Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
That was *so* last year's gift


We interrupt your regularly scheduled content for a note from Mrs. VDL. Don't worry, Mr. American Digest will return tomorrow.

The December issue of Coast magazine (which is tossed on our driveway monthly for free) includes the obligatory gift guide for befuddled holiday shoppers. Just to show how culturally-savvy my dad is, one of the presents that he gave Gerard last year is featured in the magazine’s collection of this year’s hot-hot gifts.

Yes, I’m talking about Mr. Wonderful, and when I wrote about him last year, it was my first-ever post:

"The biggest laugh of Christmas morning came when my witty and urbane husband Gerard opened a large package containing Mr. Wonderful, a 12” talking doll that spouts off 16 different phrases when you squeeze his palm. He’s every woman’s dream come true, in plastic, anyway. Handsome, sensitive, and a good listener, he says things that women want to hear, but seldom do, like:
You know honey, why don't you just relax and let me make dinner tonight?

Why don't we go to the mall? Didn't you want some new shoes?

You know, I think it's really important that we talk about our relationship.

You've been on my mind all day. That's why I bought you these flowers."

The original post is here.

Good Question on "Blackness" Seeks Good Answer

Blogger baldilocks relates an incident en route to a concert where a the blackness of Colin Powell and Condi Rice's thoughts were called into question. To illustrate she proposes a thought experiment at baldilocks: More Than A Notion . At the conclusion of the experiment she notes:

Simply consider why those blacks who have been accused of bad behavior or demonstrate questionable character do not have their "blackness" questioned, but those who are conservative and/or preach the virtues of hard work do.
I, for one, would be very interested to see a good answer to that.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 29, 2004 8:39 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Awww, Puppies .... (by Nintendo)

The utterly virtual but still cute and modestly amazing Nintendo Pups!


They cute too!

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 29, 2004 8:02 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Fish Highway


"Imagine a means for fish to swim out the top of your aquarium, up to the ceiling, across the room and then down into another tank. That's a fish highway ."


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 29, 2004 7:39 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Democratic Dementia Rising: Victims in the Night

After the Florida Election fiasco of 2000, masses of the outraged losers at The Well [ better known as The Leisure World of Online Conferencing] descended into a depression that deepened into what can only be described as a political psychosis. The same elements we see now were born then -- Liberalosis, Bushophobia, Halliburtonhallucinogenia, Dumbmentia, MovingOutItus, Progressophrenia, and a tendency to froth at the mention of the word "Florida."

I'd been a member of The Well for over ten years at the time and, as the months dragged on, I became an increasingly unpopular member. Not that I didn't deserve it. My many issues with their manias grew apace. Nobody likes a person who, once insane, returns to his senses in the middle of the asylum and informs the inmates that they are stark raving mad. It's a buzzkiller and the inmates of the Well loved their BushBuzz more than life itself. Following the attacks of September 11, many of The Well's manias went into remission -- some for nearly 90 minutes before roaring back.

For some weeks now I've viewed the mental diseases previously held in check behind the conferencing wall of the Well metastasize into the general population of online political losers across the blogsphere. For some time I had hoped it was a temporary mania of the type chronicled in Charles Mackay's classic 19th century work, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds . In this tome, Mackay notes the subject of the book in the Preface:

In reading the history of nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.
Yes, I had hoped some "new folly more captivating than the first" would present itself to these sufferers and that they would, at last, "go gentle into that good night."

But this, alas, is not to be. The Democrats dementia deepens and darkens across the cyberscape. Indeed, listening to the unremitting moans, screams and quiet sobbing of the Damned it is impossible not to think of that other 19th century classic, Poe's The Raven wherein we read:

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered-not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden more
Of 'Never-nevermore.'"
I admit I thought that analogy somewhat melodramatic, but then I learned it is not nearly melodramatic enough.

Reality has outstripped Poe's literary classic in the form of the "new, improved Raven," with the advent of one Mel Giles, whose sopping wet effort The Politics of Victimization is the current Cloverine-Brand Mental Salve for those now in orbit outside the political realities of our planet.

Ms. Giles, introduced as one "who has worked for many years as an advocate for victims of domestic abuse," has it all worked out and blended into a rich brew of caramel-laced, non-fat, decaf Dysfunctional Latte. It is strange that the "complex and highly intelligent " minds that make up the shrinking remnant of true believers lust for simple answers, but they do. And Ms. Giles is not slow to spoon the froth onto the cup.

The answer is quite simple. They beat us because they are abusers. We can call it hate. We can call it fear. We can say it is unfair. But we are looped into the cycle of violence, and we need to start calling the dominating side what they are: abusive. And we need to recognize that we are the victims of verbal, mental, and even, in the case of Iraq, physical violence.
This is a classic example of what is called "The illusion of central position." Ms. Giles simply takes the pap she's conjured up from endless hours of swapping suppositions at domestic abuse clinics and slaps it onto electoral politics. She also likes to play with the word "beat," substituting the act of slapping someone around with the situation in which one is bested in a democratic election.

It's important for her to get that little verbal slight of hand in early because once the sufferer accepts it, everything else follows. It is also handy to slap on the label "abuser" since who can argue that an abuser who slaps someone else around is an evil person, or persons, or group? Typically, the victims of a domestic abuser are women and who likes a woman-beater? Nobody. The lowest of the low.

Now that we've got that little bit of intellectual slight-of-hand out of the way, we're ready to be "looped into the cycle of violence." Well, this is more loopy than looped, but we must descend deeper into this dab of dementia.

According to Ms. Giles, she and her fellow sufferers are going to have to get used to the notion that they are undergoing an non-stop stream of "verbal, mental, and even, in the case of Iraq, physical violence." I note that very few American voters are in Iraq and, if election reports from there have any merit, the vast majority are not only for President Bush but exceedingly well-armed. For the rest of Ms. Giles millions of "patients," I suggest that they tune out of the info-stream for a few days and see if that doesn't quiet the "verbal and mental" violence of the voices in their heads.

Fortunately for the sufferers, Ms. Giles, the Compassionate, does not just reveal to them their debased state, she offers them a kind of "Dummys Guide to Abuse Avoidance." It's a fascinating insight not so much for the advice, but for the insights into the deeply rooted wrongheadedness and woolly thinking of the author and her cohorts:

As victims we cant stop asking ourselves what we did wrong.
Actually, you can. In fact one of the best ways stop beating on yourself is to stop beating on yourself.
We cant seem to grasp that they will keep hitting us and beating us as long as we keep sticking around and asking ourselves what we are doing to deserve the beating.
Humm, I was under the impression that the losers in this election were the "smart" people. This phenomena, if true, seems to betoken a set of people that are either born dumb, achieve dumb, or have had dumb thrust upon them. Perhaps all three. Still, if true, it is terrible to see so many reduced to intellectual servitude at the hands of an oppressing race. There must be a way out! And Ms. Giles does not disappoint.
How to break free? Again, the answer is quite simple.
Again, the simple answer for the self-proclaimed complex minds. And what is the way, the truth and the light?
First, you must admit you are a victim.
Catchy, but I can help feel the phrase is a bit derivative. Maybe I've heard it somewhere before.
Then, you must declare the state of affairs unacceptable.
"I hereby declare I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" Okay, done. What's next?
Next, you must promise to protect yourself and everyone around you that is being victimized. You dont do this by responding to their demands, or becoming more like them, or engaging in logical conversation, or trying to persuade them that you are right.
Ah yes, no dialogue over questions of law, policy or taxation. No examination of the self or the Party to see if you can't alter your behavior, your policies or your programs to make them more mainstream. No arguments from logic -- ever. And above all do not attempt to use persuasion. Sounds like a Platform for No Power Ever to me, but what do I know?
You also dont do this by going catatonic and resigned, by closing up your ears and eyes and covering your head and submitting to the blows, figuring its over faster and hurts less is you dont resist and fight back. Instead, you walk away.
Am I alone in finding this metaphor weak, wet, ill-conceived, and more revealing of the author's troubled psyche than any actual political situation? I hope not.
You find other folks like yourself, 56 million of them, who are hurting, broken, and beating themselves up.
Here we descend directly into the asinine. The concept that everyone -- 56 million! -- are afflicted with psychological political injuries on the order of a sucking chest wound is inane in the extreme.

