Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Movies We Never Tire of Watching

Title, verbatim: Another Demonstration of the Cliff-Guibert Fire Horse Reel, Showing a Young Girl Coming from an Office, Detaching Hose, Running with It 60 Feet, and Playing a Stream, All Inside of 30 Seconds (1900)

From: Internet Movie Data Base

Posted by Vanderleun Jan 31, 2004 7:00 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Don't Ask, Don't Pink

Message on Bomb reads:
"From: Queen of the Sky
To: Wong Foo
Re:Thanks for Everything!"

THE WAY THINGS REALLY WORK: Pink Fighter-Bombers January 30, 2004: During the Iraq war, army and marine helicopters were all over the place, and troops had plenty of opportunity to see both types together. You could easily tell them apart. The army choppers are painted dark green while the marine helicopters are painted "Haze Gray."

One thing everyone noted was that the marine helicopters were always harder to see. If a marine and army helicopter were flying close together and approached you from a distance, you would always be able to pick out the army chopper first. The marines changed the color of their helicopters after the Cold War ended, when they realized that their most likely opponents would be looking up at them, not down from the sky. For protection from enemy aircraft above, a green paint job gives you more protection. But from below, a gray paint scheme works better to hide you.

Deciding what color to paint aircraft has always been a contentious issue. Many different color schemes have been tried over the years. At one point, the U.S. Air Force ran some extensive tests and concluded the color that best hid an aircraft in flight was a shade of pink. The results of this effort were never implemented.

-- StrategyPage

Posted by Vanderleun Jan 31, 2004 6:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Democratic Candidate Cartoon Laws of Motion


Candidate Cartoon Law I :
Any hopeless Democratic candidate in the race will remain in suspended in the race until made aware of personal bankruptcy by his campaign finance manager.

Howard the Duck steps off a cliff on the plains of Iowa, expecting to run along in front until the nomination. He loiters in midair, soliloquizing flippantly, until he chances to speak to his supporters. At this point, the familiar principle of 32 feet per second per second takes over.

Candidate Cartoon Law II:
Any Senatorial Candidate will tend to remain in the race until solid matter intervenes suddenly.

Whether shot out of a cannon in “Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam” or in hot pursuit of a President who “f***ks up” in the pages of Rolling Stone, candidates resembling a Botoxed Lurch are so absolute in their ambition that only a primary in South Carolina retards their forward motion absolutely. Professor Teresa Heinz Kerry has called this sudden termination of motion the “No more money for honey” effect.

Candidate Cartoon Law III:
Any candidate passing through a losing primary enroute to the "really significant primary" will leave a perforation conforming to his perimeter.

Also called the "Silhouette of Passage," this phenomenon is the specialty of candidates so eager for power they attempt to bypass the electoral process and, stating "When I am President!," try to run directly through the wall of the Whitehouse, leaving a cookie-cutout-perfect hole. The threat of eternal tax cuts or the American Invasion of Syria often catalyzes this reaction.

Candidate Cartoon Law IV:
The time required for a candidate to fall from the “Front Runner Ledge” into the waters of oblivion is equal to the time it takes for the media source that knocked it off the ledge to Photoshop the word “Loser” across their previous “Winner” graphic, save to disk, and put it up on the screen.

Candidate Cartoon Law V:
All previous political principles and policies are negated by fear of losing.

The psychotic ambitions of candidates are sufficient in most for the shock of losing to propel them directly away from their previous positions. A primary where they gather 2% less than the expected vote or an adversary's superior showing will induce candidate motion in random directions, usually to the Larry King show, 20-20, or a whining, begging phone call to the Clintons. The feet of a candidate who is running away from a previous position need never touch the ground.

Candidate Cartoon Law VI:
As primary elections proliferate, candidates can be in several places at once.

This is particularly true of tooth-and-claw elections, in which a candidate’s head may be glimpsed emerging from the cloud of altercation at several places simultaneously. This effect is common as well among bodies that are spinning lies to cover old lies now declared to be in non-denial denial turnaround.

A wacky candidate with a belief in space aliens and cattle mutilation has the option of self-replication only at manic high speeds and may ricochet off walls to achieve the velocity required.

Candidate Cartoon Law VII:
Certain candidates can pass through solid walls painted to resemble tunnel entrances; others cannot. This is known as the "Come-Back-Kid Effect."

This trompe l'oeil inconsistency has baffled generations, but at least it is known that whoever paints an entrance on a wall's surface to trick an opponent will be unable to pursue him to the nomination.

Candidate Cartoon Law VIII:
Any violent rearrangement of candidates’ positions is impermanent.

Democratic candidates in 2004 are so numerous that, collectively, they possess even more deaths than the traditional nine lives. They can be decimated, spliced, splayed, accordion-pleated, spindled, or disassembled, but they cannot be destroyed. After a few moments of blinking self pity, they reinflate, elongate, snap back, or solidify.

  • Corollary: A Democratic candidate will assume the shape of the last uncommitted voter he has spoken to in one-on-one conversation.
  • Candidate Cartoon Law IX :
    In the actual election any Candidate who has become the Democratic nominee will fall faster than an anvil.

    A clear understanding of this law explains why the Democratic element "Clintonium" will not be rediscovered in 2004.

    Candidate Cartoon Law X: For every Primary there is an equal and opposite Reprimary.

  • Corollary: For every Pundit there is an equal and opposite RePundit .

  • (Apologies to Original Cartoon Laws )

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 30, 2004 11:35 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Piloting Skills. We're Talking Serious Piloting Skills

    "Welcome aboard the New Air Iraq. Today we will be cruising
    at an altitude of a foot and a half."

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 29, 2004 8:39 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Crater Lake, Oregon

    On the Road, 1973

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 29, 2004 9:01 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Waiter, 86 the Sushi and Bring Me a Salad Instead

    TAIPEI (Reuters) - The decomposing remains of a 60-tonne sperm whale exploded on a busy Taiwan street, showering nearby cars and shops with blood and organs and stopping traffic for hours, local newspapers say.

    The 17 metre (56 foot) dead whale had been on a truck headed for an autopsy at a university earlier this week, when gases from internal decay caused its entrails to explode in the southern city of Tainan

    --Decomposing whale explodes on Taiwan street

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 29, 2004 7:27 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Paper of Record, of Record, of Record....
    • A film review in Weekend on Friday about "Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!" misstated the location of the first meeting between the characters Tad (played by Josh Duhamel) and Rosalee (Kate Bosworth). They meet in Los Angeles, not in Rosalee's West Virginia hometown. (NY Times Correction)

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 29, 2004 6:59 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Someone Yoda Statue Steal

    "Mmm. Lost a statue, Master Lucas-Wan has. How embarrassing. How embarrassing. "

    PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - Someone lifted a 170-pound bronze statue of Yoda, the "Star Wars" Jedi master.

    The theft from a flatbed truck was reported to police last weekend and artist Lawrence Noble, 55, of Crestline has offered a $1,000 reward for its return. The limited-edition bronze is worth up to $20,000.

    "It's a real high-end collectible," Noble said.

    Police spokeswoman Janet Pope said, "We are treating this as a burglary and we'd appreciate any information the public might have."

    "Hard to see, the dark side is. Clear your mind must be, Pope, if you are to discover the real villains behind this plot. "

    -- Adios Yoda

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 29, 2004 6:36 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Top Iraq Election Tracking Blog

    Both Michael Totten and Jim Hake of Spirit of America are endorsing Friends of Democracy - Iraq Election News as the top source of on-the-ground information on the Iraq Elections.

    Totten notes in :

    My New Gig -- Iraqi Election Coverage

    We have more than a dozen local Iraqi correspondents, at least one in each province, filing daily reports. These reports include news, interviews, quotes, photos, whatever they can get in a day. They aren't professional journalists. They are more or less ordinary Iraqis. Some of them you already know -- Omar and Mohammed from Iraq the Model, for example. Others you don't know because they don't speak or write in English. Their reports are translated from Arabic before they are uploaded to the reports site.

    Good enough for me. You might want to bookmark them and blogroll them as well.
    [Note: This item will remain at the top of the page until after the Iraq Elections.]

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 28, 2004 11:03 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    And the Bleat Goes On

    Today, the Junior Varsity is at their never-ending rumble in the jungle in New Hampshire. The voters go in and the exit poles come out, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, to see which dreamboat will still float.

    It is our way and our ritual. But at this point, wake me when it's over and include me out.

    I'm in awe of the discriminating votes of New Hampshire. They know that this is the one time in four years that anyone outside of the state remembers that it's capitol is.... I forget. Still, you can't blame them for trying to get a little time in the sun during the dead of winter.

    I'm in awe of the various voices online that are rolling along with this [primary season] -- tilting one day towards this one and the next day towards that one -- as if there really was a dime's bit of difference between them; as if any one of them is worthy of running the United States of America.

    Watching these sad captains who were sane enough a few months back to say "goodbye to all that" warming to this, that, or the other Bozo bobbing to the surface of the tank is depressing. It's like watching a drunk who has finally wised up to the dangers of drink; who's gone on the wagon gone to the meeting, suddenly start sniffing damp wine corks in the Boom-Boom Room while clutching a club soda.

    None of these men are worthy and nothing about their "ideas" and "policies" have the least element of promise. It will never be morning in America, September 10, 2001 again. Deep down, we all know this. Deep down "they" all know it, but they would be king and they would have their primary season.

    It is our way and it is our ritual. There's no help for it. We are doomed to spend the next year with "Stuck Inside of Mobile" jammed in the CD player and, in the end, discovering there is no way to get out of going through all these things twice, thrice, ad infiitum... It's our rabbit hole and we've got to fall all the way to rock bottom.

    There's the issue of "the economy" -- Up? Down? In? Out? Over? Around? Through? There's the issue of Iraq" -- Never gone in, Gone with Kofi, Gone with permission, Gone with the French, and Get Out Now, Get Out Later. There's the issue of "taxes" -- More Now (from someone else), More Later, More Later Retroactive to Now. And there is always the issue of "Bush" -- Liar? Dictator? Hitler redux? Evil genius or callow deserter? And a sheaf of faintly ripe local issues trumped up at the last minute to appeal to the vanity of these benighted voters who are actually playing along with the game.

    It is our way and it is our ritual. Wake me when it's over and include me out.

    But there is really only one question that, when all is said and done, must be asked of these men who would be King. But we know their answer as well as we know that their part has become the last refuge of those with fatally short attention spans.

    To my mind, the problem with this silliest of seasons, and the problem with the candidates and the games that they play with all these voters in all these states is that they have no policy with an answer to this.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 27, 2004 6:02 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    On Liberty
    "Come nigh them awhile and though they neither speak or advise you shall learn the faithful American lesson. Liberty is poorly served by men whose good intent is quelled from one failure or two failures or any number of failures, or from the casual indifference or ingratitude of the people, or from the sharp show of the tushes of power, or the bringing to bear soldiers and cannon or any penal statutes.

    "Liberty relies upon itself, invites no one, promises nothing, sits in calmness and light, is positive and composed, and knows no discouragement.

    "The battle rages with many a loud alarm and frequent advance and retreat . . . the enemy triumphs . . . . the prison, the handcuffs, the iron necklace and anklet, the scaffold, garrote and leadballs do their work . . . . the cause is asleep . . . . the strong throats are choked with their own blood . . . . the young men drop their eyelashes toward the ground when they pass each other . . . . and is liberty gone out of that place? No never.

    "When liberty goes it is not the first to go nor the second or third to go . . it waits for all the rest to go . . it is the last. . . When the memories of the old martyrs are faded utterly away . . . . when the large names of patriots are laughed at in the public halls from the lips of the orators . . . . when the boys are no more christened after the same but christened after tyrants and traitors instead . . . . when the laws of the free are grudgingly permitted and laws for informers and bloodmoney are sweet to the taste of the people . . . . when I and you walk abroad upon the earth stung with compassion at the sight of numberless brothers answering our equal friendship and calling no man master---and when we are elated with noble joy at the sight of slaves . . . . when the soul retires in the cool communion of the night and surveys its experience and has much extasy over the word and deed that put back a helpless innocent person into the gripe of the gripers or into any cruel inferiority . . . . when those in all parts of these states who could easier realize the true American character but do not yet---when the swarms of cringers, suckers, doughfaces, lice of politics, planners of sly involutions for their own preferment to city offices or state legislatures or the judiciary or congress or the presidency, obtain a response of love and natural deference from the people whether they get the offices or no . . . . when it is better to be a bound booby and rogue in office at a high salary than the poorest free mechanic or farmer with his hat unmoved from his head and firm eyes and a candid and generous heart . . . . and when servility by town or state or the federal government or any oppression on a large scale or small scale can be tried on without its own punishment following duly after in exact proportion against the smallest chance of escape . . . . or rather when all life and all the souls of men and women are discharged from any part of the earth---then only shall the instinct of liberty be discharged from that part of the earth. 

