Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Baptism Under Fire

For the most arresting photoessay of the week, spend time with The Beacon :: Marines Find Faith Amid the Fire

Two dozen Marines stood quietly. Radetski, honoring the four Marines' request, said the baptism was also being performed to show respect for the fallen and wounded Marines.

The elementary school shows the ravages of three weeks of fighting. Its windows are broken, debris is strewn about, furniture is broken and books thrown to the dusty floor. Bullet holes cover all surfaces. Windows are boarded or sandbagged to hinder snipers.

Insurgents are holed up in houses a few hundred yards away, their weapons aimed at the school, hoping to kill Marines with a well-timed shot. Still, the four Marines thought that the courtyard was the ideal spot to make a public profession of their religious belief. "What better place to do this than here, in the middle of hell," Fuller said.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 30, 2004 11:26 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Spirit of America: "A People, United, Can Never Be Defeated"

Yesterday, I wrote about what it was like to help The Spirit of America at Camp Pendelton. Today in the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger captures the broader meaning of The Spirit of America's drive to help the war effort in A Good Start

"The war as it is presented in the U.S. and the war as it exists in Iraq seems to occupy separate spheres of reality. The political class and media treat the war as something whose "policy" details can somehow be revisited, even rethought. At home, the war is a political event, a normal partisan phenomenon. Its metaphors are borne out of Vietnam--quagmire, bogged down, body counts, Ted Kennedy.

Guess what? Vietnam isn't coming back. The people of this country tore the nation's fabric terribly over Vietnam. They are not going to do it again.

The grand response to the Spirit of America request says to me that the public understands that we are there in Iraq and the job now isn't to debate its value but to get the job done. Most Americans don't want to be one of the partisan bobbleheads on television. They want to be part of a genuine homefront, helping. One who responded to the Spirit of America appeal, Dick Kampa of Tucson, Ariz., put it this way:

"My sense is that there are many who would support civilian, home-front activity that would bolster troop morale and communicate to the Iraqi people that we really are their friends. Putting a political label on such activity would be counterproductive. I think Democrats and Republicans should, and many would, unite in these activities. Perhaps we need rallies or community meetings linked to constructive actions like funds for impactful projects in Iraq, adopt-a-communities, collection of goods, bandage rolling, etc., things that involve people across America."

You know for a fact that if Laura Bush undertook any such homefront effort, it would be dissected and mocked as hokey and irrelevant. Too bad. I don't think most Americans want to debate woulda, coulda, shoulda just now. They want to win. Spirit of America is a start, but someone high in the Bush administration ought to start thinking of ways to let more people pitch in.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 30, 2004 7:24 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Small Moves, the Spirit of America, and Doing What You Can

But what can I do?
Do what God puts in front of you.

On the radio news at 3 AM this morning, the phrase "Camp Pendleton Marines today in Fallujah.... "

Its early and dark, but Im awake and sitting down with coffee when I hear those words. I hear them often these days. News of a brutal firefight in and around that forsaken city on the far side of the world is always attached to that phrase. Less often, but more distressing, the phrase includes ...were killed in action.

I always wonder if among those killed were any of the young marines I stood next to for a day last January. ( Small Moves ) It was a fine day and we helped the Marines pack up Spirit of Americas free school supplies and medical equipment for distribution to the people of Iraq. It was something I could do, so I did it.

I always think of those Marines whenever I hear the phrase. The private who asked me what I thought about God. The other who talked a lot about the big wheels he was planning to buy for his new Jeep. The ones who cooked us hamburgers. Brave men and, as always, very young.

Most of them are gone from Camp Pendelton now. Only a third of the bases compliment remain there. The rest are somewhere else in Fallujah.... They and their brothers in arms are always in my thoughts these days, as I know they are in the thoughts of hundreds of millions of other Americans. I wish them all God speed and a safe return home. And yet I know that not all will have those things.

Like millions of others I want to know what, in any small way, I can do to help their mission, support their sacrifice, and hasten the day when they can return. Like millions of other Americans, I am frustrated by the fact that whatever I can do or give is small and unworthy compared to what they are prepared to do and give. Still, I look for ways to help, as I think all decent Americans do now. And so today I found myself driving back to Camp Pendleton in Southern California.

The purpose was to attend an event in which Spirit of America would turn over some of the video equipment theyd purchased as a result of their amazing fund-raising activities of the past month. The idea was to raise money to equip a few people in Iraq with the basic means of creating and broadcasting their own television. A kind of grass-roots antidote to Al-Jazerra, the project suddenly, with the help of big medias Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henniger, took off. What began with a goal of $100,000 ended with a sum in the region of $1,500,000. As I write a loose coalition of bloggers is still plugging away hoping to add another $50,000 to the pot. As I drive into the entrance to Camp Pendleton, Im thinking that this has to be one of those small miracles you read about but seldom get to witness. Why am I here? Im not quite sure. Im just doing what God put in front of me. Lately Ive found thats not a bad route to follow.

Its a small group gathered at the main gate waiting for our escort back into the base to Camp Margurita where the event will be held. Jim Hakes, the guiding force behind Spirit of America is there with the usual suspects and more suspects still the way. Its a smaller group than last time because, frankly, there wont be that much to do. In time everyone arrives and we convoy back into the other America behind the hills thats the Camp Pendleton Marine Base in Oceanside.

The first thing you notice is that Pendelton is quiet these days. Training continues and the life of the base goes on, but at a lower level of intensity than last January . Everything seems emptier and it is. In January you could see the helicopters moving about in the near and far distance. They seemed to be everywhere. Today, only about four all day. In January, there was artillery practice visible against the hills and a lot of machine gun fire from the practice ranges. Today, just one range with small arms fire.

The barracks and the parking lots at the Camp are almost empty. The base Exchange holds, at 10 in the morning, just the woman assigned as cashier. Instead of patrols of Marines and platoon formations, you see Marines at most in groups of three or four. Theres activity here and there, but once off the main road its hard to avoid the feeling that the Camp is, for the most part, on hold --almost, but not quite, holding its breath. After all, considered as a town, Camp Pendleton is a town that gets very bad news every day. It has learned, long ago, how to deal with that news, but that doesnt mean that dealing with it requires more courage and heart daily than the comfortable suburbs that ring it on three sides use in a decade.

Our small convoy of about a dozen or so cars pulls into a virtually empty parking lot. We walk back behind the deserted barracks to the warehouse where a lot of the video equipment is being stored before shipment to Iraq. Down the hill and across the valley, a platoon or two is having small arms practice. Sharp popping bursts of fire punctuate the morning. Then as I walk into the warehouse, I have one of those strange moments weve all had to get used to in the last few years.

In the warehouse, the Marines on duty are pumping Pink Floyd into the speakers. Its an odd 21st century American moment. If I stand edgeways in the doorway one ear hears rapid bursts of gunfire in the distance and the other hears:
No navigator to guide my way home
Unladened, empty and turned to stone
A soul in tension that's learning to fly
Condition grounded but determined to try

I know it is best not to make too much out of a random epiphany, but there it is for what it is.

A friend of mine in who worked in rock and roll for years once told me its dangerous to listen rock too closely in emotionally charged situations because it will just come and get you. I think that I know now what he meant.

With the arrival of the rest of our group, the Marines turn off the music and we get on with the business of the morning. Unlike the January function with its packing and collecting, todays much more of a media event and, after putting a few Spirit of America stickers on boxes and equipment, theres really not that much to do.

Still, Im glad to be there. In a bit a group of about 15 school children show up. Four and fifth graders, theyre up for anything their day brings. What it brings them right away are Spirit of America tee-shirts and baseball hats. Bonanza! All the boys and girls put them on right away. A few minutes later group of five extremely cute girls are standing around talking among themselves and as I pass them I remark, Ah, you must be the Spirit of America Cheerleaders.

We are?, says one. Okay. Whats our cheer?

Im caught. Not prepared for that. I think for a minute and, in my befuddled state, can only come up with:
Were the Spirit of America!
The Spirit of America!
The Spirit of America!

Pretty lame. Until you see five small American girls doing it with real heart. Then it takes on a whole new dimension. It is, after all, the singers and not the song.

The boys, by the way, a busy chasing the Marines around and begging them to autograph their baseball caps. The Marines are initially non-plused by this, but politely comply to the delight of the boys who immediately set out to collect the whole set. The Marines do not disappoint.

Fred Brookwell of Greystone TV Productions got wind of the Spirit of America project via the Wall Street Journal, and has organized a full production crew to cover the event. In time other media, local and national turn up. Jim Hake handles the questions with aplomb, and the elegant Lady Doughan of Spirit of Americas umbrella organization Cyber Century Forum is lucid and charming and sharp as well.

Seeking to be vaguely useful I volunteer to go off and find some coffee, but driving through the base I just seem to pass one mostly empty barracks and deserted shop complex after another. Theres no doubt about it, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force is not, for the most part, at home. I manage to find some coffee and return, but things are pretty much wrapped up. We chat about what more we can do and we all promise to carry the work forward. I say my goodbyes.

On the way out, though, it is clear that the Marines are not quite finished with me since, as the small arms practice continues, theyve gone back to Pink Floyd in the warehouse -- although at a lower volume. The last thing I hear over the gunfire is:
He's haunted by the memory of a lost paradise
In his youth or a dream, he can't be precise
He's chained forever to a world that's departed
It's not enough, it's not enough

On I-5 heading north out of Oceanside, you have to drive though a 20 mile stretch in which Camp Pendleton takes up both sides of the road. About five miles into this stretch you pass a group of airplane hangers. In front of the hangers is a large concrete wall about fifty yards long. On it, in large letters, are three words: DUTY. HONOR. COURAGE.

Thirty miles later Im home in the Laguna Beach Hills. From my deck I can see north to Long Beach and out to sea beyond Catalina Island. Its a good life. A safe life. A beautiful life.

And tonight, Im going to tune into the news and no matter where I turn Im going to hear Camp Pendelton Marines today in Fallujah....

And I have to think that no matter what I am doing to help, no matter what I ever manage to do, Im still going to hear:

Its not enough. Its not enough.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 29, 2004 4:40 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The 10-Minute Anthem That Changed the World

An excerpt from Robert Hilburn's extensive and fascinating interview with Bob Dylan:

Dylan leans over and picks up the acoustic guitar.

"Well, you have to understand that I'm not a melodist," he says. "My songs are either based on old Protestant hymns or Carter family songs or variations of the blues form.

"What happens is, I'll take a song I know and simply start playing it in my head. That's the way I meditate. A lot of people will look at a crack on the wall and meditate, or count sheep or angels or money or something, and it's a proven fact that it'll help them relax. I don't meditate on any of that stuff. I meditate on a song.

"I'll be playing Bob Nolan's 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds,' for instance, in my head constantly %u2014 while I'm driving a car or talking to a person or sitting around or whatever. People will think they are talking to me and I'm talking back, but I'm not. I'm listening to the song in my head. At a certain point, some of the words will change and I'll start writing a song."

He's slowly strumming the guitar, but it's hard to pick out the tune.

"I wrote 'Blowin' in the Wind' in 10 minutes, just put words to an old spiritual, probably something I learned from Carter Family records. That's the folk music tradition. You use what's been handed down. 'The Times They Are A-Changin' is probably from an old Scottish folk song."

Pointer thanks to Outer Life which, strangely, "resisted Bob Dylan for a long time."

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 29, 2004 5:21 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Writers: One Day of Professional Editing to Highest Bidder


GONE: Winning Bid was $800 BY ERIC B.

Auction CLOSED Wednesday Evening, April 28, at 10:00 PM Pacific Time.

Authors,Writers, and Fellow Americans! This is Your Chance to Join the Exclusive and Expensive Gerard Van der Leun Famous Writers Boot Camp at a Discount

Here’s the deal: If you give the most to Spirit of America via The Victory Coalition through the auction here, I’ll give you a day of professional editing. (Details below)

Why would you want that?

Because no matter who you are or what you write, you need careful editing and an honest evaluation. And I’m the man to do it.

For over 30 years I’ve been working with writers of fiction and non-fiction to bring their manuscripts up to par and seeing them through the publishing process. I’ve been a magazine editor and a book editor and a literary agent. I’ve seen it all. I’ve worked with the best and the worst. And I’ve made all of them better -- sometimes with a scalpel, sometimes with a hand grenade, but most of the time with my blue pencil.

Among those writers I have worked with in the course of my career are people such as Steve King, R. Crumb, Harlan Ellison, Andre Dubus, and Robert Fulghum.

I’ve edited and published more than 200 books for the Houghton Mifflin Company where I worked as Senior Editor and Director of Trade Paperback Publishing. I’ve edited dozens of writers as a magazine editor for Earth Magazine, Viva Magazine, Omni Magazine and Penthouse Magazine.

I’ve written and had published two books of my own and ghosted a few as well. (No, you don’t get to know which ones those were.)

My own magazine articles have been published in Time, Omni, Penthouse, and Wired among others.

I’m found among that rarest fauna of editors: the line editor. That means I don’t just opine and book you on the nearest talk show and then take a long lunch at Michael's. I get under the hood of your writing with my blue pencil and mark it up until it bleeds. Then help you stitch it back up, make it pretty, and send it out.

Warning! This can be a brutal process so if you are looking for someone to glance at your work and tell you how wonderful it is, ask your mother. If you want to BE ALL THE WRITER YOU CAN BE be prepared to donate until it hurts.

I currently bill my time at $200 and hour and up, but you can have a day of my professional working life applied to your manuscript if yours is the highest bid to donate to The Victory Coalition’s Drive at Spirit of America.

That’s a $1,600 value but bidding will start here at $200.00

It closes Thursday, April 29, at 12:01 PM Pacific Time.
CORRECTION: Auction will close Wednesday Evening, April 28, at 10:00 PM Pacific Time.
[Otherwise, how would we know?]

The Victory Coalition donation information and page can be found here at: The Spirit of America

Enter your bid here in the comments below in some amount north of $200 and, at the end of bidding, supply proof of your donation, and my time becomes your time. It can be one 8-hour day or the same 8 hours spread out over time. We’ll work it out.

If you live within a reasonable distance of Laguna Beach, California, we can arrange a face to face workshop. If not, we’ll do it via the Internet or even the old fashioned way -- real mail. Either way, there will be hard copy involved.The choice and timing and one day of my professional life will be yours.

Remember, some give all -- so you can give some. Plus your writing will be the better for it.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 28, 2004 10:00 PM | Comments (27)  | QuickLink: Permalink
After Dover


A stirring and deeply moving account of what it was like to escort the body of Marine PFC Chance Phelps home from Dover AFB begins,

Taking Chance Home

Chance Phelps was wearing his Saint Christopher medal when he was killed on Good Friday. Eight days later, I handed the medallion to his mother. I didn't know Chance before he died. Today, I miss him.

I'd say it was your duty to read it.

Pointer via: One Hand Clapping

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 28, 2004 11:32 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
By Their Bumper Stickers Shall Ye Know Them

An interesting announcement appeared on The Daily Kos yesterday. It seems that, after many years and many bazillions of words by Kos and his Kosocrat Cohorts, a publisher has decided to publish a book of the best -- in bumper stickers. Ten to be precise.

Yes, of all the screeds, analysis, commentary and fearless insight, the “ideas” that a publisher deems worthy of preserving from The Daily Kos are ten for a total of 45 words. Now that’s a data compression algorithm that Stuffit’s Aladdin Systems might want to emulate.

While keeping in mind the old adage that “Any philosophy that fits on a bumper sticker belongs there,” there is still something to be learned from the list of “winners.” Indeed, this list taken as a whole presents us with the entire spectrum of the mindset currently pretending to be The Democratic Party. A bit of meditation on the subtext of these pith-packed texts tells us a lot about the people behind them. And since an informed electorate is the bulwark of democracy, let’s have a go.

The ten bumper stickers are:

Asses of Evil
A poor play on the masterful “Axis of Evil” phrase used at the beginning of the First Terrorist War by George Bush. It reveals the Kosocrats thinking that Republicans are a) Evil and b) asses as in ‘stupid’ which is how they came to control the Congress and the Executive. While “Asses of Evil” may well raise a couple of Stooge-Toned “Nyuck-Nyucks, ” it lacks the flair of the much more brilliant construction “Axis of Weasels.” Indeed, the Kosocrat slogan here is no doubt a weaselesque pilfering of that phrase.

Thanks for Not Paying Attention
This one is, well, just sad. If anything, more attention (and money) has been paid to the complaints, whines, and special needs of the Democrats than in the Clinton years. But since once the needle of victimhood goes in it never comes out, no amount of attention will be enough. This is the sticker for those Democrats who like to drive off in a 1968 Huff.

Four More Wars!
In three words, the Kosocrat Democrats manage to sum up the other major energy force they live on in this blighted year: FEAR. Hate can only take you so far in trying to impose your fantasy ideology on the citizens of a free country. To really get them going, you’ve got to make them FEAR. The promise of MORE WARS! seems to be a means of doing this -- until the polls tell you most Americans think we don’t yet have our game face on for the present one. American’s got a good dose of FEAR on 9/11. Their current FEAR is of another. The number of wars it takes to remove that FEAR is irrelevant to them. One would be nice, but if it takes 20, so be it.

More Trees, Less Bush
Birkenstock Kosocrats rejoice in a chortle fest when they think about this one. It really “socks it to him” on the environment, doesn’t it. Plus it insinuates a snide double entendre without being either sexist or overtly offensive to Lesbians. It's a two-fer win-win. That the environment is better off in 2004 than in 2000 is not the point. The point is that Bush hates trees -- which is why he’s always clearing the brush away from them in Crawford.

It Takes a Village Idiot
Sigh. These people and their editors at Chronicle Books really need to put a professional such as myself on the case. I understand that their “intent” is to make us think of Bush, but when you cop the joke right from the well-known title of the Former First Publicly Humiliated First Lady’s first book, most people are going to think, “Idiot? Who? Hillary?” Ward, I don’t think we’re going to see Kos as Hillary’s choice for running mate in 2008.

One Person, One Vote (*May Not Apply in Certain States)
Ah, the elections of 2000. Ye olde Florida Butterfly Ballot. The Gore recount gambit. The endless recounts. The Supreme Court.... and still they lost. Unable to understand that Al Gore will never be President and that the Beatles will never reunite dooms the Democrats to an alternate universe where it will always be October, 2000 and the world was still bright and new and fraught with possibility. They keep this up and the bumper strip for 2008 will have to read “Democrats: We Coulda Been A Contender.”

Putting the "Con" In Conservative
This little eructation tells the world that conservatives are, ab ova, by their very nature, criminal. It underscores the central belief of those that have little money that those who have more must be bad, and that those who have a lot must be really evil, unless you get it when your wealthy husband dies or you marry a woman whose wealthy husband has died. Then you are a visionary and would never, ever, try to con the electorate about your voting record, your medals, your botox abuse....

We're Gooder!
grammar: F
This goes to the very heart of the Democrats’ current self-image. They are the party of the good. Everyone else is, at the very least, among the ‘not-good.’ This brings to mind the old mindset popularized by St. Augustine about “the city of God, that, being placed in comparison with the other, it may shine with a brighter lustre." Clearly the only way to be a decent human being is to be or become a Democrat. That is the only way you can be “gooder” than all those sinners. It smacks a bit of the Christian fundamentalism that is always driving Democrats into paroxysms of FEAR, but we’ll let that pass.

Leave No Billionaire Behind
As we learn in the Sacred Book of Bob Dylan, “Everybody’s always trying to get you down in the hole that they’re in.” No Democrat wants to be seen seeming to favor billionaires, not even Billionaire Democrats whose money worries can be summed up with “Huh?” Still, we think the bar was raised to the Billionaire level in this knee-slapper only because the Heinz-Kerry’s fortune seems to be stuck at a few measly hundred million.

Bring Back Monica Lewinsky
Yes, indeed, if anything is going to push those swing voters into the Democrats’ camp it will be the image of Monica servicing Bill Clinton in the Oval Office. The thong. The cigar. The whole catastrophe. Everyone wants those glory days back. What the authors and editors don’t seem to realize in selecting this “edgy” one is that, at the very least, it will cause most people to wince and think, to paraphrase Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietquagmire: “Democrats -- in more dire need of a blowjob than any party in history.”

Humm, come to think of it, that’s a bumper sticker with real potential.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 28, 2004 10:56 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lileks Joins The Victory Coalition

THIS JUST IN: In a sweeping night raid that has left our enemies in a smoking heap of shambles, and filled the air with the lamentations of their women, LILEKS (James) has dropped THE BIG ONE for The Victory Coaliton.

Now we've got it all: taste, discernment, and regrettable food. Unless those opposing us surrender, we shall lob Corned Beef Salad Loaves in their general direction.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 27, 2004 11:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Lincoln Press Conference

Victor Davis Hanson has drafted a few choice questions the press might ask President Lincoln. Excerpt:

Mr. Lincoln, would you please respond to General McClellan’s charges at the recent Chicago convention that with the establishment of the Emancipation Proclamation you misled this nation in the reasons you gave for this war. Is it not true, Mr. President, that you assured Americans that you have started this war to preserve the Union and protect federal property in the South? Yet now you claim that in fact our sons are dying to free slaves and provide equality to the Negro? What was the real reason, Mr. Lincoln, that you cooked up this war and got us into this mess, and why did you not tell us the full story when the shooting started?...

Mr. Lincoln, do you not think it was naďve to assume that Northerners could impose by force Yankee-style democracy and culture on the traditional society of the South? Isn't this arrogance on our part to think we can force others to be like us?

What is it about you, Mr. Lincoln, that leads your opponents to such vitriol and invective, to such a degree that you appear as an ape in cartoons and a scoundrel and nave almost daily in public essays and opinion-pieces? And why do the Europeans especially seem to hate you, so much so that England threatens to intervene on the side of our enemies?

Now that it is clear that neither General Grant can take Richmond nor General Sherman Atlanta, have you thought of stopping the war and bringing our boys back home? When will you resign Mr. President?

There are more.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 27, 2004 11:02 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Great Headlines of the Blogsphere

Les Zombies Hippies Doivent Mourir

-- From the dissident frogman's Propaganda Bureau

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 27, 2004 7:28 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Priss Escalates

Twice in One Day.... Aieeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Not content to ruin my morning with a Tom Oliphant column in the Boston Globe, The PBS Newshour (No longer paid for by people like me) saw fit to drag this consummate weirdo before its cameras just as my evening began.

Look, I’m as tolerant as anyone, but this guy just freaks me out! The look, the haircut, the bow tie, the mannerisms, the enunciation, the fey turning away. What era, what subculture, what species, what planet does this sock-puppet represent? He seems to me to be a demographic of one.

Can somebody please get in touch with Scout Productions and book this guy for a Fab Five makeover pronto? I mean, I could sort him out for the camera with about $1,200 (cheap), but he obviously needs professional media training, three qualuddes, a cup of ether and about six strenuous bong hits. For starters.

Oliphant’s appearance on PBS this evening was so over the top as to beggar description. A choice quote from his opining on the Kerry Medal brouhaha that I felt compelled to write down went like this: “Kerry wanted to throw... er... return... some ... ‘decorations’.... if I may use the term....”

To which we can only answer, "Why, yes, Tom you may... but only if you promise to check into ideological detox by dawn tomorrow. They've got openings in a DEA-funded program for wholesale brain transplants and you are pre-qualified."

Unless and until Tom Oliphant gets his image straight, he should be forbidden to appear in any public forum. It can only harm our chances for a full and fair election for voters of every persuasion if we are continually presented with a liberal commentator that every time he speaks makes us hear, ever so faintly in the background, the tune:

The priss goes on, the priss goes on.
Media keeps pounding a rhythm to the brain.
Democrats have finally gone insane.
La de da de de, la de da de da.

Democrats were once the rage, uh huh.
History has turned the page, uh huh.
The terrorist’s the current thing, uh huh.
Gunships are our newborn king, uh huh.

And the priss goes on, the priss goes on.
Media keeps pounding a rhythm to the brain.
Democrats have finally gone insane.
La de da de de, la de da de da.

Pundits sit in chairs and reminisce
Kerry’s chasing Bill to get a kiss.
The news keeps going faster all the time.
Dems still cry 'Hey let’s tax you another dime?'

And the priss goes on, the priss goes on.
Media keeps pounding a rhythm to the brain.
Democrats have finally gone insane.
La de da de de, la de da de da

Unless, of course, Oliphant is being paid by the Republicans as part of the vast Right Wing Conspiracy. In which case, it is a brilliant use of soft money. Tell me where to send a check.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 27, 2004 7:25 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Robert Fulghum is Blogging from Crete

Embrace -- A painting by Robert Fulghum
Click to enlarge

My good friend and author Robert Fulghum is blogging. Well, he's a bit retro and doesn't consider what he's doing as "blogging," but rather as "NEW STORIES." No matter.