Fifty-six million people have about 56 million different sets of reasons for voting one way or another. The proposition that they all "share the pain" is one of the bigger myths being floated. The reason for it is clear. You need to cite a big number to make yourself important in political terms. The underlying human reality has nothing to do with it. In politics no lie is useful unless it is a big lie.

You tell them what youve learned, and that you arent going to take it anymore.
Howard Beale, come on down!
You stand tall, with 56 million people at your side and behind you, and you look right into the eyes of the abuser and you tell him to go to hell.
First off, you're not tall, you are cramped and bent over with an internally generated rage that less effect on the world than the least dogcatcher elected in the fifth ward of Podunk.

Second, you do not have "56 million people at your side." You might be able to fill the Meadowlands if the Boss plays for free, but don't all head for the parking lot at the same time, okay?

Third, looking into "eyes of the abuser" assumes you can get an appointment. With this attitude, I wouldn't count on getting more than a form email back and then being dumped in the spam filter.

Then you walk out the door, taking the kids and gays and minorities with you, and you start a new life. The new life is hard. But its better than the abuse.
Well, as we used to say on The Well, "Door. Ass. Bang." But if all 56 million are going, you'd better make sure Canada has a homestead act ready for places somewhat above the Arctic Circle. As for the Pied Piper moment that has erupted from your skull, I'm sure more than a few parents, minority and other wise, will have something to say about the kids. Plus, even though there may be some members of the Gay community that favor Lumberjack garb, I don't think they'd be all that crazy about the lifestyle.

With that said, you'd think Ms. Giles cup of froth runneth over. You'd be wrong. She needs to share more of her fantasy with you.

We have a mandate to be as radical and liberal and steadfast as we need to be. The progressive beliefs and social justice we stand for, our core, must not be altered. We are 56 million strong. We are building from the bottom up. We are meeting, on the net, in church basements, at work, in small groups, and right now, we are crying, because we are trying to break free and we dont know how.
Except for the weeping part, this little excursion back to the time of Trotsky certainly should chill the blood of the Oppressive Regime of Amerika. The vision of 56 million of our fellow citizens, even the godless ones, humming about and building God-Knows-What in "church basements" (Of all places!), and elsewhere, should have Homeland Security checking out known outlets of fertilizer across the country. Me, I'm shaking in my boots even as I feel their pain.

Ms. Giles then begins, at long last, to take her leave of us with a semi-sweet coda:

Any battered woman in America, any oppressed person around the globe who has defied her oppressor will tell you this:
With this we are back to one of the core fantasies of the addlepated Left; that violence against a single woman is equal to the enforced enslavement of millions of people by a Dictatorship or a Theocracy. The mass graves of Cambodia and Iraq, the genocides of Africa and the Balkans give the lie to this concept, but these little facts cannot be seen by the delusional Left.

Finally, Ms. Giles is ready for her close-up:

There is nothing wrong with you. You are in good company. You are safe. You are not alone. You are strong. You must change only one thing: stop responding to the abuser. Dont let him dictate the terms or frame the debate (hell win, not because hes right, but because force works).
This little packet neatly assumes that there's nothing wrong on the 'victims' side and nothing correct on the other side. A handy point of view to have if you are addicted to losing elections. Handier still if you actually have no ideas that will work if they are ever implemented.
Sure, we can build a better grassroots campaign, cultivate and raise up better leaders, reform the election system to make it failproof, stick to our message, learn from the strategy of the other side. But we absolutely must dispense with the notion that we are weak, godless, cowardly, disorganized, crazy, too liberal, naive, amoral, loose, irrelevant, outmoded, stupid and soon to be extinct.
Really? Are you sure? Care to run another reality check on that in 2006? Keep it up and you will.
We have the mandate of the world to back us, and the legacy of oppressed people throughout history.
Oh, puh-lease! This is just pure tripe and beneath contempt. Any person or group that asserts or, worse still, believes that they have "the mandate of the world" is simply delusional to the Nth degree. If anyone knows where, exactly, one applies for a "World Mandate" this side of Funky Town, please let me know.

What Ms. Giles has is a mandate from the Heart of Her Own Darkness to believe in porcine aviation. Those that choose to join her in her Children's Crusade are advised to pack a lunch and take a candle, for the way will be long and the path dark.

And, oh yes, also put on a lot of protective padding because, as Ms. Giles notes at the bitter end of her bitter buffet of bombast and balderdash:

Even if you do everything right, theyll hit you anyway. Look at the poor souls who voted for this nonsense. They are working for six dollars an hour if they are working at all, their children are dying overseas and suffering from lack of health care and a depleted environment and a shoddy education. And they dont even know they are being hit.
You'd think someone so "informed" would have a deeper understanding of the vast array of different people that voted against her tattered fantasies, but that is obviously not the case. She begins in darkness and she ends in ignorance. It's a kind of intellectual Black Hole of Calcutta. I don't know how many others are going to join her in there, but it is already feeling very overcrowded. Would some compassionate conservative please go over in the morning and let the survivors out?

I will wait here for you.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 29, 2004 1:01 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Soros Buys Kiev Holiday Inn for Inbound Contingent of Blue State Human Shields

Soros to Shields:"If I'm buying, you're flying."

In a stunning move to reverse the threat to democracy in the Ukraine George Soros wrote a check on Sunday to take possession of the Kiev Holiday Inn and Bali-Themed singles Bar in order the guarantee housing for some 15,000 Blue State Human Shields now inbound to the beleaguered Republic.

Working closely with the recently unemployed staff of, Soros raised the money from himself during a tense, non-stop negotiating session at his wet-bar last Friday.

"I thought of all the angst and agita I've experienced over the last three weeks," said the reclusive billionaire at a press conference attended by Graydon Carter, Annie Leibovitz and the entire newroom of The New York Times. "What good is money to me when there are democracies to save? And after all, isn't's motto 'Democracy in Action' ? It is. But what can a humble billionaire do in a world ruled by Halliburton?" Mr. Soros paused as Ms. Leibovitz made a few deft adjustments to his hair.

"Then it came to me. The Human Shields have been out of work and gathering rust and dust in the remainder bins of history for well over a year. The millions of depressed Democrats who have been considering relocation to a Bush-Free Zone have run out of gas long before the petroleum exporting countries ruled by Halliburton. Kerry isn't giving the $16 million back, and I don't know what to think about the rumors that Teresa is out buying a house and new suits for Obama.

"I'm an entrepreneur who's always looking to make lemonade out of lemons, and this thing in the Ukraine seems to have more than its share of lemons. So I thought, hey, we could get the Human Shields back in the game, move on, give the Democrats another chance of saving democracy, and show up that Boston bozo for the stiff that he is. On top of that, if it works out and democracy is actually saved in the Ukraine, I can flip my Holiday Inn for a nice appreciation ride. The left profile is my best, Annie. How many times do I have to tell you?"

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 28, 2004 10:14 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
My Personal Treasure Reviews National Treasure

What's this, a film review? Indeed it is. I'd once hoped to have a regular film reviewer for this page, but that person hasn't happened along as yet. Instead, I'll go with this insightful review of National Treasure by the one person I know who's not only quick to sum up a film correctly, but quicker still to find out what's really of value, my wife:

If you've read the reviews, which are pretty snarky for the most part, you might think Nicholas Cage's new quasi action-adventure movie would be a pass. But you'd be wrong. 

Because I was there, at the end of the movie, when a surprisingly healthy round of applause erupted. Gerard looked at me like, "What?" and I said, well, you know there's something to be said for a movie with no sex, barely any violence, and a body count of one (and that was accidental).

She's right. It is suprising how surprising a decent movie can be these days. Perhaps because there are so few of them. Maybe, given the success of National Treasure, there will be more. Read the rest at :

            Cheaper Than Therapy: "National Treasure" on a National Holiday

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 28, 2004 2:49 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Meditation for this Sunday

Until Then

[In Flash so it takes time to load but is well worth it.]