    -- Walt Whitman :The Preface to the 1855 Edition of Leaves of Grass

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 27, 2004 1:58 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    You Are In A Maze of Twisted Minds, All Alike

    Hamlet - The Text Adventure

    Your name is Hamlet. Until recently, your life has been great, because you're young, you're good looking, and your family is not only mega-rich, but royal. In fact, you're the Prince of Denmark. You grew up in a big palace in a little town called Elsinore, you were pampered, and you were happy.

    But a few weeks ago, things started to go rather badly wrong.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 26, 2004 8:55 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Blue Hoo

    Sung to the tune of "If the Election Were Held Today" -- Election Projection - 2004 Edition


    Current Tally - 01/24/04
    2000 Adjustment: Bush  6.11%
    EV's: Bush 370, Dem 168
    Pct:   Bush 53.98%, Dem 45.02%

    This site keeps a running projection for the 2004 US Presidential Election.  Using the most recent polling data, state-by-state voting totals from 2000 will be updated to project a 2004 outcome
    Via: Michael Totten

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 26, 2004 8:31 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Mundane Explanations of the Miraculous

    A Hole Punch Cloud Over Alabama

    What could create a huge hole in the clouds? Such a hole, likely hundreds of meters across, was photographed last month from a driveway near Mobile, Alabama, USA. Very unusual to see, hole-punch clouds like this are still the topic of meteorological speculation. A leading hypothesis holds that the hole-punch cloud is caused by falling ice-crystals. The ice-crystals could originate in a higher cloud or be facilitated by a passing airplane exhaust. If the air has just the right temperature and moisture content, the falling crystals will absorb water from the air and grow. For this to happen, the water must be so cold that all it needs is a surface to freeze on. The moisture lost from the air increases the evaporation rate from the cloud water droplets so they dissipate to form the hole. The now heavier ice crystals continue to fall and form the more tenuous wispy cloud-like virga seen inside and just below the hole. Water and ice from the virga evaporates before they reach the ground.

    "The power that I envisaged, that presided
    Ultimate in its abstract devastations,
    Is merely change, the atoms it divided

    "Complete, in ignorance, new combinations.
    Only an infinite finitude I see
    In those peculiar lovely variations.

    "It is despair that nothing cannot be
    Flares in the mind and leaves a smoky mark
    Of dread.

    "Look upward. Neither firm nor free,
    Purposeless matter hovers in the dark."

    -- Thom Gunn, The Annihilation of Nothing

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 26, 2004 7:47 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Threatening Email from the ABA

    Today I received this unsettling, but wise, email. Others might do well to heed it.

    From: The American Blogging Association
    To: Gerard van der Leun,,
    CC:David Winer,

    Subject: This Is Your Final Warning

    Over the past few years, we're happy that you've been able to put the new "Blogging" phenomena to good use (well, in Mr. Winer's case, "happy" is stretching the point a bit).

    While American Digest has served as an illuminating and sometime humorous signpost in today's media, other Blogs have served to keep nattering Jr. Naderites like Joi Ito off the street and out of the mainstream of society. Illumination, humor, and keeping the Joi Ito’s of the world either in their room or ruining all-you-can-eat restaurants are noble goals and we endorse them.

    However, after receiving thousands of complaints both by email, letter bomb, and one person who actually set himself on fire in our reception area, we must insist the both of you cease and desist a writing a species of posts which are apparently driving millions of Web users right off their feed and right round the bend.

    No, Mr. Winer, it's not your inane little habit of posting about every 12 lines of code you've written, each cigarette you didn't smoke, your TMI little medical details, or even your RSS feed of information on your bowel movements. And No, it's not your endless proclamations that you invented RSS, or blogging, or the internet, or four-day lithium holidays.

    It's that both of you just won't leave the pathetic lame duck candidates alone!

    Mr. van der Leun, PLEASE stop posting about Howard Dean. No more posts, no more songs, no more photo-shopped photos. Just stop it, now.

    And Mr. Winer, STOP defending him, and, while you're at it, stop posting about internet democracy, "Vote Blog", and anything even vaguely inferring that your silly little blog has any more influence on the election than the color of your stools. Oh, wait, we take that back. New tracking data shows that 84% of Dean's supporters read your site, and were so distraught that you were supporting him and might receive an appointment if he were elected that they are switching their support to Ralph Nader.

    In both of your cases, this is your final warning. We have friends in the browser business, and it would be very easy for your sites to become "invisible", or, worse yet, point to each others, in the near future.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

    Well, that’s it for me. I shall not risk the wrath of the ABA.

    I hereby declare that American Digest will now be a “Howard Dean Free Zone” from now until the last ding-dong of Doom. The name “Howard Dean” will henceforth not appear on this site. This is the last time you will read the words “Howard Dean.”

    Set your search engines to “Howard the Duck.”

    Old Candidate (Left) New Candidate (Right)

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 25, 2004 12:50 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Objects on Train Tracks Are Closer Than They Appear...

    ...and faster too.

    ”Each year, approximately 400 people die trying to beat an oncoming train at railroad crossings. More than 1,000 others are injured. Why is it that so many people misjudge the speed of an oncoming train? That's the question Theodore E. Cohn, a Berkeley professor of vision science and bioengineering, hopes to answer. Understanding why people think they can win the race at railways, Cohn says, may lead to better signals that prevent drivers from thinking they're faster than a locomotive.”

    From:Lab Notes:

    Four hundred dead sounds like a lot, until one reflects that each year approximately 4,000 university professors are given grants to find out why stupid is as stupid does.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 25, 2004 2:15 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    I'm Trying to Get Over It, But...

    Yes, yes, I know. I know. It is time, far past time to get over the Dean Scream. Everyone tells me this... And I am, I really, really am. I am really trying to resist Howard Dean. He's so Wednesday. He's something I want to forget, as I am sure he will become something many Deaniacs want to forget.

    But then, just when I think I can get back to my life, just when I think I can forget...we get... this:

    Bike Crazy :Why Howard Dean is unelectable!

    And our whole new national nightmare starts again.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 25, 2004 12:11 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    A Kinder, Gentler Terrorism

    Marijuana fumes force Israeli cops to leave work

    January 23, 2004 (JERUSALEM) The fumes from several tons of marijuana stored in an Israeli police station were so strong that officers had to leave their work place.

    The police station in the town of Dimona in the southern Negev Desert is used to store all the marijuana confiscated along the Israeli-Egyptian border, a busy smuggling route. Between three and four tons were seized in the past two months.

    "The smell was overpowering," police spokesman Gil Kleiman said Friday.

    Finally, it was too much for the officers working next door to the storage room, and they had to leave their offices.

    "Every time I came to work I felt very bad, like I was high. The smell of the marijuana was killing us, we couldn't work," one officer told the Israeli newspaper Maariv.

    Next week the marijuana will be destroyed, but the room is expected to fill up again in a couple of months, Kleiman said. -- ABC

    Perhaps they could start storing it at a compound in Ramalla.

    "I can't believe my peace process
    is down to seeds and stems again."

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 24, 2004 9:09 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Cutting Edge Mac Panther Bug Discovered in Amazon

    Don't get me started on the level of insect infestation in Macintosh software of late. (On the other hand, do get me started on the dead on arrival release of iLife 4.0 of which I will say more at a later date.

    In the meantime, here's some bad news on Mac's new and infested Panther OS.

    I was going to buy Running Mac OS X Panther by James Davidson at, but is this is the book I was looking for?

    From: Keys Corner: Panther just a "story"?

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 24, 2004 12:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The 20th Century in Only 53 Megabytes

    A stunning sound collage, montage, assemblage, potpourri, hodgepode, mismash-melange and pastiche, summing up in a mere 53 megs the trainwreck of the 20th century. If T.S. Eliot were alive and working today, this is how he'd create "The Wasteland" with the help of William Burroughs, the Beatles, Ed Sullivan, and Grandmaster Flash.

    But be warned that it IS 53 megs, which is a good argument for getting broadband if you don't already have it.

    Friday, January 23, 2004 One to catch quickly: "raiding the 20th century - (a history of the cut-up)" by DJ strictly kev. This 53mb download is the bootleg mash-up to end all mash-ups, a virtuoso 39 minute journey through pop, past, present and future. There are literally hundreds of artists sampled, layered, spliced, time-stretched, edited and compiled. It's quite amazing, although whether you'd want to listen to it on a regular basis is quite another matter. All human life is here: S-Club, Jimi Hendrix, the Strokes, Missy Elliot, U2, Pointer Sisters, Madonna, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Pink, the JAMMS, etc. etc. etc. (full track-listing - you have to admire this guy's record collection if nothing else). The relentless switching between the tracks doesn't half inspire you to check out the originals again.
    -- From thingsmagazine

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 24, 2004 11:28 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Magic Mirror's Gone Missing


    "This Is True" reports that some bottom dwelling slime has robbed Romper Room's Miss Mary and taken the Magic Mirror.

    ROMPER, BOMPER, STOMPER, BOO HOO: Mary Ann King, 70, has been robbed. The Los Angeles host of the "Romper Room" children's TV show from 1966 to 1976, King had just left a restaurant in Industry, Calif., when she was accosted in the parking lot. Her purse and another bag were stolen; the bag contained her "magic mirror" prop from the show. The magic mirror, actually a frame with nothing inside, was used on the show to allow her to "see" the audience, calling out the kids' names. After the show ended, "people would recognize me and say, 'You never said my name'," King said. "I started carrying the mirror around with me so I could say their name." She figures the "hoodlums" discarded the prop, not knowing what it was...That's what happens when the "Don't Bees" grow up.
    If the magic mirror shows up on eBay, I'm calling in SWAT on the seller and the buyer. And eBay too while I'm at it.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 23, 2004 8:46 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Wastelands

    Click for larger image

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 23, 2004 3:20 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Dean Greenspan Remark Outs Tessi as Republican Mole

    Howard Dean says Alan Greenspan should be replaced - Jan. 23, 2004

    LONDONDERRY, N.H. (CNN) - Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean tried out a new tactic Friday while campaigning in New Hampshire, accusing Federal Reserve Bank chairman Alan Greenspan of making decisions that were "too political" and suggesting it may be time to replace him.

    At a second campaign stop Friday morning, the one-time front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination said that Greenspan, who has been chairman of the Fed board since 1987, has had a "long and distinguished career" but his decisions lately have been "troubling."
    But Dean is not the first political candidate to take Greenspan to task. Former Vice President Dan Quayle and other GOP candidates did the same in 1999, accusing him of assuming too much power and manipulating the stock markets. Bush was notably absent from the criticism, and in fact announced his unqualified support for Greenspan. "

    Oy! First the 'I Have a Scream" speech and now this.

    It can no longer be denied. The truth will out. And the truth must be that Howard Dean's main guy Joe Tessi has been taking large sacks of small change in various men's rooms over the past year from Karl Rove. Tessi then takes these wheelbarrows full of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies to the local supermarket's change machine where they are laundered. This stealth Republican then returns to DeanLand and whispers more sweet suggestions into Dean's ear: "Howard, go out there and give the troops a rebel yell. It'll help you in the south." "Howard, stand right up there and tell the stock market that you'll give Greenspan the boot." "Howard, just say no to steroids."

    If ever we had a way-new metrosexual Manchurian candidate, Dean is it.

    The League of Women Voters should immediately launch an investigation into Joe Tessi's foreign bank accounts and recent purchase of a marina in the Bahamas.

    Via: Roger L. Simon: Uh-oh, now he's done it!


    Update: In email, a reader takes me to task for failing to notice Karl Rove's real job.

    One of Rove's collateral duties is the acquisition and maintenance of large stocks of rope in (minimum) thousand-foot coils, and supervision of the small corps of dedicated staffers who ensure that it pays out smoothly, without jerking or noticeable drag.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 23, 2004 12:03 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Sale of the Month


    In preparation for its impending annihilation by U.S. Forces, the Government of Iraq Syria is liquidating its entire stock of Weapons Grade Plutonium-239. VillainSupply is acting as broker for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Act NOW!!

    Price: US$25,000,000 per metric ton CHEAP!!
    Quantity:[__] Add to Cart

    Offered at: | Your Online Source For Everything Evil (TM)

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 23, 2004 11:45 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Microsoft to Join the United Nations

    With Ted Turner down to last billion and his $4 billion pledge to the UN sent to a collection agency in Atlanta , Bill Gates has stepped up to the plate with the opening move of Microsoft's plan have itself declared a nation-state: Gates Announces Partnership With U.N.

    Whether Microsoftia ™ will become a stockocracy or stay the benign despotism that it has been remains to be seen. It has not yet been disclosed if Bill Gates’ position is going to be made hereditary at the next annual meeting.

    Whatever ensues, Microsoft is taking the old-fashioned route towards becoming a nation-state; bribery. And what better place to grease the global palm that at that crucible of client states, the World Economic Forum?

    DAVOS, Switzerland Jan. 23 -- Microsoft Corp. and the United Nations will work together to bring computer technology and literacy to developing countries, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said Friday.