Lately he's been at the village he lives in when in Crete, and we've been getting semi-daily reports on bug racing, contessas of dubious lineage, and what he's reading. If you know Fulghum's writing, and many millions do, you might consider putting his new stories page into your toolbar favorites folder. You never know what you might find. Here's a sample:

April 19, 2004
Kolymbari, Crete, Greece
Written Sunday, April 18, 2004


"So what is it you do in Crete?" People often ask me that. As if to imply that it would be boring sitting on a beach in Greece doing nothing year after year.
A funny thought, since, outside, as I write tonight, it is cold and windy and raining. And the closest beach is too rocky to sit around on, anyhow. So what do I do?

Today, for example, after attending a funeral, I sat by a fire all afternoon reading the thoughts of Epictetus, the 4th century BC stoic philosopher. Born a slave, he became famous for his lectures, which were written down by his student, Arrian, and collected into a manual, The Enchiridion. That little book, by the way, has never been out of print in more than 2,000 years.

Sample: "Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not."

Sample: "Things and people are not what we wish them to be nor what they seem to be. They are what they are."

Sample: "We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them."

Epictetus was a Stoic. And as I age I find increasing favor for their point of view. If you want to read more, get a modern translation: The Art of Living, a new interpretation by Sharon Lebell, HarperCollins 1995. There is also the Loeb Harvard Classics two-volume set in Greek and English if you want all there is of Epictetus.

That's the serious side of today's endeavors. On the other hand . . .

Last night some silly friends and I drank a little too much wine and started the Bug Olympics. The first event is the Rolling Down Hill and Walking Away contest. Each one of us found one of those little fast-crawling armored pill bugs. We touched them gently to make them roll up into a ball, and then using a piece of paper, scooped them up, held them in line at the top of an inclined cookie sheet, and let go at the count of three. The bugs rolled down and out onto the stone floor. The first bug that got up and walked away was the winner. My bug, Manolis, won 5 times in a row. Gold Medal Bug. And no harm done to the bugs, I think. (Wonder what the bugs think?)

Tonight all Greece will shut down at 8:30. The two top soccer teams will go at it in Athens. Panathinaikos and Olympiakos Piraeus. If one is not there in front of the TV, one will not know exactly what happened. And one will have nothing to talk about tomorrow. If the Turkish air force attacks Greece tonight between 8:30 and 10:30, the prime minister will say Greece cannot come to fight now. But he will say that, in two hours, half of Greece will be really mad and ready to kill, so maybe the Turks should pick another day.

I wondered what Epictetus would say about such matters, being wise and all.
Sample: "Once you have deliberated and determined that a course of action is wise, never discredit your judgment. Take a stand. Don't be cravenly noncommittal."

With that ancient philosophical admonition in mind, I went off to the Argentina Taverna to support Panathinaikos! And tried not to step on any Olympic Bug competitors as I went out the door.

Afterward. Tuesday. A 2-2 tie. Satisfying to all in that the game was played hard and well. Epictetus would have been pleased. As he said, speaking of skillful ballplayers: "None of them considers whether the ball is good or bad, but only how to throw it and catch it. For where a man has proper reason to rejoice, his fellow men have proper reason to share in that rejoicing."
N.B. -- Since I have found that whatever Fulghum is reading is well worth reading, I added the Amazon links. Fulghum does many things, but he does not surf. Nor does he have email, so furgeddaboutit.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 27, 2004 5:41 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Air America's Maynard G. Krebs

Air America continues to make more news than it has listeners:

Mark Walsh, a former America Online executive and adviser to the Democratic National Committee, said Tuesday that he gave up his CEO title earlier this month ... of the Air America Radio network....

"I'm still staying involved, but now a lot of it is granular day-to-day stuff," Walsh said. -- Air America Reshuffles

And who is, you ask, Maynard G. Krebs? A great American...

Maynard G. Krebs will always be best remembered for his response whenever anyone mentioned the subject of work.  He would instantaneously shudder, and let out a plaintiff cry of "WORRRK!?!?" -- On Maynard

On the other hand, Walsh, who has a history of getting off the stage before the lights dim and the elephant dies, may just know something the rest of Air America doesn't understand. Nothing like putting a little distance between yourself and the implosion.

In other news, we find that Air America is about to blow more minority broadcasters off the air in the humongous metroplex of.... San Luis Obispo (Population -- 44,000) :

Air America Radio

"Air America Radio welcomes KYNS in San Luis Obispo," said Evan Cohen, Chairman of Air America Radio.  "The initial response to Air America Radio by listeners and advertisers has been overwhelmingly positive...

Right. Nothing like a media behemoth whose current "penetration" of America's air is summed up thus:
New York: WLIB 1190 AM
Chicago: WNTD 950 AM
Portland, OR: KPOJ 620 AM
Inland Empire, CA: KCAA 1050 AM
Minneapolis/St. Paul: WMNN 1330 AM
Portland, ME: WMTW 870 AM
West Palm Beach, FL: WJNO 1290 AM
Key West, FL:  WKIZ 1500 AM
Plattsburg, NY & Burlington, VT: WTWK 1070 AM
XM Satellite Radio: Channel 167
SIRIUS Satellite Radio: Channel 125

No doubt about it, when they write the history of Air America it will be entitled, "The Station America Turned Left to Hear... And Then Turned Back."

-- Pointer via Considerettes

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 27, 2004 1:12 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Orkut: A Network of Trusted Friends on a Network You Can't Trust

Pierre's Web -- Click to Enlarge bills itself as an online community that connects people through a network of trusted friends. We are committed to providing an online meeting place where people can socialize, make new acquaintances and find others who share their interests.

Right. Well, a trusted friend not on Orkut sent me a a piping hot link yesterday in an email entitled: Security Hole of the Day.

Orkut has the standard drivel about privacy and things "we'd never...." do, but you don't have to join Orkut to see who is talking to who. You just have to go to aptly named Data Whore House and start digging about in the datamine.

Want to know who Mitchell Kapor is talking to? That's right here.

He seems to be much more well-connected to the Digiterati than that wild and crazy eBay billionaire Pierre Omiydar whose connections are displayed here.

Indeed, for all his efforts Pierre (58 links) just can't get himself as well connected as Mitch who seems to be one of the reigning connectoids of Orkut with 268 links. Perhaps Pierre just leads a quieter life at his residence at The Montage, Laguna Beach, California “Nevada", while begging for his taxes not to be cut -- "Please!" "

A noble sentiment from a man whose primary residence is in the high taxing state of Nevada ... err, California. Yes, California. I think that's right. All those lines on his connections map just happen to lead to a small red dot in Nevada by sheer happenstance.

You'd think that something like Orkut which is "associated" with the now hypersecret Google would be better at keeping its inside information inside. You would be wrong.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 27, 2004 10:53 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Darwin Awards in Real Time


From Frontline Photos : An Iraqi man throws gas onto a burning Army Humvee in Baghdad on Monday. An explosion leveled a building in the northern part of the city Monday, setting four nearby Humvees on fire. Two U.S. soldiers were killed in the blast. The cause of the explosion was not immediately known.

Okay, but I'm willing to bet the cause of the next explosion will be glaringly obvious.

Here's one of those moments in modern photojournalism that make you want to see the next frames on the roll. What could be about to happen?

Note the position of the open flames licking at the man's shoes. Note the languid arc of the glimmering gasoline just above.

At the very least, this photo is an argument for more time spent in school on the subject of "Cause and Effect." Looks like there's about to be a pop quiz.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 27, 2004 10:19 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What's in Store for Fallujah

The always thoughtful and fascinating Belmont Club has a detailed scenario on what has been happening and what is likely to happen in Fallujah.

" Mortensen's earlier story indicated the Marines were returning to positions north; since it is known that they already hold positions south it seems clear that the enemy is now squeezed from two sides and is probably contained in the northeast corner of Fallujah, an area full of meandering streets and mosques. The enemy would prefer a linear American advance, hoping as in the case of Jenin, to mine buildings and blow them up as Americans occupy them. Not wanting to oblige, the USMC is mounting relatively small probes forcing the enemy to react. The current Marine strategy is ripping up the mobile defense. The company plus unit which attacked the platoon is probably no more. However, it will not be long before the enemy must retreat into a continuous perimeter, as his manpower dwindles to the point where a mobile defense is no longer viable. The remaining enemy forces are probably in the battalion plus range. And then the ghost of the Shuri line will rear up, in which there were no other option but to go directly into the teeth of the defense. The density of the defense displayed in the recent encounter may mean that time is near.
Belmont's conclusions about what will happen at that time are sobering.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 27, 2004 9:42 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Usual Suspects

Here's an example of $3 Billion of your foreign aid tax dollars at work. The following "explanation" is from the Egyptian government daily newspaper Al-Gumhouriyya titled 'The Secret Israeli Weapon,' by the deputy editor Abd Al-Wahhab 'Adas:

"If you want to know the real perpetrator of every disaster or every act of terrorism, look for the Zionist Jews. They are behind all the violent and terror operations that have occurred everywhere in the world. [They do this] first of all in order to slap [the label of the attacks] on the Arabs and Muslims, and second to harm them, distort their image, and represent them to the world as terrorists who endanger innocents. What is even more dangerous is that after every terror operation they perpetrate, they leave a sign, clue, or traces meant to show that the perpetrators are Arab Muslims.
-- via MEMRI
And now you know what $3 billion a year buys you in Egypt. But you knew that already, didn't you.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 27, 2004 9:14 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Earth to Oliphant: So What?

Eyewitness to Prisstory

Thomas Oliphant, one of the Democrats most prissy pecksniff's came to the party today to say "ON THE WAY to the fence where he threw some of his military decorations 33 years ago, I was 4 or 5 feet behind John Kerry."

While this sort of supercilious commentary is Oliphant's stock and trade, it still sets my teeth on fire. It's an item whose sole functin is to pump up the vanity of the commentator. It's neither news nor "views" when an incident has been recorded on film, audio tape, and in dozens of reporters' notebooks. You will recall that Kerry's medal moment was not a secret ritual, but a staged media event which the media duly attended en masse.

All Oliphant's little memoir amounts to is vain primping in front of the mirror: "Can you hear me, History? It's me, Tom."

We mourn the passing of a perfectly good question out of the media's playbook: SO WHAT?

As the pablum of this political season proliferates, it seems to me good way to reduce it to a bowl that any sensible person would consider eating, is to first and foremostthrow our the useless carbs. When confronted with what I shall term an "Oliphantism" (That which seems like a story but is really an advertisement for the self) a wise editor should apply the question: SO WHAT?

The mere application of such a question carries the answer: SO NOTHING.

Do editors really want their readers' teeth to burst into flame? Too many Oliphantisms and readers of the Boston Globe may find themselves saying: "The Boston Globe? SO WHAT?"

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 27, 2004 8:30 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The "Carbers:" New American Group Out to Crush Dissent and Gluttony

Where There's A Will There's A Weblog is minting new American words as well as tracking anti-Atkins moments in American culture.

The word fresh out of the forge for today? Carber One who wantonly discriminates against Atkins carnivores in search of their ultimate fix.

Here's the whole item:

Where's the Beef? Not at this Chuck-A-Rama.

No-Carb Dieters Booted From Buffet
SALT LAKE CITY, April 26, 2004 -- According to this report on, a pair of Atkins newbies in their second week of "induction," the brutal all-the-meat-and-butter-you-want-but-no-Krispie-Kreme phase of the diet, went to their local, and they thought, friendly, Chuck-A-Rama for the special $8.95 buffet. But after their 12th trip back to the carving station, they were asked by the management to please quit coming back for more. And more. And more.
"I really feel like we were discriminated against, I feel like we were treated unfairly," said Atkins dieter Isabelle Leota.
WTWTAW comments:
Well, Isabelle, I couldn't agree more. If your husband Billy Ray wants to go back for 12 plates of beef, then that's his God-given right as an American in this land we call the U.S. of Atkins.

And I'll bet, I'll just bet that the Manager was a carber.

What's next? Monitoring the flow of half and half at Starbucks?
I tell you, this senseless and bitter persecution of Atkins dieters has got to stop. That's why I've formed M.E.A.T. (Meat Eaters Against Tyrrany).

Our slogan?
Bite me.

We're signing up for M.E.A.T. right now! How about you?

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 26, 2004 6:53 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
In Middle-Earth America Any Man Can Be Elected King


Glenn Coggeshell is running for congress at The Lord of the Political Rings

The battle for middle earth has begun
In Washington DC.

"I fight not for what is gained, I fight for what can be lost."

With the choices we're getting , it is obviously time to send a Tolkien fan in. It might be just the ticket. At the very least, we can say "Now, he's really ready to cut the fat out of government."

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 26, 2004 6:45 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
John Kerry's Medals -- It's Just This Simple

Around and about the media and the blogsphere John Kerry's Vietnam war medals and their final disposition are a gigantic "Squawking Point ™" today. Asked by Gibson on Good Morning America:

GIBSON: Can you explain?
KERRY: Absolutely.
And Kerry goes on to be anything but absolute about anything. This is typical but it doesn't harm him as far as the hero issue is concerned by any stretch of the imagination.

Still, since the media mind is more and more given over to imagination these days we can count, we will have several news cycles of this particular stretch until their off on the next thing that comes swirling into the realm of "The Politics of the Next Five Minutes" (™ 2004 -- Roger L. Simon)

At the risk of stating the obvious (which many others seem to have missed), this issue is not whether or not Kerry is a war hero who later became less than a hero by doing this, that, or the other with his or other's medals.

John Kerry is a war hero by virtue of the deeds he performed in order to be awarded his medals. It's the deeds that count and only the deeds in determining heroism. The medals don't count and what is done with the medals doesn't count. Once you get them, they're your medals. You can, as many have, sell them or pawn them. They are your property. You'd think the staunch conservatives calling for "Bloooood!" on this basis would have understood that much.

The deeds make the hero. And, from everything I've read about his decorations, the deeds were real and honorable.

Hence, regardless of whether or not the medals were kept, tossed, or melted down to make a large bling-bling peace symbol for John F. Kerry to wear as a erring, he remains a War Hero.

The question of whether or not John F. Kerry is a Political Coward is a different issue. On that he will have to run on his political record just as he runs on his war record.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 26, 2004 11:52 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Micahel Jackson's New Liar for Hire

Cruel people would caption this "Which evil twin has the Tony?"
Even crueler people would caption this "Which evil twin had little Tony?"
But we would never do that.

Most of the time, we try to keep AD a pervert-free zone, -- with the exception of certain political figures. However, every so often a little Jackson has to pop up like poison toadstools after a spring rain. It got us today when we noted that:

Michael Jackson has dumped his high-powered attorneys, Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman. Jackson is replacing them with Thomas Mesereau Jr., best known as the lawyer recently fired by Robert Blake. -- E! Online
We don't know much about trial lawyers but when you take on a lawyer "best known as the lawyer recently fired by Robert Blake," we'd say it's time to pump up your PayPal account and start scanning eBay for "underwear, solid steel."

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 26, 2004 10:17 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Before Copernicus

Translation: First report to Johann Schöner on the Books of the Revolutions of the learned gentleman and distinguished mathematician, the Reverend Doctor Nicolaus Copernicus of Torun, Canon of Warmia, by a certain youth devoted to mathematics. -- Rheticus

$1.5 million buys book that put world in its place


The $1.5 million book is tucked inside its own protective case, sitting on a shelf in a huge vault with a steel door 5 inches thick.

It is the rarest and most expensive book the Linda Hall Library of Science has ever bought. Carefully, Bruce Bradley, the library's curator of rare books, picked up the case and carried it into an adjoining room rich with the dark wood paneling of a grand English library.

He picked up a pair of white cotton gloves, slipped them on and opened the case. Gently, he removed a thin volume weighing a few ounces and placed it on a flat wood table. The book is 464 years old.

"Doesn't look like such a big deal, does it?" Bradley said.

Except, of course, that it helped change the world.

Published in Latin in 1540, the book is one of the few remaining first editions of the Narratio prima by German mathematician Georg Joachim Rheticus.

Three years before famed astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus published De revolutionibus, the revolutionary treatise stating that the sun, and not the earth, was at the center of the universe, Rheticus published Narratio prima.

More at ... The Kansas City Star (Reg. Required)

Pointer via Arcturus

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 25, 2004 8:03 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Der Kultur Var Iz Kaput
"The culture war is over, and American values reign supreme, even over our most dedicated foe!"

-- Dave Trowbridge @ Redwood Dragon -- via IP

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 25, 2004 6:06 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Hubble is 14 Years Old Today

HubbleSite: The Lure of the Rings
Click to enlarge

"Resembling a diamond-encrusted bracelet, a ring of brilliant blue star clusters wraps around the yellowish nucleus of what was once a normal spiral galaxy in this new image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST). This image is being released to commemorate the 14th anniversary of Hubble's launch on April 24, 1990 and its deployment from the space shuttle Discovery on April 25, 1990. The galaxy, cataloged as AM 0644-741, is a member of the class of so-called "ring galaxies." It lies 300 million light-years away in the direction of the southern constellation Dorado."

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 25, 2004 7:54 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Some Give All, You Can Give Some


Spirit of America and The Victory Coaliton need you help and your dollars now. Unlike many charities, 100% of your donations go to the projects taken on by Jim Hake and the Volunteers of Spirit of America.

Right now a fund-raising drive is on to make this coming week one that will count in the battle to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis throughout that blighted country.

I've personally helped this fine organization at events such as getting school and medical supplies to Iraq. I can assure you that this is one group that talks the talk AND walks the walk. For every dollar you give, 100 cents gets to those in need.

Some give all. You can give some. Click on the banner above. Just do it.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 24, 2004 12:51 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
CNN's Candy Crowley and John Kerry Get A Room...

Hot prose purples the air:

"Back in 1971, the square-jawed, clean-cut decorated combat veteran, with a generous mop of dark hair, told a rapt audience of senators of atrocities he said had been reported to him by his fellow soldiers in Vietnam....."

"At 60, the hair is graying, though the jaw is still square. And he is still explaining and defending those strong, vivid words, which continue to divide."
From: - Kerry's 1971 testimony on Vietnam reverberates by Candy Crowley

Wheww! It's clear that Candy has got it going on for John. The only question is if ,when Teresa tumbles to this, more CNN bimbo eruptions will be allowed.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 24, 2004 11:44 AM | QuickLink: Permalink

Roger Simon continues his wordsmithing with: "Blogaganda "

"I think we need a new term for a kind of blog that is beginning to appear on the Internet, which does not solely represent the opinions of its "innocent" author. Perhaps someone will come up with a better one, but I am proposing the simple "Blogaganda" to describe the new blog by Mohammed Ali Abtahi, a Vice President (no less) of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
"Blogaganda" -- so let it be written, so let it be done.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 24, 2004 11:20 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Charlie Daniels' "Dear John" Letter

Excerpt from the entire letter via The Conservative Cajun

"And oh by the way, we do have some common ground. I'm with you on not sending jobs out of the country. I have been against NAFTA since it's inception and believe it should be repealed.

"Now having said that I have an idea how you can help bring jobs back into the United States.

"Why don't you have your wife talk to the folks who run Heinz Foods and
get them to move all their factories into the U.S.A. since the lion's share of them are in foreign countries? That ought to help some."

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 24, 2004 11:09 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Poetry of Spam

This from the spam can this AM . I think the recipe is;
One can of rap,
A cup of Nigerian English,
Two random fortunes from the Fortune File
Blend well before spamming:

"Wanly L. Spangles" 


Date:  31 Mar 2004, 07:01:02 AM

Subject:  Publisher, Supreme medication for you!

Incidents should not govern policy
but, policy incidents

Publisher, looking for a place
to order medication?

Adaptability is not imitatione
It means power of resistance and assimilatione
Loving kindness is greater than laws
and the charities of life are more than all ceremoniese

If you care enough for a result,
you will most certainly attain ite

We are able to ship worldwide
The only time you don't fail
is the last time you try anything -- and it workse

Your easy solution is here
You are completely anonymous!

The sooner I fall behind,
the more time I have to catch upe
The highest exercise of charity
is charity towards the uncharitablee

From now on, all my poetry will be signed “Wanly L. Spangles,” and I will never cease my search for “Supreme Medication”

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 24, 2004 10:54 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Don't Ask, Don't YARRRRR!
"We get asked a lot of questions about how to choose the right RAM for your system - and generally we like to say that the most important factor to consider is whether or not your RAM is named after pirates. As everyone knows, pirates are utterly excellent, perhaps being only slightly less cool than astronauts from the early 70's and spies. Like Billy Connolly before he started wearing mad trousers and bombing around Australia on a fruity tricycle, they sport exotic facial hair and pay excitingly scant regard to basic maritime health and safety regulations. So naturally, when you're trying to build the gnarliest gaming rig your puny human brain can comprehend, you'd be madder than a barrel of doorframes not to choose the stuff that has gently homoerotic nautical overtones!

"There's a wealth of information about Corsair memory at a new site here - either go for the brazenly fast XMS2, using memory so new and spangly it's technically illegal, or - my personal favourite - try out the overclocker's favourite stick, and go with the Pro. Like any true pirate, the Pro sticks come with an array of LEDs on top, which allow you to see how much of his brain he's using. Also, they have lots of tiny fins on - in the pirates' case this was to make sure his sleek, coconut-oiled torso slipped through the azure Caribbean seas like a freshly buttered otter. I presume they fulfil the same sort of function on the RAM.

"So, ask us what kind of RAM you should put in your new killer system, and we'll simply reply "YARRRR!" - before leaping from the top floor of our warehouse shelving with a network card between our teeth, swinging to the ground from 20m of CAT6 network cable, and finally leaping out of the window and making good our escape with 6 doubloon's worth of external hard-drives. YAAARRRRRR!"


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 24, 2004 10:34 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
And Now the News from the BBC

The caring nature of our friends across the pond as show in: Goldfish rescued from drain death

"He may only be a goldfish in the eyes of the person who poured him away, but this street really wanted to see him rescued," Inspector Craig said.

"Goldfish may not be as cute as cats or dogs, but they still deserve our respect and the chance to live out their lives safely and without distress. "

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 24, 2004 10:28 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Out Beyond Dover

John Weidner of Random Jottings displays this moving image this morning:

A caisson carries the casket of Lance Cpl. Torrey Stoffel-Gray in a procession through Patoka, Ill., on Monday. The 19-year-old Marine was killed April 11 by hostile fire in Iraq's Anbar province. He was stationed at Twentynine Palms, Calif

Weidner asks:

So why don't we see more things like this? And what's the big deal about Dover?
He answers:
Dover AFB is where large shipments of coffins with our war dead arrive. They are then forwarded to various localities. The press wants to show coffins en masse because they think it will help their party in the next election by causing Americans to lose heart. (A side-effect like undermining their country in time of war is too trifling to worry about.)
This certainly rings true, but I think there's another factor working here that is not quite so political: the lazy/cheap factor.

There might be, if the Pulitizer committee were not itself subject to corruption, a prize for photojournalism to be found in tracking the effects of the war at home, but most of the press would be too lazy and too cheap to try for it.

It would entail a long series of assignments in the small towns and dusty backwaters of America. There would be lots of short hops on small commuter airlines, many nights in Motel 6, many days in cheap rented cars, and a host of meals snatched at Waffle Hut. Not an assignment many would treasure. Not an assignment many editors would give. Most would like to stay home and cover something local like dog fights, small fires, and milking contests.

Dover is close to DC where the media keeps its standing army. Much more efficient to just send a team out there and be back in time for cocktails in Foggy Bottom. Lazy and cheap, the two signature qualities of many of the career officers in the Media army.

Besides, this push to cover large numbers of coffins is only a stalking horse for the real desire of the insatiable media. They live and die by circulation numbers and ratings and what they really want is a piece of the Iraq reality show near home and safe.

Look for some craven employee of the media to start pushing for "Our Iraq War Dead: The Autopsy" as the next step in the downward spiral of 'reality TV.' "After all," the argument will go, "doesn't the public have a right to know the real costs of the war? We need to see the bodies come out of the coffins and how they are examined and prepared."

I'm sure that some of the real bottom feeders of the media will even hunt up a bereft and confused family of a soldier killed in Iraq and get them to sign papers and give interviews demanding that this revolting kind of story be allowed. Will it be allowed? You might think not, but given the almost instant cave-in to a bogus FOIA request earlier this week that's no longer certain. It's clear that to some in the Pentagon you can't do enough or go far enough to satisfy the media's claim that it be allowed to penetrate every facet of our national life. What's privacy and decency when it is standing in the way of reallly big ratings and a large bump in circulation?

Even odds that we'll see something like "Our Fallen Hero:The Autopsy" on HBO within the year.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 24, 2004 9:31 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Fundamental Enemy of the Left

The Curmudgeon seeks an answer to the question: Why Do They Hate Us?

