting ready to French Kiss an elephant; you know it will be a new experience, but you know it won’t taste like veal cordon blue.

I presently own and operate three computers (One hopefully named "Power Macintosh.") I hate all of them in a separate but equal ways. I am not alone.

Given the desperation of AOL (“Available Now:A “free” computer with only one year of six million popup ads!”), the Piranaesque Dell feeding frenzy, and the return of Web TV (Just Right for Grandma and so simple from Microsoft!), I know that all over the world this holiday season, millions upon millions of people will be receiving new computers, and that they will truly be the "gifts that keep on giving." Their gifts will be confusion, puzzlement, frustration, despair, disgust, and homicidal rage. As people across the globe attempt to install backup drives, get modems to dial, configure wireless networks, cheat at Solitaire, and sign-up over the telephone lines for America Online Sometimes, suicide hotlines will begin jam as human beings come face to face, not for the first time, with the only machine in history that makes its customers into human lab animals. And makes them pay thousands of dollars for the pain.

How did we get here?

Why have we become a world of sheep begging the Bill Gates' of the Silicon City to not only clip us, use us, keep us on hold to their aptly name "Help Lines" for hours at a time, and then clip us again with "upgrades" to programs that are less than six months old?

When did we become like junkies who don't even get the first one free, but have to go back time and again to get the latest, greatest, fastest version of something we didn't really need in the first place?

How did we lose our sense of time being of at least some marginal value so that we patiently endure the loathsome America Online message, "Please Wait While We Download New Art."

The truth is that, over the last 20 years that personal computers have been a part of our lives, we have been trained to expect computers to fail. We’ve accepted that they will screw around with our lives and our fortunes. We have slowly and without any organized protest, been suckered into being the Beta Testers for new software and hardware that not only screws up in predictable ways, but is known by the manufacturers to screw up in predictable ways ("The inability for the program to connect with the Internet? Oh yes, that's a known bug. We’ll have a patch soon. Just connect to Internet and download it.")

If General Motors were to release an automobile whose steering wheel froze without warning, whose engine took three minutes to load and start itself and then came to a halt when turning left and going downhill five percent of the time, whose windshield suddenly went from clear to black, whose trunk made ten percent of the things put inside disappear forever, whose radio went on and off without warning, and whose passenger compartment came with a dog that ate homework daily, and whose Owner's Guide was the size of a phone book printed in Farsi, would the consumers of the world line up in droves screeching “Feed Me!”?

If life is brief, how can we go on and on spending oceans of time dicking around with what is, for most people, only a very expensive version of an electric typewriter, adding machine, and mailbox? What can be the reason behind the thirst of millions to own computers with more and more features to fail, and software programs whose primary advance over the previous program is to enable you to put a drop-cap in a thank you note while secretly mailing your credit card numbers to Bob’s Wild World O’ Porn in Bosnia?

It can only be that besides being junkies and sheep, computer users are also masochists willing to pay for being abused, degraded, humiliated and made to feel as if we hand the intellectual capacity of a planeria.

Well, this worm is turning. I, for one, am kicking the habit, leaving the barnyard, and getting the whiphand. After almost 20 years of getting bigger, "better," more powerful computers, I am now going to search for a smaller, slower, more dependable model. I want to find the way-new old computer.

Here are the specs for the computer I really want for Christmas:

1) I want it to go on and off with the touch of a button like a light or a television.
2) I want the mouse to go where I steer it.
3) I want the monitor to be big and bright and never fail.
4) I want ALL the drivers in place so I can drive it.
5) I want it to save everything I do in the background all the time so I never lose anything.
6) I want it to keep track of everything and never lose anything.
7) I want to never again see an error message that reads "Memory Fault at 000E461"( Nobody knows what that means, not even Bill Gates, but the preferred translation is "Neener, neener, neener!").
8) I never want to wait to wait “while we download new art” again.
9) I don’t want to see “There’s a 40 megabyte $99.00 upgrade for this software. Download?” I want the software to be finished when I buy it the first time.
10) I don't want it to eat my homework, I want it to do my homework.
11) I want it bug free, freeze free, and fritter free the first time.
12) I want it to cost about what a decent 21 inch color TV costs and be just as quick and easy to operate.
13) I want it to listen to and understand my voice so I can never again feel I have to run Typing Tutor just to answer my email.
14) I want it to incinerate the junk email that fills up my hard-drive quicker than you can say "Make Money Fast." and send a letterbomb to spammer.
15) I want all the technoblather that this machines fills the world with to just stop right now! I never, ever, again want to wake up in the middle of the night staring at the ceiling thinking, "JAVA? What is it and why do I have to care about it?"

Personal computers for human beings have been around for over twenty years and it is long past time for the industry's 'experimental' phase to end. It’s time for everyone who is tempted to buy a new computer to just say, "We're mad as hell about being roadkill on the Information Highway and we're not going to buy in any longer! Use some of your billions to make these machines fit for human consumption before you dump them on the market, or we're going to force our governments to issue global recalls on these tainted, virus ridden rotten machines! If they can do it to beef, they can do it to silicon."

Now you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. This Christmas my computer nightmare comes to an end. Unless of course I get a copy of something like Uru, in which case I'll be right next to you on hold for an hour at the Uru help line.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 11, 2003 11:12 AM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Okay, Jordanian Olives are OFF the Gift List

Jordanian farmer , Mohammad Ibrahim, rests with his olive harvest displayed for sale on a rural highway outside Amman December 10, 2003. Olives are a major Jordanian crop and the vines a symbol of continuity on land tended by rural families for generations.

-- Yahoo News

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 10, 2003 10:58 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Understatement of the Month
"It's about time a transvestite potter won the Turner Prize," said Perry, who appeared at the prize ceremony in a lilac dress with puffed sleeves.

"I think the art world had more difficulty coming to terms with me being a potter than my choice of frocks," he joked, before adding: "I only want to thank one person, my wife Philippa. She's been my best editor, sponsor, supporter and mainly my lover. Thank you."

We're pleased that the Turner Award has once again broken new ground. If only they'd fill in the holes after.

-- Transvestite Potter Wins Turner Prize

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 10, 2003 10:52 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landings there."