    Microsoft pledged software, computer training and cash to establish computer centers in poor communities, starting with pilot projects in Egypt, Mozambique and Morocco.

    The initiative will draw from a $1 billion Microsoft Unlimited Potential fund, which the U.S. software giant launched last year.

    The company has already donated nearly $50 million to 45 countries, and Gates said he hoped to "ramp it up" to $200 million a year through the new partnership with the U.N. Development Program.

    At a news conference at the World Economic Forum, Gates said the computer centers won't be restricted to using Microsoft products.

    "There's no exclusivity, but our role is to help with the expertise and curriculum around software that is quite popular and happens to belong to Microsoft," he said.

    “...[T]hat is quite popular and happens to belong to Microsoft. You gotta love this guy.

    Back when I used and bought Microsoft products I always thought that after I paid for them they belonged to me. More fool I. Now I know that they will always "happen to belong to Microsoft." Must have been something in that 15,000 licensce agreement I failed to notice.

    Still, I suppose America can come to some sort of non-aggression pact with Microsoftia ™ once it chooses, buys and moves onto its island in Puget Sound. It’ll probably be a fine place to live. Free lattes, free Jolt cola, and free high-speed internet for all. You’ll have to address Bill as ‘Your Nerdness’ but other than that he’ll just be a regular guy. With a seat on the Security Counsel and a flag displaying the rising @ right above Microsoftia ™ motto: ONE OS TO BIND THEM ALL.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 23, 2004 10:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Mosque Shortage Looms in Iran
    The 6.3-Richter earthquake in Bam city in southeastern Iran has flattened five tombs belonging to religious figures and 38 mosques. He added that the tragic quake has only spared one mosque and one Imamzadeh from damage.
    -- Via Rantburg

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 23, 2004 10:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    What Dean Could Have Said Last Night...

    ... courtesy of Hugh Hewitt.

    "On Monday night  I spent 15 seconds trying to fire up my volunteers who had a disappointing night --congratulations John and John, but overconfidence is a dangerous thing, as I've learned--  I spent 15 seconds pointing at signs and recognizing people from faraway states who'd driven thousands of miles in some cases to stand on corners in sub-zero temps, and I fire them up and try to show that I am not down for the count because they're not down for the count, and television, radio, Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh and your network, Brit, try to turn me into a deranged psycho. Fred Barnes called me cracked, for goodness sake.  I've been a medical doctor treating crisis cases in emergency rooms for twenty years, and a governor making life and death decisions for ten years, and the American media, threatened by my message that big corporate interests are out of control--and there is no bigger corporate interest than Fox-- decides to marginalize me using a quarter minute of tape."
    ... but, alas, he did not.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 23, 2004 9:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    What They Give

    Wall at Camp Pendleton
    Click to Enlarge

    Within an hour of writing the item below, the wires bring us: Military Copter Crash Kills 4 in Calif.

    CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. Jan. 23 -- A military helicopter crashed during a training mission at this base north of San Diego, killing all four Marines aboard, officials said.
    Brave men and brave women, each and every one. Each one missed and all mourned.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 23, 2004 9:26 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Small Moves

    "Small moves, Sparks.... Small moves..."
    -- from the movie Contact

    Organized chaos amidst organized clutter and the distinct sense that somewhere there was a war on.

    Driving from the main gate to the mustering area you glance in your side mirror and notice two Apache attack helicopters cruising just above you right down the center line. Very persuasive looking machines. Youre glad theyre on your side and you are on theirs. Just before you park you pass a road sign reading, Drive Carefully. Tank Crossing.

    The distant reports of cannons and star shells drifting down onto brown scrub-daubed California hills. Around the edge of the parade ground, one unfortunate Marine walks slowly in helmet and flack jacket with a full clip in his rifle. Somewhere nearby dull thuds of .50 caliber machine guns echo off the barracks all day. If you look up from the work, youll be comforted to see that fifty yards up the hill is a Taco Bell.

    Camp Pendleton. 1st Marine Division. Theyre going back to Iraq and theyre training hard. When we gathered at the main gate at 9:00 AM somebody mentioned that theyd read the military was getting short on ammunition. If so, the news hadnt reached the Marines. They seemed, in the catchphrase of the day, to be keeping it real. Everywhere you looked they were training hard.

    We werent working all that hard really. We were there as a kind of witness. We were there because its one thing to say you support our troops and quite another to show up and help them with your own hands if only for a day. You put on your Spirit of America tee shirt since every event these days needs a tee shirt to make it real. You slap on your Spirit of America baseball cap, an unexpected bonus, and you find a place at one of the tables.

    Take a light white cotton bag off the top of a bale of them. In blue lettering it says Friendship in English and Farsi bracketing a Spirit of America logo. Friendship / America. This marketing element will be repeated elsewhere all day. Its a good thing were doing but theres no sense not getting a little propaganda value out of it at the same time. You don't want these things to pass through some distribution point in Iraq and get slapped with an "Allah Cares" sticker. It can happen. We're labelling the elements of the kits as well.

    Shake the bag open and drop in a packet of pens, hand it to the left where a box or two of pencils go in. Then down the line for markers, notebooks, and other items that are likely to be thin on the ground in the schools of Iraq. In the afternoon, were going to do medical kits.

    And there are Frisbees.


    Sure thing. We got thousands of Frisbees.

    Frisbees, in dump truck quantities, were the backdrop to the day as surely as the cannons and .50 caliber machine guns provided the soundtrack. In several bright colors, each one in the stack had the Friendship logo printed on it. We had more Frisbees than we had bags and a lot of them ended up being bulk-shipped.

    Somebody said, Now were bringing in the big guns, were attacking with our popular culture.

    A Marine who had been there said, Or giving them plates.

    Someone else said, Dont be too sure. I can imagine a day, say the 2012 Olympics, when the Iraqi Frisbee team podiums for the Frisbee gold.

    Yeah, said another, right after kicking the Berkeley teams ass.

    Bag, pens, pencils, notebooks, markers, box, container. Bag, pens, pencils, notebooks, markers, box, container. The volunteers and the Marines working next to each other around the tables in the courtyard. T-shirts and camo. All ages, all sizes, men and women. Just standing and stuffing bags with the word Friendship on them on a Wednesday morning in Southern California. Some of the volunteers had been there since 6:00 which meant, for those that came down from Los Angeles, up at 4:00 and into the traffic that never sleeps.

    It wasnt a large group. At times there were more Marines assigned to the duty than volunteers. They came, like the Marines, in all shapes and sizes but with a greater spread in their ages. Retired military, techno-nerds, people with family in the military, people who had lost relatives in one or more of our wars. Beards, bangs, boots and Birkenstocks.

    And blogs. Always blogs. Blogs had organized this effort, and the bloggers who believed and who could came. Blogs and blogging rose up and fell away in conversation all day long. If you werent recognized the question about the name of your blog was offered tentatively lest the person asking hadnt heard of it or read it lately. Bloggers tacitly recognize that for most the level of notoriety and or circulation of ones blog can be a sore point or a source of pride. Its a counter dependent addiction and stature can be inferred from numbers alone. As a result, the subject surfaced and then submerged again as the mantra of bag, pens, pencils, notebooks, markers, box, container continued.

    The Marines we worked with, of course, had no idea what blogs were, but they were pleased to have this strange group helping them with this particular duty assignment. And with a couple of officers moving around and keeping the whole process on track the Marines didnt spend a lot of time in chat.

    The Marines were mostly privates and corporals with a few of sergeants sprinkled in. From the very short to the very tall. From the pale and slight to the high-school linebacker. Did I say they were young? They were young in the way that lets you know just how old youve become. In a word, kids. Kids whose first job out of high school will be in a war zone.

    You know that theyll be trained as well as they can be trained. You know that they will be equipped as well as they can be equipped and led as well as they can be led. But you still know that theres a chance that one or more of these Marines standing beside you assembling hostess bags for Iraqi school children will be dead within the year. You dont mention this. Not to anyone, especially the Marines. Compared to what these Marines are doing it makes the small thing you are doing to seem that much smaller. But you do it just the same because it is what you can do.

    Open a bag marked Friendship and put in some pens and pencils, maybe a Frisbee, maybe even a small prayer that it will help some other kid half a world away grow up wanting to be like a Marine rather than kill one. Small moves but thats how a world is changed.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 23, 2004 8:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    What Makes Howard "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"?

    "When I'm rushing on my run
    And I feel just like Jesus' son
    And I guess that I just don't know
    And I guess that I just don't know"

    -- Op.cit.

    Blogland and the Established Pundocracy is a buzz this morning wondering "Whatever got into Howard?"

    Nobody can seem to lay a finger on what caused him to sound his barbaric "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!" over the roofs of the political universe.

    They seem to forget that:
    1) It is "Howard Dean, M.D."
    2) Married to "Judith Steinberg-Dean, M.D."
    3) Who flew in to Iowa last Sunday because the campaign needed a boost.
    4) An M.D. can write prescriptions.
    5) For just about anything.
    6) Plus all those samples that have been piling up at the office all these years.

    Put them all together they spell "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 20, 2004 8:54 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Dylan's Law of Defeat

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

    I propose Dylan's Law: "As a baby boomer's political campaign implodes,the probability of pundits homilizing "campaign's not busy being born are busy dyin'" approaches one. (Op. cit.:Josh Marshall

    Of course, the Devil or the Doofus can quote Dylan to their purpose. But it might behoove Marshall to spend a few moments in meditation on the sacred text of "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" which descends to us from Dylan's classic methedrine period:

    Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
    Suicide remarks are torn
    From the fool's gold mouthpiece
    The hollow horn plays wasted words
    Proves to warn
    That he not busy being born
    Is busy dying.


    While preachers preach of evil fates
    Teachers teach that knowledge waits
    Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
    Goodness hides behind its gates
    But even the president of the United States
    Sometimes must have
    To stand naked.

    An' though the rules of the road have been lodged
    It's only people's games that you got to dodge
    And it's alright, Ma, I can make it.

    Advertising signs that con you
    Into thinking you're the one
    That can do what's never been done
    That can win what's never been won
    Meantime life outside goes on
    All around you.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 19, 2004 11:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    DeanSpeak: So Much Going Out, They Can't Listen

    Perhaps my inner ear is too keen but when I read the Deanista's hyperventilating blog posts tonight, some sounds amiss. There's an historical echo coming through that, since most Dean bloggers are young and unschooled in any history other than that of their formative years in the malls of America, they don't seem to hear it.

    1)generation dean || official weblog"The Perfect Storm showed other candidates and campaigns what you are capable of. 3,500 Stormers knocked on 48,000 doors in a single day. That is a record. You have broken barriers, set new records, soared to new heights -- and you will do it again. "
    2)Blog for America: BloggerStorm!"The Perfect Stormers are all scrambling around Iowa headquarters looking for laptops to buy tickets to New Hampshire."
    3)Blog for America: BloggerStorm! As Dean said to the Perfect Stormers, "Who would have thought? We have a ticket to New Hampshire. And we have just begun to fight!"
    4)Blog for America: BloggerStorm! "Perfect Stormers, staff and volunteers alike are out in force, providing Dean visibility across Des Moines, and across the state. It's two degrees here. we're all in orange, red and yellow Storm hats."

    "The Stormers" -- 3,500 -- spread out -- knocking on doors --- everywhere -- the morning stormers -- Dean visiblity --- 48,000 doors --- looking for laptops...

    It sounds like... a bit... but I'll stop now lest I break Godwin's Law. That would never do.

    I'll go back to blogforamerica where they're always talking about "filling the Big Bat."

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 19, 2004 11:37 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    A Nation's Press Corp Mourns
    "And you know something? You know something? Not only are we going to New Hampshire, we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico! We're going to California and Texas and New York! And we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan."
    -- Howard Dean

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 19, 2004 11:27 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Dean Gains New Endorsement Following Iowa Debacle

    Mon Jan 19,11:48 PM ET

    Democratic presidential hopeful former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean
    (news - web sites) accepts a victory shawl from, and the endorsement
    of, the Permanent Palestinian Mission to the United Nations during
    his caucus night party in West Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 19, 2004.
    (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 19, 2004 10:43 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Made it, Ma! Top of the world!


    Compare and contrast:
    Dean Speaks (long version)
    Dean speaks (mercifully short version)

    Allah Speaks:

    The creator of worlds has a link to the video. Click here and scroll down to the Dean entry in the "You Decide" section. Load the video. The first thing you'll see is an ad for Fox's state of the union coverage, so just fast forward through that. You can also fast forward through the first 20% or so of Dean's speech.

    Once you get to 20%, let it play. Don't stop until he lets out that piercing, nuts-in-a-vise shriek of "Yeah!"

    Where have we seen this kind of enthusiasm before?
    Oh, yes, RIGHT HERE!

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 19, 2004 9:47 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Not an "If." A "When?"

    There's always room for more reality at Reality Check!