Homeward Bound

In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing and the sky is clear and red.
When the summer's ceased its gleaming,
When the corn is past its prime,
When adventure's lost its meaning,
I'll be homeward bound in time.

Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I'll return to you somehow.

If you find it's me you're missing, if you're hoping I'll return.
To your thoughts I'll soon be list'ning, and in the road I'll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing as my journey nears its end.
And the path I'll be retracing when I'm homeward bound again.

Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I'll return to you somehow.

In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing,
I'll be homeward bound again.

Words and music by Marta Keen.

Lyrics found by RickinVa @ Brutally Honest: Homeward Bound

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 28, 2004 10:17 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Legacy of the Long Peace

The peace movements of the last 150 years have been animated by "wishful thinking," which helps to explain their often self-destructive behavior. But .... it's not merely a wish for, but a lust for peace that's the root of this evil. -- Demosophia: Lust for Peace

It isn't always the case that a politician's promise is the birth of a lie. More often than not, it just turns out that way. It turns out that way not because, I hasten to add, the politician lied at the time of the promise, but because the promises of politicians are most often descriptions of a future that can never come to pass.

The promises of our politicians are but articulations of our own fantasies about the future and, since we know in our bones these things can never come to pass, we hear the promises as lies, but go with them anyway if they reflect our own childish wishes. In the political theater of our days, each side gets the audience to chant, "I do believe in fairies," that Tinkerbell might fly. And Tinkerbell does, while all agree not to notice the wires.

The big lie of the bitter season just past was unusual in that, at the bottom, it was a promise not about the future (although both camps insisted it was), but about the past. The big lie promised a return to the lost lands of September 10, 2001 when all was calm and secure. The big lie was "We'll keep you safe."

Neither side wanted to go too deeply into the "how" of this in very specific terms. But a nod is as good as a wink to a willfully blind electorate, and we all knew "how" our candidate of choice would handle things.


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 28, 2004 9:52 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Lost Angeles Times and the Evil Within

Those of us who have cast the legacy media of printed newspapers behind can, for all the advantages of electronic news, miss out on certain crimes against the language that are being committed every day. Crimes so disgusting that I for one believe the perps should be sought out and given a long swing on a short length of knotted hemp.

This morning my wife, who for parenting purposes still believes in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and printed newspapers, brought a two disturbing examples of the Lost Angeles Times' continuing felonious assault on the English language to my attention -- a misdemeanor and a felony.

The misdemeanor headline can be seen online:

Bringing Serious Bling to Colorado Boulevard

But the deeper shame is on the continued or jump page from that story where the innocent and utterly unprepared reader is greeted with the overwhelmingly awful headline:

Rose Queen Will Bling in the New Year

I knew that there would be no stopping the penetration of the spoken language by "bling" more than a


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 27, 2004 8:52 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Pat Tillman, Champion

I'm not a fan of online polls and am even less sanguine about "stuffing the ballot box," but Matt at BLACKFIVE makes a strong case for:

SI Sportsman of the Year - Vote For Ranger Pat Tillman

Patrick M. sends the link to Sports Illustrated's fan poll for Sportsman of the Year.

Background:  Sports Illustrated is conducting it's annual fan poll for Sportsman of the Year.  This year there is one athlete who stands out.  Tim Layden of CNN/Sports Illustrated lays it out for you.

I'd appreciate it if you took some time to go there, select Pat Tillman on the sliding window on the left of the site (he's second from the bottom and wearing a red football jersey), click on his picture, then hit the vote button.  Just in case you have trouble finding his picture, here is a screenshot of what Pat Tillman's ballot looks like.

Currently, he is in third place behind Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps.

I admire Lance Armstrong and am agnostic on Phelps, but it seems to me that this should be the year of Pat Tillman above all others. If you don't know why, click on the link above and find out.

Then do the right thing for this brave and nobel man.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 26, 2004 8:47 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Blog? Vat is dis ting called blog?

Excuse me, can I get to the blogsphere from here? Butter up the popcorn, grab a beverage and settle in for two classics.

First the cutting edge,

NYblogs - The Movie,

and then the ever-popular

Digital Convergence - 1994

completes our Thanksgiving double-feature!

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 24, 2004 4:34 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Clouds of Titan

Cassini continues to amaze as this item called Hovering Over Titan shows.

"A mosaic of nine processed images recently acquired during Cassini's first very close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on October 26, 2004 constitutes the most detailed full-disk view yet made of the mysterious moon...." -- Ciclops

The image above echoes in the mind. We know it is impossibly cold down there. We know the atmosphere is a lethal smog of nitrogen, methane, and ethane. We know that the seas shimmering in the faint light of the distant sun are liquid methane.

All these things we know and yet, from this image sent back to us by our instruments, there is somehow the shock of recognition. Unlike any other planet or moon we've seen in our brief glimpse of the solar system, this image and this image alone sends an echo. It resembles, despite what we know about it, nothing so much as the Earth itself, and that resemblance alone causes the soul to rise. For if a moon of Saturn can resemble our own planet, it signals that somewhere, perhaps very far away or perhaps not all that far, there is another planet where the resemblance is more than an echo, but a mirror image.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 24, 2004 3:04 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Two by Ted Kooser

In January

Only one cell in the frozen hive of night
is lit, or so it seems to us:
this Vietnamese café, with its oily light,
its odors whose colorful shapes are like flowers.
Laughter and talking, the tick of chopsticks.
Beyond the glass, the wintry city
creaks like an ancient wooden bridge.
A great wind rushes under all of us.
The bigger the window, the more it trembles.


After Years

Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer's retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.

Ted Kooser is America's new Poet Laureate

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 24, 2004 10:28 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Days of Future Past

From the Department of "Be Careful What You Wish For," comes this 8-Minute film concerning EPIC 2014.


In 2014, what will you have in your wallet? Will it be one of these?


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 24, 2004 9:36 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
American North

Native Man in Gut Parka with Small Carved Boat
Photographer: Dobbs
Location: Nome, Alaska
Date; Unknown

An immense and deeply fascinating collection of photographs from Alaska during the late 19th and early 20th Century Alaska. Over 13,500 available online @ The Gallery of the UAF Rasmuson Library

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 23, 2004 11:52 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Four is Enough
  • No Joke @ Comedy Central: Hackers co-opted several popular Web sites including over the weekend, using them to infect thousands of computers with a virus that can be used to steal passwords, bank accounts and other personal information. -- Washington Post
  • The TV Dinner Was Born from a Half-Million Pounds of Leftover Turkey: It began as a solution to that All-American holiday problem - what to do with the leftover turkey. But executives at C.A. Swanson & Sons weren't talking about just the remainders of the family meal. They were talking 520,000 pounds of poultry. -- Christian Science Monitor
  • Pillars of Wizdum: The Common Assumption, the False Consensus Effect, and the Law of Group Polarization. -- The Chronicle: Liberal Groupthink Is Anti-Intellectual
  • The Definitive Bladerunner Noodle Bar Translation -- Finally! After all these years! Deckard: {Points}Give me four.

    Sushi Master: Futatsu de jubun desu yo. [Japanese: "Two is enough!"]

    Deckard: No. Four. Two, two, four.

    Sushi Master: Futatsu de jubun desu yo. [Japanese: "Two is enough!"]

    Deckard: {Resignedly} And noodles.


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 23, 2004 7:46 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
News of Mainstream Media's Death Premature

"The rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated. Dan Rather, reporting."

Victory laps are being run without surcease across the blogsphere today on the news of Dan Rather's resignation. The heady atmosphere of having "bagged him" is rent with triumphant trumpets and the whoops outnumber the de-doos.

I might suggest that the loudest whoops, most brazen trumpets, and fastest lap times are being turned in by those without the slightest experience of how large media institutions are actually structured. Because no matter what you may think of Dan Rather, he's only the front man for an institutionalized attitude that shows no signs of change other than the most cosmetic.