[T]o hate a country is an exercise in abstraction. To do it properly, one must discern the philosophical basis for the country, separate out the critical threads, and find a rationale for condemning them. This is beyond the mental powers of most on the Left. They prefer to hate something concrete. Americans who love and defend their country are their usual choice.

But why?

It's not about patriotism. There are a lot of patriots in the world. The only variety the Left excoriates are American patriots.

It's not about armament. The Red Chinese, the Iranians, the Saudis and others are all straining to become serious nuclear threats to the United States. None of these nations has received any criticism from the Left.

It's not about warfare. The Left has never condemned the wars initiated by socialist dictatorships. The Soviet Union's incursions into Afghanistan, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and East Germany were perfectly okay with them. Castro's deployment of thousands of heavily armed "advisers" into Angola didn't cause them a moment's alarm.

It's not about racism, sexism, or any other collectivist perversion. Collectivism is the Left's lifeblood. Racism is just fine with them, as long as it's directed against their political enemies. And you've never seen sexism like that on the Left, whose street activists invented the idea of "chicks up front": men shielding themselves from the police behind rows of women.

It's not about "compassion." No one who understands the word could rationalize the brutality routine to the Palestinian terror brigades, Castro's prisons, or North Korea's concentration camps.

So, at bottom, what do they hate? His answer is inevitable as well as illuminating.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 24, 2004 9:22 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
To an Athlete Dying Young

Pat Tillman 1976-2004

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder high-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It whithers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echos fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

-- A.E. Housman

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 23, 2004 10:51 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Professoriate and the Truth

The truth of the matter is that the opinions stifled on our campuses run counter to a prevailing orthodoxy that abuses its power and prevents the expression of opinions it opposes.

This coercive stifling of opinion permeates daily life, not just our campuses. It is very hard to think of an area of life that is free of the exhortation of intrusive moralizing. We are told what food is right or wrong to eat; how we should treat our pets; what clothing to wear; how we should spend our after-tax income; how precisely we should phrase invitations for sex; what kind of bags we should carry our groceries in; when and where we are permitted to pray or smoke; what jokes we are allowed to tell; who should pick the fruit we buy at the supermarket; how we should invest our money; what chemicals we should use in our gardens; by what method of transportation we should go to work; how we should sort our garbage; what we ought to think about cross dressing, sex change operations, teenage sex, and pot smoking; we are forbidden to inquire after the age, marital status, drug use, or alcoholism of job applicants; we are liable to be accused of sexual abuse if we spank our children or hug our neighbor's; our 19 and 20-year olds are permitted to fight our wars, but they are not permitted to buy a beer; we are not supposed to say that people are crippled, stupid, mentally defective, fat, or ignorant; and we must not use words like "statesman," or "He" when referring to God.

-- John Kekes @ Tech Central

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 23, 2004 10:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Screen Icons Honored

In the world of very small, but widely seen art, icons hold a special place in the hearts of computer users and their operating systems. While the schizm between Windows users and Mac users is, at bottom, religious, what is not in dispute is that Mac Icons are, well, simply more beautiful. So beautiful in fact that annual contests are held for the most attractive and elegant icons. Chief among these is Pixelpalooza, hosted by The Iconfactory , a site where Mac Icons go to find loving foster homes on desktops and laptops across the Web.

This year, when they opened the envelope at The Icon Factory's Pixelpalooza 2004!, the winners were .... seen here

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 23, 2004 9:14 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Salon Book of Laughter and Forgetting and Bitter Fruit

N.Z. Bear is the latest observer to chronicle the decay at the once interesting web site, Salon, in One of these things is not like the other

“Salon continues its descent into liberal insanity. Nice photo montage. No, I don't care if it's explained later in the article, thank you very much.”
He’s pointing to “Who's a fascist? The ultimate political insult is making a comeback,” illustrated thus:


One can only imagine the glee that this picture stimulated in the cube farm publishing this hapless fossil. Lattes on the house at whatever espresso bar the staff repairs to after extracting paychecks from whatever Silicon Valley mogul is underwriting Salon this week.

“Cool graphic, Laura. Really framed your fascist piece.”

“Ah, David, I don’t think it really reflected what I wrote.”

“Don’t fret, Laura. They’ll remember it long after your review is forgotten. Besides, most of your review is in the pay zone. Nobody goes there. It’s what’s up front that counts. That’s why me editor, you writer.”

One could go on at great length on the question of “Whatever happened to Salon?” Many have, more will. The real story on Salon can be given in just a few paragraphs.The decay of Salon parallels the decay of the Left, the liberal establishment, and the Democratic Party since 9/11. Once the shock wore off and time passed, the process of laughter and forgetting took hold and the old obsessions came swarming back. As Gary Snyder wrote, “Once a bear is hooked on garbage, there’s no cure.”

Looking at Salon’s spiteful graphic this morning, a biblical phrase came to mind. I am not a religious man. My knowledge of scripture is scant. Still, my first thought was, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Being unsure of the phrase, I found the original passage:

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
-- Matthew: 7
”By their fruits ye shall know them.” Let’s apply that to the picture above for a meditation on the persistence and flowering of bad Americans in this time of war and terror.

In the aftershocks of 911, Salon’s editor David Talbot underwent a brief conversion experience in which he actually seemed to support the culture and the country that made Salon possible. Alas his revelation soon dissolved. His was the faith of fear. When the fear faded his faith faded as well. Like others of his ilk, as soon as it became clear that the First Terrorist War was going to be something more than a Special Forces social call on Afghanistan, Talbot and his crew began to see the real enemy not as those who killed 3,000 Americans and swore to kill hundreds of thousands, but those Americans who were determined to eliminate the killers root and branch.

Why? Because those Americans were led by the one man more dangerous to Salonistas than Osama, Hitler, and Milosevic combined -- George W. Bush. Bush of atrocities such as “Guantanamo,” “The Patriot Act,” and “The Marriage Protection Act.” Bush who said “Adios Kyoto,” and “Hit Iraq.” In minds now relieved of the feeling of a clear and present danger from terrorists, Bush became a condensed Satan: Adolf Osama Slobodon Bush -- War Criminal, Mass Murderer, Christian, Homophobe, Chimp. And, worst of all, Thief .

Once they felt safe in cultural hamlets such as the Bay Area, surrounded by tens of thousands of others who provided ideological insulation, the Salonistas reverted to the central obsession of the Left and the Democrats -- It is not really the loss of American soldiers that motivates them (although they will say it is). It is not the risk of Americans being killed here at home that drives them (although they will say it is). It is not the fretting over the “loss of our freedoms” that seems to have been, so far, delayed, or the “suppression of dissent” which seems instead -- if the picture above is any guide -- to be thriving. None of this powers the bozo eruptions spurting daily from house organs like Salon. Their primal energy source remains “Florida, 2000.”

Today no one can say what might have been the course of the last few years had the Butterfly ballots of Florida been a bit more clear as they spread their wings before addled voters in that graying state. Nor can one say what would have been the result if Ralph Nader’s Pinto has been tee-boned by an SUV on the Interstate in October of that year. But the post-mortem effects are with us every day as a large block of our more educated citizens refuse, in their bones, to accept the fact that -- by law -- George Bush is President until our citizens, educated or otherwise, vote him out or 2008, whichever comes first.

Instead the Salonistas eat the bitter fruit of their corrupted tree every morning. They eat it cold and since, by dint of the makeup of their characters, they inhabit a large section of the mass and minor media, we can expect them to pass on this fruit to us in heaping portions.

As their diet, low in carbs and high in the toxicity of hate, it ulcerates tissues deep within them. The gnawing pain from those tissues overcomes their political good sense. Surrounded only by others who consume the same fruit, they drive more and more Americans away from their fixation on the past and towards those who see that the way to peace is forward, not back to a future that never was.

Salon remains an example of subsistence farming in this blighted orchard, limping from one disappointing day to the next on the kindness of Sorosesque “backers” who sigh and kiss their money good-bye as soon as they hit the PayPal button. Still, Salon is an important site in that it allows you to see the mindset of the Left in a slick interface.

Like a canary in an ideological coal mine, Salon will wheeze along in the dusty dark for a few years more. After all, it is not just a product of institutionalized BushHating, it is an institution of San Francisco and the Bay Area; a safe seat for sitting out the Terrorist War.

Sensible San Franciscans long ago realized they were in no danger from Terrorists. Looked at from a military point of view, the city has little value as a strategic or economic target. The elimination of San Francisco would not have as crippling an effect on America as the reduction of New York, Washington, Los Angeles, or a couple dozen other prime targets. At the same time, San Francisco has great value as a city congenial to fellow travelers, quislings, and sleeper cells of all colors and affiliations. San Francisco is, indeed, the reigning capitol of anti-Americanism in America. As such it is both a safe haven and a bastion of useful fools. Our enemies know enough to keep San Francisco intact and untouched. They’ll eat it last.

For now, it is enough to know that Salon, as one of the prime online house organs for surrender, appeasement, and BushHate, is doing its part to keep itself and San Francisco safe from terrorism. Civic spirit at its very best.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 22, 2004 9:07 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Brick Science Major

Or -- Why Johnny Can't Code

Imagine that there was a Brick Science major in a university. What would it look like, if it were modeled after most Computer Science programs? 

In the freshman year, we teach the students about bricks. The kinds of bricks. The sizes of bricks. The purposes of bricks. Plain bricks, glazed bricks, outdoor bricks, paving bricks, fire bricks. Each exam tests their knowledge of specific kinds of bricks and what they are used for. 

In the sophomore year we introduce them to Brick Theory. How bricks are made. What goes into the mix. The effects of impurities in bricks, both negative (defective bricks) and positive (coloration). We teach them the chemistry of bricks. The proper firing temperatures for different kinds of bricks. They learn how to analyze brick performance (breaking strength, water permeability, robustness and other considerations in Analysis of Bricks). They finally understand why some bricks come with three little holes in them (they knew about the existence of these in their freshman year, but not why they are present). 

In the junior year we explain about how mortar puts bricks together. Since they now have more background, in two semesters we start with basic mortar theory and work down to optimum blends of mortar for various purposes. They learn about curing time. They learn about brick-mortar combinations. They learn about pointing, and why it is necessary. They know how to determine the bonding strength by measuring the forces that are required to split two bricks that have been mortared together. 

In the senior year we introduce them to systems. We talk about the costs of field deployment of brick-mortar systems, including installation and maintenance, long-term issues such as system robustness under weather, salt, and other stress conditions. And we have a senior project. Each group of students gets to build a three-block-high, six-block-wide wall, using bricks and mortar of their choice, and explain why they made these choices. 

They graduate. They have a B.S. in Brick Science. 

Their first assignment: "Build a decorative brick wall". 

Pointer from The Inscrutable Muxway

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 21, 2004 6:52 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Freshman Reporter Unclear on US Political Realities

One would hope that Reuters would adopt a policy of sending seasoned reporters to Washington instead of those barely out of some high school in the Ukraine.

David Morgan, callow youth that he must be, reveals his stunning ignorance of basic American political structures in his report: Nuclear-Armed Iran Would Be 'Intolerable' -Bush

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A nuclear-armed Iran would pose an intolerable threat to peace in the Middle East and a mortal danger to Israel, President Bush said on Wednesday, adding that any such threat would be "dealt with" by the United States and its allies.

In strongly worded remarks before an audience of newspaper editors and publishers, the Republican president pressed the secretive leadership of the Islamic republic to heed U.S. and European demands not to pursue a nuclear weapons program.

We await the young Mr. Morgan's report on the words of the Democratic president, no matter where he may be.

Email brings us this footnote to history:

Gerard Van der Leun should at least be informed that the name of the state is "Ukraine" not "the Ukraine". There are no articles in the Ukrainian language.

This way of refering to Ukraine is believed by many Ukrainian-Americans to have been pushed by the Soviets as a way of making Ukraine appear to be only a region of the USSR. -- Charles Osgood

Gerard Van der Leun regrets his ignorance in this matter and has corrected the entry accordingly.

He would also like to state that by mentioning Ukraine in the same anecdote as the Reuters news service, he in no way meant to tarnish or defame the proud people of Ukraine.

Incident filed under: "Osgood"

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 21, 2004 6:34 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Voice of the Turtle Is Heard Throughout The Land


File under "Markets Plunge Due to Irrational Ignorance"

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 21, 2004 2:03 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Mourner Do's and Don'ts

What do these damp grief counselors do between disasters? Why they write books, of course. Such as this instant downer from Publishers Marketplace Offerings

GOD KNOWS: I'M GRIEVING! is co-authored by Marilyn Stolzman, Ph.D., L.M.F.T, a practicing psychotherapist specializing in grief counseling, a popular lecturer, and the Director of H.O.P.E. Unit Foundation for Bereavement and Transition, a Los Angeles-based, ongoing bereavement support organization and book buyer, and widow, seasoned PR-savvy, published author Gloria Lintermans. GOD KNOWS: I'M GRIEVING! The Journey from Loss of Love, to Life and Laughter speaks to that widow/widower/partner -- over 15 million people in America - who have lost a spouse, and, the additional millions of surviving partners from non-traditional relationships (gay, lesbian and life-partners).

GOD KNOWS: I'M GRIEVING!, a 75,000-word cutting edge, prescriptive approach to healthy, healing grief, is a practical guidebook for the bereaved and their support network -- not psychobabble, but workable steps to moving through the important and necessary Stages and Time Sequences of Grief in order to realize a healed, gratifying new life. Unlike any book currently available on grieving the loss of a spouse or partner, it is unique to this important marketplace, because: GOD KNOWS: I'M GRIEVING!, while providing insights into the five Stages of Grief, also explores the previously ignored five Time Sequences of Grief while keeping in mind the mourners' temporary inability to concentrate by presenting each chapter in an easy-to-navigate format of four sections. They are: (1) Lintermans' firsthand experience to which mourners will comfortingly relate; (2) questions about day-to-day life common to mourners; (3) Dr. Stolzman's reassuring explanation of what the mourner is feeling; and, (4) a roadmap of practical Do's and Don'ts to guide the mourner on the path to recovery.

We certainly can't wait to "comfortingly relate," we're shipping off an "offering" this afternoon to our agent titled: GOD KNOWS: I'M HEAVING!

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 21, 2004 1:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The November Surprise: Nader

James K. Glassman at the American Enterprise Institute runs the numbers in "Nader: Now More Than Ever."

In 2000, Nader received 2.7 percent of the vote. The latest ABC News-Washington Post poll, released April 20, gives him 6 percent. The latest Gallup Poll, taken April 5-8, gives him 4 percent. A Newsweek poll of 18-to-29 year-olds found 12 percent backing Nader, "at the expense of John Kerry." And Democrats have to be worried about a survey in New Hampshire last month that found Nader with 8 percent.

But they should worry more as they look at Iraq.

The war there is not going well. In the first 18 days of April, 99 U.S. soldiers were killed, and, at that rate, another 1,000 will die before the election.

But the beneficiary, ultimately, may be Bush. Kerry's position on the war is not much different from the President's--except that Kerry says he would manage it better and make it more international. Nader, by contrast, is fervently anti-war: "I have been against this war from the beginning. We must not waste lives in order to control and waste more oil." Nader even believes that Bush should be impeached because he "led the United States into an illegal, unconstitutional war in Iraq."

Nader calls Bush a "messianic militarist," and in a letter on his website, he writes that, just as during the conflict in Vietnam in 1968, when two pro-war candidates--Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey--were running for president, today we have, similarly, Bush and Kerry. Nader warns students that "machinery for drafting a new generation of young Americans is being quietly put into place."

It is not far-fetched to imagine that, if the situation in Iraq does not improve this summer, a real anti-war movement will build in this country. So far, anti-war protesters have mainly been led by an unattractive old-left group called International ANSWER.

But imagine an anti-war movement centered on Ralph Nader, an untouchable, unpandering liberal hero for four decades. For Americans passionately opposed to the war in Iraq, a vote for Nader would not be a vote wasted. To the contrary, it would provide the only opportunity in November for registering a serious protest--one that could, in their minds, ultimately lead to the war's end.

In early April, Gallup found that 28 percent of those surveyed wanted all U.S. troops out of Iraq, compared with 16 percent in January. If the war deteriorates, the sentiment for pulling out can only rise, and Nader (that is, Bush) will be the beneficiary. He's the only anti-war game in town.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 21, 2004 10:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Jackson Family Race to the Bottom Accelerates


Jermaine Jackson(L), brother of Michael Jackson, Jackson family spokesman Firpo W. Carr(C) and Khawaja Khurshid Reshi hold a rug with a woven picture of Michael Jackson April 19, 2004, in Manama. Jermaine Jackson, in the Gulf to promote understanding between Muslims and his fellow Americans, said Tuesday that Muslims are 'the new Negroes in America.' Jermaine, a convert to Islam and dressed in white Arab garb, has been speaking about Islam and U.S. 'adventures' in Iraq (news - web sites) to enthusiastic audiences at Koranic centers and universities in the Gulf Arab state of Bahrain. -- Reuters
Just when you think you have finally explored to the absolute limit of the world's capacity to boggle your mind, you discover that there are yet vast arid plains stretched out before you.

As for freshly-minted Muslim Jermaine's propostion that "Muslims are the new Negroes in America," all we can say is that has got to come as a shock to Smoking-Americans who have held the position for well over 20 years.

And while we're at it, what's supposed to happen when that rug is used for prayer? Color me nervous, but I wouldn't start kneeling on that five times a day.

Praise be to Allah for the pointer.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 21, 2004 1:08 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Marines Don't Fire First."

Freelance photographer Lynsey Addario narrates a slide show of a her photographs taken with a Marine patrol Under Fire in Iraq.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 20, 2004 12:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
F---ing A!

Arianna Huffington, having proven over and over that she does not know the meaning of the phrase, “Get off the stage before the lights dim,” is still shaking and moving for the hot shots at the Democratic Party.

Like a dubious mushroom in some curdled ideological soup, Ms. Huffington continues to float to the top wherever the thin broth of quisling yearnings is ladled out into the trough. This weekend she is scheduled to blight The Los Angeles Times Book Festival with her rollicking sidekick Robert Scheer in a couple of panels whose insights will likely be as numbing as having sixteen inches of rebar nailed down the middle of your spine.

But what kind of a person is this Macedonian Medusa? What kind of person is this Holistic Harridan whose every thought and deed and word simply overwhelms the insane intellectuals of America with nuance and sang-froid. She is.... in a word -- "Amazing."

But don’t take my word for it. Take instead the well-chosen words of a close friend and confidant of Arianna the Huff, Tony Newman, “a bearded 33-year-old originally from the Bay Area who is now the communications director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization that Ms. Huffington has worked closely with to end the war on drugs.”

Mr. Newman called his friend Ms. Huffington an "amazing woman."

"Not only is she a great writer, she’s a great organizer," he said. "She basically pulled together a whole f---ing range of people tonight—super big shots, grassroots organizers. She’s a connector. You know what, she did it incredibly well when she was conservative and worked with Gingrich—ouch! But we have respect, ’cause she knows how to f---ing do it, and now that she’s willing to come over …. "

"Arianna put together an important segment," he said. "She put together activists in the f---ing media world. She pulled together activists working together on issues like drug-policy reform like myself. She pulled together these people and said, ‘You know what? Basically the house is on fire,’ I heard her say, ‘it’s not time to f---ing remodel.’

Basically, the f---ing state of the world is in our hands. There is something exciting about that. We got seven months: We gotta f---ing bring down George Bush. This guy is a drunk driver behind the wheel and he is going to take us off the cliff. We gotta f---ing remove the f---ing drunk driver, man. This shit, this is f---ing serious. You know, Arianna is gonna continue doing her thing. She’s going to go to f---ing cities around the country, she’s gonna talk to local media, she’s gonna talk to campuses. She’s f---ing articulate. She can articulate our vision." --- New York Observer

"'s not time to f---ing remodel." Ah yes, the party of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, Coretta Scott King ... and now F---ing A. Huffington. The devolution continues. Next stop, Courtney Love.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 19, 2004 11:11 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Final Insult
**Omaha crime ripple** continues: > They broke into our office again. This is the third time in three weeks. We had been barricading the door, and when I say barricade, I mean with a big board, medieval-style. We finally got the front door re-keyed, and the culprits just chipped away at the top of the door, unlatched the bolt that went into the ceiling, and pushed the door open. > Then they stole the deadbolt. From: red elephant

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 19, 2004 2:32 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Final Insult

Omaha Crime Wave Continues:

"They broke into our office again. This is the third time in three weeks. We had been barricading the door, and when I say barricade, I mean with a big board, medieval-style. Wefinally got the front door re-keyed, and the culprits just chipped away at the top of the door, unlatched the bolt that went into the ceiling, and pushed the door open.

"Then they stole the deadbolt."

From: red elephant

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 19, 2004 2:27 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
New Spanish Foreign Policy: Text & Subtext

"These circumstances have led me to take the decision to order the return of our troops with the maximum safety and thus in the shortest time possible.

"Driven by the deepest democratic convictions, the government does not want to, cannot and will not act against or behind the backs of the will of the Spanish people."
-- José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero

We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone!
-- Howard Beale in Prophet Mode : Network (1976)

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 19, 2004 10:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Out to Lunch?

There are more than 1,600 sandwich compilations at The Sandwich Project. This is one of them:

1653. The 'Fridge Emptier' Sarnie

What's in it? Cheddar Cheese, Salad Cream, Tomatoe, Onion and wait for it -- Jalapeno Peppers (from a jar)

Er... We'll wait for it. But that doesn't mean there aren't 1,600 more tasty morsels here.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 19, 2004 10:51 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Two Pages from The Hamas Songbook

Imagine me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

So happy together
How is the weather
So happy together
We're happy together
So happy together
Happy together
So happy together
So happy together (ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba.....)

-- The Turtles

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited 'cause we're reunited, hey, hey

-- Peaches and Herb

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 18, 2004 8:01 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Water from Mars any country of the world yet has no."

Click to enlarge

If you're willing to meet the reserve of $2,000,000 you can have a taste of Water from Mars
(eBay item 2238685021 (Ends Apr-21-04 15:36:11 PDT)

Located in Minsk, Belarus (where else?) this offering is sure to slake your thirst for something special in the way of potables. Here's the story:

In 1983 from cosmodrome " Baikonur " flying device ???-01 which has been directed to Mars has been started, with the purpose of studying structure of an atmosphere of Mars, and also by possible landing to a surface of a planet of the controlled device with a capsule for a capture of test of a ground.

However in 1984 communication with the device has been lost, agrees with the authorized program signals from the Earth were sent, but acknowledgement on their acceptance were not. Therefore the top management the decision on nondisclosure of the given incident and officially this program was accepted was closed.

In 1989 the base of the space control which is taking place on New Land, had been accepted a signal with ??? -01 which under the programmed program should return on the ground, the device entered into circumterraneous space and in 16 days ??? -01 has been found in steppes of Kazakhstan. But any information on a course of works and results was not, the device has been damaged by fine space bodies, the data carrier has been destroyed, however in a capsule which should go down on a surface of Mars, the stone which then has been checked up by scientists has been found, but scientists have checked up a stone only from an external part.

In the middle of 2003 our group could receive this stone. We have carried out detailed research of all stone and at the end of the same year have found out water in the connected condition as kristallogidratov ( FeSO 4×7H 2O; CaSO 4×2H 2O; CuSO 4×5H 2O), then we could allocate with himiko-physical methods water.

Water from Mars any country of the world yet has no. Therefore the opportunity to become the first owner of water which many years have been covered with a secret is represented to you.

Splash it over a fine single malt and, man, that's living.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 18, 2004 12:20 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Water from Mars any country of the world yet has no.

eBay item 2238685021 (Ends Apr-21-04 15:36:11 PDT) - Water from Mars

In 1983 from cosmodrome " Baikonur " flying device �РС-01 which has been directed to Mars has been started, with the purpose of studying structure of an atmosphere of Mars, and also by possible landing to a surface of a planet of the controlled device with a capsule for a capture of test of a ground.

However in 1984 communication with the device has been lost, agrees with the authorized program signals from the Earth were sent, but acknowledgement on their acceptance were not. Therefore the top management the decision on nondisclosure of the given incident and officially this program was accepted was closed.

In 1989 the base of the space control which is taking place on New Land, had been accepted a signal with �РС-01 which under the programmed program should return on the ground, the device entered into circumterraneous space and in 16 days �РС-01 has been found in steppes of Kazakhstan. But any information on a course of works and results was not, the device has been damaged by fine space bodies, the data carrier has been destroyed, however in a capsule which should go down on a surface of Mars, the stone which then has been checked up by scientists has been found, but scientists have checked up a stone only from an external part.

In the middle of 2003 our group could receive this stone. We have carried out detailed research of all stone and at the end of the same year have found out water in the connected condition as kristallogidratov (FeSO4×7H2O; CaSO4×2H2O; CuSO4×5H2O), then we could allocate with himiko-physical methods water.