    But while new! improved! magazines are popping up like strange mushrooms in the compost heaps of the fevered publishing mind, other older and less cutting edge magazines are grasping for readers with every conceivable offer. Esquire recently saw fit to send us an offer so low that we doubt we'll be paying for the postage. So desperate is it to add circulation that our current 'Professional Discount' would allow us to subscribe to a year of Esquire ("Cover Price: $36.00") for $5.99!

    But wait! That's not all! If we want to "lock in the savings," we can check the box that gives us 2 years for $10.99!

    But wait! That's still not all! We can be billed for 3 monthly payments of $2 each. That works out to $6.00 which leaves Esquire owing us $0.01. No mention of how they plan to square this subtle ripoff.

    The current editor of Esquire, David Granger, is noted for blathering here and there about the industry on the miraculous rise in Esquire's circulation since he took over. If these are the deals he's cutting there's no miracle involved.

    As for us, we'll wait for the next offer from Esquire which, judging from this one, will offer to pay us $1000 a year to subscribe to the magazine.

    And that's just around the corner in the magazine industry. Not an "if," but a "when."

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 19, 2004 8:57 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    "These are a few of my favorite links..."

    (Sing Along)

    Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
    Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
    Spam in my mail box announcing new kinks,
    These are a few of my favorite links.

  • IRAQ NOW: Media Analysis with a Sense of Insurgency.

  • Max Lyons Digital Image Gallery : Lyons can make images up to and beyond a gigapixel in size and shows you how to do it as well.
  • Special Report on Marijuana from The New Scientist in England : Tired of the preposterously pro and the cravenly con of this debate? This page is a small island of sanity in a "War Against Some Drugs" that has produced outrages such as this "Police Raid"with guns drawn in an American High School. We suppose it was an exercise to teach American teenagers what a Gestapo driven police state feels like. An overwhelming "success" in that regard. No drugs,of course, were found.
  • Popular Science: Don't let the age of this magazine fool you. It has undergone a rebirth over the last decade and the website can keep you up to date on the latest in technology, engineering, and -- extra points -- new toys for grown boys.
  • The Book Art of Richard Minsky: Minsky, for decades, has been one of the world's cutting edge creators of book binding and books in general. Brilliant and intensely quirky, Minsky's online exhibition of his ten volumes exemplifying The Bill of Rights is not to be missed. You might want to save up and order one or two ammendments for your private collection. We're opting for The Fourth Amendment (Neuromancer) for our collection.
  • Goudy: No, it isn't a soft form of Dutch cheese, but one of America's most brilliant typographers, Eric W. Goudy who worked in the early part of the 20th century. I believe Goudy is the most brilliant American typographer in history. This link takes you to an online, page by page tour of some of his work done for The Village Press & Letter Foundry of New York. Browse a bit and see if you don't agree.
  • Mark Twain on language and bein paid by the word at Wordspy. "An average English word is four letters and a half. By hard, honest labor I've dug all the large words out of my vocabulary and shaved it down till the average is three and a half. . . . I never write "metropolis" for seven cents, because I can get the same money for "city." I never write "policeman," because I can get the same price for "cop." . . . I never write "valetudinarian" at all, for not even hunger and wretchedness can humble me to the point where I will do a word like that for seven cents; I wouldn't do it for fifteen."
  • "The Peace Rug": When you need to see how deeply demented new age psychobabble has become and visit some hustlers who are making an old age buck out of it.
  • David Warren: He's Catholic, he's Canadian, lots of folks like his politics and hate his anti-gay positions. He's also a wise and asture essayist."To my mind, the real story was in the opposition to this war, and how it persisted and developed in Europe and North America even after Iraq had been liberated from its tyrant. That will be the "developing story" in 2004 and years to come -- how the West has turned against its own ideals, and grows increasingly ashamed, even of its own most obvious accomplishments. "
  • Amazing Art: Beyond, way beyond, Escher
  • The Wingnut Debate Dictionary: An invaluable resource for keeping up with the widening plague of mental illness on and off the Web, i.e. "Blognostication \blog-"näs-t&-'kA-sh&n\ n (2003): 1) an indication in advance: FORETOKEN, delivered through the internet, via a Weblog, or 'blog. Usually most effective when done after the fact. "
  • Cool Tools: Kevin Kelly, ex-Wired, ex-Whole Earth Catalog, ex-etc. is still coming up with amazing and useful items in all areas. Short takes on great things in the Whole Earth style. Makes catalogs in general seem, well, very 20th century.

  • Posted by Vanderleun Jan 18, 2004 2:58 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    All in the (Palestinian) Family

    In the first in what will be a continuing Palestinian hit series, the infection of human beings by the insect mind of the Hamas borg continued last week with this verision of "Mommy Dearest":Homicide Bomber-Mom Kills Four at Gaza Border

    JERUSALEM  -- A Palestinian homicide bomber -- and mother of two -- blew herself up Wednesday at the main crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip (search), killing four people and injuring seven, emergency officials said.

    Authorities believe this was the first mother to act as a homicide or suicide bomber. She was identified as Hamas member Reem Al-Reyashi, 22, of Gaza. Family members said she had a 3-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl....

    Reyashi left behind a 1-1/2-year-old daughter and a 3-1/2-year-old son. "God gave me two children and I loved them so much. Only God knew how much I loved them," she said in the video, asking that her children study in religious schools.

    This loving mother, who left her children to a rich and full intellectual life inside the local maddras, seemed to think nothing of the four Jewish mothers from whom she took:

  • St.-Sgt. Tzur Or 20, from Rishon Lezion

  • Cpl. Andre Kegeles, 19, from Nahariya

  • Border policeman St.-Sgt. Vladimir Trostinsky, 22, from Rehovot

  • Security guard Gal Shapira, 29 from Ashkelon

  • As soldiers they were between her and killing even more Jews and so, frankly, they had to go. It was the least she could do for a God that knew how much she loved children.

    Newspapers, television, and the Internet were awash in amazed commentary on the "tragedy" of the incident, but few noted the connection between this caring mother and "The Loving Terrorist Father of Two," seen below in an article here from last year.

    Looking at the two pictures of these proud and beaming parents, you can see the same insect mind chittering behind the eyes.

    Here's a variation of that article with only the picture and pronouns changed:

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

    You've got to hand it to the Hivemind of the Palestinian Insect Masters, they've finally come up with a new take on an old show. Call it, All in the Family.


    Right to left: Koran, Insect Mind, Automatic Weapon

    And people like this are said to be "owed" a state of their own?. Really? Where? Is there a Hell deep enough for those whose conception of God's work is this?


    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 18, 2004 10:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Life Seen on Mars



    Discovered at Inessential

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 18, 2004 10:12 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Pleasures of the Suburban Wilderness

    Sign at the trailhead, Top of the World,
    Laguna Beach, California


    Lay down these words
    Before your mind like rocks.
    placed solid, by hands
    In choice of place, set
    Before the body of the mind
    in space and time:
    Solidity of bark, leaf, or wall
    riprap of things:
    Cobble of milky way.
    straying planets,
    These poems, people,
    lost ponies with
    Dragging saddles --
    and rocky sure-foot trails.
    The worlds like an endless
    Game of Go.
    ants and pebbles
    In the thin loam, each rock a word
    a creek-washed stone
    Granite: ingrained
    with torment of fire and weight
    Crystal and sediment linked hot
    all change, in thoughts,
    As well as things.

    -- Gary Snyder

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 17, 2004 12:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Roots of Kim Basinger

    It is said, and not without a smudge of truth, that the history of soap is the history of advertising. For a quick tour of this concept, you might spend a bit of time scouring the new onlline exhibit, Soap In America , at the Smithsonian.

    All sorts of small items of information have been pressed into this cake. Not the least of which is the item linked here, a 1972 ad featuring Ann & Kim Basinger. If you follow the link and supersize the graphic you'll find that Kim "was the winner of Breck's annual Hairstyling Contest which is a special feature of America's Junior Miss Pageant."

    Sadly, she's let her hair care slip a bit in the intervening years.

    "You're the first man in five years who didn't tell me I look like Veronica Lake inside of a minute. "

    UPDATE: In one of those common moments of synchronicity, within two hours of writing the above, I stumbled across the fact that "The Breck Girl," thought to be an emblem of a kinder and gentler time, is still with us on the campaign trail:

    Senator John Edwards has a somewhat different issue to combat -- that he is, for lack of a more appropriate phrase, too pretty. Teased early on in the campaign for his perfectly coiffed hair and dubbed the Breck Girl....
    -- Dress for Hoped-For Success

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 17, 2004 10:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    One Month of Victor Hanson

    Stuck on Calypso’s Island

    I'm sure that the Europeans are light-years ahead of us in the use of public transportation. They probably are wiser in their per-capita energy utilization, and their primary and secondary education may be superior. But there is also something of Calypso's island about them. For all their professed enjoyment of food, shelter, and lovemaking, the Europeans are bored silly with their listless routine and are increasingly timid -- this from a great people who should not, but really do, live in terror of their own past. Like Odysseus in his comfy subservience to Calypso, these mesmerized and complacent sensualists sometimes contemplate leaving the comfort of their fairyland atoll and in boredom weep nightly, gazing out at the seashore. But as yet they lack the hero's courage to finally build a raft and sail rough seas to confront suitors who are trying to crash their civilization.
    The Western Disease
    The so-called Arab street and its phony intellectuals sense that influential progressive Westerners will never censure Middle Eastern felonies if there is a chance to rage about Western misdemeanors. It is precisely this parasitic relationship between the foreign and domestic critics of the West that explains much of the strange confidence of those who planned September 11. It was the genius of bin Laden, after all, that he suspected after he had incinerated 3,000 Westerners an elite would be more likely to blame itself for the calamity -- searching for ‘root causes’ than marshalling its legions to defeat a tribe that embraced theocracy, autocracy, gender apartheid, polygamy, anti-Semitism, and religious intolerance.

    The Same Old Thing
    Downsizing in Europe, seeing a wall rise on Israel's border, and trying to create democracy in places like Afghanistan and Iraq are not pleasant, easy solutions. Indeed, such tough efforts to end the familiar status quo will prompt greater outrage. Expect more adolescent "I hate Bush" articles, gloomy, end-of-the-world scenarios in the New York Review of Books, and hysterical appearances from an array of ex-NATO apparatchiks, worried former Saudi ambassadors, out-of-work Clinton State Department "crisis-managers," and frowning Washington insiders. Anticipate also more invective about "neoconservatives," "unilateralism," "ideologically driven policy," "hegemony," "squandered good will" -- and all the other meaningless buzz words and third-hand catch-phrases that now are regurgitated daily in lieu of thoughtful analysis.

    Our Primordial World
    [T]he stuff of collective ego and insecurity is often a uniform race, religion, or class that only fuels sensitivity to nationalist insults and perceived slights. America in contrast has always been a brew of faiths, colors, and ethnicities, united by shared values and concerned more with money than with accent, birth, or pedigree. So again, while we are patriotic and don't like bullies, most Americans don't much care about a national ego that must be fed and coddled by other countries. On almost any given day we turn on the television, surf the news channel, see here an Arab burning an American flag, there a European anti-globalization protester torching an effigy of George Bush, yawn, perhaps mumble out loud "Can't these losers get a life," and then plug in a DVD or hit HBO.

    As Mr. Bush has grasped, every time we have humiliated our enemies we have gained respect and won security. By the same token, on each occasion we have shown deference to a Mr. Karzai, the Iraqi interim government, and our Eastern European friends, we have helped to create security and stability. Apart from the model of our forefathers who crushed and then lifted up the Germans and Japanese, we could find no better guide in this war than William Tecumseh Sherman and Abraham Lincoln -- in that order. The former would remind us that our enemies traffic in pride and thus first must be disabused of it through defeat and humiliation. The latter (who turned Sherman and Grant lose) would maintain that we are a forgiving sort, who prefer restored rather than beaten people as our friends.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 16, 2004 5:58 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Why God Made the Delete Key

    Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 21:40:19 -0500
    Subject: Mailfailure Delivery

    Dear Sir/Madam
    There was an internal error at reception of the letter on your letter box. To receive this letter click here.
    Mail service

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 16, 2004 11:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Hungry Universe


    Sloan Digital Sky Survey Reveals Giant Clump of Stars Near Andromeda Galaxy

    Atlanta -- A international team of astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey collaboration has discovered a giant clump of stars near the Andromeda Galaxy that could be a previously unknown satellite galaxy of Andromeda or could be the last remnants of a galaxy torn apart by Andromeda's tidal forces.

    The clump of stars, named Andromeda NE by the researchers for its location to the northeast of the Andromeda Galaxy, is enormous. It covers a larger area on the sky than the full Moon. If added together the total light from the stars in Andromeda NE would rival many nearby galaxies in brightness. Yet because these stars are so spread out, Andromeda NE appears 10 times dimmer than the faintest known galaxy.


    While analyzing data from an SDSS scan of Andromeda, Zucker and his team used special filtering techniques to select objects with specific colors and brightness typical of Andromeda's stars. When the SDSS team mapped the distribution of these stars they detected a number of features previously noted by other astronomers. But SDSS researchers didn't know what to make of a large concentration of stars - what they described at first as a giant, ghostly shape ....