Indeed, the problem of the media's petrified mind-set goes far beyond the institutional. Just as the Groves of Academe are now vast stands of petrified forest, so the paralysis of the MSM is lodged deep in questions of class, clique, money and status.

The main stream media is not the way it is because of this or that individual at this or that company, but because all those who make their livings in it, and who draw their identities from it, have long ago thrown away any elements of their character that would set them apart and inhibit their advancement. Those that have done so and prospered are careful to vet the young that are allowed entry for a carefully monitored and calibrated set of attitudes. Those that do not exhibit the correct head set never get to the first interview. Those that do almost all have a recommendation in order to elevate their resumes out of the slush pile. It helps to go to the right school, but it helps more to have the right parents with the right connections. This isn't unusual or even wrong, but it is a fact.

Last June Peggy Noonan offered some reflections on the graduating class of 2004:

I have been paying attention to the graduates of Ivy League universities. Every one I see the past few weeks is beautiful. They are tall and handsome and gay-spirited; they are strong and laughing and bright. I ask them what they are going to do now. I am repeatedly told things like, "I want to go into TV." And "I'm going to drama school." And "I'm going to journalism school." It occurs to me that all young people who graduate from elite American universities now want to go into communications. It's a whole generation that wants to communicate.

But what do they want to communicate? They don't seem to have a clue. For this is a question that involves the area of Deeply Held Beliefs, and as far as I can see it the deeply held beliefs of these particular graduates is a uniform leftism whose tenets involve reciting clichés. They believe racial and sexual diversity is good, peace is better than war, religious fanaticism is bad. But they don't want to spout clichés--that's not why they went to Cornell. And they know their work will not draw attention if it is marked by tired and essentially noncontroversial ideas. No one thinks war is sweet, there's no market for racial segregation or male chauvinism.

I see no sign they are going to start thinking anything truly unusual for their time and generation--that religious conversion can be a wholly beneficial and life changing event, for instance, or that breaking with liberal orthodoxy might be the beginning of wisdom.
-- Opinion Journal

What Noonan does not say because it goes, indeed, without saying is that the most assertive of the applicants to media glory from these schools will, indeed, get jobs and that their various masses of received wisdom will play a large role in their acceptance. Plus a bit of grease from their parents or the friends of their parents.

Again, this is the way of the world and I'd expect no less from the various tenured or established adults involved, but it does not make for a meritocracy. Nor does it make for the kind of diversity that would indeed reverse the slide of the mainstream media into irrelevance. That can only come from the top and only across the decades. It took more than 30 years for the media and academe to complete their strategic retreats into the castles of elitism and reaction, and it would take the same time to move out of them. But they don't have that kind of time any longer and besides, who would hire their children if they didn't?

UPDATE: And finally, Scrappleface says it all in one headline --     Bloggers Force Retirement of 73-Year-Old Newsman

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 23, 2004 12:49 PM | QuickLink: Permalink

I'll be going north to Chico, California for a few days for my mother's 90th birthday party. Just the family and about 200 close friends. Back Sunday. My mother promises that she'll take the time to play a set or two of tennis with me, but only if I follow her new rule: "After my birthday, I get two bounces."

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 18, 2004 7:11 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Continuing Misperceptions of the "Comfortable Classes"

Donald Sensing cycles back to something that bears repeating:

Not understanding the intentional lethality of battle is a very common misperception among people of the comfortable classes such as Mrs. Joel - for example, the graduate students I had dinner with one night just after the air campaign began against the Afghan Taliban. They apparently thought that our bombing was a form of posturing, a symbolic display, intended to yield psychological, not lethal, effects on the enemy.

One guest said that the bombing "wouldn't intimidate" the Taliban.

"We're not trying to intimidate them," I said.

"Then why are we bombing them?" came the question.

"To kill them," I answered. There was a long silence at the table. The concept seemed not to have occurred to them. -- One Hand Clapping

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 18, 2004 12:33 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The English Teacher


As we witness our irreconcilable party of bitterness and defeat retreat from our shared comity through their eagerness to pillory our troops and equate our enemies as, in the words of Chris Matthews of MSNBC, "a rival, I mean they're not bad guys especially, just people who just disagree with us," we are reminded on the same day of the depravity they champion.

We are reminded by an execution a woman at the hands of animals. A woman whose video-taped execution was termed "too upsetting" to be viewed by Al-Jazerra. Too upsetting to be viewed? This from an Arab institution that has no qualms about airing in an endless loop war footage of shootings in mosques? That displays the dismembered remains of Americans hung like slabs of meat on bridges? From whence comes this new found daintiness and delicacy in an institution that both before and after this footage will be only too pleased to wallow in blood and offal?

May I suggest that it is too upsetting not because of the content, but because of what it reveals about the corrupted souls of our enemy, the friends and primary audience of Al-Jazerra. It is too "upsetting" because it does not advance the aspriations of Islamic jihad, but shows all too vividly what this religious disease looks like inside its rotted interior.

The video of this woman's slaughter, placed next to the beheading video of Nick Berg and the mass executions of children in Beslan, completes the trifecta of terror.

Last July, I wrote:

Our unluckiest citizens have had their heads severed from their bodies as pilot episodes of what promises to be a long running reality television series in which American heads are held up, to our horror and for the delight of those many millions that support those that take the heads. The message beyond this madness is that they would be pleased to extend this television series to 300 million beheadings in which each of us would have his "star" turn. Our enemy has not yet taken a woman or a child for a beheading, but both clearly on their programming schedule. -- American Digest: The Sacrifice and the Reckoning
This was written early last July. And now we are there. And it is only the very beginning. All this, and fresh horrors yet unknown except in the insect minds of those we fight, will be repeated and repeated until so common they are unworthy of comment at all, or until those that commit and relish them are expunged.

Who was Mrs. Hassan, the woman kidnapped, tortured for weeks and finally killed yesterday? There have been thousands of stories about her background published, but in the end, this from a young Iraqi woman in Baghdad, is the single brief testament that answers "Who was she?"

She was my English teacher

In the memory of my teacher and a fellow aid worker colleague Mrs. M. Hassan

Mrs. Hassan was my English teacher in The British Council in Baghdad in Al-Wazirya district, I remember her years ago with her Irish accent telling me it's not Important how many words I must learn but the pronunciation of the words I already knew must be perfected.

Mrs. Hassan speak s perfect Arabic and she has a heart of gold, she's been kidnapped today killed by (men in pajamas), turn Iraq upside down and save her find them.

-- Baghdad Dweller » Blog Archive » She was my English teacher
Late yesterday evening, my wife finally came home from an exceedingly long day at work. As she walked towards the door I said, as husbands will, "At last. How was your day?"

She paused and looked at me, "I'm not complaining. I wasn't killed for doing my job. I wasn't killed."

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 17, 2004 1:09 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Poet's Admonition

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd,
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonor'd, and unsung.

         -- Sir Walter Scott - The Lay of the Last Minstrel - Canto VI

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 17, 2004 11:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Most Offensive Racist Cartoon Published In Major US Daily in 40 Years

By Pat Oliphant.

Pat "Some of my best friends are..." Oliphant

Published this day in the Washington Post . Syndicated too.