Water from Mars any country of the world yet has no. Therefore the opportunity to become the first owner of water which many years have been covered with a secret is represented to you.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 18, 2004 12:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Chris Carter's Lone Gunman Episode 1: Full Download

In which the intrepid conspiracy theorists, led by Byers not-so-dead father, stop the events of 9-11 six months before they happen...,

Entire episode (250 Meg Avi --DIVX encoded) available for download --- Here

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 17, 2004 6:41 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Good News for Drunks Who Need to Stay Awake at the Wheel

"Starbucks Coffee and Jim Beam Brands have announced a development and distribution agreement to develop, manufacture, and market a Starbucks-branded premium coffee liqueur product in the U.S. The product will be tested in two U.S. markets later this year.

"The premium coffee liqueur product will be available for sale at licensed establishments, such as restaurants, bars, and retail outlets where premium distilled spirits are sold. The product will not be sold in Starbucks retail stores. "
-- From QSR Magazine

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 17, 2004 5:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Camelot Redux: The Musical


Act I, Scene 1

When I first saw you
with your smile so tender
My heart was captured,
my soul surrendered
I'd spend a lifetime
waiting for the right time
Now that you're near
the time is here at last.

It's now or never,
come hold me tight
Kiss me my darling,
be mine tonight
Tomorrow will be too late,
it's now or never
My love won't wait.

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

Don't stop, thinking about bizarro,
Don't stop, it'll soon be here,
It'll be, weirder than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.
Don't you look back,
Don't you look back.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 17, 2004 11:50 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Losing It in America

Victor Davis Hanson again demonstrates his deeper understanding of our times.

What a weird war we are in. The president of the United States gives a press conference to steel our will and endures mostly inane cross examination -- at the very time the New York Times best-seller list has five of its top ten books alleging that he is a near criminal. Various disgruntled, passed-over or fired employees (Clarke and O'Neill), buffoonish provocateurs (Franken), and conspiracists (Phillips and Unger) all assure us in their pulp of everything from Bush family ties with Nazis to a First Family perennially plotting to get Americans killed for nothing other than cheap oil.

If that was not enough, a U.S. senator, with a reprehensible record of personal excess and abject immorality, now in his dotage damns the war in Iraq on moral grounds -- even as young Marines seek to protect a nascent and tottering consensual government from thugs and killers.

An ex-president who calibrated his campaign for a Nobel Prize by criticizing his successor in a time of war to the applause of foreign powers now steps forward to call for a more principled nation. Such are the moralists of our age.

Are we crazy? I think in fact we almost are. But the tragedy is that if we are paradoxical, self-incriminatory, and at each other's throats, our enemies most surely are not. They know precisely what they want from us -- an Islamic world of the 8th century, parasitic on the resources and technology of the 21st, by which all the better to destroy a supposedly soft and bickering West. And if the present chaos here at home continues, they are apparently on the right track.
--Victor Davis Hanson: Our Present Chaos

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 16, 2004 11:28 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Orange: The New Hot Black


Friedrich at notes that we have now entered "An Age of Orange-xiety." We'll forgive him for straining at the gnatword, since our serving up of the standard "New Black" headline is even worse. Still, it is a timely and accurate observation:

Michael:I don't know how you feel about this, but it seems to me that at some point in the last year or so we entered an Age of Orange. I'm sure people who are more au courant vis a vis the fashion world are probably sick and tired of the darn color by now, but it only recently struck me that orange is hot, hot, hot.

The elevated hipness of orange actually dawned on me for the first time, consciously, last week when my dental hygenist gave me a translucent orange toothbrush and mentioned that it was a new color in the Oral B line. You mean, I thought, Oral B has a "line"? Toothbrushes have a fashion dimension? Where have I been? Of course, we're not just awash in orange, but in orangey-red, copper and bronze-y shades as well...

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 16, 2004 10:53 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Democratic Party Platform, 2004, For Dumbies

Prepare to have your cranium seethe.

Woodward Book Accuses Bush Of Keeping Plan From Many Top Aides

WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush secretly ordered a war plan drawn up against Iraq less than two months after U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan and was so worried the decision would cause a furor he did not tell everyone on his national security team, says a new book on his Iraq policy. -- AP

Yes, in the rush to just coredump the current liberal gush onto the news channels, we have this latest move in the form of yet another book by the ultimate Washington insider.

This book is the other half of the full-court pincer movement currently being acted out in Washington. This completes The Two Planks of the Democratic Party for 2004

The Reader's Digest Condensed version of this platform is this:

"Before 911, Bush didn't do enough soon enough!" After 911, Bush did too much too soon!

That's really all you need to know. You can avoid cable news for the next two weeks. Don't say I never did anything for you, because I just did.


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 16, 2004 8:41 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
War Is Not Over If You Want It

This cogent observation just in from bitter sanity

The difference

Someone asked me the other day, "You compared building democracy in Iraq to the US experience with Germany and Japan after WWII. How come it's not going like that?"

People have come up with a lot of reasons - both before and since the fall of Saddam - why Iraq would not be like Germany or Japan: level of previous exposure to democracy, degree of international legitimacy for the effort, presumed cultural incompatibility of Arabs with democratic polities. Some are more plausible than others, of course, but most of them are quite subtle.

But there's one reason no one talks about, that's about as subtle as a neon sign: the war isn't over.

Imagine if, during WWII, we had tried to occupy and reconstruct France before defeating Germany. Imagine Vichy collaboraters being funded by German money and smuggled German weapons. Imagine German special ops units coming across the border periodically and blowing people up. Imagine the press telling us that all this proves the French didn't want us or our "liberation" in the first place and we should give up and go home.

Now imagine ignoring all this and doggedly proceeding with rebuilding French infrastructure, hoping all the problems will Just Go Away. Folly, yes?

In Iraq, we've got Iran funding an uprising and, most likely, sending in commandos under cover of the pilgrimage. In Fallujah, we've got a lot of old-line Saddam collaborators, and possibly Syria funding and providing military fighters, via Hamas. We've had Saudi-funded terrorists coming across the borders all this time. (Ask the Iraqis - they know Arab from Arab, and they know the people coming in to blow up Iraqis aren't Iraqi.) And we wonder why there are problems in Iraq?

There are problems because the war is still going on; winning one campaign does not conclude a war, and (media and politician nitwits insisting on locutions like "the Iraq War" notwithstanding) we ought to know better than to think it does. To whatever extent we succeed in Iraq, it becomes an ally in this war - and to whatever extent it becomes an ally, it becomes a target for the enemy.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 16, 2004 8:35 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Words of the Day

It's time to upgrade your political vocabulary, courtesy of protein wisdom:
Frankenfreude fran-KEN-froy-duh n: A salicious satisfaction in the misfortune of self-important and unfunny lefties.

garofaloed gah-RAH-fa-lod;v. tr: 1) To find oneself on the receiving end of puerile insults, generally of the sort peppered with chimp references and accompanied by the smell of patchouli and cloves; 2) To be cancelled quickly and with little fanfare. And you know that's coming.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 16, 2004 7:33 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Jobs Rebuffs Glaser Thrust


Seattle-based RealNetworks said Thursday that Apple chairman Steve Jobs had rebuffed an offer by RealNetworks' chief executive Rob Glaser to meet and discuss forming an online music alliance involving Apple's best-selling iPod portable players.

"He's in the neighborhood, but the meeting Rob wanted with Steve isn't happening," RealNetworks spokesman Greg Chiemingo said Thursday. "Steve just doesn't want to open the iPod. We don't understand that."

Does Glaser think Jobs' is running around wearing his "Earth Girls Are Easy" tee-shirt?

Put it another way: In the last year, Apple's stock has gone from $12 to $29, while Glaser's Real Networks stock has gone from $9.00 to $6.50.

Anyone who has had to mess with the psychotic nature of Real Networks plugin, and then had a taste of Quicktime knows in their heart that Real Networks is a dead stock squawking.

So is it any wonder that Steve Jobs would decline to join Glaser in his anti-Microsoft Jihad? Not in these quarters.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 16, 2004 6:22 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Satan's Automobile


Continuing today's strange obsession with automobiles,
we direct your attention to: Sportka .

Pros: Real Media Player not required, Graphic Cat Imagery.
Cons: Windows Media Player required, Graphic Cat Imagery.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 16, 2004 5:39 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Pawning the Force


Bidding stands at $1,125 (Reserve met) and going up.

SWG Star Wars Galaxies Sunrunner Jedi Account Loaded

Jedi Character: Jedi is 4-3-2-3 in the Jedi Padawan tree and has a 4th Gen Crystal saber as well as 2 Single Crystals and 2 Twins. Jedi has No visibility, is Not listed on the Bounty Hunter terminals, and has never died. You can either continue down the current Jedi's path or start your very own personalized Jedi.

Main Character: The main character is a Master Pistoleer with some Bounty Hunter which will allow you to engage in PvP, easily run missions, raid dungeons, participate in taking down factional bases, and also hunt down other Jedi for quick, easy cash.

You will also receive over 2 million credits, Several sets of 70% Kinetic Composite Armor, Several million Credits worth in Krayt Enhanced and Geonosian weaponry, 3 houses, 25 crates of food and drugs, and much more.

I will be accepting Paypal only. Within 24 hours after the funds are verified you will be given all account information. The account still has 1 full month paid for, after that it is the winner's responsibility to update the billing information to keep this account active.

This is the third time this account has been up for auction. Due to failure to receive payment blah blah blah. I will contact you if you are the high bidder, if you fail to respond I will drop your bid.

What? No honor among those who would be Jedi?

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 16, 2004 4:17 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Just in Case This Iraq Thing Doesn't Work Out


Ford Offers Armored Lincoln Town Car
Armored Car Market Skyrocketing After Sept. 11
Ford Motor Co. is marketing an armored Lincoln Town Car that can withstand rounds of fire from assault rifles, handguns and submachine guns, according to a Local 6 News report.

The "Ballistic Protection Series" version of the Lincoln Town Car features a reinforced body with ceramic and steel and is equipped with thick bulletproof windows.

Since Sept. 11, the armored car market has been growing 20 percent a year, according to the report.

The car, which looks like all other Town Cars, sells for more than $140,000.

The car will only be offered in the United States, according to a report.


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 16, 2004 3:55 PM | QuickLink: Permalink

Mr. Hyman Schnaterfunkensprunk of Lighthouse Point, Florida, will be
paying $250 a year to have his name on his Hummer."

For Immediate Release

April 16,2004

Fred O. Dickenson, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shared a podium in Fort Lauderdale today with Governor Jeb Bush announcing the roll-out of the much anticipated "Bigger Vanity Plate Program (BVPP)"

The program, first suggested by Dickenson in May, 2003, allows motorists in Florida to obtain vanity license plates of up to 250 characters. "Floridians have often complained that all the best plates are gone because of a limit on characters," Dickenson remarked. "Those days are over. Now the citizens of our great state can come back to the DMV again confident that their rights to express themselves on our highways have been protected."

Governor Bush praised Dickenson for "his vision and insight in conceiving of and making this program a reality. And it wasn't just the imagination of Fred that made it happen, it was his knowledge that this was not only possible, but profitable. It makes for a rare marriage of good government and good business."

At a fee of $10 per year per letter, BVVP is projected to bring in more than $4 billion annually to the state's treasury.

"It is our hope," Governor Bush concluded, 'that other states in similar financial straits will see this program as something to emulate. Since it is clear that all Americans will in the very near future drive SUVs, it's time government made license plates that fit the dreams and asperations of our people."

Link: PERSONALIZED PLATES - Florida DMV - FL DMV - Florida Department of Motor Vehicles

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 16, 2004 3:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
There Goes Volvo's Safety Cred

The LegoVolvo: Unsafe Just Standing Still.

File it under unfortunate concepts and more unfortunate press releases

Volvo Cars of North America, LLC (VCNA) and LEGOLAND California are joining forces to promote driving safety and family values. As part of the recently announced partnership agreement between the subsidiaries of the two Scandinavian icons, a replica of Volvo's award-winning SUV, the Volvo XC90, was constructed of LEGO's famous modeling bricks. The Volvo XC90 made of LEGO bricks was unveiled today at the New York Auto Show.
A Volvo (previously thought of as a "very safe car") made out of Legos? Oh, that sounds solid. Yes, when I think of Legos I think of things more permanent than the Pyramids. I think of structures immune to the ravages of time and the elements. I think of.... Well, I think of my stepson who was just in here with a wild Lego assemblage purporting to be a new, heavily armed version of some alien Death Star. He was showing me how the laser cannon on the wing swiveled around and.... whoops, the wing fell off. Oh well, back to the assembly line.

So count me among those spoilsports who don't find that Legos + Automobiles = Safety. I don't care how much Volvo's demented marketing types insist on it.

And as for what this whole thing has to do with "family values" color me confused. Unless, of course, there's the fun to be had when Junior starts to disassemble the family car on the Interstate.

Those Iconic Swedish Companies: What a laugh riot.

Link: Special LEGO-version of Volvo XC90 unveiled at New York Auto Show

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 16, 2004 12:12 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Things They Carried


We've all had the experience of concealed outrage when watching a airport security guard take grandma or grandpa aside to have a closer look at their walker. How idiotic, how rude, how utterly abhorant to our sense of liberty and freedom, we think. What can a person confined to a walker or feeble enough to need a cane do, we think.

Well, it's time to think again. A brief perusal of the FBI's Guide to Concealable Weapons, 2003 [Illustrated] will give you chills just thinking about some of the edged weapons options available to people. From the introduction:

In the wake of the September 11, 2001, airline hijackings the FIREARMS AND TOOLMARKS UNIT of the FBI LABORATORY has started a collection of small and easily concealed knives. This is the first installment of a continuing effort to collect and distribute information on knives that otherwise may be dismissed as non threatening items. Many of the knives in this collection were commercially purchased and typically can be bought for less than $20. Some of these knives are common items found in most homes and offices. You will notice also that some are made of a plastic material, making them less likely to be considered a weapon. Each of these tools was designed to
cut and is fully functional in that respect. Whether used to cut paper, cardboard, or other material, these knives should be treated as potentially dangerous weapons. Each knife is shown with an accompanying scale for size reference and many include an X-ray photograph to show how these weapons might appear if placed in luggage and passed through a scanning device.
The 2.1 megabyte PDF file can be downloaded from this site.

Yes, there are a lot of silly items shown, but the inclusion of the ghostly images of what things do and do not look like in the scanners packs a whallop. You might even remember them the next time you have to take off your shoes in front of a bunch of perfect strangers.

Pointer via Grow-A-Brain

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 14, 2004 11:42 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Dialogue Found Under The Orange Tree
SUB-HUMAN: How are things going over there?
INSURGENT: Death to America!
SUB-HUMAN: That's good, that's good. Now listen, we're doing okay. I'm getting people over here riled up about Vietnam. All you have to do is keep killing soldiers.
INSURGENT: Death to America!
SUB-HUMAN: Right. Now it's not going to take a lot, just make sure you do it in front of the cameras.
INSURGENT: Death to America!
SUB-HUMAN: Now, *hiccup* how many hostages are you up to?
INSURGENT: Death to America!
SUB-HUMAN: That's good, 30 is a good start. Now let me give you the general rule of thumb. Every new hostage you take gets you the same amount of publicity as the previous three combined.
INSURGENT: Death to America!
SUB-HUMAN: Listen, I saw you had some Japanese hostages. What the hell is that? You only need Americans man, Japanese do you no good. If anything it pokes holes in our "no coalition" argument.
INSURGENT: Death to America!
SUB-HUMAN: Ok, keep up the good work and stay focused, I'll be in touch.
INSURGENT: Death to America!

From: Under the Orange Tree

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 14, 2004 11:25 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
What's Just-So-Wrong With This Picture?

It's a Japanese thing. You wouldn't understand.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 14, 2004 10:16 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Why There Aren't Any Movies About 9/11 ?

As usual, James Lileks is at the top of his game today on The Bleat ask why we aren't seeing any films about September 11. Well, not asking so much as answering. And answering well.

I wonder whether Hollywood execs shy from a 9/11 movie because they think it might send the wrong message.

It would anger people anew, and we're supposed to be past that. It would remind us what was done to us instead of rubbing out noses in what we do to others -- I mean, unless you have a character in the second tower watching the plane approaching and saying "My God, this is payback for supporting Israel!" it's going to come across as simplistic nonsense that denies the reality in the West Bank, okay? It would have to tread lightly when it came to the President, because even though we all knew that he wet his pants and ran to hide, we'd have to pretend and do scenes in Air Force One where he's taking charge instead of crying help mommy to Dick Cheney, right? I mean the idiots in flyover people believe that stuff, and you'd have to give it to them or they write letters with envelopes that have these little pre-printed return address stickers with flags up in the corner. Seriously. Little flag stickers. Anyway, we would have to show Arab males as the bad guys, and that's not worth the grief; you want to answer the phone when CAIR sees the dailies of the guys slitting the stewardess' throats? And here's the big one: if we make a patriotic movie during Bush's term, well, it doesn't help the cause, you know. People liked Bush after 9/11. Why remind them of that? Plus, you can just kiss off the European markets, period.

Richard Clarke's book is available? Here's a blank check. Option that sucker.

It's like it's 1943, and Hollywood turns down a Pearl Harbor movie in favor of the gripping account of a Washington bureaucrat who warned FDR that the oil embargo would needlessly anger Japan. The attack on Hawaii would take up five minutes -- and even then it would be a shot of the hero listening to the radio with an expression of stoic anguish. If only they'd listened.
In case you missed it, Richard Clarke did have his turgid variation on Quisling's Lament optioned by Hollywood this week.

After almost every studio in Hollywood waved their hands in the air shouting, "Me! Pick me!" Sony Pictures took the option rights for "a low six figures."

Only in AntiAmerica, folks. Only in AntiAmerica.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 14, 2004 10:05 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Royalties? They Don't Got to Pay Him No Stinking Royalties"

You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll kiss $250,000 goodbye

Here's an interesting side note concerning John Kerry's 2003 taxes as given by Byron York on John Kerry's Tax Returns on National Review Online

Kerry also reported $89,220 in royalties from his campaign autobiography, A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America, published last October by Viking Press
The use of the word "royalties" might lead some people to think this refers to actual sales of Kerry's book, but it doesn't. In this context, for a book published last October, the 89K would represent either the last half of an "advance against royalties" from Viking, or the last third of such an advance. It is, in the case of campaign biographies, most likely the latter since campaign “Vision” books have a long history of being dogs from pub. date to remainder bin. This is somewhat confirmed by the fact that Kerry's book is 5,696 in the Amazon sales rankings as of this writing; a shabby showing for the standard bearer of a major party that is currently driving several tomes onto the bestseller lists.

So, how much did Viking pay Kerry for this dog? It’s not readily known, but I'd say the likely figure would be $250,000 to $300,000 as an advance.

Here's the back of the envelope calculation:

Kerry was the first to get a Presidential Vision book signed in late 2002. (Source: Publishers Weekly) Kerry gets two payments once the book is signed. One on signing and one on delivery and acceptance. Except in rare cases it takes publishers a minimum of one year to put a book into the stores. This places the signing payment for the book in 2002.

Two payments of $89K equal $178,000. But before he gets that his agent, Helen Rees of Boston, would have taken 15% of the gross. (I once knew Helen and I can assure you that -- her staunch liberal views notwithstanding -- she would not cut her commission for a mere Democratic Senator from Massachusetts.) That would mean that his original advance had to be north of $210,000.

How far north? Well, that would depend on how much John paid the ghost writer that Helen probably hooked him up with. You don’t think John F. Kerry sat down and banged out My Vision for a Better America on his battered Underwood portable that he hauled through the mud, the blood and the beer of Vietnam, do you?

Nope. It would have to be a ghost and I’m guessing a ghost that had to sit down, take dictation from the senator’s aides, cut and paste from the Senator’s bloviations of the last few decades, and take a meet-and-greet with the Senator for perhaps 10 minutes of a Sunday, would want to see at least $50,000 for pain and suffering. So drop that in the kettle and I’m estimating that a person of Senator Kerry’s distinction, wealth, and position inside the Bos/Wash social scene would find anything less than a sum between $250,000 and $300,000 an insult to himself and the “party of the poor people.” Unless, of course, his wife paid the ghost from her own funds.

At a $300,000 advance, Kerry’s vision would have to have a net hardcopy sale of around 82,000 copies. Highly unlikely unless he gets elected, in which case it is only sort of unlikely.

So, while the math here is only general, I’d say that Penguin/Putnam/Viking is looking at a loss of around $200,000. Which is, in a manner of speaking, like saying the publisher just donated $200,000 to Kerry -- who could use the money. Not to the candidate, but to the man. But that’s okay, Susan Peterson Kennedy, one of the heads of the house knew this going in. In fact, they all knew it going in. That’s the way things are done when you sign up a Presidential candidates standard thumb-sucker early in the pre-dawn hours of a Presidential run.

The real fun is not in the loss but in the feeling of power that comes with publishing a known loser for “the greater good.” The joy in being a publisher such as Susan Peterson Kennedy comes from picking winners and she's good at it. But the power of being a publisher such as Susan Peterson Kennedy comes from choosing the losers.

That most books will be losers is not a secret. All book editors and publishers know that going it. The power thrill comes from deciding which books, as above, will be the losers. And publishers and editors don't always choose them on their potential commercial merits. At times they choose them based on what the books’ authors can do for the editors and publisher socially. Susan Peterson Kennedy has a number of noble causes she is associated with and is much to be admired for it. Chief among these is Human Rights Watch where Peterson is very active in women’s rights issues. Not so strangely, since birds of a feather flock together, a notable donor to Human Rights Watch is the Tides Foundation, which, of course, gets a large share of its funding from the various Heinz foundations.

Factor that it and it is a win all around for this small publishing investment of few hundred grand. Kerry benefits to the tune of a couple hundred grand in spending money. Viking (now that Kerry is the heir anointed or, as he will come to be know “JFK Lite,”) benefits by have the new leader of the Democratic Party on its list. Susan Peterson Kennedy benefits since it binds the Kerrys’ closer to her pet projects at Human Rights Watch. An agent gets a commission. A ghost writer gets a job. The book printers of America get work. And nobody really has to read the book. What’s not to like?

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 14, 2004 9:09 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Help Build the Anti-AlJazeera

The admirable Spirit of America is asking for donations to help the US Marines build a television station as an alternative information source in the Sunni Triangle. It's time to put up some money as your part in the fight to win some hearts and minds.

"News broadcasts in Iraq can be biased, inaccurate and incomplete - to put it mildly. Your contribution will create a television alternative owned and operated by Iraqis. This will provide better information, counter efforts to provoke and help reduce tensions."

Read more and donate Here.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 14, 2004 8:08 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Degeneration of the Democratic Party

Screen Shot of Item on The Daily Kos (which has been known to remove items
if they prove to be too "hot.")

Question: When is it permissible in the United States to call a distinguished African-American an "Uncle Tom?"
Answer: When he's a Republican and you're a Democrat.

That's the way it is over on the Daily ("Screw 'Em) Kos. You see, it seems that Secretary of State Powell is in the minds of these twisted people guilty of.... guilty of.... what? Of being a Republican? Of being an African-American that doesn't seem to want to follow the party line? Strange. Too strange to contemplate really. But this is how the member in good standing of the Kos Cadre puts it:

"By the way, did you notice Powell doesn't tone down the words when talking to Fox News, because he knows their viewers don't give a shit if Iraq is a slave colony for Massah Bush and Uncle Tom Powell for the next 50 years. -- The Daily Kos:
Last week we had long-time Democratic “cartoonist” Gary Trudeau implying a lot of very unsavory things about Condi Rice.
(See Signed Racist Artwork Available Now in last week's American Digest.)

This week we have "The Daily Kos" framing Colin Powell as an "Uncle Tom" in “Massah’s” house.

I guess that the Martin Luther King dream of judging people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin is just a distant memory among a lot of Democrats.

This growing faction of the Democrats represents their "base;" their most committed and articulate supporters; their most 'connected' in more ways than one supporters; their effective fundraisers; the supporters that can be counted on to craft and broadcast the message of the Democratic Party to the people of the United States. And what is that message?

The message is that anyone or anything that stands with or supports, not the policies nor the positions of George Bush, but the very person of George Bush is to be attacked and denigrated with every slur at their command.

Readers of this page and friends new and old are to be forgiven if they have formed the impression that I am a staunch supporter of the President. I can see why they may feel this way. Email correspondents I have never met echo them in even more strident tones. But they are all, I am sad to say, dead wrong.

The facts of my own political history are this: I have never since I began to vote in 1967 voted for a Republican candidate except once in New York City when I broke down and voted for Rudy Giuliani's second term. Other than that one "slip" I have been voting Democrat my entire life. Until now.

I will spare my gentle readers the details of my own political odyssey since September 11, but I will note that as of last year I was determined to vote Republican instead of Democrat in the coming elections more out of sorrow than anger.