    "One of the most important questions about Andromeda NE is its distance. Although our findings don't allow us to measure this precisely, our data indicate that it is roughly at the same distance as the Andromeda Galaxy," said Bell.

    That means that the clump of stars is gravitationally bound to the Andromeda Galaxy, in orbit around its larger neighbor and possibly is in the process of being torn apart by Andromeda's tidal forces. These forces arise because Andromeda's gravitational pull is stronger on the near side of Andromeda NE than on the far side, pulling the stars away from each other. "For most small companion galaxies it is ultimately only a matter of time until they are shredded by the tides of the parent galaxy," explained Hans-Walter Rix, director of MPIA.

    Over the past decade astronomers have found increasing evidence that the distant, outer reaches of normal spiral galaxies like Andromeda and the Milky Way are not quiet backwaters, but rather arenas of ongoing galaxy disruption. As satellite galaxies are ripped apart by tidal forces, they lose stars in great streams along their orbital paths. Researchers have detected such stellar streams around both the Milky Way and Andromeda, suggesting that this kind of galactic cannibalism is commonplace.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 16, 2004 9:24 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    "The brains, coated with egg, seasoning and flour, puff up when cooked. They are served hot, heaping outside the bun."

    Brainburgers! Yup, it's Time to eat!

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 16, 2004 8:54 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Law of Curves

    Gopnik's Learning Curve

    The ability to learn is inversely proportional to years of school, adjusted for hormones.

    Gopnik's Gender Curves

    The male curve is an abrupt rise followed by an equally abrupt fall. The female curve is a slow rise to an extended asymptote. The areas under the curves are roughly equal. These curves apply to all activities at all time scales (e.g. attention to TV programs, romantic love, career scientific productivity).

    -- The World Question Center, 2004

    Alison Gopnik

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 16, 2004 8:28 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Three Second Rule
    Pöppel's Universal

    We take life 3 seconds at a time. Human experience and behaviour is characterized by temporal segmentation. Successive segments or "time windows" have a duration of approx. 3 seconds. Examples: Intentional movements are embedded within 3 s (like a handshake); the anticipation of a precise movement like hitting a golf ball does not go beyond 3 s; if we reproduce the duration of a stimulus, we can do so accurately up to 3 s but not beyond; if we look at ambiguous figures (like a vase vs. two faces) or if we listen to ambiguous phoneme sequences (like Cu-Ba-Cu-Ba-.., either hearing Cuba or Bacu) automatically after approx. 3 s the percept switches to the alternative; the working platform of our short term memory lasts only 3 s (being interrupted after 3 s most of the information is gone); spontaneous speech in all languages is temporally segmented, each segment lasting up to 3 s; this temporal segmentation of speech shows up again in poetry, as a verse of a poem is embedded within 3 s (Shakespeare: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day"); musical motives preferably last 3 s (remember Beethoven's Fifth Symphony); decisions are made within 3 s (like zapping between TV channels); and there are more examples. Thus, the brain provides a temporal stage that last approx. 3 s, which is used in perception, cognition, movement control, memory, speech, or music.

    -- The World Question Center

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 16, 2004 8:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Not My Daughter, But Perhaps My Granddaughter

    Did life ever exist on Mars? If so, the best evidence may be fossils preserved in the rocks. Geologists and biologists will one day explore Mars, piecing together the history of the planet and perhaps its ancient life.
    -- Exploring Mars

    Artwork for NASA by Pat Rawlings.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 16, 2004 7:20 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Franken, my dear, I don't give a damn.

    Kill the Fwanken! Kill the Fwanken!

    Rush wasn't built in a day. That's Michael Harrison's take on this week's announcement by Progress Radio that it had signed comedian/author Al Franken for a daily show intended to provide a liberal challenge to the medium's 600-station gorilla, Rush Limbaugh. The founder and editor of Talkers magazine, the industry's lead trade journal, says that if Progress Radio fails it will be because of the impossibly high expectations it has set for itself. ...[snip]... [W]e suspect that Mr. Franken is likely to find the daily grind of direct competition--a three-hour radio show--a tad more strenuous than writing "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot."

    In short, Messrs. Walsh and Franken have set a high bar for themselves. We wish them well in the rough-and-tumble of the market. And if they do beat the odds, maybe we could finally get Congress to stop using taxpayer dollars to subsidize NPR.

    -- OpinionJournal - Taste

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 16, 2004 7:08 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    More Good News on Taxes

    It's becoming crystal clear that one of the central issues that Americans will vote on this November is whether they side for the party that wants everybody to have more money, or the party that wants everybody to have less money.

    It's hardly news that Americans save too little. Yet for the past two decades, while the personal savings rate has headed mostly down, politicians have mostly only remarked (or despaired, depending on temperament) on that fact.

    But now it looks like somebody is going to do something about it. Our good friend, Mr. Rumor, has it that on Tuesday night President Bush will revive the proposal for two new tax-exempt savings accounts in his State of the Union address.

    The first, a lifetime savings account, would allow individuals of any age and any income to contribute up to $7,500 a year. Interest and investment income would accumulate tax-free and withdrawals could be made at any time, for any purpose, without a tax penalty. Permitting tax-free withdrawals distinguishes this account from the current, more specialized, medical or education savings accounts by offering savers immediate, penalty-free liquidity.

    The second, a retirement savings account, would be similar to a Roth IRA but much more powerful. Like current IRAs, withdrawals would not be permitted until a certain age is reached. Interest and investment income would grow tax-free and withdrawals would also be tax-exempt. But the new account would more than double the contribution to $7,500 a year, per individual, and has no income caps for eligibility. (Currently, to be eligible for a Roth IRA, joint income cannot exceed $160,000.)

    -- Lead Editorial, Wall Street Journal

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 16, 2004 6:34 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    'Not My Book... Honest'
    "This is Ron Suskind's book," Mr. O'Neill told Katie Couric Tuesday morning. "This is not my book." Not his book? I'm not sure I follow that. Mr. O'Neill gave Ron Suskind CD-ROMs containing 19,000 documents for the book. Mr. Suskind then turned over these 19,000 documents to a 23-year-old former college newspaper editor who he says "dove into the documents . . . and then began the process of assessing the worth of each." Mr. Suskind wrote what he calls "a work of narrative nonfiction" that "relies on the power of story." The primary source for this "story" is Paul O'Neill, whose picture is on the cover with the blind president, but who is now at pains to put distance between himself and the product.

    --[snip]---'s remarkable software has the ability to herd together like-minded readers and point them at each other. It reveals that the book Mr. O'Neill says isn't his is being bought by people who've also purchased "The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception" by David Corn, "Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth" by Joe Conason, "The Clinton Wars" by Sidney Blumenthal, and "American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush" by Kevin Phillips. Among the multitude of apparently unanticipated consequences Mr. O'Neill is just now discovering, falling in among this group must be the one that hurts the most.

    -- Daniel Henninger, WSJ

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 15, 2004 11:29 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Repub Eye for the Second Guy


    The Kerry for President makeover committee today announced a new look for their candidate.

    "Nobody can any longer deny," said Kyan Douglas , the campaign's grooming guru, " that John Kerry is a man of the people, by the people, and for the people."

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 15, 2004 2:59 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    File Blog Comments Under “It seemed like a good idea at the time...”

    Weblogging is growing up. Oh wait, you thought that would be a good thing? You must still be young. -- Mark Pilgrim

    Like most other people working in this medium, I like the idea of open and unfettered comments. Like most sane people, however, I really dislike the reality of over 3,500 comment spams in less than 24 hours.

    That was the reality here over the last day and, after spending hours reading about and installing a blacklist and other gizmos I’ve concluded that, for now at least, it really isn’t worth the aggravation and wasted time.

    Until such time as Movabletype comes out with a fix for this, or until such time as some unknown hero develops a killer plugin, or until such time as the comment spammers are located and fed into industrial shredders feet first while ringed with web cams, I’m disabling comments here.

    SpamCop I am not. Neither am I SpongeBob. The idea of maintaining a page with a big “Spam Me!” sign printed on it fills me with inertia.

    Should you wish to comment on anything posted here, please mail it to me at

    I’ll put it in an update.

    For those who want to read the article that made up my mind for me, please check Mark Pilgrim’s take no prisoners article: Weblog Spam .

    He’s right, you know.


    UPDATE: SB writes: "The problem with weblog comments is probably why the Blogfather himself, Glenn Reynolds, doesn't have comments. He also pointed out that it was like having spraycans available for people to put graffiti on your site as well, or words to that effect.

    "I just wish that those who still have comments would have the software automatically remove the idiotic "First!" posts, but not necessarily the first posting. "

    Now that's a software we could get behind.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 14, 2004 8:29 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    When Mugshots Imitate Life Imitiating Hollywood Imitating Hollywood


    -- As found onFear This Factor

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 14, 2004 1:32 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Way-Too-Much-Time for Way-Too-Much-Food


    Allison Jester, a sous-chef at Rippe's
    restaurant on Pier 70 in Seattle, seasons
    and coats a filet mignon with Starbuck's
    espresso grounds before grilling it.
    The entree, which sells for $29.95,
    has become a hit.

    -- The Seattle Times

    "Other chefs have used coffee as a marinade or coating. Putting coffee in a recipe was a natural for Jester, a self-confessed java junkie who starts each day with a triple iced mocha and has straight shots of espresso later in the day. "
    Well, now we know where she gets the grounds.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 14, 2004 1:25 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    We're Still Not Going to Read "The Master Index to the VMS Volume Set." So There.


    Ever wonder where the term RTFM came from? An excerpt from a paper on Socialization in Open Technical Communities:

    "One of the oldest open communities maxims I'm familiar with is RTFM: "Read The Fucking/Fine Manual." The Google Group archives are an extensive archive of Usenet messages, a pre-Web bulletin board type system on the Internet, from 1981 to the present. The first instance of "RTFM" usage in the archives is a 1983 message referring to the VMS mainframe computer community:

    "Try looking in the Master Index to the VMS volume set. There, under BACKUP, you will see a pointer off to appendix B of manual 4A. This appendix describes the BACKUP tape format in some detail. The VMS people have a cute little piece of advice for people who are too slug-headed to read the manuals: RTFM. (Reason 1983)"

    -- From Joseph Reagle

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 14, 2004 10:24 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    On the New National Space Program
    Bush OKs new moon missions

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- American astronauts will return to the moon early in the next decade in preparation for sending crews to explore Mars and nearby asteroids, President Bush is expected to propose next week as part of a sweeping reform of the U.S. space program.

    Outer Space
    Robert Frost

    "But outer Space,
    At least this far,
    For all the fuss
    Of the populace
    Stays more popular
    Than populous."

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 12, 2004 7:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Excuse Me, Do You Have the Time ... on Mars?

    Once the Rover Crew has their watches, look for this to become the must have uberGeek watch of the year:

    Pasadena (JPL) Jan 12, 2004 They said it couldn't be done. But in the sleepy little town of Montrose, California, nestled in the hills surrounding JPL, master watchmaker Garo Anserlian of Executive Jewelers is perfecting a timepiece for hundreds of Earthlings bound to Mars' irregular day. Past the glass cases of what looks like an ordinary jewelry store is a workshop where watches are losing 39 minutes a day.

    Rover controllers have to monitor Spirit (and soon, Opportunity) all the time; this doesn't just mean 24 hours a day " it means 24 hours, 39 minutes a day. The martian day is longer than Earth's, but this minimal variance can amount to physical and mental fatigue. Every day, team members are reporting to work 39 minutes later than the previous day.

    Garo acknowledged that the Mars watch request is the strangest he has ever received. It took him about two months to design, fine-tune and streamline the process that would keep the watch on Mars time.

    "Since I was a young child I've put my heart into making very precise time pieces, now I was being asked to create a watch that was slow on purpose " it was going to be a challenge if it was even possible," Garo said. "I spent more than $1,000 trying to figure this out " damaging watches, trying different parts, just searching for a way."

    Garo finished Doudrick's watch first and after initial testing, discovered that it was off by no more than ten seconds in 24 hours Earth time " an amazingly accurate feat for an entirely mechanical watch. Now, when the store is fully staffed, the experts can retrofit and thus create about ten watches per day. After he accommodates all rover team members who wish to own a custom-made Mars watch, he will market his patented rarity to the public.

    Full story: Watchmaker With Time To Lose

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 12, 2004 5:55 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Milking the Digital Divide

    Joi Ito, a man who's been to lunch with everyone and everything online, and whose blog is becoming the society page for geeks, is on yet another mission to make the world safe for Technocracy. His cause this time out is the always widening, ever-threatening, yawning wider and seldom closing "digital divide." The Digital Divide, in case you've been in a time share with Judge Crater, is the fret that what the poor need most, here and abroad, are Internet connections. This "issue" is of ancient online lineage and even predates spam. It's the Fret that has launched a thousand conferences and yet always seems to widen as the decades roll along.