I grant that there may have been a more racist cartoon published in a major newspaper in the last 40 years, but I'm not aware of it. If you are, please enlighten me.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 16, 2004 4:02 PM | Comments (34)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Empire, Like the Universe, Expands

[see site for large version]

That last bastion of Grouchoism-Lennonism, The Politburo Diktat has published the retro-definitive Empire of the Blogs map:

In the pre-Marxist era, corrupt aristocrats, bloodsuckers of the people, dominated Central Europe. Not content to oppress the people individually, they joined together, to form a Blogging Empire.
The unusual suspects are revealed. I am pleased to note that my undisclosed location remains undisclosed.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 16, 2004 12:33 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The How of Spam
EWeek has a fascinating wrap-up of the Jaynes Spamming Trial. Short form: 10 Million emails a day = $750,000 per month = 9 years in jail. Trial Shows How Spammers Operate: "Jaynes' business was remarkably lucrative; prosecutors say he grossed up to $750,000 per month. If you have an e-mail account, chances are Jaynes tried to get your attention, pitching software, pornography and work-at-home schemes. The eight-day trial that ended in his conviction this month shed light on the operations of a 30-year-old former purveyor of physical junk mail who worked with minimal assistance out of a nondescript house in Raleigh, N.C. A state jury in Leesburg has recommended a nine-year prison term in the nation's first felony trial of spam purveyors. Sentencing is set for February. "

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 14, 2004 8:42 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lateral Un-Thinking: New Brain Drain Discovered

Michael Totten observes in They Ain’t Studying War No More: "The fewer intellectuals there are on the left who study military history and strategy, the less likely any otherwise left-minded person who is interested in such things will want or be able to work with or for liberals and Democrats. What has been happening is a nation-wide brain-drain from the left to the right – at least in certain areas. "

(Via IP .)

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 14, 2004 8:18 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Lateral Un-Thinking: New Brain Drain Spotted

Michael J. Totten: They Ain’t Studying War No More: "The fewer intellectuals there are on the left who study military history and strategy, the less likely any otherwise left-minded person who is interested in such things will want or be able to work with or for liberals and Democrats. What has been happening is a nation-wide brain-drain from the left to the right – at least in certain areas. "

(Via Glenn .)

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 14, 2004 7:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Required Reading

Pardon my preening, but my amazing, omni-talented and beautiful wife Sheryl, has another article in today's Washington Post. I think you'll find it says, to quote Pope, "what oft was thought but n'ere so well expressed":

Indecent Exposure
When Did Cookware and Fly-Fishing Go X-Rated?
By Sheryl Van der Leun

So there I was, perusing the Perfex salt grinders at my local Williams-Sonoma store, when I overheard an excited thirty-something shopper exclaim breathlessly as she walked by the $1,999 Jura-Capresso Impressa S8 Super Automatic Espresso Coffeemaker, "Oh, this is pure kitchen-porn. Get me out of here...."
-- Indecent Exposure (

There's more on this full frontal assault on our traditional linguistic values. Take a look.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 14, 2004 12:54 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Michael Moore -- The Really Big Winner of 2004

This just in.

I really wish a lot of people would drop the concept that Michael Moore is the chief reason for the loss of the election and is, by extension, one of the 'Big Losers' of 2004. Nothing could be further from the truth. Moore is one of the biggest winners of 2004 and I am sure he'd have it no other way.

Look at it this way: Playing to the obvious hates of the Democrats: Big Corporations, Outsourcing, Guns, George Bush, and Pets Sold As Meat has been a cornucopia for Moore that just keeps getting bigger. So big, in fact, that Moore has, in the last year alone, gone from being your average millionaire to a man of real wealth.

The grosses tell the story. Here's the estimate of revenues and costs of 911 from Box Office Mojo

World Boxoffice Gross: $218,000,000
Budget and Marketing Costs: $21,000,000

Say that half the gross comes back to you and you are looking at a net profit to be split between Moore and his partners of around $88,000,000. If Moore pockets even half of that, and his split is probably more, he takes in $44,000,000. Assuming he pays the standard 'Heinz-Kerry' tax rate of 12%, he nets something north of $38,000,000. And that's before we even start into record shattering rentals and DVD sales of 911:

Moore's eagerly anticipated video of Fahrenheit 9/11 turned 1.36 million copies and earned more than $4.7 million on DVD alone in its first week.
-- Box Office Mojo
Oh yes, let's not forget the sales from all his previous films, the book deals, and the speaking fees of $30 to $50K that he's racking up from wounded associations and colleges around the country.

On top of that, you have the lionizing awards from the French and the Oscar from the "Academy." Put it all together and you have one fat and happy winner who is, first and foremost, looking forward to continuing this streak now that he has helped keep the Democrats out of power.

After all, if they had won, Moore's streak would have been severely curtailed. It was in his interest to do everything he could to make sure this would not happen. We can't blame him if the Democrats helped him along.

All in all, a brilliant performance by a genius at manipulation. I'm sure that every morning, Moore looks deep into his mirror and says, "I'd like to thank all the little people for four more years! Oh, yes, and not forgetting those stupid white men, John, John, Teddy and Jimmy."

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 13, 2004 8:12 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Sa-mar-ter than the av-er-age bear..."

N.Z. Bear types for me in Memo to the Left:Time's Up

Alright kids. It's been over a full week now. I left you alone and let you have your pity-parties. Hopefully you've had a good long sulk and gotten it out of your system.

But now, it's time to get your asses back to work. You might not expect me to be saying this, but here's the bulletin: this country needs you.


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 13, 2004 5:15 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Real Death Star

A solid bit of astronomical insight from one of our favorite pages, Laputan Logic

This is Eta Carinae, the seventh star of the southern Carina constellation and the most massive and luminous star known in our galaxy. It's 100 times as massive as our sun and 5 million times brighter. Its diameter is about the size of Jupiter's orbit and it is extremely unstable. Currently it is in the process of rapidly exhausting its fuel supply and is on the brink of self-destruction. It could collapse into itself and form a black hole at any moment.

Eta Carinae is also interesting because it's probably the only star in the night sky that could conceivably kill you.

You'll want to know why.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 13, 2004 1:41 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Proposed Contract Between the Two Americas

A rich and stunning proposal for getting along by Orthodox & Heterodox . Every clause is pure gold and worth deep reflection and consideration. Herewith a few, and only a few, choice excerpts:

We, the bold, free-spirited peoples of the Diverse Lands of Blue America, hereby contract with you, the safe, ordinary drabs of the Nearly-contiguous Lands of Red America to exist peaceably and amicably in the manner to which we've become accustomed.

We will continue to exist in heavily-impacted urban centers in areas where our explosive growth and profligate lifestyle are completely unsustainable -- deserts, swamps, mountains, frozen wastelands, coasts and islands -- and so we will be needing to pull heavily from your water and other natural resources. We will need you to have power plants, waste recycling plants and refineries in your areas, since we can't stand to look at the ugly things.

We will need to convert some of the more inhabitable areas you have into parks and bedroom communities for us, since our cities are too disgusting for any of us to consider living in them. We will come out in droves, build densely and go elsewhere to work. We won't care about these communities or put any work into their governance. You are welcome to stay if you'd like -- and if you can afford the housing costs once we're there -- but please don't alter the opinion landscape that we'd like to exist in. In other words, please either be like us or aspire to be like us ... or shut up.


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 13, 2004 1:24 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Galaxy Crystal


Our Neighborhood, 35,000 Lightyears to the Inch

The Galaxy Crystal is a cosmic paperweight: an optically perfect glass block 3" square by 1 1/2" deep, laser etched with a 3D model of the Milky Way.

Data for this sculpture comes from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

For sale at: Bathsheba Grossman - Galaxy Crystal

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 13, 2004 12:17 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find....

On October 27th this Sidelines posting which requests speed:



"Driven home into the heart of the stone figure attached to it, was a knife. Round its hilt was a frill of paper, on which was scrawled:

`Drive him fast to his tomb. This, from JACQUES.'"

-- Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

And yesterday a request fulfilled.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 13, 2004 11:42 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
And all the news just repeats itself...

Same old, same old, noted by Anticipatory Retaliation: Same As It Ever Was

Hostage Slaughterhouses, Death Camps, Gulags

Anyone recognize The Beast?

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 13, 2004 11:27 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Where are the Islamic Moderates? All Around Us.

For some years now we have been hearing the clarion calls for the Islamic "Moderates" to speak out. This oft-repeated request has gone out from a wide-spectrum of voices here and abroad. But it would seem that the standard response is that "We hear very little from Islamic Moderates about Terrorism."

I think this is utterly wrong. I think we have been hearing a great deal from the "Islamic Moderates" over the last three years. In fact, we hear from them constantly.

The problem is not that we do not hear from the "Moderates," but with our current assumption of exactly what "Moderate" means. We've been, indeed, entirely too conservative in our understanding of "Islamic moderates."