But that was then and this is now. Now I have come to the place where the whole sorry spectacle and circus of the Democrats over the last year has finally angered me. The party whose ideals once excited me has become a parody of itself, a dangerous parody. Instead of inspriation it delivers either numbing boredom or sheer despair at its intellectual and spiritual poverty. Instead of telling us what sort of New Jerusalem it would have us build as our City on the Hill, it takes us into the slums of the soul. Instead of waving the bright banners of how, it dons the rags and bones of defeatism and appeasement. Instead of leading the parade, it wants to make us content with following after the elephants with a shovel and a wheelbarrow. When it needs to supply us with someone to believe in, to follow, to admire and to trust, it offers up John F. Kerry and his rollicking side-kick Ted Kennedy. It’s like after sitting through the long and tedious circus of the primaries, the Party went out and chose Emmett Kelly; the saddest clown of them all.

From the party that gave us FDR, Truman, JFK and even, yes, LBJ, the Democrats have gone through a process of gradual but increasingly shrill devolution to the party of such weak, tepid and compromised souls as Carter, Clinton, and now Kerry. And the men the Party puts up are only the shadows of the compromises it has made with itself. And it has made many compromises over the years.... and become the poorer for each one of them. Perhaps the reason the Democrats are still so obsessed with Vietnam is that it was the war that pitched them into the quagmire of their own making; a quagmire that sucks them deeper into the pit of inconsequence with each passing election.
True, they did start to climb out of the quagmire of sixties politics and Vietnam with Clinton, but it was only for a few years until Clinton’s own sixties tendencies sucked them back down.

Politics is a profession founded on hypocrisy. This we all know. But, at the same time, we also need a politics that somewhere within it has a shred of uncompromised decency and more than a little courage. Neither of these qualities is self-evident in the Democratic Party today. There's not a lot in the Republicans either, but it at least is measurable even if it still is in short-measure.

What we see instead is a party that has been so out of power for so long, and is so deeply out of touch with so much of the body politic that it has turned in upon itself in its hunger for power and, through starvation, has begun to consume itself from the core out.

That's why we see these snide and creepy slips beginning to erupt from deep beneath the surface of the party in incidents where the deaths of Americans are celebrated and decent public servants are denigrated through racial slurs.

This is why we are starting to see such chilling incidents as the ad in a newspaper in Florida by a Democratic Political Club calling for the killing of Donald Rumsfeld.

That's why we are almost certain to see a move in the next few months on the part of the Democrats to bring a Bill of Impeachment against both the President and the Vice-President. It won't pass. It won't be expected to pass or even make it to the floor. It will be there just for the "news-cycles" it will churn up.

And this all arises from deep within the monsters from the id that now control and move the Democratic Party across out political landscape like a mob of extras from The Dawn of the Dead. It's an indecent and disgusting spectacle and I suspect there's more than a few million long-time Democrats who are revolted by it.

Bush-Hate, racism, calls for the death of Republican cabinet members, snide innuendo, joy at the death of Americans in Iraq, the endless political thumbsucking of the 911 Commission, and there's more on the way, much more. It's a tired, sick and crazed political party that is so greedy and hungry for power that it will do anything, including selling this country down the drain, to get it back. I'll have no more to do with it. I'm not the only one.

What did I ever see in it? Oh, there were lots of things. But they are all long gone and not likely to come back. The Democrats once had a lot of great ideals and they acted on them. Now they just mouth those ideals and look for the main chance to tell you how bad, how really bad for the country Bush is -- and by the way did you know he stole, he really, really, stole that last election. And, oh yes, he lied.

Right. Got it. Next.

In a way, what the Democratic party is now is somewhat like a first wife thought about at a safe distance from the divorce. You know you loved her at some point but you can't really remember why. You know she was beautiful to you then, but now you can only see the ruins of that beauty, and you are glad you got the best years. You know that, yes, you must have been happy with her and had a lot of good times. But now you can't remember where or when. In fact, when you think about her now you can't really believe you wasted all those declining years with here just because you believed that somehow, some time, she would grow sane, beautiful, and young again.

Life and politics though don't run backwards. One the hardest things to learn in life is when to leave, that's why we're always leaving late. It's not that the Republicans are running the most decent game in town. It is only that lately they seem to be the only game in town, at least the only one that puts America first. That's why I'm getting on their train. At least to the next stop.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 13, 2004 11:32 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Man Bites Dog. Really.

Man bites dog -- to death, China paper says

April 13, 2004 HONG KONG -- A man reportedly turned the tables on a dog in China, fatally biting it after it attacked.

The Shanghai man was strolling home with friends and was drunk after a night out, the South China Morning Post said. The canine apparently nipped at his fingers and cheek.

He jumped on the dog and bit it to death, the paper said.
-- Chicago Sun-Times

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 13, 2004 10:06 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Larry Niven on Life, the Future, the Past and Terrorism

Larry Niven, creator of Ringworld and a host of other visions of the near and far future has put together a list called Niven's Laws. Among the are these nuggets, which might well apply to the state of the nation and the world today.

6) It is easier to destroy than create.  

7) Any damn fool can predict the past.  

8) History never repeats itself.

9) Ethics change with technology.

"Any damn fool can predict the past." Sounds a mantra for the 911 Commission to me.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 13, 2004 11:05 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Googles All the Way Down

A man, a plan, a keyboard ....Stupidus!

Posted 4/5/2004 09:25:13 AM by Stupidus Rex
"Wah": 1,220,000 Google hits
"Waah": 30,500 Google hits
"Waaah": 21,700 Google hits
"Waaaah": 13,200 Google hits
"Waaaaah": 7,330 Google hits
"Waaaaaah": 14,200 Google hits
"Waaaaaaah": 2,910 Google hits
"Waaaaaaaah": 2,190 Google hits
"Waaaaaaaaah": 1,740 Google hits
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"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 1100 Google hits
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"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 568 Google hits
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"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 456 Google hits
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 788 Google hits
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 307 Google hits
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 495 Google hits
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 199 Google hits
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 175 Google hits
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 344 Google hits
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 137 Google hits
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 113 Google hits
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 136 Google hits
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"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah": 70 Google hits


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 13, 2004 10:45 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Wars of the Roses

The infamous gardening expert from the Regan Nursery Dr. Leda Hortaculture has located the center of white heat and hate on the Internet:

"A recent study conducted by the Electronic Fearmongering Foundation reveals that the internet's most vicious flame wars are not waged over such hot-button issues as politics, abortion, gun control, or even the Cruz-Cruise breakup. No, the number-one foaming-at-the-mouth psycho-cyber controversy turned out to be whether or not the bud union of a grafted rose should be planted above or below the surface of the soil...."
Also recommended in this essay is her 5-Step Program for "Planting a Rose," with such helpful advice as "Establish a Hole." Handy thing for planting a rose, what?

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 13, 2004 10:30 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Now That's Gotta Hurt

If you'd like to build your own personal Earth-Asteroid collision, we direct your attention to Earth Impact Effects.

A simple but horrifying calculator, this page lets you select density, size, velocity and angle of impact for your personal Armageddon device. Then it tells you what will happen -- to you, to your friends, and yes, even to your little dog.

I plugged in a few parameters just off the top of my head and hit "go figure." Here's some out-takes fromt my results:

Distance from Impact: 12.00 km = 7.45 miles

Projectile Diameter: 91.44 m = 299.92 ft = 0.06 miles

Projectile Density: 8000 kg/m3

Impact Velocity: 72.00 km/s = 44.71 miles/s

Impact Angle: 78 degrees

Target Density: 1500 kg/m3

Target Type: Competent Rock or saturated soil


The air blast will arrive at approximately 40.0 seconds.

Peak Overpressure: 448706.4 Pa = 4.4871 bars = 63.7163 psi

Max wind velocity: 436.8 m/s = 977.0 mph

Sound Intensity: 113 dB (May cause ear pain)

Damage Description:

Multistory wall-bearing buildings will collapse.

Wood frame buildings will almost completely collapse.

Multistory steel-framed office-type buildings will suffer extreme frame distortion, incipient collapse.

Highway truss bridges will collapse.

Highway girder bridges will collapse.

Glass windows will shatter.

Cars and trucks will be largely displaced and grossly distorted and will require rebuilding before use.

Up to 90 percent of trees blown down; remainder stripped of branches and leaves.

Earth Impact Effects Program Copyright 2004, Robert Marcus, H.J. Melosh, and G.S. Collins

These results come with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY

No warranty? You mean we can't return the planet if it breaks?

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 12, 2004 11:32 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
On Beyond Seqway


A square wheel may be the ultimate flat tire. There's no way it can roll over a flat, smooth road without a sequence of jarring bumps.

Stan Wagon, a mathematician at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., has a bicycle with square wheels. It's a weird contraption, but he can ride it perfectly smoothly. His secret is the shape of the road over which the wheels roll.
-- From Math Trek

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 12, 2004 10:08 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Wizbang Kerry Sloganator


Make your own Kerry Plaque courtesy of Wizbang and Pete Holiday.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 12, 2004 12:55 AM | QuickLink: Permalink

"The eccentric photographer known as Disfarmer (1884-1959) seemed to be a man determined to shroud himself in mystery. Born Mike Meyers, the sixth of seven children in a German immigrant family, Disfarmer rejected the Arkansas farming world and the family in which he was raised.

"He even claimed at one point in his life that a tornado had lifted him up from places unknown and deposited him into the Meyers family. "

-- Disfarmer, Heber Springs Arkansas photographer

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 12, 2004 12:14 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
David Warren On Civilization
Civilization is incidentally not something that exists primarily in external objects -- in art and architecture and books and music, which are only the external gestures of the thing; nor even in the graceful manners which reveal its presence regardless of outward dress. It is rather something that is carried within each of its members; forms of nobility that are contagious alike to savages and to our children. It is the creative power that builds all these beautiful things, and which, when it passes, watches the desert and jungle reclaim them -- watches the desert and jungle in turn reclaiming the heart of man.

It is everything -- moral, aesthetic, ethical -- but especially, civilization is moral. It turns men outward, lifts them above the animal contemplation of immediate need, and towards the requirements of God and our neighbour. And as we have chiefly forgotten today, it is in its very nature sacramental. It is the lifting up of entire peoples in a mysterious aggregative act of prayer.

-- Easter MMIV

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 11, 2004 4:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Copperhead Creeps

Demosophia in his pocket essay, Days of Vanishing Infamy, has a private epiphany while trying to understand the nature of our national inner child:

As I watched Nina Totenberg on CBS's Inside Washington desperately attempt to keep alive the hope that 9/11 could have been avoided, raising her voice, as she pleaded with Evan Thomas, so that her final words could only be heard by dogs, it occurred to me that this was simply another manifestation of the old wishful thinking that has consistently disinformed these folks. I guess I've come to understand the expectation that government ought to solve all our problems for us, before we're even aware of them, but this current fixation amounts to a wish that government solve all our problems before they even happen. And Bush is to blame because, well, this one got through the veil of verisimilitude that stands between us and the "real world." Damn him!

Ultimately it isn't that I object to the notion that we made mistakes, or that we oughtn't devote considerable energies to fixing institutional problems. But blaming this President, or any US President, for the events 9/11/2001, or 12/07/1941, amounts to a kind of wistful fantasy that's akin to the expectation that one can fly if one simply wishes on a star with enough sincerity and conviction. It's entirely in line with the fantasy among the Left that Bush somehow hoodwinked us into paying more attention to BIG DEMOCRACY, and to the War on Terror (Totalitarianism), than to their small democracy grievances. And taken to its logical extension it explains the conviction among many of those Moveon folks, that Bush actually engineered 9/11 precisely to divert us from the real agenda.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 11, 2004 4:32 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Rattle of the Teacups

Mark Styen says: "Don't let Iraq's tempest in a teacup rattle you."

The passivity of the Arabs, the sensitivity of the coalition and the defeatism of the media is a potentially disastrous combination. Rattling teacups gets you a bad press from CNN and the BBC. But they give you a bad press anyway. And in Iraq, the non-rattling of the teacups is received by the locals not as cultural respect from Bush and Blair but as weakness. In that cafe in Fallujah, as a parodic courtesy, the patron switched the flickering black-and-white TV from an Arabic station to the BBC, which as usual was full of doom and gloom.

The Iraqis will go with the winning side. And, though the Americans had a bad week last week, the insurgents had a worse one, losing as many men in seven days as U.S. forces did in the last year. The best way to make plain you're the winning side is to crush the other guys -- and rattle their teacups so loudly even CNN can't paint it as a setback.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 11, 2004 3:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Web Page In the Pot for Everybody from John Kerry!

The ever-alert Kevin has spotted the good Senator's offer of a web page to all inWizbang: Show Your Support!

Show Your Support!

John Kerry is graciously offering you your very own web page on his campaign site. Shouldn't you take him up on it?

We did our job HERE. Why not give him a minute and pitch in for THE HOLY CAUSE!

Remember to save a screen capture of your work, because as Allah notes, "This won't last long."

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 10, 2004 2:41 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Warm Up Pitches: The Top 5 Things About the First Week of Baseball

by CHRIS LYNCH , @ A Large Regular : American Digest Sports Editor

1. The Closers Implode: Blown saves seem to be the big story of the week. Mariano Rivera is Exhibit A but it seems to be a wide spread phenomenon. If you took the top 5 in saves from both leagues last year you would see that so far this year they have 9 saves and 3 blown saves. That's not a good ratio but their combined ERA is even worse. Not counting Eric Gagne who is on the DL or John Smoltz who is now a starter - the top performers from last year have a combined ERA of 5.51. That's not good. This is probably just an example of the hazard of small sample sizes but it is probably something that bears watching because my guess is at least one of these top closers will just completely melt down.

2. Cincinnati was the last team to lose a game and then they promptly lost two in a row. Currently they are in third place in their division and that's probably where they'll end up at the end of the year (if they are lucky). They will be a fun team to watch with plenty of offensive fire works though.

3. The Astros are the last team to hit a home run in MLB: It took till yesterday for the Astros to hit their first home run and they ended up hitting two - one by Jeff Bagwell and one by Jason Lane. The Astros have a pretty solid pitching staff (especially if Andy Pettite can stay healthy) but their offense looks anemic. The Astros lost the bats of Carlos Beltran and Jeff Kent; Bagwell's shoulder isn't getting any better (robbing him of most of his power) and Lance Berkman is still on the DL. With this offense the Astros are probably a .500 team at best. That second HR yesterday vaulted the Astros from last place in HR in MLB to 29th - passing the Pirates who only have one dinger so far (but who expects anything from the Pirates?).

4. David Ortiz is making a push to be the first DH to win the MVP. I know it is really early in the season but Ortizzle has been hot, hot, hot. He's in the top 5 in all the major offensive categories. Can a DH be the MVP?

5. The A's pitching staff. So far the A's starting pitching has had a dazzling 1.59 ERA - oh wait a minute - I forgot to add in the stats for former Cy Young winner and supposed anchor of the staff Barry Zito. Oops! When you add in Zito's numbers the staff ERA balloons to 5.13. What's wrong with Zito? Did Beane trade the wrong guy? Tim Hudson is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA for the Braves and Mark Mulder is a little better than Zito with a 6.00 ERA. This is definitely something people will be watching all season.

AMERICAN DIGEST SPORTS EDITOR Chris Lynch serves his own brew daily at A Large Regular, and contributes to Lynch can be reached at

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 10, 2004 8:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Pundit's Last Post

The Blogsphere imploded today on the news that Alphablogger Glenn (Instapundit) Reynolds had been placed in a rehab center at an undisclosed location for emergency Blog Detox.

After forcing Reynolds to post a final, unalarming message on his site at InstaPundit.Com, stating blandly "OFF ON A FAMILY EASTER TRIP: I expect blogging to be limited at best," he was immediately bundled into an unassuming SUV to be transported to The Langley Center for Recovering Blogaholics somewhere in Virginia.

But Reynolds, it seems, was able to break away from his guards en route and find his way to a public internet connection at a local airport for "Just one more post, honest."

Due to an alarming intelligence failure, the agents in charge had forgotten to take away Reynolds' digital camera which held, not the cows or the local landscapes (the posting of which gave the family their first cause for alarm earlier this month), but what Reynold's later called, "My puddytat, which I tot I taw."

An alert Washington Post reporter, drunk and in recovery from writing sixteen Condi Rice profiles in one day (each of which included no less than three quotes from two 911 widows and Katie Couric,) recognized Reynolds as he was being dragged out of the terminal and stuffed back in the SUV. When last seen, Reynolds had his head out of the window screaming, "I just wanted to fill an important hole in the blogosphere! I had five minutes left on my Starbucks card!"


The result is seen here as the Post's editors, lusting for a chance to put newspapers back on top of the media pyramid, flooded the Blogzone with top assets, assigning such noted scribes as James Olsen and Lois Lane and Al Franken to cover the story.


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 10, 2004 6:52 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
8.8 Megabytes of Beyond-Boggling Basketball Shots

Right Here!

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 9, 2004 2:06 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Weighing Anchoress

PEOPLE WHO APPRECIATE FINE BLOGS either know about, or should know about, "The Anchoress." Clear, consistent and always a pleasure to read The Anchoress [ <--New Location] has moved from the dreaded Blogspot to a new address at Blogs About. Either update your links accordingly or add her.

And if you have a blog stuck in the Purgatory of Blogspot, consider Blogs About as you next move. They'll get you off of Blogspot for free.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 9, 2004 1:49 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Really Great Moments At Work

This antidote to the revolting "Great Moments at Work" campaign by Microsoft makes you Feel Great!
(Quicktime Required)

Thanks to The Essential Dean

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 9, 2004 10:34 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Passion of the Bones

An instructive and inspiring tale in the tradition of All Creatures Great and Small.

Hi, my name is Bones and I am a Redbone Coonhound.

I would like to tell you my story on how I met my best friend Jesus and what all he has done for me.

To continue, say WOOF!

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 9, 2004 10:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Who Let 911 Happen? We All Did.
A key reason that al Qaeda operatives wreaked havoc on 9/11 is that virtually no one, especially among our political and cultural elites, believed that our national security was in any serious jeopardy. Our system of democratic capitalism exacerbated that naiveté by leading us to believe that other societies offered mirror images of our own. Prior to September 11, both the American right and left suffered from a similar hubris: that liberal democracy, with its promise of prosperity and individual fulfillment, was soon to triumph throughout the world.

The libertarian right fosters the conviction that capitalism dissolves traditional barriers by bringing individuals together on the ground of self-interest. The cultural left admits these differences but, because of its own tendency toward relativism and multiculturalism, cannot come to grips with the radical character of genuine difference. It views cultural diversity and national differences as mere matters of taste, asserting that the greatest crime of all is judgmentalism.

Strangely enough, these right and left wing dogmas culminate in the same social characteristic: the quintessentially American virtue of niceness, which, in the end, blinded us to the profound difference between our way of life and theirs, and made us less suspicious of the terrorists in our midst than we ought to have been.

From: The Perils of Complacency and Limits of Niceness by Kenneth R. Weinstein

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 9, 2004 7:57 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
When Johnny Comes Marching Home These Days, Hoorah! , Hoorah!

30,000 cheer for their heroes

PORTLAND, MAINE: Thousands lined Portland's Congress Street on Friday to cheer for the state's servicemen, its emergency workers and the NFL champion New England Patriots.

Billed as the city's biggest ticker-tape parade, the event featured hundreds of soldiers, sailors and other members of the military marching in front of an enthusiastic crowd, estimated at 30,000.

Onlookers bellowed excitedly as each contingent of soldiers paraded into view. The marchers were met by shredded paper, a multitude of small U.S. flags and signs that read: "Welcome Home Heroes" and "America Rocks!"

I can't help but wonder if it would be the same in Portland, Oregon.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 9, 2004 7:04 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What John Paul II Owned


I leave no property behind me of which it is necessary to dispose. As for the everyday objects that were of use to me, I ask they be distributed as seems appropriate.
Could it possibly be that he who dies with the least toys wins?

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 9, 2004 5:18 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Senior Elder of the Maasai

ROBERT FULGHUM on growing old as a Maasai:

When I became feeble and infirm, my extended family and the tribe would be honored to care for me. And when I died, they would wrap me in my finest red blanket, carry me some distance from the kraal, and simply leave me to be eaten by wild animals. No fuss, no bother, no problem. The Maasai Way.

We 21st century Americans consider the Maasai primitive savages.

We think it so much more civilized to be warehoused in an extended care facility playing bingo, watching game shows, living in pajamas and old bathrobes, eating diet food, and being taken for rides in a bus.

No invitations to sit on the front row at the dance of the young maidens.

Not even an ostrich feather headdress or a cup of hot blood.

As final stages of life go, the Maasai are way ahead of the Hindus or us.

I'm thinking of applying for Senior Elder status in the Maasai.
But, alas, I note that I would have to kill a lion first to prove my worthiness.

There's always some fine print.

And if I got caught with lurking around the zoo with a spear .. ..

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 9, 2004 4:47 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Radio Strangelove


Major Host Al "Buzz" Franken : Well boys, we got six stations out there, we got more holes in us than Janeane Garofalo's forearm and Chuck D.'s recording career, the liberal radio audience is vaporeware and we're hemorrhaging money and if we was rated any lower why we'd be an audio stream on The Daily Kos... but we got one little budge on those fascist, Halliburton, Christ-Kissing Bushites. At this height why they might harpoon us but they dang sure ain't gonna spot us on no radio dial!

"When we return, good news for humor writer Al Franken: His numbers may not be good at the end of his first week on the air but his new liberal radio network has nonetheless grown 100%. He now has six stations--roughly, or rather exactly, 1% of Rush Limbaugh's. Now this. . . ." From Peggy Noonan A Good Newscast on Good Friday

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 8, 2004 6:52 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Instapundit on Autopilot


I won't be blogging more than 20 or so hours today. I have to go to the dentist, do my taxes, take Mrs. AutoPundit out to dinner, get the dog washed, and the car spayed. So here's an excellent recap of what's going on out there.  Okay. Possibly not excellent. But some of the words are spelled interestingly.
After all, anyone who can write without an ounce of shame, "SOME FIRST-RATE FRIDAY CATBLOGGING from Sissy Willis," has got it coming.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 8, 2004 4:52 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What Are Friendsters For?

A QuickTime video monologue @ small world.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 8, 2004 3:12 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Legacy of Terror: The Mass Graves

From the mass grave at Musayib, Iraq

Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway,
A place where nobody knows

-- Talking Heads, Life During Wartime

From USAID, a short but chlling brochure , Iraq's Legacy of Terror: Mass Graves, combines facts, maps, survivor stories, and graphic images. Available as a PDF from the link above.

Since the Saddam Hussein regime was overthrown in May, 270 mass graves have been reported. By mid-January, 2004, the number of confirmed sites climbed to fifty-three. Some graves hold a few dozen bodies -- their arms lashed together and the bullet holes in the backs of skulls testimony to their execution. Other graves go on for hundreds of meters, densely packed with thousands of bodies.
Here's one of the survivors' stories.

Ali,* 36, an aircraft mechanic, was driving his family from Al Hillah to his farm in Mahawil on March 6, 1991, during the Shiite uprising after the end of the Gulf War. The city was being bombed. Ali was stopped at a military checkpoint outside the city near a brick factory and ordered to get out. His wife, newborn baby, and handicapped mother were ordered to drive away. Ali was ordered to remove his jacket, and uniformed men tied his hands and feet with his jacket and pieces of cloth and placed a blindfold over his eyes. Ali could still see through the blindfold, however, and saw about 12 other people, including men, women, children, and elderly, pulled from cars, bound, and blindfolded. They were dragged to a white Toyota Land Cruiser and piled on top of each other over the seats. No words were spoken, because when others attempted to speak they received severe blows to the head and body. It was approximately 10 a.m. when they arrived at the Mahawil military camp on the outskirts of the city. There they were unloaded, registered, and escorted into a large assembly hall filled with approximately 200 people.

Everyone was sitting on the floor with their hands and feet tied. They were blindfolded and positioned facing the walls.

Ali was placed near the door and could see outside. At about 4:30 p.m., the military men built a large ring of tires about 20 feet wide and set it on fire. Next to the fire were large buses, and the soldiers began escorting people from the hall to the buses. At this time, people were also being carried out of the hall and thrown into the fire. Ali believes that because the military was in a hurry to execute them and not everyone would fit on the buses, they decided to burn some people alive. After about 30 minutes of witnessing this, he was escorted from the hall and loaded onto a bus.

At approximately 6 p.m., they were taken on a short drive to a swampy area behind the brick factory. It was dark and he saw headlights in front of the buses. He believes the lights were headlights from the Land Cruisers driven by


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 8, 2004 12:54 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
That Reuters Moment: "Shadows of Vietnam"

How do your get an American General to say "Vietnam? If you're a Reuters' stringer you just throw your poetic license at him.