Nuclear Spacecraft to Explore Jupiter's Moons

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- NASA plans to dispatch a hulking nuclear-powered spacecraft to determine whether three of Jupiter's icy, planet-sized moons have the potential to harbor life.

The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, or Jimo, would spend monthlong stints circling the moons Callisto, Europa and Ganymede, which are believed to have vast oceans tucked beneath thick covers of ice.

The unmanned craft, far larger and more powerful than any other sent to explore the outer solar system, would spend years studying the moons' makeup, geologic history and potential for sustaining life, as well as Jupiter itself. .... More

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 9, 2003 6:20 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
If. And. Then.

Al Gore invented the Internet,
The Internet created Howard Dean,
Al Gore invented Howard Dean.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 9, 2003 3:15 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Just Plain Wonderful

Tired of Amazon, Best Buy and the host of other big retailers in your hunt for great gifts? We recommend, without reservation, Wm Hocker Toy Soldiers for boys of any age.

HEREIN WE PRESENT, FOR THE 20TH YEAR, TOY SOLDIERS of remarkable quality and historical interest, manufactured of the finest materials & most painstakingly executed.

Our Models are finished in the distinctive style of Mr. William Britain, Junr. of London, England. Although formed of solid-cast tin rather than the hollow-cast metal for which Mr. Britain is justly renowned, it may be said that in both general & detailed appearance our Toy Soldiers most faithfully recollect the character of those they seek to emulate. We call our customer's particular attention to the correctness of proportion & pose, the trueness of colouring & application of paintwork, the exactness of jointure & assemblage, the authenticity of grouping, presentation & boxing. While no longer recommended for small children, it should also be noted that, like those of our predecessor, our Goods are to be enjoyed as toys: our artillery pieces fire, our limbers roll, our arms move, etc.
Too late for special orders, but there are still plenty of sets in stock at: Currently Available.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 9, 2003 2:59 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Free Nostalgia for Nerds: The Perfect Holiday Gift

Bend, fold and mutilate at will.

jef poskanzer at has an offer you can't refuse for the hardcore nerd on your list. And it is at a price that you can afford: Free Punch Cards

I actually used these things back in the early days of computing. After they became obsolete I continued to use them as note cards and book marks. A few years ago I ran out, and looked around to see if I could find some more. It turns out that a couple companies still make them, for use by legacy systems. The smallest batch they were willing to sell me was 10,000 cards for around $200. I figured, what the hell. So now I have vastly more than a lifetime supply, and I am pleased to give them away.

Note: each card comes complete with CHAD! You have to punch it yourself though.

Details at the link above.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 9, 2003 2:35 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Tell Me Again About the Pleasures of the Home Office

For some months now, the editorial offices of American Digest have been blessed with a very agressive program of renovation of the street directly outside the window. This morning, however, it reached previously unimagined heights of clamor, hammer, rasp, blast, roar, tintinnabulation and din with:

The Street Renovation Trifecta!: (left to right) The Bobcat with the GRINDING OF THE PAVEMENT instrument of torture, the skipjack loader for LIFTING UP LARGE AMOUNTS OF RUBBLE AND SHAKING THEM AROUND FOR NO REASON, the big white truck with the HUGE WIRE BRISTLES for SCRAPING AND

Just as we were about to throw ourselves off a nearby cliff, a friend saved our sanity by one simple question: "Do you have an Ipod?" FOREHEAD SLAP! Result: Pink Floyd never sounded better. I have become comfortably numb.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 9, 2003 1:47 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"At first light tomorrow, I want you to attack into Baghdad."

And gentlemen in England, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Henry the Fifth; IV,III

Donald Sensing points to a riveting story in the Los Angeles Times saying:"The battle for Baghdad was one of the pre-eminent feats of American arms in the history of the US armed forces. Only 975 infantrymen, tanker and support personnel spearheaded the whole attack."

The article, The Thunder Run is without a doubt the most detailed report to date on the critical moments of the war.

Over the radio net, Twitty had heard the tank battalions in the city celebrating and discussing the wine collections at Saddam's palaces. He was only a few miles away, at a Highway 8 interchange code-named Objective Larry, but he was in the fight of his life. Twitty had survived the first Gulf War, but he had never encountered anything like this.

His men were being pounded from all directions -- by small arms, mortars, RPGs, gun trucks, recoilless rifles. The two tank battalions had punched through Highway 8, but now the enemy had regrouped and was mounting a relentless counterattack against Twitty's mechanized infantry battalion.

As he scratched out his battle plan, Twitty spotted an orange-and-white taxi speeding toward his Bradley. A man in the back seat was firing an AK-47. Twitty screamed into the radio: "Taxi! Taxi coming!"

He realized how absurd he sounded. So he shouted at his Bradley gunner: "Slew the turret and fire!" The gunner spotted the taxi and fired a blast of 25mm rounds. The taxi blew up. It had been loaded with explosives.
Take the time to read it all.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 9, 2003 12:56 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Democratic Confusion Intensifies
"While the address was billed as a major speech on race, only a handful of the audience members were black. The pre-printed signs, "African-Americans for Dean," were held by white supporters."
-- Chicago Tribune | Jackson helps Dean in South Carolina

Pointer via Best of the Web.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 8, 2003 2:37 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Phrase and Who Pays

Felix Salmon has some solid points and wise predictions in: "War": What is it good for?

Which brings us, of course, to the "war on terror". I think that one of the differences between conservatives and liberals is that the former consider the war on terror to be a bit like the trains and the restaurants:not, perhaps, the kind of war you're used to, but a genuine war all the same. Whereas the liberals are more likely to consider it to be a metaphor, and are therefore much more likely to get upset when the US does something like invade a foreign country in its name.

And in fact, I think that many of the disagreements about the Bush administration's foreign policy basically come down to this largely semantic question. The hawks are saying "don't you understand, we're at war here", while the doves are saying "no, the 'war on terror' is a rhetorical device, not a prima facie justification for invading whomever you want".

Of course, we can all agree that the US military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq were real wars, with real troops losing their lives in battles for the control of foreign countries. But the decision to go to war in those countries is maybe not as difficult to make if you consider yourself to be at war anyway. Looked at from that point of view, Afghanistan and Iraq are important parts of a much bigger war, rather than unprovoked and probably illegal invasions of independent states.