In the brave new world of "Radical Islam," a conservative Muslim would be one who seeks to live in peace with those of other faiths, does not look for a global or even regional theocracy, and in general would just like to get on with life in a peaceful, diverse, tolerant society. And while it is true that there has not been a lot of speaking out from this group, there has still been some and we can assume it is not a total loss. Fear of Islamic moderates probably mutes an otherwise large segment of the Islamic population.

In contrast, an "Islamic Moderate" currently means those members of the Islamic faith committed to a regional caliphate and willing to use conventional terrorism to achieve these aims. This includes beheadings, mass murder, random bombing of civilian targets, infiltration of Iraq, Afghanistan, New York, Cleveland, etc. to kill Americans and other unbelievers with conventional arms and explosives. At the moment, these moderates are being extremely vocal and noisy in Iraq. This moderate group has been extremely vociferous in the past few years and, if the present is any guide, will continue to speak out with explosives, arms and manifestos until they either triumph or are eliminated.

Virtually silent at present, are the "Islamic Radicals" who seek to achieve a global caliphate through the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons to kill unbelievers wholesale. We hear them every so often in the current safe haven of Iran where plutonium futures are traded with the cheers of "Death to America." We hear less from the dispersed members of this cult with the exception of intermittent claims on Muslim websites that, yes, they have a nuclear bomb and they are going to use it.

Whether or not they actually have that bomb is open to question. What is not is their devotion to using it as soon as possible.

Under these conditions, it strikes me that as long as we are hearing from the "Islamic moderates' " through propaganda and through weapons we need not be too worried.

It is when these "moderate voices" fall silent that we need to look out for the big and booming voice of the Radical Islam. But by that time, it is my sad opinion we will be, once again, in a reactive mode.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 13, 2004 10:42 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Deer That Are The Headlights

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

        -- Richard Brautigan , 1967

Bambi's brood, known as either "cute," "rats with antlers," or "the most lethal animal in North America" when you hit them with your car, are up for some genetic modification @ NIGHTSAVE DEER

With over 500,000 deer/auto collisions every year, the cost in lives and money is staggering

While insurers pay over a billion dollars in claims annually, over 200 people are killed. Countless other drivers and passengers suffer injuries and other serious medical complications.

By implanting the gene of a special jellyfish into deer, the transgenic NIGHTSAVE deer produced by GENETIATE (patent pending) have fluorescing hair and skin when illuminated by car headlights. The implanted gene has no other effect on the deer, who appear normal in daylight.

The NIGHTSAVE project aims to reduce the number of night time deer/auto collisions, saving the lives of both deer and people.

But what about the jellyfish? Are we to IGNORE the billions of jellyfish lives that will be destroyed just to save a few Bambis. Is it because jellyfish aren't cuddly that we consign them to doom? Just what is PETA's position on jellyfish anyway? What haven't we heard from them?

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 13, 2004 8:59 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Miss America's Defunct

Long Live Miss Ronald Mc Donald ! The clown make-up's been ditched and the shoes are to die for. The Japanese might go for it, but I really don't think the American mind is ready for this intense variation on the Ronald McDonald theme. On the other hand, this could cause donations to Ronald McDonald House to go through the roof.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 12, 2004 1:45 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Random Bits from the Buffer Zone

  • The first casualty of war isn't truth, notes a soldier, but innocence. That's why the Ma-Deuce .50 caliber machine gun is a man's best friend: Heavy Weapons & The First Casualty

  • Faced with declining web revenues in the wake of the election, the execrable Kos is starting to back and fill in order to scuttle towards the center. Here he's actually used the word "thugs" to describe the people we're trying to eradicate in Fallujah. A much earlier Kos remarked when American bodies were strung up on the bridges of Fallujah, "Screw 'em," so there's little reason to think he's changed that much since then. But when called out by his loyal if demented readers on ascribing thuggishness to animals, his response is a hearty "F*** You!" Ah, the garbage does not fall far from the dumpster @ Kos Looks to Sustain His Cash-Flow

  • The big lie that refuses to die. In the waning days of the election, one big gun fired without stop over the heads of the voters was the "100,000" dead citizens of the Iraq meme. Besides the obvious fact that we have not seen the 186 funerals every day reported for even one day, the study on which the lie was based was also deeply flawed. For political purposes? Almost certainly. After all it is much easier to hide bias inside statistics than to hide it in editorial columns. Fred Kaplan, however, eviscerates the lie in terms of statistics @ 100,000 Dead‚ or 8,000 - How many Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the war?

  • Afghans have casualties too. To underscore the continuing use of casualties for propaganda purposes (Who knew!?), the Winds of Change has some background @ Winds of Change.NET: Fraud #2: Herold's Afghan War Casualties

  • The Unbearable Sadness of Being [Blue]: The binge drinking of the bitter herbs continues without letup at "The New Yorker. Yes, The New Yorker." Once again it is not the Democratic Party that's at fault, but the country itself: "The system of checks and balances has broken down, but the country remains divided -- right down the nonexistent, powerless middle. " claims Hertzberg in his bring-out-the crying-towels memory/dream/reflection called, sigh, Blues.


    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 12, 2004 9:21 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
  • "For the Discriminating Lunatic"

    Everybody talks about tinfoil hats, now...


    Sure, your hat allows you to subvert your oppressors, but let's face it; it makes you look ridiculous. Chances are it's the same origami hat/ship that kids make. What is the alternative, you ask? Designer tin foil hats. Where to find them? Look no further.
    -- tfh - tin foil hats

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 11, 2004 5:21 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Heating Up on Mars, Too

    Seems that global warming isn't confined to the Earth these days, but that greenhouse emissions evidently extend across the void to Mars. This from an interesting observation at The Speculist: Getting Warmer .

    Things are heating up on Mars...literally. The planet is experiencing its own version of global warming. The dry-ice polar caps are diminishing. Paul Hsieh speculates that this must be on account of our failure to sign Kyoto. Wow, when somebody close to me told me that I could vote for Bush if I wanted to, but I would have to accept the fact that everything that happens from now on is my fault...well, I just didn't grasp the cosmic implications.

    On the other hand, I can't help but wonder — if two planets so close to each other are both experiencing a rise in surface temperature, isn't it just possible that it might have to do with that nearby star they both orbit? I'm just asking is all. I mean, what if...

    Fret not, Dear Speculist, for I am sure that soon you will hear from those that note this "warming" only really began when we started landing probes on the surface with parts made by.... Halliburton!

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 11, 2004 9:23 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Wizbang Fever! Polls Close Tomorrow

    Because nobody asked me, here are my current picks in the Wizbang 2004 Weblog Awards.

    MOST IMPORTANT CATEGORY! Best Essayist: AMERICAN DIGEST aka "ME." Because I would like to get at least 2% of the vote. And by the way, why isn't The Belmont Club in this list? He'd give Hanson and Lileks a run for their money.

    Best Overall: Has to be Glenn ( PostBot) Reynolds @ Instapundit. I know it was an election year. Oh, I do know. But look... Up every day at the crack of dawn for an email stack as tall as Jack's Beanstalk. Most important portal site in the sphere. All upside except for the infrequent slips back into the abyss of cat-blogging. (Hey, who's drug free these days?)

    I would vote for The Belmont Club but it really is out of category here. Wretchard is one of our best essayists and that's where he should have been. Putting him here is inexplicable.

    Best Group? : No contest. Winds of Change for reach and depth. Not to mention the spiritual edge on the weekends.

    New Kid on the Block: INDC Journal For advanced moonbat research if for nothing else.

    Big Yucks: protein wisdom. Because Jeff promised me three wishes.


    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 11, 2004 8:30 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Final and Ultimate Electoral Map

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 10, 2004 5:19 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Movies that do the decent thing

    Last Saturday at the local cinema in Laguna Beach, we went to see the opening of "The Incredibles." Other than state the obvious that it was, indeed, incredible, I won't bother to add to the 386,457 reviews of this film.