Q: Luke Baker from Reuters again. General, I wonder if you could give us sort of an estimate of how long you're planning or you expect fighting to go on in Fallujah or Ramadi to bring a -- to pacify those towns, as you put it? And also, your reaction to suggestions that the experiences your forces are going through now in Iraq have shadows of Vietnam?

GEN. SANCHEZ: Shadows of Vietnam -- I don't -- I don't see any shadows of Vietnam here in Iraq. It's two totally different battlefields, and I wouldn't even begin to characterize this as a Vietnam for the American forces.

From today's DoD News: Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing 4/08/2004

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 8, 2004 11:49 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Homer Simpson's Stifled Dissent

Declan McCullagh has a short note on the Politechbot list: Politech this week where he brings us up to date on the level of "creative thinking" that's driving 'The Simpson's' today:

Tim Long, for instance, is the co-executive producer of The Simpsons and spoke yesterday .... (Long said, BTW, that the reason President Bush has not been satirized as much as Clinton on the show is that an appearance on the Simpsons is a kind of "homage" to a person, and Bush is enough of a joke as-is.)
Of course, the enunciation of a speaker doesn't travel on a mailing list, but I wonder if Long thought to give "homage" that infra-dig French pronounciation of "Omage" in order to increase the chortles in the room. Seeing that Long is Canadian, he certainly has the background. Cheap laughs in protected and vetted speaking environments is really what it's all about, isn't it, Tim?

I have to observe that Bill Clinton was much more likely to be a bubba-buddy of Homer and his creators than George Bush. Ah, those were the days, weren't they? Beer and bubbas as far as the eye could see. Then again, The Simpsons are so 20th century these days, aren't they? George Bush could probably do without the 'honor.' John Kerry, however, would probably pursue it in order to establish his "man of the people" image.

On the other hand, there's reason to believe that Long is, essentially, lying about this whole thing. Given his background as a writer for Politically Correct, the idea that he's never pitched a 'get Bush' scenerio doesn't pass the smell test. Nor is it unlikely wiser heads shot the pitch out of the air as it was leaving his mouth. It is not difficult to imagine that, in today's cut-throat TV ratings wars, there's more downside for Fox's The Simpsons' taking on Bush than upside. And with an aging cash-cow like The Simpsons, you don't want to take the show anywhere that would cause millions to take it off their Tivos with one click, do you?

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 8, 2004 10:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Roger Simon's Phrase That Pays

Blogmensch Roger Simon's Watching Condi or... "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Kerrey" contains a gem of insight and phrasing that I hope we'll be seeing more of in the near future. He opens with:

I have no idea what the pundits will conclude, but watching Rice and Bob Kerrey jousting at this precise second, I am struck by how our system is about The Politics of the Last Five Minutes. That is one of the great flaws in a democracy, perhaps an inevitable one that we must live with. That the situation in Iraq looks bad this precise week is informing all of Kerrey's questions. Is that good? Not to me it isn't because I don't know... and no one knows... what the real situation is in Iraq. We probably won't know for some time to come. So everything is skewed. [Emphasis Added]
"The Politics of the Last Five Minutes" is a brilliant phrase since it sums up everything that's going hairwire in this country during this election season in seven words. Little wonder since 'the news repeated every five minutes' seems to be the driving force behind how the electronic media reports everything that crosses its desk. And reports it again, and again, and again. Some themes have staying power: weird superstar child molesters, grisley slayings of mother and near-term baby, where this or that athelete, celebrity, politician chose to park his privates that was not sanctioned by marriage, Iraq -- Quagmire or Morrass?, Bush-- Liar or Prevaricator? and, the current favorite, "Unbuilding 9/11" aka "walking back the cat."

It belabors the well-know point that "in-depth" to the electronic media means a report that spans one commercial break. Nevertheless, one hopes that policy and decisions on a national and global level are somehow getting done outside of "The Politics of the Last Five Minutes."

Then again there's the old adage about "Hoping in one hand..."

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 8, 2004 10:19 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
An American Woman At War

If you want to know what Iraq is like right now on the ground, you owe it to yourself to read the entire entry from ginmar's Live Journal titled: The Alamo is over-rated as a tourist attraction, dammit.


We faced a force of four to five hundred rebels, with mortars, RPGs and various handheld weapons. There were four US soldiers---myself and the other people in my team----about twenty coalition soldiers, and thirty or so scared British and Aussie expats, including the British governor. The coalition soldiers had a couple tank/hybrid vehicles, but they didn't have much ammo for them. By midnight, everyone was running out. We kept impressing this on Higher, and they just couldn't get that through their heads. What the fuck good are they? We are running out of ammo. We will be over-run if light hits this place in the morning and finds us still here.

More than that, it was the concrete reality that you were going to die. I felt that a few times yesterday, last night, and this morning. Escape attempt after attempt fell through, and those mortars started hitting the grounds, the gate, the vehicles. The enemy sent word that when darkness fell, they were going to over-run the compound and exterminate everyone there. The whole Iraqi security force just up and quit. One guy claimed that his mother had had a heart attack and he had to go home. I heard that on the radio myself. It's the dog-ate-my-schoolwork excuse as applied to battle.

Fallujah was on everyone's mind, but nobody---thank God----said it.

I can't even grasp that we lived through it. I don't think it's hit me yet.

What makes it worse was that we kept trying to get reinforcements and air cover and evac, and eventually we had to do it ourselves. We called up around 1500 because it became apparent that we weren't going to get out, requesting air cover. We thought it would be over by 1700. By then, though, we realized something else was going on---darkness falls at seven. We heard that the whole province was under control, and that Sadr's representatives had offered a cease fire while they negotiated. No other government building in the province was not under his control. Our little force, outmanned and outgunned, held him off for better than twenty hours, and then slipped out under his nose.

He wanted to keep us there, be his bargaining chips while he tightened his fist around the province. And that fucking governor went along with it. We eventually found out the governor was contacting the command and telling them, no, no Evac behind our backs. He wanted US Marines dropped off and the civilians put in the helicopters while they secured his villa and offices. His own people were running around trying to arrange Evac, and kept counter-manding him. Then he'd go on the air and countermand them. I kept overhearing conversations I wasn't supposed to hear.

I can't describe what it's like. You're wearing twenty pounds of gear in helmet and vest, and the sound the bombs make screeching in seems not so much audible as it sensory. You feel it first. You know what sound a bullet makes going through the air? SWWWWWiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssssssssssssssssssshhhhh. It seems to burrow through the air with an odd slowness, as if it were greasy and that makes it slip through the air. If I were 11 Bravo, I'd have earned my combat infantrymen's badge, except of course the fact that I'm a woman means I don't get stuff like that. The way the Army has it set up, it doesn%u2019t matter if you do the job, if you're a woman----you're not supposed to do it, so you don't get acknowledgement if you do.

No air cover? No ammunition? No EVAC?

Right now, downstairs, the usual passel of pundits are sifting through the catbox of the 9/11 Commission's "very important work." Right now, in Iraq, there's a shortage of ammunition. And our soldiers in harm's way.

Pointer via: LGF .

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 8, 2004 9:50 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Franchising Hockey: Bain NHL Takeover in Stealth Mode?

by CHRIS LYNCH , @ A Large Regular : American Digest Sports Editor

HAVE YOU READ ANYTHING RECENTLY about the proposed takeover of the NHL by Bain Capital? Me neither and I find that strange.

When the proposed $3.5 billion takeover bid was announced it was viewed by some as just a PR stunt but isn't publicity normally part of a PR stunt? I have to assume that the folks at Bain could have gotten more PR out of their bid if PR was really what they were after.

We are talking about a $3.5 billion takeover here. The fact that there hasn't been more written about it makes me think that some things must be happening behind the scenes. I've written about the Bain takeover before and my feelings on the subject have not changed. In fact some of the recent developments have made my belief even stronger.

Weeks ago USA Today ran an article about a fan who wants the fans of the teams to buy the league. The fan idea seemed idiotic but the fact that they tried to compare it to the Bain offer seemed more geared to smear the Bain offer than to present this fan offer in a good light.

The NHL filed two complaints against the players association (NHLPA). Both complaints are geared toward making replacement players in the fall a reality. If the NHLPA is successful in blackballing replacement players and if the agents are told that if they represent a replacement player then they will be decertified by the NHLPA - then it becomes harder for the NHL owners to field replacement players that will be anywhere near acceptable to the paying customers.

If the level of talent is less than or equal to an NCAA college level then why wouldn't the fans just skip the NHL games and go to a local college game?

Replacement players are the linchpin of the owners plan to drive the players association into a deal that is acceptable to the owners. Without replacement players then the league is shut down for a second season or a deal has to be made that will make people wonder why the league shut down for a whole season just to return to a status quo.

If the replacement players plan increasingly looks like a non-starter then the owners on the fence become more and more susceptible to an offer from Bain Capital.

Everyone refers to a team as a franchise. And who happens to be experts in franchises? Yep - Bain Capital who along with Texas Pacific Group and Goldman Sachs Capital own Burger King (one of the grand daddies of franchise operations).

There are 30 franchises and Bain just needs 15 to wrest control of the NHL. With 15 franchises Bain could elect their own commissioner and do many things to make their dream a reality.

Think about this. Currently there are nine franchises with values below $117 million, which include teams like the Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers and Anaheim Mighty Ducks (who recently sold for just $50 million). If Bain was to offer this lower tier of franchises a premium for their clubs - say an average of $150 million per franchise - then it would cost them just $1.2 billion to gain control over better than 25% of the league (I'm assuming that Anaheim wouldn't change hands because their ownership change has yet to be approved).

Some teams would never sell because the NHL has been a cash cow for them but you have to think that Bain could get 15 teams to agree to a deal behind the scenes. I think this behind the scenes dealmaking is going on as we speak.

Bain has to keep negotiations silent because they need to announce a solid block of owners willing to sell in order to make their hostile takeover of the NHL a reality. This may be a case of the less you read the more that's going on.

AMERICAN DIGEST SPORTS EDITOR Chris Lynch serves his own brew daily at A Large Regular, and contributes to Lynch can be reached at

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 8, 2004 9:25 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Malaise Between Clancys


The Amazing Adventures of Lethem & Chabon

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 8, 2004 1:12 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Al and Tipper Payola Moment

In "A talk show host who's just right" published today in the San Francisco Chronicle, radio talker Ronn Owens sheds a little light on how the Gore's make their ends meet these days:

As it turns out, Owens' favorite nonpartisan means of character assessment isn't whether he'd chose to have a drink with someone; it's whether that person is a good sport about reading his show's ad for Sleep Train on the air, something he asks all guests to do.

"The best Sleep Train we've done was by the only person who, halfway through the spot, looked at me and said, 'Do I get a free mattress for reading this?' " he said. "And I looked at him and I said, 'Yeah, I'll get you a mattress.' And at the end of the hour, his wife -- I was interviewing both of them -- comes into the booth and says, 'I don't know if you were serious about the mattress, but if you were, we want a queen not a king, here's our address, here's who to contact.' And I got them a mattress.

"It was Al and Tipper Gore."


"I got them a mattress," said Owens. "God, yes. I said, 'This guy got more votes for president than anyone in the history of the country. Give him a mattress.' "

Now, if we could just get them to lie down on it for a few years....

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 7, 2004 11:10 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Signed Racist Artwork: Available Now

In the Brave New World of Democratic Politics, Bush-Hate has evidently convinced the hard core that everything is okay in their discourse, including sexism and racism and any other level of slime-drenced innuendo.

Still, it is not every day that one of these elitist liberals gets off a choice bit of anti-Black racism, gets away with it, and signs his name.

Here's one of those rare signed bits of racist artwork by the long time veteran of things liberal and Democratic, Gary Trudeau:


That's National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice "speaking" on the left and George W. Bush "speaking" on the right in this final panel of Trudeau's "satire" for today -- showcased on Slate and hundreds of daily newspapers. Trudeau proudly signs his name to this panel.

In case you came in late during the popular culture of the 20th century, "Brown Sugar" is a kind of pet-name for a black woman made famous by the Rolling Stone's "Brown Sugar." Originally written by Mick Jagger for Marsha Hunt, a woman with which he had a child, the lyrics are pretty much what you'd expect from a Rolling Stone during their classic cocaine period. Indeed, since Trudeau and many of his fellow travellers came of age during the same period, Trudeau counts on his friends to know the lyrics and not just the allusion.

The lyrics are:

Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
Sold in a market down in New Orleans
Scarred old slaver knows he's doing alright
Hear him whip the women just around midnight

Brown sugar how come you taste so good?
Brown sugar just like a young girl should

Drums beating, cold English blood runs hot
Lady of the house wonderin' where it's gonna stop
House boy knows that he's doing alright
You shoulda heard him just around midnight

Brown sugar how come you taste so good, now?
Brown sugar just like a young girl should, now

Ah, get along, brown sugar how come you taste so good, baby?
Ah, got me feelin' now, brown sugar just like a black girl should

I bet your mama was a tent show queen
And all here boyfriends were sweet sixteen
I'm no schoolboy but I know what I like
You shoulda heard me just around midnight

Brown sugar how come you taste so good, baby?
Ah, brown sugar just like a young girl should, yeah

I said yeah, yeah, yeah, woo
How come come you taste so good?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo
Just like a...just like a black girl should
Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo

The full strip can be seen on Slate so you can see the deep and biting "humor" of the entire strip. After all, it's not everyday that a Pulitzer-Prize winning humorist can work miscegenation, illicit sex, slavery, infidelity, and the Old Plantation into a single panel of Bush-Hate. No wonder his signature graces this panel so proudly.

Perhaps the next time Mr. Trudeau decides to scrape the bottom of his soul for a strip, he should just turn in one which has a picture of George Bush in one panel, a picture of Ms. Rice in the other panel, and the lyrics of the above song in the two other panels. Just so everybody, at long last, gets it.

I'm sure all the Democratic friends of the Trudeaus would get a big laugh at that during their next dinner party... if they remembered not invite any African-American Democrats.

But the real outrage is not that Mr. Trudeau emitted this bit of offal, but that hundreds of American newspapers printed it without some much as a moment's hesitation. But why not? After all, Gary is, in the final analysis, "one of them."

UPDATE: This morning my wife, after thinking about this strip, mentioned one more damning thing about it. "It's not only racist, but sexist in a cowardly way. Do you think Trudeau would dare run the same strip putting Colin Powell in instead of Rice and having the last panel read:
Powell: 'Oh, like, you had!'
Bush: 'Careful, Boy'"

I thought a moment and replied, "They're working up to it. They'll get there."

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 7, 2004 9:44 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
American Moron of the Day

THE COVETED DROOL CUP OF THE DAY has been awarded to Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Ms. Gaylor, it seems, is feeling testy about all this admiration of the Pope that's been going on. According to the Wisconsin State Journal

A Madison secular organization is protesting Gov. Jim Doyle's order to fly flags at half-staff at public buildings all week to remember Pope John Paul II.

The gesture "appears like an endorsement of Roman Catholicism over other religious viewpoints," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Gaylor said her organization would have looked the other way if the order had been for just Friday - the day of the pope's funeral - instead of all week.

"This seems excessive," she said. "Not everyone in the country is Roman Catholic, and (the pope's) not even American."

"Not everyone in the country is Roman Catholic..." Gee, do you think?

"The Pope's not even American." Really? Who knew?

It sort of makes you wonder whatever happened to that all-American expression, "Oh, put a sock in it!"

As opposed to John Paul II, Ms. Gaylor's lifetime achievements include:


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 7, 2004 3:17 PM | Comments (22)  | QuickLink: Permalink
NPR's Kerry Protection Plan

This morning on Morning Edition NPR's radio listeners heard John Kerry's line on Iraq, but not his entire line on Iraq. You had to have a web connection to do that. On the NPR web page NPR : Kerry Calls for New Approach in Iraq you have a choice of two interviews. The first is the "Morning Edition Audio" which reproduces the part of the program radio listeners heard. The second is the "Web Extra: Hear the Extended Interview" which is obviously much more of the interview than was broadcast.

What's the difference between the two? Mainly that Senator Kerry's remarks on the present situation in Iraq are edited out of the broadcast interview. What radio listeners did not hear, among other things, was the following comment:

"They shut a newspaper [belonging to al-Sadr, the cleric whose militias are currently killing Americans] that belongs to a legitimate voice in Iraq."
[Short pause]
"Well, let me ... change the term 'legitimate.' It belongs to a voice — because he has clearly taken on a far more radical tone in recent days and aligned himself with both Hamas and Hezbollah, which is a sort of terrorist alignment."
The Web was not slow to pick up on this damaging statement today, but NPR was even quicker it seems when preparing what its much larger radio audience would hear.

Curious NPR editing, isn't it?

Then again, maybe not so curious at all. Perhaps "typical" is a more accurate word.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 7, 2004 2:59 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Hell With Good Restaurants

REMINDING ME ONCE AGAIN of why I no longer live in New York City, a selection of local headlines from today's New York Daily News

Baby faces gun thug: Mom robbed in daylight Central Park nightmare

Hundreds of straphangers evacuated from smoky tunnels

NYC teens detained over suicide bomb plot concerns

Her last happy moments Pals tell of slain mom's bliss at baby shower

News test finds calls for help useless in elevator

ChapStick helps him duck death

Hog-tied corpse horror

Machete attack cuts down landscaper

Arsonist set fatal inferno for $10: Cop

... and, oh yes, the good restaurant item:
Breakfast for dinner: Upscale restaurants awaken to the possibilities of eggs in the evening

Diners are famous for serving breakfast at any hour of the day. But now, chefs at upscale joints are getting into the act: Cru's Shea Gallante slides a fried egg atop a salad of farm greens, pickled onions, smoked pear and shaved truffles, while Gabrielle Hamilton, chef/owner of Prune, finds customers quite receptive to her simple Parmesan omelet appetizer.

Things are a little fancier at Water's Edge, where executive chef Ari Nieminen spoons creamy scrambled eggs back into their shell and tops them with vodka-spiked creme fraiche and caviar, and at the Manhattan Ocean Club, where the eggs are scrambled with crabmeat and caviar.

There's nothing like examining "the possibilities of eggs in the evening" after a day of forced evacuations from deep in the smoke-filled tunnels with suicide bomb teens muttering about tragic baby showers, or calling bootlessly for help when you're stuck in an elevator with a hog-tied corpse, a machete attacker, cut-rate arsonists who might be cops, and thugs jamming guns in your baby's face, and you've lost your last ChapStick. New York, New York... it's a wonderful town. And, what's even better, you've got eggs at $20 a bite.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 7, 2004 2:31 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Digital Nose Jobs On Demand

Click to Enlarge

This is one of the scariest mouseover scenarios available. We're not sure what Greg is trying to say in this page from Greg's Digital Archive, but it seems to have helped resolve this family's Silly Putty nose crisis.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 7, 2004 2:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
In Attendance

A DETAILED AND STRAIGHTFORWARD first-hand account of Terri Schindler Schiavo's funeral mass as written by the author of Teknosis.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 7, 2004 1:59 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Smog Free Nuclear Missiles

Who says America doesn't respect the environment? This note from StrategyPage shows just how sensitive we've become.

The upgrading of the older Minuteman III missiles has been under way for several years. The air force is in the process of replacing the decades old solid fuel rockets of its 500 Minuteman III missiles. Actually, a test of a 33 year old Minuteman I rocket motor showed that the motor (actually, a long tube full of slow burning explosives) still performed according to specification. The last of the Minuteman III missiles will receive their new motors by 2008. It costs about $5.2 million to replace the rockets on each missile. The new rocket motors, which have to comply with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rules, will have a shorter range than the original motors
Environment at liftoff: Sunny and smogless. Environment at point of detonation: Harmful to Children and Other Living Things.

Pointer via: Best of the Web Today

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 7, 2004 1:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Rest of the Web Today

YES, WHILE I WAS OUT along the coast in Big Sur earlier this week, getting in touch with William Blake and the Eternals, the world took little notice and continued to -- for the most part -- to decline. Here's a few noted short items. The "What I did on my Big Sur vacation" magnum opus isn't due until later.


Spammers R' US: US tops junk mail list of shame - again
Who say's we can't make anything in the US any longer?

The US has once again topped a list of spam producing countries. One in three (35.7 per cent) of the spam messages intercepted by security firm Sophos's global network of spam traps between January and March 2005 came from the USA. South Korea, second in the chart, accounted for a further 25 per cent of junk messages, with third place China accounting for 9.7 per cent of spam email trapped by Sophos.
Take that, People's Capitalistic Republic of China! You've got mail!

Like Some Limitless Gas, This Footnoting Medium Expands to Fill Its Container
To underscore the extent to which blogging remains a series of footnotes to the news, here'sThe Annotated NY Times a new "aggregator" that tracks what blogs have said about the New York Times. The process is described as " These blog fragments are grouped by author or by topic to form virtual, distributed conversations that span multiple sites and that center around the coverage of news events as reported by the Times."

Am I the only one who finds the designation of various posts as "conversations" overly coy and damp? A "conversation" is something between two or more people within each others hearing. A sheaf of titles and the first sentence held under a link to the New York Times seems to be something else and something much weaker. Indeed, that something is more like a series of Letters to the Editor that don't go through the Editor but just sort of show up. You can find the back and forth of conversational interplay on various Forum boards, but blog posts don't seem to make that cut.

There's a lot of blather about concerning "conversations" of blogging being a rising power in the media world and a lot of it is true. But most of it is premature. Wake me when The New York Times starts to take its talking points and editorial positions from blogs. Until then, we'd best inure ourselves to being a medium of footnotes, pointers, and the white hot heat of uncaged opinions.


Close Shaves in the Graveyard of Divorce
How to get that perfect shave
Just in case, as a man, you are unclear about how to shave your face, this step-by-step article lays it all out for you. But why don't you know this? According to the author, "Shaving is one of those glorious male traditions that used to be passed down from father to son, but somewhere along the line, when shaving became more about cheap, disposable razors than a nice, precision-made metal tool in your hand, it became a brainless routine to rush through in the morning without even thinking about it."

Well, that makes for a certain amount of sense, but it also snakes neatly around the fact that a lot of "sons" no longer have a father around when it comes time to teach shaving. The endless thirst for divorce is at least as much to blame for clueless young men as anything else in this blighted culture. For the most part, men are relegated -- through arcane laws coupled with no-fault divorce -- to a check-writing mechanism for singled moms. Little wonder, when seeing your son calls for an "appointment" that generational shaving tips don't get passed down and instead get passed over to magazine writers shilling for expensive razor companies. Then again this may explain the plague of young men with perpetual three-day stubble on their face, but legs shaved as smooth as a baby's bottom.

Evil Overlord Affirmations: 100 Things to Think About During Your Immortal Reign
Who says that real-life lessons cannot be learned from video games? --->


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 7, 2004 1:05 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Tomorrow's News Today with Allah

Click to Enlarge

What Allah did to tell the future before Photoshop we don't know. We just know we're glad his worshippers gave him the software.

Will the New York Times dare to sue Allah for hijacking their front page from this coming Sunday? Or do their lawyers only read the Web for corrections to their Corrections page?

Our opinion is that the New York Times should give serious consideration to replacing both Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman with Allah . That would be a Pinch two-fer, save money and be terrorist insurance to boot. After all Allah knows as much about what's going on as anybody. Funnier too. And why not? He's a God, isn't He?

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 7, 2004 9:12 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Okay, Break's Over! Everyone in Spain Back on Their Heads."

Caption on Getty Images

MADRID, SPAIN: A picture taken 06 April 2004 in Madrid shows a page of the Spanish newspaper ABC publishing a letter purporting to be from Al-Qaeda and warning Spain to withdraw its forces immediately from Iraq and Afghanistan or face "hellish" consequences. "The Spanish state has continued its aggressions against Muslims in sending new troops to Iraq and announcing its intention to send new units to Afghanistan," the ABC newspaper quoted the Arabic language letter as saying. It said it received the fax on Saturday signed by "Abu Dujana Al-Afgani (of the) Ansar Al-Qaeda Europe group" which announced it was scrapping a "truce" designed to give Spain time to remove its forces.
From: Getty Images

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 7, 2004 9:07 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Pope Piety Perhaps?

Foot-Mouthing on the Campaign Trail: Kerry Dismisses Critics of Time That He Took Off Campaigning

Mr. Kerry became combative when told that some conservatives were criticizing him for being a Roman Catholic who supported policies, like abortion rights and same-sex unions, that are at odds with Catholic teaching.

"Who are they?" he demanded of his questioner. "Name them. Are they the same legislators who vote for the death penalty, which is in contravention of Catholic teaching?"

He added: "I'm not a church spokesman. I'm a legislator running for president. My oath is to uphold the Constitution of the United States in my public life. My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II, which allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices, and that is exactly where I am. And it is separate. Our constitution separates church and state, and they should be reminded of that."