As a general rule, I think it's probably safe to say that how you read the phrase "war on terror" is a very good predictor of how you'll vote. Literalists will vote to re-elect the present administration, while those who consider the phrase to be more metaphorical are likely to vote Democratic.

This is bad news for the Democrats, I think. Whoever ends up running against Bush is going to have a very hard time of things trying to persuade Middle America that the war on terror is a metaphor -- especially when most undecided voters are unlikely to even know what a metaphor is.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 8, 2003 2:28 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something to See

This morning before dawn I had drifted back for the third time to a series of disturbing dreams. Dreams always disturb when they take place in some distorted mindmap of Las Vegas -- even if you are winning, which I was not.

Then, drowsing in the warm dark, I sensed my wife bending over me and felt her breath on my cheek as she whispered, “Wake up, there’s something you have to see.”

Groaning to myself, I rose and slipped on my robe to follow her down the stairs into the kitchen. She’d made coffee and stationed herself on a stool in front of the sink. She handed me a cup and turned towards the kitchen window. “Out there,” she said.

Our modest house is high on a hill overlooking Laguna Beach in Southern California. There are no street lights up here so we always have the town and the ocean spread out below us. We can see over the town and up the coast to the northwest. Outside are the hills beyond Laguna, the lateral shafts of towns extending out up to Long Beach, Catalina Island and scattered about like guardian lightships the flares and beams from the drilling platforms.

Above the sink is a small horizontal window common to kitchens made in the late 50s and early 60s. It’s a small window but this morning it framed something extraordinary.

Overnight the full moon had curved down the dark sky until it began, at just the right moment and just the right angle, to catch the first light of the sun rising over the coast range behind the Laguna Hills.

At that time and in that place, the moon painted a long pale orange swath on the sea and hovered red gold above the coastline. Far below you could see the Pacific Coast highway as it rose up out of Laguna and carried the cars of people leaving early for work up the slope and out of sight, their red tail lights pulsing against the darker streak of the avenue.

And for a few instants, the window, the moon, the coast and the ocean and the avenue aligned so perfectly that you could believe that stream of cars commuting from the town to their unknowable destinations were rising up, commuting ever so gracefully to the moon.

Just once. Never again. Something to see.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 8, 2003 11:03 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Who Says There's No Good News?

U.N. control of Web rejected

GENEVA -- The United States, backed by the European Union, Japan and Canada, has turned back a bid by developing nations to place the Internet under the control of the United Nations or its member governments.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 8, 2003 10:05 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
WAPO Admits Turkey Story Was a Turkey

The Washington Post's ombudsman asks Was This Turkey a Story? and agrees it was:

One or two readers e-mailed to thank Allen for staying on top of all the details of what one reader called "staged" events. But far more readers said this was a form of "chicken" rather than turkey, as in: "This has got to be one of the most insipid, petty, chicken-[expletive] articles that I have ever seen. What is going on with your newspaper?" Another said it was "sad," and a Navy officer wrote to say that it was "a cheap shot," and that there are always "staged" turkeys for such mass feedings to add a "homey" touch when you have to feed hundreds from steam tables....

As a reader, I found the story confusing. I'm all for revealing everything any White House does to use imagery as a form of governance. Allen points out that this administration has had to deal with issues small (the turkey) and large (the missing weapons of mass destruction) with respect to credibility. He reports the turkey photo episode "as a small sign of the many ways the White House maximized the impact of the 21/2-hour stop at the Baghdad airport." But the story also reports officials saying they didn't know the decorative turkey was there or that Bush would pick it up, and that the bird was placed there to adorn the table and not in anticipation of the secret trip.

On balance, I applaud Allen's attention to detail. But I don't think the story made the case that this was "a small sign of the many ways the White House maximized the impact" of the trip. Maybe it was planned, maybe not. It would have been better just to record the known details of the saga and let the reader figure out whether it meant anything.

Which is an in-house ombudsman's way of saying, "Just the facts, Allen."

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 8, 2003 9:45 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Cheating Continues at Wizbang

This morning one could find the following announcement at the top of a blog names in Wizbang's Compromised Weblog Awards:

" the 2003 Weblog Awards category Best New Blog. Head on over and check out the entrants, find some favorites for further reading, and vote. This process is going on all week and you can vote every 12 hours."
Over at Wizbang there's lots of folks that think this little "technical feature" isn't "cheating." I don't know what civics class they took in elementary school, nor their opinion on the Florida voting in the 2000 Presidential elections, but it seems clear they must be of the ilk that proclaims "eating ain't cheating" as well. If I were their significant others, I'd be very disappointed.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 8, 2003 8:42 AM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Really? Who?

In a long cover story, How billions in oil money spawned a global terror network, U.S. News tells us:

Saudi largess encouraged U.S. officials to look the other way, some veteran intelligence officers say. Billions of dollars in contracts, grants, and salaries have gone to a broad range of former U.S. officials who had dealt with the Saudis: ambassadors, CIA station chiefs, even cabinet secretaries.
It would be nice to have a little list ... if only for historic purposes.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 8, 2003 7:30 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Gigapixel Grand Canyon

A friend told me about this, but seeing is believing. Even better is reading about how it was done. Check out Breaking the Gigapixel Barrier and be amazed.

How much detail does it contain? Much, much more than would be captured by any conventional digital camera...even those that cost more than a new car. For example, the Canon 1Ds (about $8,000) captures 11 megapixels, while the BetterLight Super 10K-2 scanning back (camera not included!) captures 140 megapixels, but costs about $25,000. I also believe that a gigapixel image surpasses what even die-hard admirers of large format photography argue is possible with large format cameras. For more thoughts on this subject, you might also want to read this essay.

Here's another way to think about it. Given that the resolving power of the human eye (under ideal conditions at the center of the retina) is about 1 arcminute (1/60th of one degree), this image captures considerably more detail than I (or any other normal sighted human) was able to see with my eye when standing on the overlook at Bryce Point. Assuming one pixel per arcminute, an image with dimensions of 3780 x 2485 would suffice to capture the amount of detail that the naked eye could resolve. This image has more than 100 times this detail. Looking at the full sized digital image, one is able to see things that might have been difficult or impossible to spot, even when using binoculars.