    Still, it has been a proven winner in the list of begging bowl issues that drive the urge to merge among those who can afford or get a company to pay for an off-site blatherfest. Plus it has the added advantage of making the organizers excel in the look and feel category of online humanitarian.

    Never slow to run reanimator on a theme that has previously been done to death, Ito (who's been puffing new life into the hoary "direct democracy" concept by calling it "digital democracy") is now on a bender to pave over the digital divide by.... talking about it some more. A flyer reproduced on his site gives us this priceless summation of the issue and those who would batten off of it. He calls this meatup the Digital Democracy Tech-In

    Emergent Democracy Worldwide
    Joichi Ito, Founder and CEO, Neoteny
    Ethan Zuckerman, Founder, Geekcorps
    Time: 3:30pm - 4:15pm
    Location: California Ballroom C

    While we're building great new tools to build communities, we've done very little to ensure that people around the world have access to them. And even when we've made it possible for people in developing nations to speak, we've done little to ensure that anyone listens.

    How do we ensure that the "Second Superpower" Jim Moore proposes includes the poor as well as the rich?

    When a new democratic structure emerges from highly-wired westerners, how do we ensure it's fair and just for those currently unwired?

    The answer is more complex than bridging the so-called "digital divide" - it involves bridging countless cultural divides.

    Emerging technologies make it easier than ever to bring first-person perspectives, as well as images, movies and music to people in other nations - is this enough to bring cultures together and ensure they care about one another?

    It is amazing how much hubris can be packed into so few words.

    First up is the name "Emergent Democracy Worldwide." Sounds good but you can be sure that Joi and his gestalt were not and are not cheering the Iraq project along.

    Next we have Ito's "company" called, coyly, Neotony, which means, first and foremost, " retention of some larval or immature characters in adulthood." Translation: "big babies."

    Then we drop down into the meat of the announcement with the inclusively exclusive "we" who build "great new tools to build communities." That would be... ah... web sites?... blogs?... LiveJournal? Never mind, they will be insanely great new tools, for sure. But "We" just aren't doing enough for "Them" -- over there, down there, outside on the sidewalk, in the shelters, squatting in a mud hut gnawing on a root fifteen clicks southwest of Omaha or Mombassa, somewhere. We need to not do more but do something. Like this meeting.

    Next up in the grand plan is not only to get "them" to speak, but to "ensure that anyone listens. " I guess the deal is to make great tools that force the message on unwilling ears. Strange goal for people who make a lot of noise about freedom.

    The trouble with this crew is that it don't get no respect. Which is bad because, unless people start to listen, really listen, they'll never know that Ito and his cadre are the white-hot core of Jim Moore's Second Superpower. The 2nd SPower is something Berkman fellow cobbled together last spring to bring aid and comfort to a bunch of Americans who weren't too overjoyed about Iraq. It's a concept that been on lifesupport since about a week before it was published and requires constant conferences such as Ito's thump it back to life. It gets very thick very quick, but essentially promises that the geek shall inherit the Earth. It's persistence in this little corner of the web lends support to the proverb that "Those who code are easily snowed."

    Ito also then puts forward as the gospel of the day that a 'new democratic structure will emerge from wired westerners.' To which one can only ask, 'Oh yeah? You and what army? Still, it is pleasing to note that as this brave new world emerges it is casting a caring eye at those who will be sadly left behind.

    And caring is what this convocation is going to be about. Caring for the cultures, making sure that the cultures come together and "care about each other." Yes, we can see them now. The world's cultures all coming together under the big tent of broadband everywhere and caring deeply about each other. It sounds good enough to eat and it is. A banquet of caring. Belly up.

    But the real kicker is when you find out that in order to attend this little smarm fest you have to fork over $100. That's about $99 too high for anyone who is actually, well, you know.... poor.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 12, 2004 12:41 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    "The Peace Party"
    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 moreplausible explanation associates the peace advocates with thedeadly 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 program in 1863 called for a cessation of hostilities and a general convention of all the States, and who promised as the speedy result of a debauch of talk a carnival of bright eyes glistening with the tears of revived affection.

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

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 10, 2004 4:17 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Do Not Disturb

    If, when you've gotten past the door that's always locked,
    Down the corridor they say is there, and if the passage isn't blocked,
    And if you find the stockroom where the things we want are stocked,
    Wake me then.

    Or if you reach a cloudy gate, and if you make it through,
    And if you find the treasuries of snow and rain and dew,
    And bring back all the colors to replace our few,
    Wake me then.

    Or if you get across the ocean that's larger than our own,
    And reach the fallen angels howling around their fallen throne,
    And can tell me about their darkness, darker than I've known,
    Wake me then.

    Or if you come to a garden where a tree is blazing like ice,
    A place in which even the most unique thing happens twice,
    And if you're absolutely certain that it's free and Paradise,
    Wake me then.

    Or if, in your adventures, you should stumble on the place
    From which all power flows like water pouring from a vase,
    And then if, after seeing that, nothing else can ever be the case,
    Wake me then.

    Or if your plans wreck and go down, but if you keep
    Exploring taste by taste the extreme flavors of the deep,
    And if you come to rest in some more satisfying spot to sleep,
    Wake me then.

    by Kieth Waldrop at "No: A Journal of the Arts."

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 10, 2004 12:11 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Oy! Now It's The Interplanetary Jewish Conspiracy

    From Josh Harvey's Middle East comes this item which can only inflame Islamic Fanatics and the French to a white-hot shrieking sense of cerebral overload.

    As far as I can tell, there are only two flags currently represented on the Red Planet. The Israeli flag is pictured here next to Ilan Ramon's name, which appears on the memorial plaque to the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia. The plaque is located on the high-gain antenna of NASA's Spirit spacecraft, which is currently sitting peacefully in Mars' Gusev Crater. The landing site is to be named Columbia Memorial Station.
    Via lgf: Two Flags on Mars

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 8, 2004 6:02 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Beagle Found! Honest!
    ESA Finds Beagle - no, really this time! European Space Agency HQ - Bad Kockupp, Germany. ESA official, Harry Cheeks has just made one of the strangest "Good News -- Bad News" announcements in the history of space exploration.

    Mr. Cheeks: "Ladies and gentlemen, I have the pleasant duty to inform you that the Beagle 2 has been located on Mars, in an unexpected location, but nevertheless in perfect working order!"

    Read on to find the Beagle's exact Location

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 8, 2004 5:44 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Leno and Gates: The Banterthon

    What do you get when you are Bill Gates and you have to introduce MSN as new yet again? Why you get Jay Leno on the line and you banter like there's no bizarro!

    JAY LENO: I know Bill mentioned the flat screen TV, certainly the biggest consumer item of the past year. See, this is what's wrong with our country, Americans are getting fatter, our TVs are getting thinner. We realize, we're too fat, the TVs are too thick, we both can't fit in the room at the same time. Rather than lose weight, we just get a thinner screened TV.... I'm coming down the strip this afternoon in front of one of these huge Lincoln navigators, you know, the kids are in the back seat, they're watching a movie, on the DVD screen, and I'm right behind them. Now, I'm watching the movie on the DVD screen. When they change lanes, I'm changing. I wound up in Henderson trying to see the end of Big Bear.

    But anyway, we're here today to introduce -- I introduced -- actually Bill and I go back, because we introduced Windows '95 together. What year was that, Bill?

    BILL GATES: We picked the name for the date, it was 1995.

    JAY LENO: Yes, '95, right. Back then Bill was doing this computer thing out of his garage, I paid for lunch, he still owes me a $20, but I mean, we'll forget about that. But, who would have guessed back in '95 that this whole computer thing was going to catch on the way it did. It's pretty amazing. Do we have some photos of that? There it is right there. There he is, as you see. My hair was much longer then, a little darker. Bill, your hair looks exactly the same. The glasses are a little smaller. Bill, it's interesting, since Ben Franklin there's been a lot of advances in eyewear, did you know that? They have the Lasik surgery now, they have the contact lenses, have you thought about it?

    -- MSN - Speech Transcript, 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 8, 2004 5:21 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    What It Took to Give Mars the Spirit

    The saga of the Spirit on Marsis only just beginning, and many have seen the various animations from NASA on the landing. But if you want to backtrack all the way to the launch pad, Rocket Man's: How Spirit got to Mars is the place to go for an astute and, frankly, mind-boggling account of just want it takes to ship 408 pounds of science experiments to the Red Planet.

    Spirit was launched aboard a Delta II 7925 from Cape Canaveral on June 10, 2003. The Delta II consisted of 3 separate stages and 9 solid rocket motors. The launch vehicle weighed almost 527,000 lbs and on top of it, enclosed inside the payload fairing, was the Spacecraft. The entire spacecraft weighed a total of 2,343 lbs, but the Spirit rover weighed only 408 lbs. So for every 1 lb of rover that would make it to the surface of Mars, 1,296 lbs of launch vehicle and spacecraft were required to be launched from the surface of the Earth.

    The enormous amount of energy required to get landers all the way to the Martian surface imposes severe restrictions on the design of the vehicles, which is why it is no easy feat to have a successful mission. There are a lot of critical systems that have absolutely no backup, and if one of them fails, the whole mission will fail. Which is why every component, system and subsystem on a planetary probe is rigorously tested prior to launch, and it is also one of the reasons why these types of missions cost a lot of money.

    But when all those critical systems work perfectly you get spectacular data, as these pictures from the Spirit rover show.

    Read the rest for a step-by-step, stage-by-stage account.

    [Seen at Belmont Club

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 8, 2004 3:36 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    God's Back and He's Not Pleased

    His schedule passeth all understanding, but every so often GOD speaks.

    No Rock Badgers, Pigs, Lawyers or Each Other Shalt Thou Eat

    As THE LORD THY GOD there are lots of things about my latest experiment, The Smart Monkey, that really gets my gilded calf into meltdown mode. I try to let a lot of things slide because I've got a universe to run and I'M BUSY getting things in order for my Son to take over fairly soon. Still, whenever I take a magazine break to keep up on how things are going for that Free Will 4.6 program I've been running on Earth for a few thousand years I keep stumbling across items like The Case for Cannibalism by Theodore Dalrymple at City Journal:

    According to the psychiatrist, Heinrich Wilmer, the German cannibal Armin Meiwes, who killed Bernd Brandes and then ate at least 44 pounds of his flesh, is suffering from "emotional problems." We might say the same, I suppose, of Brandes, who answered Meiwes's Internet advertisement for "a young, well-built man who wants to be eaten" though his problems are now past curing. Brandes also had a slightly offbeat sense of humor. On discovering that both he and Meiwes were smokers, he reportedly said, "Good, smoked meat lasts longer."
    Lest anyone think that the argument from mutual consent for the permissibility of cannibalism is purely theoretical, it is precisely what Meiwes’s defense lawyer is arguing in court. The case is a reductio ad absurdum of the philosophy according to which individual desire is the only thing that counts in deciding what is permissible in society. Brandes wanted to be killed and eaten; Meiwes wanted to kill and eat. Thanks to one of the wonders of modern technology, the Internet, they both could avoid that most debilitating of all human conditions, frustrated desire. What is wrong with that? Please answer from first principles only.

    Sigh. I boil it down to 10 things. Ten little easy to understand things and you STILL DON'T GET IT!

    It's enough to make me dump the way-new business plan my Son drew up and get Old Testament on your ass. First principles? Okay, here are a few striaight from THE LORD THY GOD:

    GOD SAYS: not all desires should be gratified, instantly or otherwise. Please note that the more desires there are that can be gratified, the greater the opportunity for evil. NOW I DON'T LIKE EVIL. I'VE BEEN KNOWN TO PUMP UP THE SEA LEVEL SEVERAL MILES JUST TO MAKE THAT POINT.

    GOD SAYS: Cannibalism is not only wrong but depraved and vile even if you can find a willing meal.

    GOD SAYS: Some things (and many more than we'd like to think) cannot be justified under the banner of "consenting adults." Remember, that's your idea not MINE.

    GOD SAYS: Any lawyer who would argue in court that "mutual consent" is a defense for cannibalism, needs to be fed to STARVING WART HOGS alive on a live web cam. For the public good.

    UPDATE: My Son just emailed me to say that I'm being too hard on the lawyers, and that I copped that punishment from Thomas Harris. (Humph, Who does He think gave Harris the idea in the first place?) Okay, I'll hack him up before I feed him to the swine. The webcast stays.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 8, 2004 2:46 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    When the Snakes Start Exploding Out of People's Chests in Salt Lake Don't Blame NASA

    Greetings from Salt Lake City

    Okay, check me on this one.

    1) We scoop up some stuff from a comet. Just a leetle bit of real interstellar dust which couldn't possibly contain life, or spores, or a teeny-tiny something from the birth of the universe sucked up into "Aerolgel." Let's call this operation something romantic and musical like... "Stardust".

    2) We drop this stuff inside of a small re-entry vehicle at the "...planned landing site -- the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR), southwest of Salt Lake City." This is also known as The Dugway Proving Grounds whose motto is "We see many sheep going in. None coming out."