Mr. Kerry apparently meant John XXIII, as there is no Pius XXIII.

Well, there's no Queen Marie of Romania, but that didn't keep her from supporting Kerry for President.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 7, 2004 7:45 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Mission of the Media
We have a media determined to find imagery that will "define Iraq", in the same way they used pictures of a napalmed girl, and of a street execution, to "define Vietnam" -- with complete indifference to the larger truth. To put no finer point upon it: How does Western Civilization defend itself against such an enemy within?

For we come to the next stage of an unpleasant proposition. In its selective use of explosive imagery, the media have a power equivalent to that which the terrorists have in the selective use of explosive devices. There is an overlapping agenda, too: for the great majority of both terrorists and journalists consider the Bush administration to be their principal adversary. (On the other hand, they differ on the need for the imposition of Sharia law.)

From: David Warren -- Essays on Our Times

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 6, 2004 5:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
On How Hard It Is to Get A Clear Shot in Iraq

Click to Enlarge

A crude but telling sketch on the problems confronting our forces in Iraq from Robert Horn's MacroVU site.

Discriminate Force -- Helping to Visualize It: " This illustration shows the difficulties of the individual soldier in avoiding new participants in use-of-force situations."

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 6, 2004 5:02 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Deep, Dark, Delicious Noir

SIN CITY 4.5 stars
by JEREMIAH LEWIS,of Fringe, American Digest Film Editor

SIN CITY IS A DARK, DARK FILM that makes words like "gritty" and "hardboiled" seem like names for French perfumes. Whilst the film certainly deserves props for its heavily styled look and hinging storyline, what really drives it is the underlying noir-ish morality, a stark black on white narrative that interweaves three tales, originally culled from Frank Miller's best-selling graphic novels "Sin City", "The Big Fat Kill", and "That Yellow Bastard", each featuring a protagonist whose mission is to right the wrongs of a particular crime or achieve a moral center. It's a tough film to watch at times, featuring a level of violence, however stylized, that may give pause to even the most jaded and desensitized filmgoer. Yet like its famous noir forebears, Sin City depicts the genre's specifications with acute freshness and force.

The first tale is of big, ugly Marv (Mickey Rourke), a pill-popping palooka with the looks of a beat up truck and a brain below the waist. Marv's one night with a high-class prostitute named Goldie ends with her dead and him being framed for it. He promises to deal out justice to her killer, saying "And when his eyes go dead, the hell I send him to will seem like heaven after what I've done to him." --->


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 6, 2004 4:29 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Psychosis of Islamic Fundamentalism, Exhibit # 4,123,346 In An Unending Series

Memri has posted a translation of one of the bizarre Sheikh Atiyyah Saqr’s screeds concerning the Jews. The original translation is here.

I read through it not because I thought I would find anything new, but just to see an Muslim anti-Semite in full flower, uninhibited by thought that non-Muslims were listening. I was not disappointed.

Still, after stripping out the citations to the Koran (since these gentlemen are compelled to staple some scripture to every thought), I was impressed to see that the list Saqr supplied seemed to exemplify the actions and attitudes we see expressed daily not by Jews, but by terrorists and Muslim fundamentalists throughout the world. It seemed to me that Saqr was not describing Jews and Israelis so much as he was unconsciously describing himself and his own people.

In therapy this sort of psychotic break is called ‘transference,’ which is defined as a state “when a person who is receiving treatment transfers the thoughts and emotions they have been having about one person on to someone else.” In therapy, the target is usually the therapist. In radical Islam, it is the Jews. (Spare me the straight lines regarding the roots and founding and practicioners of pyschotherapy, okay?)

If there was ever any doubt that Islam today needs to seek professional therapeutic help, this list erases it. Indeed it seems to me that one of the real long term benefits of settling the Isreal/Palestinian dispute is that Palestinians could at last have access to first-rate Israeli psychotherapy.

Bear in mind that, throughout this ranting catalog of sin and transgression, Saqr is convinced he is describing the Jews even though these traits more clearly describe people much, much closer to him. Probably his kinfolk. More probably himself:

1. "They used to fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah.“
2. "They love to listen to lies.“
3. "Disobeying Almighty Allah and never observing His commands. “
4. "Disputing and quarreling."
5. "Hiding the truth and supporting deception."
6. "Rebelling against the Prophets and rejecting their guidance."
7. "Hypocrisy."
8. "Giving preference to their own interests over the rulings of religion and the dictates of truth."
9. "Wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them."
10. "They feel pain to see others in happiness and are gleeful when others are afflicted with a calamity."
11. "They are known for their arrogance and haughtiness.”
12. "Utilitarianism and opportunism are among their innate traits."
13. "Their rudeness and vulgarity is beyond description."
14. "It is easy for them to slay people and kill innocents."
15. "They are merciless and heartless.”
16. "They never keep their promises or fulfill their words.”
17. "They rush hurriedly to sin and compete in transgression.”
18. "Cowardice and love for this worldly life are undisputable traits.”
19. "Miserliness runs deep in their hearts.”
20. "Distorting Divine Revelation and Allah's Sacred Books.”

That last item is especially revealing since, if you read the original translation, you’ll note that Saqr adds Koranic notes to every item on his list that distort his religion's "Divine Revelation and Allah’s Sacred Books at every turn.

Pointer via Allah Himself.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 6, 2004 1:28 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Most Disturbing Image on the Web Today

"Victoria's Other secret" -- by Jeff Goldstein at protein wisdom who should be ashamed of himself.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 6, 2004 12:35 PM | QuickLink: Permalink


Imagine ghosts, gods and devils.
Imagine hells and heavens, cities floating in the sky and cities sunken in the sea
Unicorns and centaurs. Witches, warlocks, jinns and banshees.
Angels and harpies. Charms and incantations. Elementals, farmiliars, demons.

Easy to imagine all of those things: mankind has been imagining them for thousands of years.

Imagine spaceships and the future.
Easy to imagine; the future is really coming and there'll be spaceships in it.

Is there then anything that's really hard to imagine?
Of course there is.

Imagine a piece of matter and yourself inside it, yourself, aware, thinking and therefore knowing you exist, able to move that piece of matter that you're in," to make it sleep or wake, make love or walk uphill.

Imagine a universe-infinite or not, as you wish to picture it- with a billion, billion, billion suns in it.

Imagine a blob of mud whirling madly around one of those suns.

Imagine yourself standing on that blob of mud, whirling with it, whirling through time and space to an unknown destination.


Written by Fredric Brown, 1955

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 6, 2004 12:25 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Just When You Think You Can Trust the Pentagon

I'm not the first to question the need for an expanded military budget, but this got my attention:

Click to Enlarge

At times like these you'd think bizarre military programs would be put on hold.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 6, 2004 11:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
There'll Always Be An England, Maybe


A claim that Britain considered using live chickens in a nuclear weapon aroused skepticism Thursday, but officials insisted it was not an April Fool's hoax.

"It's a genuine story," said Robert Smith, head of press and publicity at The National Archives. The archives released a secret 1957 Ministry of Defence report showing that scientists contemplated putting chickens in the casing of a plutonium landmine.

The chickens' body heat was considered a possible means of preventing the mine's mechanism from freezing.

Listing ways of extending the armed life of the landmine, the declassified document proposed "incorporating some form of heating independent of power supplies under the weapon hull in the emplacement. Chickens, with a heat output of the order of 1,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) per bird per day are a possibility."

If you've ever lived in England, you'll know they're serious when they tell you stuff like this isn't a joke.

In fact, the PDF version of an article on the Blue Peacock Landmine that these chickens were to be used in is located, here on American Digest.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 5, 2004 6:03 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Don't Trust Any Black Holes Under 30
Astronomers Mark Black Hole Anniversary GREEN BANK, W.Va. -- Astronomers gathered this week to mark the 30th anniversary of the discovery here of the radio signature of what is believed to be the super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

Robert L. Brown and Bruce Balick discovered Sagittarius A, a black hole with three million times the mass of the sun at a distance of 24,000 light years, and attended a symposium at the Green Bank National Observatory on new center-galaxy research. The event drew 50 radio, X-ray and infrared astronomers and scientific historians from around the world.

How many standard candles this black hole deserves was not mentioned.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 5, 2004 5:54 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Blogs As Living History

At the end of a long series of excerpts from Iraqi bloggers, by the always interesting Doc Searles notes, almost in passing, something essential and important in the blogging medium.

I'm glad these people are giving the world reports and perspectives you won't find in any of The Media.

Maybe that's because what they say is unmediated. Because it's speech, not "content." Because it's at the same time alive and archival. It has a memory of itself. You don't get that from radio and TV, or from publications that don't expose their pasts to search engines, and that charge money for last month's fishwrap.

We're watching history being written while it is also being lived, with all its passions and contradictions.

The history of Iraq today won't be written by winners or losers, but by people whose lives are involved with their subjects, and who cannot allow the facts of their lives to be abstracted exclusively to the rhetoric of sports and war.

The same goes for America, too. Even when it's leaders and challengers are "in the ring" standing "toe to toe" and "sparring" with each other.

It has long been a commonplace that history is written by the winners. Perhaps it is time to let that concept fade into its own history as we enter the period where history is written by the participants.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 5, 2004 5:44 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The US Army Just Can't Catch A Break in Europe

Today Nature informs us that the US army may have killed Italian trees: Deadly fungus hitched trans-Atlantic lift with American troops.

Deadly fungus hitched trans-Atlantic lift with American troops.

The US Army may have unwittingly killed hundreds of pine trees in an Italian hunting estate. Genetic analysis suggests that the trees were infected with an American fungus, imported by US troops during the Second World War.

Mussolini and Hitler and Fascism then, and afterwards we kill their trees. I'm looking for a lawsuit coming out of Italy to have the US Army pay for these trees. Makes one wonder why we hang around.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 5, 2004 5:09 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Reviews We Never Finished Reading of Books We Will Never Read

Hit the reset button, Dave Winer has read a book not published by O'Reilly. Dave ("I invented the blog, darnit!") Winer notes today at Scripting News:

Report on Richard Clarke's book, which I've now read. Most Americans probably believe that Iraq was responsible for 9-11....
Tweet! Fifteen yard penalty and loss of tinfoil hat for unexpected stupidity. Dave, mon petite chou-chou, most Americans outside of the borders of your skull believe nothing of the sort. We're pretty clear on the organization behind the attacks and the nationalities of the attackers. Note: that doesn't mean we don't believe Hussain's Iraq had more than a little hand in it, just that we don't think Attah was Iraqi. Neither did he.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 5, 2004 4:42 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Kerry's New Plan: More Jobs Than People
Labor Secretary Carl Sagan John Kerry isn't impressed with the March job-creation numbers. In a statement Friday, he declared the month's 308,000 new jobs inadequate: "I've proposed a strategy that that [sic] revitalizes our manufacturing sector and puts us on track to create 10 million new jobs in the next four years."

Ten million new jobs? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are only 8.4 million unemployed people in America. As long as Kerry is promising to create more jobs than there are people to take them, why doesn't he go all the way and promise "billions and billions"?
-- From Best of the Web Today

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 5, 2004 11:49 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Wilsonian Dreams, Jacksonian Realities

In his Monday morning warm-up for the week to come Andrew Sullivan cycles back to the 'too-few-troops in Iraq' observation:

More and more, it seems hard to avoid inferring that we made one huge mistake: not in liberating Iraq, but in attempting to occupy it with relatively few troops. You have to have unquestioned security before any sort of democracy can begin to function. But, under the Rumsfeld plan, we never had the numbers or resources to do precisely that.
As I recall, this observation of "not enough boots on the ground" has been around since well before the actual invasion of Iraq last year. It seems to me to be an argument that misses the point. I don't ever recall generals complaining that they had too many men and were satisfied with the number of men they had. In war onne would always like to have more soldiers. But there are not always more troops to be had and at some point generals are told to do what they can with those they do have.

So on one side, there's a constant call for more troops from an already over-extended military that squanders large numbers of troops by stationing them in places that need little defense, such as Europe. On the other side, there's the instruction -- notably within the Rumsfeld camp -- to do more with less -- the "No more hires, let's just up our productivity!" argument. A resolution might be found if you could somehow bring the "level of force" camp into agreement with the "use of force" camp -- a "more with more" meets "more with less" concord.

But a "more with more" and "more with less" compromise cannot currently exist for two reasons. The first is a political environment which precludes a "more with more" argument to be advanced in an election year. For while it is clear that to carry the task of the nation forward beyond Iraq in the First Terrorist War, the military needs to expand significantly, any significant expansion touches on two elements -- money and (instant political death) the draft.

Many things will be discussed this year but neither increased military spending nor a draft will be among them, even though the contingency plans for both are no doubt already sitting somewhere in the Pentagon -- complete with fresh Power Point presentations. And while it would be possible for either a Kerry or a Bush to muscle through more military spending following an election, only a second-term President could move to reinstate the draft, and for that even he would need a triggering event.

That leaves "more with less" as the only effective current option in the First Terrorist War. But, frankly, "more with less" cannot be accomplished either. And this second reason our efforts towards victory are hampered is the real elephant in the Oval Office.

What weakens our military the most in the occupation of Iraq and elsewhere in the First Terrorist War is not our enemy, but our present doctrines of force. What weakens us is not so much the numbers of our forces, but the rules of engagement that inhibit the power of these forces from being fully deployed.

The full deployment of US battle space is something any enemy of the United States seeks to avoid at all costs. This is because anything that comes within a deployed US battle space is quickly and decisively destroyed. To defeat the United States, an enemy needs to be able to prevent the space from being deployed, seek to operate outside it, or to leave it at speed. In any case, the enemy depends upon the United States following its announced rules of engagement to survive in a war against it. He has seldom been disappointed in recent memory.

The overarcing rules or policies of engagement are based on two long standing fantasies of the United States government, its military and its people. The first fantasy is that we can be victorious and still minimize casualties among our troops. The second fantasy is that we can be victorious and avoid any significant collateral damage.

While either one of these fantasies alone might have some reality, both together add up to pure delusion. A delusion that flatters us and our vision of ourself as a kind and caring nation, but a delusion just the same. Our shared delusion is that, with enough planning and care, you can have a war where only the enemy dies; that you can have cake all around and on the house and the same cake tomorrow. A new American dream.

This dream has been the hope of a number of administrations, Republican and Democrat, for decades. It is a Wilsonian dream.** But it is, as we have seen, see now and will see later, only a long nightmare with a pleasant smile. The four American bodies turn into charred pinatas in Fallujah last week show us the nightmare inside our dream. The daily toll on our troops across Iraq show us the futility of our hope. Still we are pressing on with that hope in hand as our guiding policy. We persist in the belief that our technology and careful military planning will yield us, very soon now, that Utopian wars where only the enemy dies. Our military dream arises from our social dream that our advanced technology will, in the end, trump history.

The reality is that a technologically driven Utopia, civilian and military, will prove, as it always has, to be a dream defered. Instead our waking reality will be that every day we shall see an indeterminate number of Americans sacrificed to this foolish dream until, in one manner or another, the people or our leaders decide that enough have died and the quest for too much perfection is a mistake.

At that point, two options arise. The first is withdrawal into our homeland with an ABM roof and the hope that the world will somehow right itself, but that our military will remain safe to be used only to repair the annual flood damage or hurricane catastrophe. The second is to abandon the concept that global wars can be won with either few casualties or little collateral damage, but not both, and proceed accordingly.

One of the central premises of our enemies in the First Terrorist War holds that we cannot abide casualties and, if large enough or constant enough, America will prove itself unable to face the unremitting attrition of our military men and women. We know this because they have told us.

It is not important that the sum total of our losses be large, only that they are constant. In this, the morbid daily "salutes" on PBS and other media outlets for the one to ten soldiers a day who die in Iraq works in our enemies' favor. (It is worth reflecting that, if this were a war where we engage other armies similarly equipped, the losses on a daily basis would consume more air-time than available for the entire news report. The first few moments at Normandy in WW II were more costly in casualties than the first decade of the First Terrorist War.)

Numbers, in the final analysis, are not the point. What is important is the continuing perception of loss that our enemy counts on to weaken our resolve. Indeed, attrition in Iraq coupled with no attacks on American soil during the election year would seem to be a fruitful tactic for our enemies to pursue. To date they have, but it is best never to credit them with more intelligence than they possess.

Another premise on which our enemies depend in attacking us in Iraq is that the American military will go to great lengths to avoid collateral damage; that it will even sacrifice the safety, fighting strength and ability of our own troops to do so. The tactics and strategies of the Terrorist organizations center around this assumption. To date, their assumption has proved correct.* Regardless of the much trumpeted "lesson of Iraq" to other rogue nations, towns, regions and entire nations continue today to give refuge, munitions, training and rest areas to terrorists secure in the knowledge that we will not pursue them with all the force at our command. Not only do the terrorists feel safe in many areas behind their "human shields," the shields feel safe as well.

In tactical terms this means we cannot attack their fighting elements or their lines of resupply aggressively. In strategic terms it means that their centers of cultural and political and military strength remain safe from any devastating raids from the air or the land. What they have forced us to play at is a fantasy WWII where Japan and Germany were placed off-limits to military action, while we sought victory by fighting only on the edges of the conflict. This is a recipe tailor-made for a war without end and, had we followed it in WWII, endless war we would have had.

Today, endless war is what we are looking at. It is not so much that we have or do not have an "exit strategy" for Iraq, what we do not have -- hamstrung as we are in the Siamese-Twin policy of "low-to-no military casualties" joined at the head to "low-to-no collateral damage" -- is a strategy that will end the First Terrorist War.

Perhaps we do have a new strategy in hand, but it is not one that can be announced in an election year absent a triggering attack on United States' soil. Absent that, what is now will continue at least through November of this year. Our enemies will continue their attacks on our military such as we see today in Iraq. Our enemies will continue their attacks on civilian populations such as we saw on September 11 in 2001 and in Madrid of this year. They will continue to rely on us to seek to keep our military casualties low and their civilian populations and centers of social and cultural safe from any real harm. As it currently stands, it is safer to be a muslim in Saudi Arabia and Syria, than a citizen of France or Spain.Our enemies rely on us to, in short, react as Isreal has done to terrorism for decades. We have, to date, been at pains not to disappoint.

Our enemies depend on us to continue to react in the Wilsonian tradition of being the sort of Americans that only seek to give the gifts of freedom, democracy, and self-rule to a collection of peoples that cannot earn it in their own right. They depend on us to hold our Jacksonian tradition of waging total war on our enemies in check. Total war, brought to innocent civilians, using all the means at their command is something that our enemies reserve as their sole prerogative. We have, to date, proven to be dependable.

Our enemies see us as an impatient, wary, predictable giant unable to withstand constant light casualties, constantly fearful of civilian losses at home, and yet unwilling to wage total war against them and the villages, cities, nations and cultures that sustain them. Is their confidence in this assessment misplaced? Or have they read us correctly? The coming year will tell that tale. What comes after will shape the history of the century to come.

* As this is being written on April 5, military actions in Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq may signal that the safety of terrorists within village or city strongholds is being questioned. Whether this signals a change in the overall policy of allowing the enemy to maintain its centers is doubtful. That it signals a tactical change in Iraq is more certain. Whether those tactics will be exported beyond the present needs in Iraq is unclear.

** For an excellent background item on the Wilsonian vs. Jacksonian traditions in American foreign policy, I would commend you to: Michael Totten's "Are the Jacksonians Sated?" at Tech Central.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 5, 2004 8:33 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Tale of Two Dingbats

Newsdesigner answers the burning question:...

I'm wondering if you can shed any light on the clock in the IHT's logo (which I love as well). It appears to read 6:11 o'clock, which makes me terribly curious. Perhaps there is an obvious reason for this and I am stupid... but of course many other things in this logo make little if any sense as well.

by reproducing two versions of the logo and revealing details from
"... Richard Kluger's 801-page "The Paper: The Life and Death of The New York Herald Tribune."
A strange device appeared as the centerpiece of the logotype at the top of the first page of the New York Tribune on April 10, 1866, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the paper's founding, and remained there ever after - a banner unique among the newspapers of the world. It is there still atop the International Herald Tribune. Staff members over the years came to call the odd little drawing "the dingbat," which Webster's defines as meaning, among other choices, "thing, object, or contrivance." A contrivance it surely was: in the middle of the crudely drawn tableau is a clock reading twelve minutes past six - no one knows why (conceivably it was the moment of Horace Greely's birth); to the left, Father Time sits in brooding contemplation of antiquity, represented by the ruin of a Greek temple, a man and his ox plowing, a caravan of six camels passing before two pyramids, and an hourglass; to the right, a sort of Americanized Joan of Arc, arms outstretched beneath a backwards-billowing Old Glory, welcomes modernity in the form of a chugging railroad train, factories with smoking chimneys, an updated plow, and an industrial cogwheel (over which the incautious heroine is about to trip); atop the clock, ready to take off into the boundless American future, is an eagle - all for no extra cost. It was a baroque snapshot of time arrested, an allegorical hieroglyph of the newspaper's function to render history on the run.

Newsdesigner also informs us that, "... the HT apparently reworked the logo at some point. There's now an airplane, some telephone wires, the smokestacks magically produce no pollution, that sort of thing. But most disturbingly, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SIXTH CAMEL??

Old Logo

New Logo

Good question. Probably something achieved during tough negotiations with the unions. HISTORY OF THE "DINGBAT," GIVE OR TAKE A CAMEL

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 5, 2004 8:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
American Love Story

by Mike Dockins

1. The Girl

Hallelujah, she knows how to shoot pool.
She sinks her eight ball, drinks me under
the table. I whimper for a date, smooch,
a slap. She hits the jukebox, that old song.
I change taverns but she's there: pigtails
that fill me with moon silt and planet jelly,
lips that just keep on being lips, little belly
I want to ski across. At home she's on top
of the fridge, dog-earing my favorite Azorean
epic. She drives the bus I take, cleans my
teeth, cuts my hair, cashes my paychecks,
taunting me: Going out tonight, Jerry? See
you there, Doll, I say, shaking with optimism.

2. The Scheme

If I can carry the pigskin ten more yards,
she'll take me to the movies, an action flick
with Swiss banks and tanks and jagged Alps.
I'll miss hockey, but her swinging ponytail
is better than a puck slung on ice. Her face
becomes warm, hot, thermonuclear. God,
I love her. She has perfect teeth, a straight
spine, and thighs that make frat boys bang
petulant fists during beer pong. Lord, if I sink
this basket, she'll marry me in Lake Tahoe: my
feet in Nevada, hers in California. If I'm clever,
I'll slip into a triple-cherry slot, and I'll love her
more with each rolling coin, each lucky pull.

From The Gettysburg Review

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 4, 2004 7:22 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Shark Bus

Yet another move to make mass transit even more appealing than it already is.

From -- K n a k e z o o i . n l

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 4, 2004 5:45 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Does a People Have to Worthy of Democracy to Recieve It?

Except from a fascinating email from a person in Baghdad working for the transition to democracy, as reproduced by the recipient at The Belgravia Dispatch

"Of course I know what federalism means," the cleric scoffed, "it comes from the Greek root meaning unitary state." Unclear on the precise etymology myself, I let this slide, and tried to get back to the principle of our discussion. So it's a good thing, I prompted, don't you think? The room erupted again into unhappy murmers, and he stared back at me with a stony look that let me know I'd missed the apparently classic Arab double-entendre. Oh, I continued as if I'd just stumbled on the actual meaning of the word, you mean it's actually a backroom deal, reached conspiratorally, that ensures a tyranny of the minority? His face lit up and his eyes warmed considerably. The growing roar of murmers ebbed back to silence, broken only by the angry footsteps of a Kurdish participant who got up and left. Things were going badly--I should have guessed this by my translator's increasing nervousness and the growing visibility of our plainclothes security staff around the exits of an otherwise sleepy Baghdad auditorium--but I pressed on. Can it really mean both things? Why don't you just tell me what you really think? An impolitic question, sometimes, in the New Iraq.

Old men here can be generous. Younger ones can be less so. A fiery youth cut to the chase: "why do I need your democracy when I have other options?" he shouted.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 4, 2004 3:49 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Rout of Spain Starts in the Iraqi Plain

The erudite Belmont Club calls the Spanish withdrawl what it is, a rout.

What will now overtake the Spanish command through no fault of its own soldiers is a rout. This occurs when a force is chased off the battlefield in increasing disorder. Once the retrograde movement begins, enemy harassment is redoubled and the retreating force is ultimately pursued to the very point of embarkation and there is no reason pursuit must end when it returns to Spain. A rout can only be stemmed when a retreating army turns on its enemies and puts them to flight. This Zapatero will not allow. He is committed, for reasons of ideology, to a policy of surrender and now the Spanish command, and the United States indirectly, must harvest its bitter fruit.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 4, 2004 3:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Boring Man Boring on Boredom

One of the SF Chronicles most stultifying columnists has, as all boring writers do sooner or later, come up with a column on, yes, boredom. As always we find that the concept produces, in the end, only more questions:

Liberating and terrifying, benumbing and enlightening, boredom raises questions about meaning it can't possibly answer. Is experience itself a void, as 20th century artists like Beckett, Cage, Duchamp, Warhol and others often suggest? Or is boredom a failure of our own spirits and imagination?
That paragraph's a classic example of "We report. You sleep."