He's got some samples to show you.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 7, 2003 12:12 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Chomsky:"Who Are You Going to Believe? Me or Your Lying Eyes?"

From the Independent's question fest with Noam Chomsky

"Is anti-Semitism on the increase?" --Ricardo Parreira, London

[Chomsky]: "In the West, fortunately, it scarcely exists now, though it did in the past."

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 7, 2003 11:03 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Blog Cheating Gets a Pass at Wizbang

Since there's no money in blogging, recognition is a big deal. And "recognition" means "awards" and "awards" mean "polls and rankings" which mean, pure and simple, cheating. But cheating that is never really, really punished only admonished. Which of course taints the awards but since recognition is the pay for blogging everybody just lets it slide. Last week, N.Z. Bear's blog ranking system was gamed. This week Kevin Aylward's Weblog awards were terminally tainted by cheating. But does that mean the contest is dumped as it should be? Not in Wizbang's Wide World O' Cheating:

Never prosper. I know who it is and it's been fixed.

If you think it will help your favorite site you are wrong. I'll be lopping off the cheaters votes. If I can't exactly figure out what the correct total should be I'll reset it to the last total I remember.

Let's read that again, very slow-ly.

1) The awards were tainted by wide-spread and high-volume cheating. You can't call for "do-overs" but you can "know who it is."
2) You can also assert, blithe spirit that you are, that "'s been fixed."
3) Since the initial problem with the contest was that 'it was fixed' from the start, the assertion that it has been fixed doesn't fill one with a warm, confident feeling.
4) Kevin asserts that he'll be lopping off votes on his own and that if he can't be exact he'll trust his memory of votes in numerous categories and numerous sites and use that number instead.

Am I the only one who believes that this whole charade has now ascended into the realms of fantasy? The right thing to do would be to take the whole thing down. But is that happening? Not right now.

As Kevin has no doubt discovered the only thing better for circulation than awards is a scandal about awards.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 7, 2003 10:11 AM | Comments (19)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Kerry's Way-New Conspiracy Theory

John Kerry is taking his ball and going home. But not before he takes a few Parthian shots in one of the nation's worst magazines, Rolling Stone:

Did you feel you were blindsided by Dean's success?

Well, not blindsided. I mean, when I voted for the war, I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, "I'm against everything"? Sure. Did I expect George Bush to fuck it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did.

Do you see Dean as the next George McGovern? It's being said that the Republicans are foaming at the mouth to go against Dean.

Republicans have been contributing to Dean's campaign on the Internet...

That's right. The Republicans, that highly net savvy group, have been using the Internet to crush John Kerry by giving money to Howard Dean online! No wonder Dean is doing so well. He's able to milk money out of Republicans! And between a President that can "f**k it up" and a doctor that can squeeze moola out of Republicans, what can a poor boy do?

Alas poor Lurch, we knew him well.
UPDATE: You've got to wonder, in advance of Monday, if Rush Limbaugh will move from calling Kerry "the French-looking Senator" to "the "Pardon-My-French" Senator?

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 7, 2003 9:58 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Commenting back on but moderated. This means it can take a while to show up.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 6, 2003 9:21 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why is the Patriotism of the Left Off the Table?

Responding to an article about Patriotism at Robert Prather's site, Spoons raises an interesting point in SPEAKING ILL OF THE LEFT

Should conservatives really not question the patriotism of much of the Left? Frankly, I've never understood the taboo. To my way of thinking, this is a really neat trick that the Left has pulled off. They take their most vulnerable weakness, and convince everyone that it's rude to talk about it.

I'll give an example: Jimmy Carter. The man cozies up to the worst of America's enemies, and bad-mouths us all around the world. I absolutely do question his patriotism, and won't apologize for it. I do not believe that he thinks the United States is a fundamentally good country. The same would go for Dennis Kucinich, or Al Sharpton, or Sheila Jackson Lee, to name a few others. I likewise don't see how any of those involved with the communist anti-American anti-semites at A.N.S.W.E.R. can be called patriots. I don't believe any of these people honestly love this country. Is it wrong to say so?

Spoons is correct in noting that the Left running a pretty good street hustle in moving this item off the table. But then language control is one of their favorite tricks and they are quite good at it. (Having been a member of the Left in the distant past gave me a number of opportunities to watch this tool used to great effectiveness.)

Perhaps we shouldn't be too ready to give up the point that there is such a thing as being unpatriotic in this day and age. Perhaps we need to see that there are acts that reasonable Americans can see as not only unpatriotic but treasonous. That's not to say that seeing treason and trying Treason are the same thing.

To conflate the two is another slight of hand item the left is good at. One the one hand "Treason" considered as a crime is something for a Federal Court. As we learned in the Johnny Taliban from Marin episode, Treason has very specific requirements in order to be prosecuted.

But the crime of Treason on the part of the government and the perception of attitudes, actions and expressions that seem to the private individual to be treasonous are not the same. I could, if I wished, stand in front of the Carter Library announcing Jimmy Carter as a traitor to his country and his God. That would be within my right. I would, however, have no power to try and punish Mr. Carter. That would be only within the gift of the government and I don't think they're up for it at the present time.

Likewise a charge of being "unpatriotic" is the same only, I imagine, of a softer key. While a traitor is obviously unpatriotic, a person may be unpatriotic but not be a traitor.

In a way, the confusion of this is similar to the "innocent until proven guilty" meme that permeates talk shows and converstation. A court must treat an accused person as innocent until proven guilty. A citizen is under no such obligation.

Convincing people that one can criticize the United States and never, ever, be tagged as "unpatriotic" is a neat trick. But it only works as long as people buy it.

Me, I'm fresh out of spare change for this bit of linguistic 3-card monte.

The next time I'm confronted with a person who tells me, "You cannot question my patriotism!," I'm going to ask him just what part of the right to free speech he fails to understand.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 6, 2003 2:37 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
More Crushing of Dissent at Harvard
Prominent liberal activist and historian Howard Zinn told a packed lecture hall last night that history proves the American occupation of Iraq is unjust....

"I was about to say that people at Harvard have always responded well [to social issues] from the president on down but that's not so,"he said.

Zinn wrapped up his argument by accusing the U.S. government of exhibiting "a whiff of fascism."