    I did note one thing that struck me. The film is on many levels state-of-the-art, and the sound track does no less. The sound track is so dense and so fully-packed that it frankly overwhelmed the equipment of this little local theater. The staff either didn't know how to balance the speakers or the speakers themselves couldn't cope with the sound track. Either way, a lot of the track was incomprehensible during the last 40 minutes of the film.

    But this theater is a decent, local business. It lost no time in having a staff member stand out in front at the end of the film, and offer free passes or money back to anyone who felt they hadn't been satisfied by the film's outcome. There were a lot of takers. It was the decent thing to do.

    Which made me think: If you make a film that promises a satisfying outcome to millions and millions of people, and if you make millions upon millions of dollars with this promise, and if that film, in the end, doesn't deliver a satisfying outcome to the millions who bought tickets, shouldn't you offer to give them their money back?

    Wouldn't that be the least, the very least, decent thing to do?

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 10, 2004 12:27 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Red Hot Halo: Scoring a Copy of "2"


    It would be one thing to "Vote or Die," quite another to choose between "Vote or play Halo 2."

    He's 10 years old and living with him is, at times, like living with a surfing Tom Sawyer who studies Karate. He's getting very good at Karate very fast. I think if this goes on I'm going to have to either arm myself, or at least fortify the office, since he's fond of demonstrating what he's learned for his mother and the handiest demonstration object is me.

    But, like most 10 year olds in this world, his real love isn't surfing, or chess, or even leaping off the stairs so we can re-enact Kato Vs. Detective Clouseau. No, he worships, adores and lives for video games.

    And right now, as if anyone in the cosmos didn't know it, the video game of the century is Halo 2.

    To describe his emotions as the long ballyhooed release of Halo 2 approached as anything less than pure pre-adolescent lust would be understate it by a factor of 10. He'd put in a reservation for the game 10 months ago -- a bit of forward planning seldom seen in Pentagon war planners; and an eternity in the life of a 10 year old. He'd sold off old and used up video games at the GameSpot and hoarded the store credits. He'd begun stashing money away a few months ago with the single-mindedness of a squirrel preparing for winter at the North Pole. As the days ticked down to a precious few, his eyes grew larger. It was like waiting for Christmas Eve in November.

    Then, late Monday night, THE CALL came. "This is GameSpot. We will begin selling Halo 2 at midnight tonight. Your reserved copy is here and it will be held for 48 hours and then sold. Please come in and collect it. Click."

    Joy. Buckets of bouncing joy. Joy similar to watching Road Runner careen about the landscape beeping. But then... despair.

    The awful realization hit that Tuesday was a "school day," and you are not sprung from school to collect a video game no matter how universe shattering it may be. This would mean, at best, you would have to wait all through school ("Oh, eternity!"), then attend your Karate class after school ("Oh, eternity cubed!"), then come home, do homework, have dinner, and then beg to be driven to the GameSpot and then be driven back. ("Not even God has this much time!") Why it could be almost 9 PM before you even got home with Halo 2 and then bedtime would be 9:30 and.... the agony could not be more protracted. What to do? What to do?

    Solution: Draft the Stay-at-Home Stepfather. Ask, plead, whine, wheedle, bribe with 50% of remaining Halloween candy stash, and beg for him to pick it up during the day. Chance of success -- 75%.

    Superior solution: Get mom to ask the Stay-at-Home Stepfather. Chance of success 125% and rising.

    And so it was that I found myself traveling out into the midday mall scene in southern California to pick up his "Precious."


    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 10, 2004 11:50 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Pushing the Mach 10 Envelope


    With 'Scramjet,' NASA Shoots for Mach 10

    They call it a "scramjet," an engine so blindingly fast that it could carry an airplane from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., in about 20 minutes -- or even quicker. So fast it could put satellites in space. So fast it could drop a cruise missile on an enemy target, almost like shooting a rifle.

    Next week, NASA plans to break the aircraft speed record for the second time in 7 1/2 months by flying its rocket-assisted X-43A scramjet craft 110,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean at speeds close to Mach 10 -- about 7,200 mph, or 10 times the speed of sound....

    About 50 miles off the California coast, the B-52 will drop the craft at an altitude of 40,000 feet. The booster rocket will ignite and bring the X-43A's speed close to Mach 10 at an altitude of 110,000 feet. At that point, controllers will fire two small pistons to jettison the rocket. Then they will open the cowl covering the X-43A's air intake and light the engine.

    The Scramjet process explained @ How the Scramjet Works

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 10, 2004 8:24 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    My Recovery Continues

    Many thanks for the letters and expressions of concern about my well-being after last month's unfortunate incident: American Digest: Blogger's Head Explodes

    To update you all, my recovery is almost complete even though the recent elections and the sad state of the Democratic Party has complicated matters considerably.

    In physical terms I have been rebuilt from the ground up and am in better shape than I have been in months. Here's a recent photo and I think you will all agree it is an improvement:


    On the internal front, things are not as well advanced. It seems that in replacing my motherboard and controlling OS, the boffins at JPL were running a little short of parts and hence had to make do with stripping the essentials from a Roomba:

    This has resulted in a painful bumping into ideological corners during the last week since the election. Symptoms also include an increased build up in pressure within my new head. The chances of a new explosion are therefore increased.

    Hence, under orders from my doctors and the head of the Replicant Bureau at JPL, I have been placed on a one-week news and politics fast. As you can see below, I have already had the "small slip."

    So, in order to preserve my new head and return to full functionality, I will be staying away from the News and from Politics for at least a week. Longer if necessary.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 9, 2004 10:44 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    "Things" You Didn't Know Were "Evil" About America

    One of my favorite "interesting links" pages is the elegant things magazine , an offshoot of an annual magazine out of Britain. I recommend it highly. Still, like everything else in the world, it too is infected by a political virus that explodes even things' collective head from time to time. Case in point, this amazing bit of drive-by nonsense:

    .... things grow better with Coke: Indian farmers discover the pest-controlling qualities of the world's favourite thirst-quencher. Ironic, given Coke's alleged habit of extracting too much ground-water in the country.

    Up until that moment I'd never fully realized that the groundwater crisis in India was due to Coca Cola. I always thought it had something to do with being unable to get basic environmental controls in place and the thermonuclear population bomb. Silly me. It was Coca-Cola all the time.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 9, 2004 9:54 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    News Untouched By Human Hands

    At any rate, that's what 10x10 / 100 Words and Pictures that Define the Time / by Jonathan J. Harris claims to be providing.

    Every hour, 10x10 scans the RSS feeds of several leading international news sources, and performs an elaborate process of weighted linguistic analysis on the text contained in their top news stories. After this process, conclusions are automatically drawn about the hour's most important words. The top 100 words are chosen, along with 100 corresponding images, culled from the source news stories. At the end of each day, month, and year, 10x10 looks back through its archives to conclude the top 100 words for the given time period. In this way, a constantly evolving record of our world is formed, based on prominent world events, without any human input.
    The feeds currently being scanned are Reuters, BBC World, and New York Times International, so I think we can assumed there's human input in there somewhere.

    Still, this is an amazing tool to look at and play with. Well executed and elegant. [Requires Flash]

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 9, 2004 9:34 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Designer Soda Craze Hits New Low


    File under "Holiday gifts for people I hate" : The Jones Soda Co. Holiday Pack

    Jones Soda Co. (the "Company" or "Jones Soda" or "Jones"), announces today its limited edition holiday pack of five new seasonal flavors which includes: Green Bean Casserole Soda, Mashed Potato & Butter Soda, Fruitcake Soda, Cranberry Soda and Turkey & Gravy Soda.

    "Our holiday pack takes the work, worries and cost out of preparing a turkey dinner, so our consumers can spend more time with their loved ones. We even included utensils," says Peter van Stolk, President & C.E.O. "We realized consumers are concerned about the 2,000 calories that each full holiday meal contains. That’s why we made our sodas zero calories and zero carbs. Now, you can enjoy all the mashed potatoes and butter without worrying about the carbs."