We'd give you the link but it's too boring.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 4, 2004 3:30 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Putting an End to the Pathological Middle East

The sane and persuasive thoughts of Victor Davis Hanson continue today in The Mirror of Fallujah: No more passes and excuses for the Middle East

The enemy of the Middle East is not the West so much as modernism itself and the humiliation that accrues when millions themselves are nursed by fantasies, hypocrisies, and conspiracies to explain their own failures. Quite simply, any society in which citizens owe their allegiance to the tribe rather than the nation, do not believe in democracy enough to institute it, shun female intellectual contributions, allow polygamy, insist on patriarchy, institutionalize religious persecution, ignore family planning, expect endemic corruption, tolerate honor killings, see no need to vote, and define knowledge as mastery of the Koran is deeply pathological.
Required reading.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 4, 2004 3:20 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Par-A-Noi-A Strikes Deep: Armstrong Kos Circle Their Wagon

The DailyKos Meltdown continued today as the John Kerry Campaign put several light years of distance between itself and confessed America-hate-blogger Kos.

In light of the unacceptable statement about the death of Americans made by Daily Kos, we have removed the link to this blog from our website. -- John Kerry for President Blog
Shortform: "You are out of here."

Kos' partner Armstrong, correctly perceiving that their shared vision of becoming highly-paid players in the Democratic Advice Industry, was vanishing like the highland mist at high noon, opened his blog today with a paranoia-drenched screed. Yes, it seems to be Armstrong's position that the taking of Kos at his word (Dead and Mutilated Americans in Iraq: "Screw 'em") and moving away from that position would be, shudder, 'the end of the liberal blogsphere as we know it.'

Here's Armstrong's "analysis" of the situation that now threatens to break the fat rice bowl of himself and his erstwhile partner:

What Kerry's Dick Bell has done is bend to the will of radical fringe right of the blogosphere (the one's who will use deaths in Iraq for their own partisan gain). The rightwing blogosphere is right this moment undergoing a coordinated email campaign to every part of the Democratic establishment, beating them into a submissive dismissal of Daily Kos, because of one offhand comment made, which Kos had already retracted. First the advertisers, then John Kerry. What's next, the DSCC, the DNC and the DCCC blogroll? You think the wingnuts will be satisfied then? No, they'll just go after the next link, and the next blogger.

That's what this is about. Just as in the past, when many in the Democratic establishment routinely would dis Jesse Jackson, Sista Soulja or some other African American leader, to gain favor with the right; now we have a Democratic leader dissing the blogosphere for bringing up a legitimate issue (the use of mercenaries in US combat), because Kos used unfortunate language in framing the debate with an blog comment, and the rightwing attacks. Fine, let Kos address the offhand comment again, and then let's talk about the issue of whether the US should be using mercenaries in Iraq. -- MyDD :: Due Diligence of Politics, Election Forecast & the World Today

Shortform: We are toast, come join us in the toaster.

In the spirit of Fiskalysis, let's go over Armstrong's statement once again:

>The rightwing blogosphere is right this moment undergoing a coordinated email campaign
We'll let his coining of "blogosphere" slide and not look at the kind of typo that happens in the heat of the moment as revealing of intense internal stress. You say "blogosphere." I say "blogsphere." But the difficult syntax of the rest is troubling. Something might be "undergoing a coordinated email campaign" but it isn't the strange beast called here "The rightwing blogosphere." This confusion of subject and object should in and of itself be enough to give potential employers of Armstrong Zuniga pause.

>to every part of the Democratic establishment, beating them into a submissive dismissal
It seems odd to me to assume that "every part of the Democratic establishment" is being beaten into submission by "the rightwing blogosphere." I always assumed that the Democratic establishment was made of sterner stuff than that. Perhaps it is the personal vision of Armstrong that an established and savvy political establishment knows when to cull the herd and move on. I would think that the primary concern of the Democratic Establishment at this point is not the future success and celebrity of Armstrong-Kos, but the winning of the 2004 elections.

>of Daily Kos, because of one offhand comment made, which Kos had already retracted.
It would seem that Armstrong and Kos need to consult Political Science for Dummies. They have not yet learned the single, most important truth of American Politics in the information age: "It is not the mistake that kills you. It is the cover-up." It pains me to point out that the comment was not "offhand" in any way shape of form. You don't make "offhand" comments on line in the way you might make them in speech. You have to t-y-p-e them out and read them. Foot-in-Mouth may be "offhand," foot-in-keyboard" never. You write. You read. You post. Nothing of the spontaneousness of speech applies to this medium. Some may like to pretend it does, but they're just pretending.

And need I point out that Kos did not retract the statement but only tried to soften it with a pseudo apology. Check that, he did try to retract it by hiding it and changing the links to the original. That's not an act of contrition, but of cowardice.

>First the advertisers, then John Kerry.
Just because Kos and Armstrong have committed political suicide is not reason for the Kerry Campaign or others to belly up to the Armstrong/Kos Kool-Aid bar and start ordering doubles. Armstrong conveniently neglects to mention that the "advertisers" were also politicians who know enough to drop their association with someone who glories in the murders and mutilations of Americans as quickly as possible.

>What's next, the DSCC, the DNC and the DCCC blogroll? You think the wingnuts will be satisfied then? No, they'll just go after the next link, and the next blogger.

Sigh. Cue the "When the came for the Jews, Communists, intellectuals... " quote. It is only a matter of time before Armstrong or someone near trots that out. I assume this chestnut is already in a capture buffer somewhere just waiting for the paste command.

>That's what this is about.
No. It is about somebody Armstrong has a partner reveling in murders and mutilations of Americans, saying so, and then trying to pass off the condemnation of his views as "an evil plot of silence his free speech rights." Nothing could be more of a lie. Kos can say what he feels as often as he likes. What he cannot escape is his responsibility for what he says. Which is, of course, what Armstrong is trying to help him do here.

>Just as in the past, when many in the Democratic establishment routinely would dis Jesse Jackson, Sista Soulja or some other African American leader,
As Kos did yesterday, so Armstrong endeavors today: 'Let's link our stupidity and craven cowardice to the question of race. Let's position it as a race-based issue. We'll be bulletproof!'

I happen to think that African-Americans are one of the strongest groups in America today, but they must be getting very weary of having bad Americans like Armstrong and Kos jumping on their backs and hoping to get carried away and saved.

>to gain favor with the right; now we have a Democratic leader dissing the blogosphere for bringing up a legitimate issue (the use of mercenaries in US combat),
No. Now we have a Democratic leader with advisors smart enough to know that Armstrong and Kos have to be shoved over the side on the weekend. They don't want the weekly news cycle lead-off with Kerry being blind-sided with questions about whether or not he supports a blogger who loves the idea of murdered and mutilated Americans. The issue of mercenaries has nothing to do with it, and the Kerry camp knows this.

>because Kos used unfortunate language in framing the debate with an blog comment, and the rightwing attacks.
Jesus wept. Kos did not use "unfortunate language." He used the language of hate and evil. He revealed himself and his inner Kos. And he was not "framing the debate with an blog comment." He wasn't framing anything, much less a debate. It that had been his intent, he would have written a topic or opened one of the infamous "Open Thread" areas that they love to have on The DailyKos.

For Armstrong to cast this whole thing as something as intellectually noble as "framing the debate with an blog comment" is nothing other than intellectually dishonesty. But that's been the pattern of these two since it first dawned on them that they had crossed the Rubicon. [Note to Armstrong: "... with a blog comment." 'An' is reserved for the words that begin with vowels. We'll let the "... comment, and the rightwing attacks." flub slide.]

>Fine, let Kos address the offhand comment again,
Sigh. It wasn't "offhand." See above. But if Kos wishes to continue his sepaku in public, nobody is going to "stifle his right to dissent."

>and then let's talk about the issue of whether the US should be using mercenaries in Iraq.
I for one, don't think either Armstrong or Kos, have either the capacity or the credibility to talk convincingly about any issue in Iraq or in the United States, but I am sure they'll be able to garner enough true believers in their little corner of "the blogosphere" to convince themselves they still matter.

As for the future of Armstrong/Kos as political consultants? Well, let's just say that I'd advise them to hold off signing that lease for those big office suites on K-Street.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 4, 2004 11:34 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Father Forgive Me for I Must Fisk

The thing known as “The Daily Kos” continues his limp attempts at revisionism. Today he poses as the victim in his latest attempt to obscure the fact he revealed his soul to be a very ugly place last week.

His latest report on the state of his existence is even weaker than his vapid pseudo-apology of yesterday. But not so weak that I can resist an idle afternoon's fisking of his "status report:"

>So I said something pretty stupid last week.
No. You said many stupid things last week. You said one very evil thing.
We are talking about your evil statement, which you've since hidden in shame. If we were talking about your stupid statements... well, we just don't have that many terabytes available.

>I served up the wingnuts
No. You were writing for your acolytes deep within the self-serving "diaries" of your site. You did not serve up anything. You were taking a victory lap in front of the grandstand of people you knew would applaud you. You served up nothing. You were preening for your peers. You basked in the hundreds of soft-strokes and nods of approval in the comments that followed. Then the evil nature of what you said was seen and you were outed. There was nothing brave or forthright about what you wrote or what you did afterwards to cover your tracks. The "wingnuts" did not condemn you. Decent men and women condemned you. But since you have no decency, you cannot see that.

> a big, juicy softball.
No. It was not a 'softball' nor any other sporting object. It was a statement filled with spite, hate, and treason. We all saw it for what it was. It was a small dropping of a smaller mind. It had no "juice," but was as dry and withered and repellent as something run over and found mummified on the side of the Interstate.

>They went into a tizzy,
No. Decent men and women who read your words were appalled, but did not go into a "tizzy." Decent people have much more gravitas than that. The only person who might characterize the reaction as a "tizzy" would be an aging adolescent whose character is built on an artificial notion of self-esteem. You know, a narcissist.

>led by Instapundit.
No. Nothing of the sort happened. This is an outright lie on your part. But since you have shown yourself to be bereft of compassion, insight, decency and gravitas, the fact that you are also the sort of compulsive liar depicted in the film "Shattered Glass" is not surprising.

>And for a while, I was actually pretty worried.
No. You were never worried unless you were worried about being widely exposed for the souless traitor you have revealed yourself to be, or worried about losing a few dollars. Other than that, this little phrase is as empty and false and self serving as your pseudo-apology.

>But the final tally was -- about 30 hate-filled emails, about 15,000 hate-filled visitors,
No. Again you are endeavoring to re-inflate your delicate and deflated self-esteem by cooking the numbers. While you may have had "30 emails" I would think that, judging by how vile your comment was, was marginal at best.

As to the "15,000 hate-filled visitors" there is no way you can read the minds of visitors to your site by your logs alone. And, as you know, the ability to comment on Kos is subject to a delay of some days. There is no telepathy in this medium, so, if you assert that your "15,000" visitors are filled with hate, you are just making that up out of whole cloth. Much like Stephen Glass used to make up facts for his much more entertaining yarns. But that you are a person who tells a lie of the soul so deep you cannot see it in yourself has already been established beyond doubt.

>and the pulling of three advertising spots that are going to be replaced in less than a week.
Really? We have only your worthless word for that. It is fortunate that you have a few days to scramble around and make it seem as if that is true. What we do know from that is that there are 3 members of the Democratic Party that have more decency than you have shown.

>(I had two emails today about people wanting to advertise despite the controversy.)
Well, that certainly makes for a landslide vote of confidence for your advertising since this whole episode has been pretty much at the top of the charts for about 48 hours. Please tell us when Nike calls and offers to make you a spokesman for their new line of tap-dancing shoes.

>That was it.
No. That is not "it." "It" will haunt you for quite some time. It is never a good thing, if you have a vile soul, to show it so clearly to so many. People may forget, but the Net never forgets.

>Oh, they're doing their best to turn me into the devil,
No. What was done here in that regard was done by yourself to yourself.

>and they're making racist comments about my heritage and family
No. Please try to grasp a small, tiny shred of decency from the tatters around you on the ground. Stop trying to haul a history you do not share into the situation just to paint yourself in denser shades of moral camouflage. We see you. As you really are. And, I note in passing, a real man would leave his family out of this.

>and threatening to kick my ass --
No. Your fundament is safe from others. It is too occupied at present with your own foot.

>you know, typical right-wing shit.
No, I don't know. But I do know typical whining and playing the woebegone victim when I see it, and I've seen plenty out of you in the last two days.

>But if that's the best they can throw at me,
No. You are not worth the best. You are only worth a short, 72 hour drive-by. You've neutered yourself and are too numb to feel it. But you will since the neutering was done by a blunt instrument, yourself.

>I'll simply echo Kerry.
No, you'll echo Kerry echoing Bush and remain not a choice but an echo.

>Bring it on.
No, Kos, there is no need. You have brought this on yourself.


UPDATE: It would seem that the John Kerry campaign has decided it doesn't need a weatherman nor a DailyKos to know which way the wind is blowing on this issue:

In light of the unacceptable statement about the death of Americans made by Daily Kos, we have removed the link to this blog from our website. As John Kerry said in a statement earlier this week, "My deepest sympathies are with the families of those lost today. Americans know that all who serve in Iraq - soldier and civilian alike - do so in an effort to build a better future for Iraqis. These horrific attacks remind us of the viciousness of the enemies of Iraq's future. United in sadness, we are also united in our resolve that these enemies will not prevail." -- John Kerry for President Blog

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 3, 2004 5:01 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Auden's "There Will Be No Peace

There Will Be No Peace

Though mild clear weather
Smile again on the shore of your esteem
And its colours come back, the storm has changed you:
You will not forget, ever,
The darkness blotting out hope, the gale
Prophesying your downfall.

You must live with your knowledge.
Way back, beyond, outside of you are others,
In moonless absences you never heard of,
Who have certainly heard of you,
Beings of unknown number and gender:
And they do not like you.

What have you done to them?
Nothing? Nothing is not an answer:
You will come to believe - how can you help it? -
That you did, you did do something;
You will find yourself wishing you could make them laugh,
You will long for their friendship.

There will be no peace.
Fight back, then, with such courage as you have
And every unchivalrous dodge you know of,
Clear on your conscience on this:
Their cause, if they had one, is nothing to them now;
They hate for hate's sake.

-- W.H.Auden

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 3, 2004 9:13 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Cowardice of Kos and the Missing Link

An online firestorm erupted yesterday when the "pride of the Democratic bloggers," The Daily Kos came out with a bald admission of what he really thinks of his fellow Americans in Iraq:

Click to Enlarge

The result of this bit of self-revelation was evidently too much for Kos to take and he has begun his bit of online-revisionism already. The original links no longer point to the post, but have been changed to point to his vile little "apology." Thus he is hoping that those following links to his original post will not see that (it is buried deep within the Diary section) but will see instead his "second" thought. To paraphase an ancient Zen saying, "First thought, true thought."

What Kos actually thinks and feels is not found in his "apology" but in his initial sentiment. If it was not the original sentiment would not be referred to as "some diary comments somewhere" with no link to them. [The missing link is found here -- It's buried. Search for the phrase he uses when describing his fellow Americans: "Screw them."

I don't know how long that entry will last so I've made, with many others, a screen capture.

What can one say about the perverted nature of Kos's soul that hasn't already been said. Little or nothing. The sentiment speaks for itself.

What is more interesting is the speed at which this person acted to try and revise and purify the web record in order to present himself in a better light. It is one thing to voice an opinion --however odious -- and quite another to revise the link record so that the original either disappears or is difficult to find.

What we see here is nothing less than moral cowardice of the first water acted out in the plain view of net-savvy people. Kos could not have hoped that by redirecting the original link to his apology he would fool the savvy at all. What he hoped is that he would ensnare the less savvy with his apology. This would include, among others, those who advertise on his page.

We hear a lot from people such as Kos about ethical behavior. But when it comes to covering their own behinds, ethics and accuracy in the historical record seems to be the first thing jettisoned.

Oh, who were those "mercenaries" that Kos reviled with "Screw them?" They can be seen here.

What was done to them can be seen, if you have the stomach for it, here.

Re-read the original Kos posting above. Take a look at who these men were and what happened to them in Fallujah.

The next time you meet with Kos or other "Americans" who think as he does, you might want to borrow a line from the McCarthy era and ask these cowards of the Left: "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 2, 2004 1:16 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
On Fallujah
The opening paragraph, however, in the light of later information, strikes me now as ominous. He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, 'must necessarily appear to them [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings -- we approach them with the might of a deity,' and so on, and so on. 'By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded,' etc., etc. From that point he soared and took me with him. The peroration was magnificent, though difficult to remember, you know. It gave me the notion of an exotic Immensity ruled by an august Benevolence. It made me tingle with enthusiasm. This was the unbounded power of eloquence -- of words -- of burning noble words. There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases, unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page, scrawled evidently much later, in an unsteady hand, may be regarded as the exposition of a method. It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: 'Exterminate all the brutes!' -- Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 2, 2004 11:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Lileks, He Posts for Me
Speaking of which: if nothing else, this entire affair has made me heartily sick of the very act of reading the Internet. Pardon my language, but I am simply goddamn sick of opinions, period. Right or wrong, well-reasoned or poorly expressed, snarky or solemn, I am tired of the lot of them, my own included. I'm tired of reading blogs and bulletin boards and noting that it's OK to joke about one dead person, perfectly fine to kick the Pope when he's about to give up the ghost, but a breach of human decency to be less than reverential about the passing of a comic who specialized in dope humor. That sort of thing is expected on the internet, but what makes me weary is the blogligation to have an opinion about it and bang it out so the whole world knows I stand four-square against bashing near-dead Popes. -- LILEKS (James) :: The Bleat

He's right. I'm off for the weekend and maybe beyond. It's a great universe out there. See you in a few days.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 1, 2004 3:13 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Higher Beings Schiavo Countdown Wrap-UP

A LAST LOOK BACK, via The Blogosphere Ecosystem at how the top 10 blogs handled the death of Terri Schiavo.


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 1, 2004 2:20 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
George Felos, Holocaust Endorser

WHO SAYS NEW-AGE GOODNESS CAN'T COME FROM KILLING SIX MILLION JEWS? George Felos, that's who. Felos puts a whole new spin on Holocaust Denial by allowing


Posted by Vanderleun Apr 1, 2004 12:54 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Rare Poetic Form in Rare Form

The sharp-eyed Mike Snider of the pleasingly titled: Mike Snider's Formal Blog and Sonnetarium notes: "I Don't Like Many Pantoums but I do like this one by Martha Grimes (yes, that Martha Grimes) from her Send Bygraves."

I agree. The pantoum is a form rarely used and seldom successful. What pantoum's usually breed is a lot of new-age pap such as: "The pantoum seems particularly suited to us writing in America at the end of the twentieth century. Its repetition and circular quality give it a mystical chant like feeling. Its cut-up lines break down linear thought. The form is both ancient and fresh. Once you embark on it, it will be a poetic path you will want to take again and again." -- Miriam Sagan

It's a pleasure to see a saner path sustained in Grimes'


Down the wrong paths to the wrong answers lie
Clues that are planted to mislead the eye.
On Spectre Hill, a coach is passing by.
It will stop in your courtyard presently.

Clues that are planted to mislead the eye:
The gun, the knife, the bloodstain on the floor.
It will stop in your courtyard presently,
The driver will step down and try the door.

The gun, the knife, the bloodstain on the floor,
They are not what they seem to be at first.
The driver will step down and try the door.
As in an ending cleverly reversed,

They are not what they seem to be at first.
In silence sometimes lies the only hope.
As in an ending cleverly reversed,
Beware. Be Still. Be Patient. Let him grope.

In silence sometimes lies the only hope.
Some say there is an answer in the sky.
Beware. Be Still. Be Patient. Let him grope
Down the wrong paths to the wrong answers. Lie.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 1, 2004 11:41 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Truth In Environmental Packaging

At HobbsOnline today there's an interesting comparison of how images are chosen for stories on the environment.

Pictures like those two above are what the environmentalists show when discussing their opposition to oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. And it is true that these are photos of part of ANWR. But they are not where the drilling would occur. They are in the permanently protected zone of ANWR. The coastal plain of ANWR was always intended to be reserved for possible future oil exploration - Congress said so when it established ANWR. And what does the coastal plain look like?
Check them out. The difference is stunning.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 1, 2004 10:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Surf's Up on Titan

Light and dark surface features show up in infrared images of Titan, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Do those features represent continents and oceans of liquid ethane and methane? Scientists say it's too early to tell.

Saturn's moon Titan might be one of the most out-of-this world places to hang ten, according to new computer modeling that suggests a given wind could generate waves there that are seven times taller than on Earth. -- from MSNBC - Huge waves possible on Saturnian moon
Oceans of ethane and methane? The ride might be awesome, but the wet suit would have to be gnarly.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 1, 2004 7:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Coin of the PC Realm

CHAD EVERETT @ Don't Back Down: Rustle or Jingle is asking about the fact that the dollar coin has not replaced the dollar bill.

The long term cost [of the Sacagawea Dollar coin] is lower, the hassle factor is lower, the speed is faster. Yet dollar bills are still far more prevalent in the US than dollar coins. Why is that, exactly?
He's gathered a few interesting responses in his comments and yet they don't quite get to the real reason: People just don't like them.

Case in point: While waiting in line at the Laguna Beach Post Office to speak to a clerk, a woman came in and rustled to the front to ask a question. She was clutching this bronze object that at first glance seemed to be a quarter, but was of course the dreaded dollar coin. She'd been purchasing stamps from the PO's vending machine with paper money and had been given several dollar coins in change from the machine.

She then decided that she needed a few more stamps and had tried to use the dollar coins. But of course the machine that gave them to her wasn't configured to accept them. This, needless to say, peeved her. But since today the US Post Office exists only to drive customers away and put itself out of business by 2010, the clerks only shrugged and went back to their SOP of imitating every slo-mo work film you've ever seen. The hapless woman interrupted them again and asked if she could please have some dollar bills for the coins so she could use the stamp machine. The clerk said, "We're not supposed to give bills for the coins, but we can give coins for the bills." There were about 12 people waiting in the snake line for the clerk and I think I saw each and every one slump down and despair at this perfect government employee epiphany. The woman just shook her head and made for the exit.

She was stuck with the dollar coins and, regardless of the coin's politically correct choice of an heroic pre-Native-American-Woman on the face, she went away mumbling and grumbling, not feeling chipper about the post office or Sacagawea. Alas, she'd not seen the last of the deadening effects of this stamp machine/post office bait and switch. She'd see more when she tried to spend the coins.

I've seen it and, if you have ever had the misfortune to get a few of these useless exercises in "efficient money," you've seen it too. You try to buy something with them and there's always this bit of hesitation from a clerk as you slip them three dollar coins for a $2.75 purchase.

They gaze in rapt wonder and then look up with a sidelong glance as if you are trying to pull a fast one. You offer that the coins are dollars and instruct them to read the coin carefully. (This is especially difficult if your choice with the clerk is to continue in English or in Spanish.) In time, there's a moment when the light dawns on them , but the suspicion is not really removed. Then, grudgingly, sure they'll have to make up the shortfall when they cash out, they accept them and give you a quarter in change.

The quarter is pretty much like the dollar except that it has a different color. The other difference is that everybody pretty much likes, or accepts without question, the quarter, but nobody is easy with the dollar. And nobody likes to get the dollar back from the clerk as change. I don't know about you but whenever it happens to me, I slide them back and ask for bills. They took them and now they are the store's problem.

Nevertheless, as Everett points out, the dollar is set to last for 30 years and the government has made a mountain of them. So look for the deadly ground loop of dumb government ideas to continue for at least that long. You'll get these dollars in change from Post Office stamp machines and you'll try to get rid of them as quickly as possible at the 7/11. The 7/11 will try to fob them off on other customers and be refused. In the end, I suppose almost all of them will be shipped back to the Federal Reserve. Once there, they'll be shipped out to .... what else? ... Post Office stamp machines.

It's a nice gesture to put Sacagawea on the dollar coin. There was a lot of crowing about it when it happened. Before that, the dollar coin had Susan B. Anthony on it. It also went down to sleep with the Post Office. Perhaps they'd have better luck next time if they put Ben Franklin's choice for the national bird on it -- the Turkey. A much more popular choice with a lot of room for jokes. Besides, collectors would gobble them up.

Posted by Vanderleun Apr 1, 2004 6:01 AM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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