"Bush, Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, they are all terrorists," he said.

--The Harvard Crimson

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 6, 2003 11:51 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
We Are All Picasso Now

Homage to Senor P.

Okay, okay, it's a very bad Picasso. But even Picasso had his off days.

You think being Picasso is easy? Take a shot at Ruder Finn's Mr. Picassohead

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 6, 2003 9:15 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Great Moments in Campaign Appearences

Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.,
casts a shadow on the flag as he is introduced to speak at
a rally Monday, Dec. 1, 2003, at the police station in Cedar
Rapids, Iowa.

Okay, what's Gephardt got that Dean hasn't?

Via: Yahoo! News

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 6, 2003 8:23 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"A Macabre Parody of Moore's Law."

"If you look at trends in software, you see a macabre parody of Moore's Law. The expense of giant software projects, the rate at which they fall behind schedule as they expand, the rate at which large projects fail and must be abandoned, and the monetary losses due to unpredicted software problems are all increasing precipitously. Of all the things you can spend a lot of money on, the only things you expect to fail frequently are software and medicine. That's not a coincidence, since they are the two most complex technologies we try to make as a society."
--Jaron Lanier

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 6, 2003 7:26 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Well Seen World of Bill Hocker

Eugene, Oregon 1975

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

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

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

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

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 6, 2003 1:08 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Where Bush Hate is Heading

A minor moron moment making its way on the talk shows today are the new lyrics by Eminem:
"F--k money. I don't rap for dead presidents.
I'd rather see the president dead.
It's never been said,
but I set precedents and the standards
and they can't stand it. ...
We as Americans. Us as a citizen.
We've got to protect ourselves ..."

Even though written to be brain fade of the month, the lyrics encapsulate where Bush Hate is going.

Bush Hate, at the rate of festering intensity currently observable, is headed towards only one singular event: An attempt on the life of George W. Bush by an American citizen.

We've had our fun with the "Extraordinary and Popular Delusions of Crowds Democratic" in the last few days. Nor have others been slow in mapping the decline of the party to the level of Raving Bull Goose Lunacy.

But as we see time and again, words are actions and actions have consquences.

As Americans, we assume that the terrorist enemies of our country would like nothing better than to assassinate the President of the United States. We can only hope that the Secret Service and all those entrusted with his protection have taken extraordinary precautions to protect him and prevent such an event from ever taking place.

Even so, as we have learned several times in my lifetime, no security arrangements are flawless, and while you can protect rationally against rational threats, the game can fall apart when you are dealing with people who are manifestly insane and do not need to live.

We expect our enemies to hate the President and to seek to do him harm. We do not expect members of the loyal opposition to allow their rhetoric and their "cultural standard bearers" such as Eminem ("I set precedents and the standards...") to poison the political system to the level that some of their misguided ilk take it upon themselves to take a shot at Bush "for the sake of the greater good."

Yet Bush hate is leading is to that point. It may be that we get through the next year without seeing the headline: BUSH KILLED. I pray that it is so. At the same time, would you be surprised?

Given the tenor of the tunes being sung by the Democrats, I'd just remember that I read here, today, the lyric: 'I'd rather see the President dead...' done in the name of "We as Americans. Us as a citizen."
UPDATE: Orson Scott Card puts some more grist in this mill with: The Campaign of Hate and Fear

"Watching the primary campaigns among this year's pathetic crop of Democratic candidates, I can't help but think that their campaigns would be vastly improved if they would only rise to the level of "Death to the Republicans."

"Instead, their platforms range from Howard Dean's "Bush is the devil" to everybody else's "I'll make you rich and Bush is quite similar to the devil."

"Since Bush is quite plainly not the devil, one wonders why anyone in the Democratic Party thinks this ploy will play with the general public."

UPDATE 2:Secret Service checks Eminem's 'dead president' lyric - Dec. 6, 2003
"The Secret Service is trying to determine if any action needs to be taken regarding a lyric from rapper Eminem that may be a threat to President Bush....


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 5, 2003 5:47 PM | Comments (138)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Most Horrifying Headline of the Month So Far

U.N. Summit to Focus on Internet

--Washington Post

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 5, 2003 5:30 PM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Burning Down the House


adj. Relating to the intense anger felt by activists within the U.S. Democratic party, particularly regarding the results of the 2000 presidential election and the Florida recount (cf. "white-hot").blue hot n. Such a Democratic party activist.

Example Citation: "Among the general electorate, ordinary people who don't follow politics too much, Florida 2000 is already part of history. You may as well be talking about the Punic Wars," says Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College. "But for Democratic activists, it's very much alive."

Indeed, Professor Pitney sees the recount as sparking a "blue-hot" sentiment among the Democratic base -- a reference to the intensity of the "fire" burning on the left, and the fact that these voters hail from "blue" states -- that has dominated the primary battle so far.

"The Democrats are angry," he says. "The recall is a blue-hot issue; the Texas redistricting is a blue-hot issue. And of course, Dean is the blue-hot candidate." -- Liz Marlantes, "How anger over Florida recount still roils politics," The Christian Science Monitor, September 18, 2003

Via The Word Spy

Hold tight wait till the party's over
Hold tight We're in for nasty weather
There has got to be a way
Burning down the house

-- Talking Heads Burning Down The House

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 5, 2003 1:06 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Democratic Slide Into Mental Illness Continues...

As American Digest noted a few days ago in Liberalosis , the mental state of Democrats is deteriorating. Now the worst aspects of the dread disease that kills and cripples millions of Americans this election year has struck the current front runner, Howard Dean.

Dr. Charles Krauthammer runs the diagnosis this monring in The Delusional Dean

Diane Rehm: "Why do you think he [Bush] is suppressing that [Sept. 11] report?"

Howard Dean: "I don't know. There are many theories about it. The most interesting theory that I've heard so far -- which is nothing more than a theory, it can't be proved -- is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis. Now who knows what the real situation is?"
-- "The Diane Rehm Show," NPR, Dec. 1

It has been 25 years since I discovered a psychiatric syndrome (for the record: "Secondary Mania," Archives of General Psychiatry, November 1978), and in the interim I haven't been looking for new ones. But it's time to don the white coat again. A plague is abroad in the land.

Bush Derangement Syndrome: the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush.