    [We note in passing the use of the phrase "planned landing site." We also note " The reentry to landing accuracy has been analyzed and found to be sufficient to achieve a landing footprint of 18 x 52 miles."]

    3) When they find the capsule which should be intact somewhere in the 1,000 square miles where it should be, they'll be taking the comet's material off to the Johnson Space Center.

    4) Nothing can go wrong and it will only be sterile space dust. There's nothing to these theories about life on comets.

    5) Because there's nothing really to worry about: "On the basis of available information about the Moon, Io, dynamically new comets ... the task group concluded with a high degree of confidence that no special containment is warranted for samples returned from those bodies beyond what is needed for scientific purposes." Nothing can go wrong...go wrong...go wrong...go.....

    I feel better now. Don't you?

    Greetings from Dugway Proving Grounds

    (Item info via SciScoop)

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 8, 2004 1:02 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Speed. Action. Acting: This Film's Got It All

    SKID MARKS**: The Roman Cortez Award Winning Short Film that is way too fast and too furious. Street racer or not, you owe yourself a screening of this mini-epic. Don't walk out during the credits.

    And check out Seven Oh Five to keep up on these folks who deserve a genius award all their own.

    (** Short Film Winner at Rockstar Games.)

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 8, 2004 11:33 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Mac Up to Save the World

    Best reason to date for owning a Macintosh.

    "Probably the single thing I do personally that reduces the crude havoc on the Internet is avoiding the Windows OS. Use a Mac, for heaven's sake. Stop adding to the pollution of viruses, and stop offering slave machines that spew spam for others."
    -- Bruce Sterling "State of the World Address

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 8, 2004 10:01 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Get the Hook!

    If you're not a fish,
    don't swallow this.

    "A five-inch fishing lure which sports three steel hooks and cautions users that it is, "Harmful if swallowed," has been identified as one of the nation's wackiest warning labels in an annual contest sponsored by the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch."
    -- From M-LAW's Wacky Warning Labels

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 7, 2004 4:56 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Directions for Liberals

    As our shared history unfolds it is easy to see that the crippling affliction infecting contemporary American Liberalism is that liberals, quite frankly, don't know where to go.

    Why is this? Simplicity itself.

    Because liberals think that they know everything, they never ask for directions. As a result, they have become lost in America.

    Now it is the winter of their deancontent. They are at a fork in the road. Two paths lie before them. Down one is the path to a brighter day on the high headlands. Down the other path is the pit and the boneyard of political obscurity. At the end of one path, they gain the Whitehouse. At the end of the other, they sit home on Saturday nights for decades watching The West Wing reruns on Bravo while sending out frantic emails for a Queer Eye makeover.

    No matter which path they choose we are here to help them. These are the directions to Recovery or Damnation.

    RECOVERY -- How to go from:

    Liberal to Okay

    Liberal to Strong

    Liberal to War

    Liberal to Security

    Liberal to Carefree

    DAMNATION -- How to go from:

    Liberal to Idiot

    Liberal to Frankenstein

    Liberal to Defeated

    Liberal to Lost Nation

    Liberal to No Name

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 7, 2004 10:48 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    How to Go from Democrat to Republican

    Just follow these simple directions

    It will only take you 6 hours and 59 minutes.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 7, 2004 9:22 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Carnival of the Vanities

    Yes, this is the place for the Carnival of the Vanities submissions this week.

    You can send them to The Carnival, or to the Publisher.

    Please include a link to the original item.

    Gerard Van der Leun

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 7, 2004 7:54 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    "The female of the species is more hungry than the male..."

    When many of the sisterhood are staring at a few months of embracing the salad bar, one determined Woman Wins N.Y. Fruitcake-Eating Contest

    A 105-pound woman was crowned Fruitcake Champion after swallowing nearly five pounds of the treat in 10 minutes, beating her closest rival - a man almost four times her weight - by a single bite.

    "My jaw is very tired right now," Sonya Thomas said Tuesday after out-eating 405-pound Eric Booker of Long Island by one-eighth of an ounce....

    Despite her size, Thomas, 36, is no lightweight on the professional eating circuit.

    She's eaten 43 tacos in 11 minutes to claim victory in the World Champion Chicken Taco Eating Contest. She also holds the female world record for eating 24 hot dogs in 12 minutes and for eating 68 hard-boiled eggs in 8 minutes.

    An admirable woman but we wouldn't want to share a studio apartment with her.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 6, 2004 6:29 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Words You Can't Say Anywhere, Anytime, Anymore Ever!

    The Banished Words List for 2004 has been announced. They are doing God's work in a demon haunted world.

    Hardly looking 'metrosexual,' a 'shocked and awed' Lake Superior State University Word Banishment selection committee emerged from its spider hole with its annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness.
    Words and phrases now consigned to the outer darkness and/or stygian deep include but are not limited to:

    (And we were having such fun such fun with this one too.)

    Ignore alien orders. And will the post office really not deliver the letter? Time for a test around April 15th.

    At least the know they won't be on anybody's menu soon.

    I noticed this afternoon that MSNBC in its futile quest for cool, ratings and sheer survival is now using the phrase "Campaign Embeds." A hanging offense.

    The website gets a pass, but everyone else gets shot.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 6, 2004 6:01 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Our Fearless and Far Flung Correspondents
    And a darkly tanned and disheveled Peter Jennings was seen patiently waiting on the two-hour Customs line at the St. Thomas airport.
    New York Post Gossip

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 6, 2004 5:12 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    New York City: "Hell with Good Restaurants"

    Or... perhaps... not so good after all.

    LE Cirque owner Sirio Maccioni doesn't forget an insult. Heading the restaurateur's list is former New York Times restaurant critic William Grimes, who trashed his sons' Osteria del Circo in January 2002. The one-star review described the rack of lamb as having "all the appeal of a gnarled tree stump" and the osso buco as "a slick, glutinous mass, with surprisingly untender meat concealed within." Interviewed yesterday by Women's Wear Daily on the 30th anniversary of Le Cirque, Maccioni hissed, "When a reviewer has an ugly wife, he can never be very good." Grimes told PAGE SIX's Ian Spiegelman, "It's a contemptible comment, regardless of who he was referring to. I thought he was a gentleman." Maccioni, presumably referring to Le Cirque, also complained: "The New York Times came in and took a star away, then the next year they gave it back." Grimes said he couldn't be the critic in question since, "I took the star away and it has not been given back." Nor could it be Grimes because, "Objectively, my wife is very attractive."
    From: Page Six

    "Hey, there's always room for "a slick, glutinous mass!"

    [Warning: Suckupathon follows -- "More shots of fine food like this can be had by browsing Lileks' Gallery of Regrettable Food and you can even get his wonderful, life-enhancing and stunningly brilliant book of the same title right HERE. Buy one for yourself, one for the little lady, one for your master and one for your dame and ... hell, just buy a couple of cases of this mighty fine and tasty book and hand them out at random on the street."]

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 6, 2004 4:56 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Meanwhile, in near Earth orbit... a slow leak.


    "U.S. and Russian specialists are investigating a slight drop in total cabin air pressure, which was first noted on 12/29 and has now stabilized at 731-732 mmHg after as total drop of 11 mmHg. While total pressure is directly measured, ppN2 (nitrogen partial pressure) cannot be determined by instrument readings but is commonly calculated (with known ppO2). The apparent decrease in nitrogen is as yet unexplained and under investigation."

    Translation: The International Space Station is losing significant amounts of air, and nobody knows why.

    Via SciScoop

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 6, 2004 2:59 PM | QuickLink: Permalink

    "This is the first color image of Mars taken by the panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. It is the highest resolution image ever taken on the surface of another planet."

    From: MER

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 6, 2004 2:48 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Raymond's Rules of Cosmic Order

    Eric S. Raymond is a UnixGod with no shortage of controversial ideas. That's the nature of Unix Gods. Strip the t-shirt off a UnixGod and you'll as likely find Mars as Jove. (Rarely, if ever, Venus.)

    Curmudgeonly, scratchy and brilliant, Raymond is the author of numerous articles and several books which have a wide influence outside the arcane field of Unix programming. His most well known works are:The Cathedral & the Bazaar and The New Hackers' Dictionary AKA The Jargon File.

    Last month, Raymond published a new book, The Art of Unix Programming which, according to Raymond,

    attempts to capture the engineering wisdom and philosophy of the Unix community as it's applied today not merely as it has been written down in the past, but as a living "special transmission, outside the scriptures" passed from guru to guru. Accordingly, the book doesn't focus so much on "what" as on "why", showing the connection between Unix philosophy and practice through case studies in widely available open-source software."

    All well and good and I am sure that all those like myself who cannot write a line of Unix wish those that can well in their endeavors. But, while not Unix literate myself, I do know guttural Unix as a consequence of many years dealing with various commands in the shell of a conferencing system called The Well. While frittering my years away on this limping, wheezing system I found I had to learn a few very basic Unix commands. I was also introduced to my first Unix Wizard, one "jef," who always seemed to know everything one could want to know about Unix and would share it in his gruff and blunt way. I liked his gruff bluntness, especially when it was directed against the personalities of others on the Well who yearn for bluntness like the landed fish yearns for the club.

    Years of online communication with jef gave me some insight into the kind of personality that is either drawn to Unix and to programming, or is shaped by Unix and programming. I've come to believe it is a symbiotic relationship, at best. So, even though I can't code, I was interested to see what lay at the core of Raymond's Unix epic. And what seemed closest to the core was his: Basics of the Unix Philosophy ) -- a series of 'rules' derived from a number of different programmers over the years that Raymond boiled down into a simple and elegant list. But, as is easy to see with only a brief perusal, this is not just some list to be pasted next to a programmers work station, this is a list that can function on many other levels. In short, it is a list with more to teach than just how craft Unix.

    The Raymond Rules for Unix

    • Rule of Modularity: Write simple parts connected by clean interfaces.

    • Rule of Clarity: Clarity is better than cleverness.

    • Rule of Composition: Design programs to be connected with other programs.

    • Rule of Separation: Separate policy from mechanism; separate interfaces from engines.

    • Rule of Simplicity: Design for simplicity; add complexity only where you must.

    • Rule of Parsimony: Write a big program only when it is clear by demonstration that nothing else will do.

    • Rule of Transparency: Design for visibility to make inspection and debugging easier.

    • Rule of Robustness: Robustness is the child oftransparency and simplicity.

    • Rule of Representation: Fold knowledge into data, soprogram logic can be stupid and robust.

    • Rule of Least Surprise: In interface design, always do theleast surprising thing.

    • Rule of Silence: When a program has nothing surprising to say, it should say nothing.

    • Rule of Repair: Repair what you can but when you must fail, fail noisily and as soon as possible.

    • Rule of Economy: Programmer time is expensive; conserve it in preference to machine time.

    • Rule of Generation: Avoid hand-hacking; write programs to write programs when you can.

    • Rule of Optimization: Prototype before polishing. Get it working before you optimize it.

    • Rule of Diversity: Distrust all claims for one true way.

    • Rule of Extensibility: Design for the future, because it will be here sooner than you think.

    Lets see how these rules work when applied to writing:

    The Raymond Rules for Writing

    • Rule of Modularity: Write simple sentences and paragraphs connected by clean transitions.

    • Rule of Clarity: Being clear is always the clever way to write.

    • Rule of Composition: Design paragraphs or chapters to be connected to others in a logical manner. The career of William Burroughs does not make this false. Remember that not all junkies can be writers, but all writers can write like junkies. Easily.

    • Rule of Separation: Separate sense from sensibility; separate style from story. In this way you can easily toss out sensibility and style and still have a pretty sensible story.

    • Rule of Simplicity: Write towards simplicity; add complexity only where you must and you mustn't add often.

    • Rule of Parsimony: Write a big book only when it is clear by demonstration that nothing else will tell the story. Not everything youve found out has to be told. Its called backstory because it needs to be kept in the back. Way back. (P.S. Will everyone please forward this rule to Neal Stephenson before he commits another book? Thank you.)

    • Rule of Transparency: Make them see. Write for visibility to make reading and comprehension easier. Do not dispense diaphanous shrouds of lilting loquaciousness that stultify and anesthetize the eternally enervated and torpid reader.

    • Rule of Robustness: Robustness is the child oftransparency and simplicity and the herald of readability.

    • Rule of Representation: Show. Do not tell.

    • Rule of Least Surprise: In writing, always choose theleast surprising word.

    • Rule of Silence: When youve made your point, shut up.

    • Rule of Repair: Repair what you can in the second draft but if it still fails, cut it. If it all fails, shelve it.

    • Rule of Economy: Writing time is always too short; take all you can when you can.

    • Rule of Generation: Avoid making it up all over again; write in notebooks in order to have something to write when you can.

    • Rule of Optimization: Prototype before polishing.Do an entire first draft before rewriting the first chapter.

    • Rule of Diversity: Distrust all claims for one true way to write including this way and this rule.