Now, I cannot testify to Howard Dean's sanity before this campaign, but five terms as governor by a man with no visible tics and no history of involuntary confinement is pretty good evidence of a normal mental status. When he avers, however, that "the most interesting" theory as to why the president is "suppressing" the Sept. 11 report is that Bush knew about Sept. 11 in advance, it's time to check on thorazine supplies.

When Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) first broached this idea before the 2002 primary election, it was considered so nutty it helped make her former representative McKinney. Today the Democratic presidential front-runner professes agnosticism as to whether the president of the United States was tipped off about 9/11 by the Saudis, and it goes unnoticed. The virus is spreading.

It is, of course, epidemic in New York's Upper West Side and the tonier parts of Los Angeles, where the very sight of the president -- say, smiling while holding a tray of Thanksgiving turkey in a Baghdad mess hall -- caused dozens of cases of apoplexy in otherwise healthy adults. What is worrying epidemiologists about the Dean incident, however, is that heretofore no case had been reported in Vermont, or any other dairy state.

We don't know where this is leading in the next few weeks, but in the next year it can only lead to confinement of a once proud national party in a small room without any power whatsoever for at least four years.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 5, 2003 11:25 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
No Great Publisher Goes Unpunished

Yesterday during a conversation with a friend I found myself saying that the really great publishers of the world have one thing in common: they know when to stop publishing this or that title.

I've worked for several publishers in what might be called 'my career' but is otherwise known as 'a job,' but I've never been fortunate enough to work for one that has that great trait. Usually, they just keep publishing like the drinking bird bobbing over the glass.

Lord Black, from all that I've known about him, is not one of the latter but one of the former. As such he is the natural enemy of journalists since that ragtag army of scribes depends on weak publishers to keep their checks flowing. The result is that, once the ragtags sense blood in these waters they just can't keep away. Hang around book and magazine publishing houses long enough and you'll learn that every single editor, writer and employee down to the guy who waters the plants knows more about publishing than the publisher. And they can be right, sometimes. But neither usually or nor frequently.

But when there's lots of blood in the water as there is with the Black embroglio, the urge to snap up great wads of chum cannot be resisted even by the best journalists. Reading the WSJ's hamhanded report on Black's troubles the other day, I couldn't help but think I was watching scavengers at work. This morning, R. Emmett Tyrrell, who has no little experience in these matters takes the same tone is looking at the Press pile-on in Black board Ado

"Hit 'em when they're down," is our motto. "Pile on," is our hearty exhortation. Who are we? We are the noble souls of the press. We are the self-described heroes, who write "history's first draft" as daily journalism is called. Yes, perhaps old Henry Ford had something when he described history as "bunk."

    I may write in newspapers every week -- when I am not writing in magazines or writing books -- but I am quite confident I am not a member of the press corps. I only "hit 'em" when they are standing and capable of hitting back. I would never "pile on."

    I avoid group things, and besides there is something cowardly about the journalists' feeding frenzy.

    Today the press is piling on in its coverage of the British and North American press tycoon Conrad Black. The journalists have found Mr. Black's disagreements with members of his boards at his Hollinger corporations have put him under scrutiny by government agencies, and so they "hit 'im while he's down."

It's the high and the mighty brought down theme, over and over again. You'd think that a business that spends so much time praising itself and so much effort constructing ethical microscopes to examine ever finer photos of its own navel lint would be able to construct a tale that moves upward instead of downward. You might think that, but, in the immortal words of Richard Nixon, "It would be WRONG."

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 5, 2003 9:25 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Copperheads of the Civil War
American politics during the war form a wildly confused story, so intricate that it cannot be made clear in a brief statement.

But this central fact may be insisted upon: in the North, there were two political groups that were the poles around which various other groups revolved and combined, only to fly asunder and recombine, with all the maddening inconstancy of a kaleidoscope.

The two irreconcilable elements were the "war party" made up ofdetermined men resolved to see things through, and the "copperheads"* who for one reason or another united in a faithfulstruggle for peace at any price. (* The term arose, it has been said, from the use of the coppercent with its head of Liberty as a peace button. But a more plausible explanation associates the peace advocates with the deadly copperhead snake.)

Around the copperheads gathered the various and singular groups who helped to make up the ever fluctuating "peace party."

It is an error to assume that this peace party was animated throughout by fondness for the Confederacy. Though many of its members were so actuated, the core of the party seems to have been that strange type of man who sustained political evasion in the old days, who thought that sweet words can stop bullets, whose programme in 1863 called for a cessation of hostilities and a general convention of all theStates, and who promised as the speedy result of a debauch of talk a carnival of bright eyes glistening with the tears of revived affection.

With these strange people in 1863 there combined a number of different types: the still stranger, still less creditable visionary, of whom much hereafter; the avowed friends of the principle of state rights; all those who distrusted the Government because of its anti-slavery sympathies; Quakers and others with moral scruples against war; and finally,sincere legalists to whom the Conscription Act appeared unconstitutional.

In the spring of 1863 the issue of conscription drew the line fairly sharply between the two political coalitions, though each continued to fluctuate, more or less, tothe end of the war.

From:Abraham Lincoln and the Union, A Chronicle of the Embattled North BY NATHANIEL W. STEPHENSON, 1918

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 4, 2003 8:44 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Playing Catchup in the Infostream

You leave your web connections and your struggling little page for a few days and it means a week of catchup.

It never fails. Take a little 1,400 mile ride down the west coast of America for four days and all hell breaks loose here in the 'virtual world.' Well, perhaps not "all hell" but more like "business as usual" in the lukewarm behavioral soup that has come to be known as 'contemporary American culture.' During my brief vacation away from the infostream, it turned out to be anything but a holiday for those whose primary aim in life is to aid our nation on its slow drift to oblivion.

Let's review some of the major and minor dubious and triumphant moments of the last few days:

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 4, 2003 8:24 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
1. "Mourner-in-Chief?"

The President-as-Pinata crowd barely took time out for a turkey sandwich before they ramped up the Maureen Dowdian concept of Mourner-in-Chief. It would seem that Bush is now to be despised because he isn't going to any funerals.

There are those who say Mr. Bush should have emulated Rudy Giuliani's empathetic leadership after 9/11, or Dad's in the first gulf war, and attended some of the funerals of the 379 Americans killed in Iraq. -- Death Be Not Loud
Pundits and provocateurs have been all over this meme, but nobody that I'm aware of has said the obvious.

The obvious is, briefly put, that everyone in America who is indeed still an American, should be down on their knees thanking God and the President that this is still a war in which it is even conceivable that a President could attend the funerals of those killed in action.

Yes, we need to give thanks that our losses are still on a level where they remain in the double digits for a month. Quite unlike the battles of the World Wars, Korea, or even Vietnam where the deaths were such that one could barely count them, much less attend the funerals.

This fact alone is a testament to the success, so far, of the Bush policy in the War on Terrorism. Not a Tarawa of American Deaths, not an Okinawa of American Deaths, but a death toll to date in Iraq somewhere south of those taken by traffic over, say, a long Thanksgiving holiday in the days before Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

I have no way of knowing how many funerals Ms. Dowd of the Times went to in the wake of September 11th, but I went to 14 funerals in the months that came after that. I originally promised myself that I would, as a vigil, attend all the funerals of the firemen and policemen lost on that day. It was a promise I couldn't keep. The emotional drain was simply more than I could stand.

To propose that the President begin making the rounds of our tragic losses in Iraq in order to see if he could weep strikes me as the worst sort of cynicism. It is, dare I say it, utterly Clintonian in its cynicism. But it is a cynicism we have, sadly come to expect from the likes of Maureen Dowd. Low and vile, but then again, being low and vile is her job and she is inordinately good at it.

In a just world with a responsible media, vile "writers" such as Ms. Dowd would be sent to dig a few plastic wrapped corpses out of the Iraqi sands with a spoon and a toothbrush. Instead, she gets to stay in the US, hit the dinner party circuit, cash the check, and spend her off-hours just lying back and lubing her Pulitzer.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 4, 2003 7:29 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
2. "Cheaters Sort-Of Prosper in the Blogsphere"

The admirableN.Z. Bear, about as fair a person as you could hope to find in the Blogsphere, was forced to deal with one of the worst cases of link-whoring and rank cheating in recent memory. It would seem that a group of blogs called, appropriately, "The League of Liberals," was caught out gaming Bear's blog ranking 'ecosystem' in order to push itself and its "Hate Bush" agenda higher and higher in the rankings. Multiple counters, blogs linking to blogs within blogs, blog clones, all of these were used by the ringleader of the Cheating League, one delusional "Barry," in the service of a 'higher cause" -- the defeat of the President. And like others of his ilk, any means, fair or foul, is appropriate.

The Bear, who is to my mind, much more fair and evenhanded than I can ever hope to be, issued the mildest of punishments:

:If you're wondering just how badly these blogs distorted the League's rankings, I'll draw your attention to the League's total inbound unique statistics from this morning, before I suspended these blogs: 8597 unique inbound links across all the League's blogs. With the removal of the duplicate blogs, the League now totals 5641 unique inbound links . That's right: 34% of the League's total unique links were due to these duplicate blogs. To League members, I ask you: is that really the way you want to advance? The Bear Suspends
Nice, but was the application of a baseball bat to the fingers of these little weasels completely out of the question?

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 4, 2003 5:48 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
3. "Brilliant New Writer Debuts in NYC"

It was with no little pride that I noted a fascinating article inTHE NEW YORK OBSERVER called 'Men in Aprons." Not only because it was fascinating (which it was), nor because it was beautifully seen and written (which it is), but also because it was by my daughter who has been a fine writer since the time she first picked up a crayon.

Men in Aprons

Five cute, smart, straight guys who like a good dinner party? All living in one place?

Welcome to "Iron Chef II," a cook-off held on a recent evening in a brick two-story Carroll Gardens house whose occupants are the aforementioned five- some. Modeled on the cult Japanese TV show, in which two world-class chefs no one has ever heard of compete by cooking meals centered on secret ingredients like swallow�s nest or electric eel, "Iron Chef II" had its Brooklyn beginnings with five men in their late 20�s and early 30�s who found themselves living in a house with two kitchens and had a generational fondness for almost painfully self-conscious irony....

Matt looked like he could be Conan O�Brien�s cuter cousin: 6-foot-4, with bright red curly hair and a handsome mug. The street was decorated with American flags and frog lawn ornaments. The F train rumbled overground in the distance. As the 40-odd corduroy-clad partygoers wandered in, Matt welcomed them with a wave of his huge arm.

This was the second time the men had done the "Iron Chef" thing�at the first one, the secret ingredient had been artichokes. According to Jerry, a blond financial journalist with a toothy grin, some of the judges�friends selected on the basis of whether they really liked food�were "over-served."

"Given that it was later in the night and some alcohol had been drunk, cheesy potatoes are just tasty," said Jerry. The night had ended in a tie.

This year, the secret ingredient was revealed early on. The guests recognized the intended humor, but didn�t seem too happy about it.

"It�s a d�b�cle," said Matt. "The ingredient is grapes."

I seldom actually tell people to "read the whole thing," but if anyone here fails to do so, I will hunt you down and haunt you.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 4, 2003 3:38 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
4. Dems Reduced to Eating Wings

... of crow.

In the wake of the President's trip to Iraq on Thanksgiving, it was inevitable that the Dems and their retainers in the media find something, anything, that would reduce the gesture to pure politics.

After a futile hunt of several days they finally came up with.... 'the turkey he held for the photo' wasn't a 'real' turkey.

Wasn't a 'real' turkey?

Okay, show's over. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 4, 2003 3:20 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
5."People. People who sue people...

sometimes, just sometimes, get what's coming to them. Case in point, the sane decision by a California court this week to throw Barbra Streisand's suit again the California coastline project off the cliffs of Malibu. The decision: Barbra's Bogus and Must Pay

Los Angeles - 12/3/2003 - In a decision that reaffirms the public%u2019s First Amendment right to participate in matters of public significance, a Los Angeles Superior Court issued a 46 page opinion today holding that Barbra Streisand, the well-known entertainer and Hollywood celebrity, abused the judicial process by filing a lawsuit against aerial archivist Ken Adelman, his Internet Service Provider Layer42.NET, and Pictopia.COM. The court also firmly rejected Streisand%u2019s request for an injunction to force the removal of a panoramic photographic frame that happens to include her sprawling blufftop estate from Adelman%u2019s website,
Bottom line: Nobody cared about the pix of her cheesy little Malibu digs until she made a stink about it. Now, if that same attitude would just append itself to her latest album...