    • Rule of Extensibility: Write and revise as if your work will be published with your name on it, because it may well be.

    Not bad and thats only one draft. What this should suggest is that these rules are clever and useful well beyond the realm of Unix programming. Which, I believe, is one of Raymonds aims in drafting them; that they suggest not just a way of programming but a way of life.

    But dont take my word for it. Apply them yourself to the realms of law, of politics, of love and of war. Youll find they hold true in all of these areas. I suppose Raymond could have called these rules the Commandments of Unix, but why would a UnixGod do that?

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 5, 2004 4:18 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Clipping File

    The "Wrong" World View :

    Why did they blow up the World Trade Center in 1993? Because we kicked Iraq out of Kuwait? Yes! And if we’d turned a blind eye to that, and struck back only when Saddam invaded Saudi Arabia, then we’d be accused of supporting him in his previous war. We can’t win. And according to this line of thought, winning is something we shouldn’t be thinking about. It’s the wrong way to look at the world. Only losers win. -- James Lileks

    Hated for Who We Are:
    It is not our policies that inflame the hatred of the mullahs and the wahhabis, the Shiites and the Sunnis, the Osamas and the Mughniyahs. It's not what we do, but what we are — a free and successful society — that threatens them. The tyrannical terror masters know that our existence undermines their own authority and their own legitimacy in the eyes of their own people. -- Ledeen

    With Sprinkles on It :
    Now as a matter of lifestyle, cosmopolitanism has a lot going for it....The crust of our culture is British : perhaps the most open and inquisitive culture ever known, particularly if you drain out the class warfare and substitute the Scottish enlightenment . Subsequently, we've sprinkled ingredients from every other culture on the globe on top of it. -- Jonah Goldberg

    On the Beach :
    When the tide of terror recedes, it exposes an endless beach of bones. Some people want the bones exhumed; some want the tide, any tide, to cover them again. Some want to build a seawall. Some draw up plans to blame the moon; others wonder who built the roads down to the shore. And some complain because the pointy ends hurt their feet when they walk on the sand. Can’t someone deliver some flip-flops, already? -- James Lileks

    On the French Masters of War:
    For France was not just Baathist Iraq's largest contributor of funds; French banks have financed other odious regimes. They are the No. 1 lenders to Iran and Cuba and past and present U.S. foes such as Somalia, Sudan and Vietnam.

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

    Howard Dean -- Media Buster:

           DEAN: The answer to that is yes.
           I would say that there is too much penetration by single corporations in media markets all over this country. We need locally-owned radio stations. There are only two or three radio stations left in the state of Vermont where you can get local news anymore. The rest of it is read and ripped from the AP.
           MATTHEWS: So what are you going to do about it? You’re going to be president of the United States, what are you going to do?
           DEAN: What I’m going to do is appoint people to the FCC that believe democracy depends on getting information from all portions of the political spectrum, not just one.
           MATTHEWS: Well, would you break up GE?
           DEAN: Yes, we’re going to break up giant media enterprises. That doesn’t mean we’re going to break up all of GE.
           What we’re going to do is say that media enterprises can’t be as big as they are today. I don’t think we actually have to break them up, which Teddy Roosevelt had to do with the leftovers from the McKinley administration. ....
           You have got to say that there has to be a limit as to how-if the state has an interest, which it does, in preserving democracy, then there has to be a limitation on how deeply the media companies can penetrate every single community. To the extent of even having two or three or four outlets in a single community, that kind of information control is not compatible with democracy. -- MSNBC

    Muslim to the European Core :
    Young women killed for dating. Limbs amputated for petty theft. Makeshift courts deciding the fates of members of local Muslim communities. The Western world has grown accustomed to hearing about the brutalities of Islamic law. However, these primitive practices are no longer limited to the remote tribal areas of Pakistan, the backward kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or oppressive, mullah-dominated Iran. Today, thanks in large part to a massive flow of immigration from Muslim countries, sharia law and medieval customs are becoming increasingly common in the heart of Christian Europe.

    No Surrender :
    I know my nation. I know my people. We don't want to destroy you all. But if you -- I mean "Muslims" -- place us in a position where only you or us can survive, it's going to be us, and you'll all be dead. We can do that; we've had that capability for a very long time. We don't want to, but we will if we must.

    If my nation was made up of the kind of monsters who "debate final solutions" and feel no qualms about "mass murder", you'd already be dead, because Tehran would have been converted to a glowing crater about 12 hours after the collapse of the WTC towers.

    How long before the cost in blood is too great? It's already too great. It was too great after the first person died on September 11, 2001. But that's when the war started. My people are not monsters; we didn't want this war. If you want to look for monsters, look no further than al Qaeda and ask them about mass murder, and ask them why they started the war.

    If you learn nothing else about America, learn this and imprint it on your brain in glowing colors: we will never surrender . There are many ways this war can end. That's not one of them. -- DenBeste

    Acme Terrorist Supply:
    The last box to arrive from the Acme terrorist supply company was the "drive out the allies" kit. The United Nations building was blown up; British military policemen were lured to their deaths; Italian carabinieri were struck by a car bomb. Spanish intelligence officers were ambushed; Japanese diplomats were killed and South Koreans targeted. This is Plan G and the press believes it will succeed like all the others. -- Belmont Club

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 5, 2004 2:47 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    On First Looking Out of JPL's Rover

    On First Looking Out of NASA's Rover

    Written on 2004-01-04

    First moments of viewing first mosaic from Mars

    Much have I imagined the arcing vaults of space,
    And many fiery launches and cold orbits seen;
    Round the darksided moon have I been
    And raised a flag above Tranquility base.
    Oft on one Red Planet would I place
    Dreams of deep-brow'd Bradbury's Morning Green
    Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
    Till I saw Curiosity gaze upon our brother's face:
    Then felt I like some sentinel in strange skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken;
    Or like those at JPL, when the Curiosity's eyes
    Delivered them an image through the stars,
    Look'd at each other with a wild surmise--
    "All green" upon the dusty plains of Mars.

    (Apologies to Keats. who would understand)

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 4, 2004 2:07 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    TOUCHDOWN!: The Spirit is on Mars

    On Saturday night, everything went exactly according to plan for Spirit.

    At 8:27 p.m. MST, during final approach, the craft turned to point its heat shield toward the Martian atmosphere. At 9:15, the spacecraft separated from its cruise stage, which carries solar panels that provide power during the seven-month trip to Mars and thrusters that allow fine-tuning of the trajectory before atmospheric entry.

    At 9:29 p.m., the Spirit probe, encased in a protective cocoon called an aeroshell, slammed into the top of the Mars atmosphere at 12,192 mph, 73 miles above the surface. Atmospheric friction heated the aeroshell, built in Jefferson County by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, to about 2,600 degrees while protecting the 384-pound rover stowed inside.

    At 9:33 p.m., the parachute deployed 25,000 feet above the surface, as the spacecraft descended at 446 mph. A minute later, the aeroshell's heat shield was jettisoned. One minute later, the lander's radar system locked onto the ground.

    A few seconds later, mission control announced: "At this point in time, we should be on the ground."

    At 9:36 p.m., cheers erupted in the control room when engineers received radio beacons suggesting that the airbag-cushioned lander was on the ground. Hand shakes, high-fives and hugs were exchanged. But mission controllers described the signals as "intermittent," and the room went dead quiet as engineers awaited confirmation.

    Tense minutes followed. Then, at 9:51 p.m., communications manager Polly Estabrook announced, "We see it. There it is," indicating that mission control was detecting Spirit's radio signal on the ground after it bounced and rolled to a stop.

    -- Rocky Mountain News

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 3, 2004 10:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    "It's His Taxes, Stupid!"

    Why is this man laughing?

    The Wall Street Journal presents us with this interesting little graphic in Take a Hike Howard Dean wants to raise your taxes, whether you're dead or alive.

    Regardless of anything else that happens, the obvious Republican strategy for disintegrating this candidate if he does become THE candidate, would simply be to get on the message, "It's His Taxes, Stupid," reproduce the following graph 500 million times at Kindkos and just keep handing them out.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 3, 2004 6:16 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Yet Again Contemporary Art Proves It Has No Bottom

    David Shrigley - Five Years of Toenail Clippings, 2002

    kettle's yard

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 3, 2004 1:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    "The most promising strategic network of this century."

    The Atlantic Century, by Ralph Peters. Published in PARAMETERS: US Army War College Quarterly

    Key Points:

    Although the United States will remain engaged in the Far East—as well as in the Middle East, Europe, and nearly everywhere else—the great unexplored opportunities for human advancement, fruitful alliances, strategic cooperation, and creating an innovative, just, and mutually beneficial international order still lie on the shores of the Atlantic. The difference is that the potential for future development lies not across the North Atlantic in “Old Europe,” but on both sides of the South Atlantic, in Africa and Latin America.

    Especially since 9/11, the deteriorating civilization of the Middle East has demanded our attention. But we must avoid a self-defeating strategic fixation on the Arab Muslim world and self-destructive states nearby. Any signs of progress in the Middle East will be welcome, but the region overall is fated to remain an inexhaustible source of disappointments. While Africa suffers from an undeserved reputation for hopelessness (often a matter of racism couched in diplomatic language) and Latin America is dismissed as a backwater, the aggressive realms of failure in the Middle East always get the benefit of the doubt. When the United States places a higher priority on relations with Egypt than on those with Mexico or Brazil, and when Jordan attracts more of our attention than does South Africa, our foreign policy lacks common sense as much as it does foresight.

    Our obsession with the Middle East is not just about oil. It’s about intellectual habit. We assign unparalleled strategic importance to the survival of the repugnant Saudi regime because that’s the way we’ve been doing things for half a century, despite the complete absence of political, cultural, or elementary human progress on the Arabian Peninsula.


    The future -- our future --lies elsewhere, in those long-neglected realms where human wastage has been blithely dismissed and every local misfortune was seized upon as proof that "they" simply weren't in our league. We have been seduced into playing 19th-century European great-power politics in the 21st century; indeed, considering our current involvement in the Middle East, one is tempted to claim that we're playing 12th-century European power politics.

    To the extent strategic requirements allow, we need to reduce our commitments to Europe, as well as combating our psychological dependence on the Eurocentric worldview. We are the children of Mark Twain, not of Proust. Like Huck Finn, we need to avoid Aunt Polly%u2019s attempts to put too many table manners on us. We always need to light out for new frontiers. And the human frontiers of the 21st century are in our own country, in Latin America, and in Africa.

    Try a simple experiment. Lay out a map of the world. With a pencil and ruler, connect the United Kingdom, Spain, and Portugal with all the countries in the Americas or in Africa to which they have historical or cultural ties. Next, connect the countries of Africa to those states of the Western Hemisphere to which they have ethnic and cultural ties. Now connect the United States to the countries in Latin America and Africa to which we have ties of population and culture. You have just drawn the most promising strategic network of this century.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 1, 2004 11:57 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Pixie Dust and the American Left

    Demosophia takes the recent broadcast of "Angels in America" and sees in it a revelation its creators did not intend: Wishing al Qaeda Away, with Pixie Dust

    Andrew Sullivan describes Angels in America as a "leftist screed," but I don't think that's really accurate. There are only a few screed-like passages, at least in the Nichols adaptation, and their tone is self conscious rather than self righteous. Ignoring the dimension of homosexuality, which obscures what my personal revelation was about, the screen adaptation (because I never saw the play) is more a kind of documentary about how the left viewed itself, in the 9-10 era. My moment of self-revelation was about the fact that I know most on the left are good people. But I no longer think they're quite as good as they believe they are, nor do I think any longer that they're the only "good people." My views on that score have changed drastically, and I doubt that I'm alone....

    Angels in America is an historical and cultural dramatization, but it's not about America. It's about a bygone era that was literally blown to bits on Sept. 11, 2001. So of course the issue isn't defeating al Qaeda, because its existence was never acceptable. The best remaining option is to wish it away. And any sort of pixie dust will do, because the substance is in the belief, not the quality of the dust. And that encapsulates the tragic descent of the left since 9-11-2001.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 1, 2004 11:06 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Condition of Cafe Society

    Commenting on Michael Crichton's notable speech to The Commonwealth Club, The Belmont Club notes:

    The fictional demon Screwtape once observed that lies become established where men are too lazy to think about the truth. Screwtape and Crichton forgot to add was that this error is more easily committed where people are sheltered from the immediate consequences of their mistakes. Misjudgements are unforgivingly punished in the primitive world, but they may persist unnoticed for years in cafe society, secure within its city, until the accumulated weight of folly, gathering like a dark cloud outside the circle of petty laughter, crashes inward to demand its due. One such moment came on September 11, and the injustice of it is not merely that it happened, but that those most responsible for perpetrating the blindness which made it possible are still exempt from account. The tragedy contained within Michael Crichton's observation that mumbo-jumbo trumps science is not just that it happens, but that it will happen again.

    Posted by Vanderleun Jan 1, 2004 10:54 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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