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 4, 2003 3:10 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
6. "He too crazy to drive airplane into skyscraper..."

Moussaoui Called Unfit to Plot 9/11 Attacks

A defense psychologist has concluded that Zacarias Moussaoui, a self-proclaimed member of al Qaeda, was too mentally unstable to be a part of the intricate Sept. 11 plot...
Yep, you'd have to be really nuts to miss those planes. Especially if you knew where they were going.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 4, 2003 3:08 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
By Their Works Shall Ye Know Them...

Roger Simon performs an act of "Nail, Hammer, Bang," in his announcement of NEW TERMINOLOGY ON THIS BLOG

So what divides our society now is not the old dichotomy between "liberal" and "conservative," it is those who oppose fascism and those who want to let it be. On this blog, I am going to start calling those sides what they really are -- anti-fascist and pro-fascist.
"You will recall the proud statement made recently by a Fascist general—'We have four columns in front of Madrid and a fifth inside the city.' " -- Howard Koch, another American screenwriter, for "Mission to Moscow"

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 4, 2003 8:13 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Group Graffiti

Robert Fulghum, author of "Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," has got a million of 'em, I tell you, a million of 'em. His latest at his "online only" Not-So-Secret Journal yields what has to be one of the longest group graffitis on record:

This excursion into what I still hope will be an ongoing encounter reminds me of a previous experience with serial graffiti -- a classic --found in a unisex restroom of a local restaurant:
"God is love."
"Love is blind."
"Stevie Wonder is blind."
"No, Stevie Wonder is God."
"Thanks for clearing that up -- I love logic."
"Logic is blind."
"Stop it, stop it -- this doesn't make sense."
"Now we're back to Stevie Wonder again -- didn't he do the album, "Stop
Making Sense?"
"Wrong -- It's Talking Heads."
"I love that album."
"God is love."
"If someone writes love thy neighbor I will puke."
"Love thy neighbor. And puke."
"Love me -- signed, Edna the woman who cleans these walls."
"Edna, you're a wonder."
"Any kin to Stevie Wonder?"
"I wonder, wonder, wonder wonder WHO -- Who wrote the book of love."
"I told you, Stevie Wonder is God."
"Thanks. I've always wondered about that. Love, Stevie."

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 3, 2003 6:08 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Another Democrat Declares for Bush

Orson Scott Card writes inThe Campaign of Hate and Fear that he's yet another lifelong Democrat who has had it with the party.

We are being lied to and "spun," and not in a trivial way. The kind of dishonest vitriolic hate campaign that in 2000 was conducted only before African-American audiences is now being played on the national stage; and the national media, instead of holding the liars' and haters' feet to the fire (as they do when the liars and haters are Republicans or conservatives), are cooperating in building up a false image of a failing economy and a lost war, when the truth is more nearly the exact opposite.

And in all the campaign rhetoric, I keep looking, as a Democrat, for a single candidate who is actually offering a significant improvement over the Republican policies that in fact don't work, while supporting or improving upon the American policies that will help make us and our children secure against terrorists.

We have enemies that have earned our hatred, and whom we should fear. They are fanatical terrorists who seek opportunities to kill American civilians here and Israeli civilians in Israel.

But right now, our national media and the Democratic Party are trying to get us to believe that the people we should hate and fear are George W. Bush and the Republicans.

I can think of many, many reasons why the Republicans should not control both houses of Congress and the White House.

But right now, if the alternative is the Democratic Party as led in Congress and as exemplified by the current candidates for the Democratic nomination, then I can't be the only Democrat who will, with great reluctance, vote not just for George W. Bush, but also for every other candidate of the only party that seems committed to fighting abroad to destroy the enemies that seek to kill us and our friends at home.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 3, 2003 5:15 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
More Mush from Microsoft

"Great teams are forged over the
hot coals of adversity.
You have the new Microsoft Office System:
It's a Cinderella story."

Yes it is. In the morning you'll
wake up in the pumpkin and
still have to clean up after your

JEREMY WAGSTAFF'S Loose Wire in the Wall Street Journal tells you all you need to know about the 'new, improved and horribly bloated Microsoft Office 2003,

"Well, let me first walk you through the features for the average end-user. Microsoft has souped up the look and feel of most of the components, such as Word and Excel, and added significant features to some, such as the e-mail and personal information manager Outlook. PowerPoint (slides), Access (database) and Publisher (fancy greeting-card designer, low-grade Web-site designer) all get a facelift. That's it. That's your review. Basic cost: $400 or $500, depending on what components you want. "
Dumb software at a dumb price. So what else is new?

I could probably just let it all slide if it weren't for the desperate ad campaign that accompanies this latest effort from Microsoft to peddle software to IT departments of little skill and less insight.

If you watch television you can't avoid these insulting and degrading little video essays entitled, cynically enough, "Great Moments at Work." It would be more accurate and merciful to entitled them "Little Victories for Cube Slaves." Each one is cast and shot in such a way as to make your skin crawl if you spend your days in a white collar cube farm.

"In the face of insurmountable odds,
unlikely heroes are born.
Victory is yours
with the new Microsoft Office System."

Ah, how sweet it is! There's really nothing
like the triumph of pressing F9
on an Excel spreadsheet, is there?

Each smarmy little video features some hapless clone taking "data" and making "diamonds." Following this we are tortured with slo-mo moments of water being doused over the sad sack by other office sad sacks. In another, charts are being ripped from the wall and a befuddled but smiling member of the steno pool is being put through a Queen for a Nanosecond motif before being consigned back to obscurity.

If there was ever any series of ads tailormade to make people call in sick, this series does it in spades.

File under: Fire your ad agency, Microsoft, and get a life.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 3, 2003 4:59 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Big Tree

(Scroll down. It's a Big Tree)


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 3, 2003 11:31 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Commenting Is Off Temporarily

All commenting has been turned off for the immediate future. We'll see about getting it going soon.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 2, 2003 9:00 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
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