    Good News: The online ordering store is closed for repairs.
    Bad News: It opens November 11.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 9, 2004 9:26 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Phases of the Eclipse

    When most American eyes were focused on the nation, a few took notes on the heavens. One note was this time-lapse photograph of the recent Lunar Eclipse by Forrest Egan @ Digital Astro! [Larger images at the site.]

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 9, 2004 9:13 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    2004 Weblog Awards: And the Nominee is..... ME!

    Nine days into the votingI just noticed this morning that American Digest is a nominee in Wizbang's 2004 Weblog Awards in the Best Essayist category.

    I am more than flattered to be on any list that includes my personal favorites, James Lileks, Victor Davis Hanson, and Roger Simon among others.

    I confess that I voted for myself because, as the saying goes, "If I am not for myself, who is?," but I note that everyone in the category is worth of a vote so I suggest, if you've got the time, to head to the link above and vote.

    Then head off into the rest of the exhaustive awards categories. An amazing effort by Kevin at Wizbang -- even though I still do not get the reason behind giving everyone a fresh vote every day across 12 days. It has been explained to me very s l o w l y, but it still doesn't penetrate my noggin.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 9, 2004 7:44 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Sometimes You're the Windshield: Web Entertainment for a Slow Day

    Okay, the first thing you do is get yourself an mp3 of Dire Straits - The Bug cranked up on your system.

    Then, get in the groove, and click on over to Pillage Idiot: A Rockefeller Republican. Scroll down to the animated gif at the bottom and, well, rock on.

    Works for both Republicans and Democrats - but for different reasons.

    (Okay, okay -- simple minded, but it has been a long day and I'm out of here....)

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2004 4:01 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Shaken & Stirred: Recipe for Ye Olde Democratic Hot Party

    Via Gothamist, the always annoying Chi Chi Valenti, "Nightlife Empress" describes how to make "a party HOT." Sounds distressingly familiar, doesn't it?

    As an expert, can you tell us what makes a party HOT?

    Since someone's always hooking up, getting wasted or starting a fight these days, my standard for a great party is somewhat higher. Most importantly, there must be a MIX - Vampires and diamond dealers, legends and New Kids, fetishists and objects of worship, romantics and cynics, geeks and pop stars, boys, girls and everything in between. Historically, New York's best parties (and club nights) have combined all ages, gender prefs, income levels and style schools. A roomful of one kind of person is boring and predictable - it is the mark of the provinces.

    We admit that a few hours in a few rooms with this "selection" of types might be of passing interest on those weekends when nothing new is showing at the multiplex, the NASCAR race has the caution flag out, my Bible's out for repairs, and I'm evicted from my trailer out here in the provinces.

    But the idea of the same group running the country for four years is not our current idea of fun.

    You know, they talk a good game but I got me a dollar to yer doughnut that Chi-Chi is going to be floor hostess at the 2008 DNC.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2004 3:37 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Ken Layne Unleashes His Inner Marjoe Gortner

    Sigh. You'd hope that the weekend would have given people a chance to just ! chill out ! You would hope that but You'd be wrong! We've seen one person shoot himself at Ground Zero, which (although he was inconsiderate enough not to leave a note) is taken as a "protest" (noted); we've seen the New York Times on one page declare that it is an US that is apart from USA and run a feature calling for "An act of God" to do away with George Bush in the same manner that an Act of God did away with Abraham Lincoln.

    With the Democrats' psychotic break approaching the size of the Grand Canyon, its going to be a long four years unless some of George Soros' left over pocket change can be put to work flying in grief counselors from... well, from wherever the grief counselors are stored.

    I well understand the dangers of Blogger Head Explosions, having suffered several attacks myself in the last month. (Feeling better now, thank you.) Still the public splattering and spew of KEN LAYNE should give pause to us all. It seems that someone showed him that highly bigoted Jesus Land map that's been making the rounds and it was... well it was just to much for Ken:

    I will fight long and hard to prevent this country from becoming a Complete Theocracy -- if you can call the intellectually vapid mishmash of evangelical Christianity a true Theology. Or, maybe you people just take Jesusland. You won't need the economic power of the coasts, because you don't care if you're employed. Your entire economic output will be shoddy Jesus booklets, Christian rock and bad food.
    Whew! (And that's only a random sampling of the stuff on the walls over at Ken's.)


    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2004 12:32 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Purple Map

    Clive Thompson at collision detection does everyone a great service with his thoughts and illustrations on The interface election , a short but sweet summation of the need to upgrade the graphics everywhere.

    Call me nuts, but I think one of the biggest challenges American media and punditry has is an interface problem: They are stuck on one dramatic, manichean way of viewing the data. Imagine if TV news and newspapers regularly showed the second map every time they talked about the election. How can you look at that map and talk about some enormous, festering divide in the country? You can't. As any scientist or graphic artist or video-game player knows, the tools you have for visualizing your situation enormously determine how you think about it.
    He's correct. Enough of the Blue/Red symbol, and, while we're at it we really, really need to toss out that JesusLand / United States of Canada atrocity that's being passed around.

    I'm going for the purple map. It always was one of my favorite colors.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2004 10:51 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Fallujah Links and Commentary

    Chester @ The Adventures of Chester is doing a first-rate job of blending breaking news and commentary on the Battle of Fallujah.

    Chester's "About" states "Former Marine officer who participated in the Iraqi campaign. BA in Int'l Relations from Duke. Now work in finance in Texas."

    And as always, the always excellent Belmont Club. \

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2004 10:12 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    New York Times to America: Drop Dead

    It would seem the Gray Lady is taking her ball and going home.

    In the lead editorial today, More Troops for Iraq , the paper's top "minds" that did their level worst to actually help the American people re-elect George Bush has their mind set on calling for "more boots on the ground in Iraq." Typical and not surprising. What is also not surprising, but far too typical is the lead sentence in the second paragraph:

    But that is not where Mr. Bush, and the voters who returned him to office, are headed today.
    It would seem the Times is still mired deep in the quagmire of the Two Americas meme and cannot bear, simply cannot bear, to align itself with the rest of America. It has elected to make it very, very clear that there is an US (New York Times editors and the loyal head-bobbing agreeable readers of said rag) and a Them (George W. Bush and all those homophobic, trailer trash, Bible thumping rednecks out thar in the Okie lands.)

    Well, more power to them in their quest to curtail and eviscerate their circulation. So long and thanks for all the fish wrap.

    During a conversation with an employee of the New York Times a year or so ago, I asked what the Times' game plan was. She said, "We want to be one of the two papers that are truly national papers. That's the whole goal driving this company."

    "So how," I asked, "are you going to overcome USA Today?"

    "USA Today's the 'other' paper," she said. "It goes to those who don't have a lot of time for newspapers to begin with. We're going to be the national newspaper of teachers and college professors stuck out in the boondocks. And, thank God, there are millions of those."

    A nice encapsulation of the New York Time's plan, to be sure. One that, looking at the attitude of the paper and its columnists, is hard not to miss.

    Today's editorial goes on to offer the very best of the Times' editors "wisdom" on how to run the war. My only question is why the Times' thinks that "Mr. Bush, and the voters who returned him to office" would spend one nanosecond listening to them?

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2004 8:14 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Voices from the Front

    Bookmark this link from Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities It holds a number of links from blogs being run by various members of the Armed Forces, many on the ground in Iraq. As Jeff notes:

    One of the charges thrown around by the Left is that Americans are being 'shielded' from the reality of the war in Iraq. In fact, hundreds of American soldiers are blogging real-life, real-time accounts of their tours. Anyone who claims Americans can't get access to what's really going on either isn't trying very hard, or doesn't like what real American soldiers have to say. Here's just a small sample.
    It is more than just a "small" sample, it's a portal.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 7, 2004 6:56 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    In the Generalisimo Francisco Franco Wing of a French Military Hospital


    "He is not in a coma." That from an aide to Yasser Arafat who says the Palestinian was "sleeping" in stable condition in intensive care after another round of medical tests on Saturday. -- Spokesman says Arafat "sleeping," not in coma

    A private suite in a French Military Hospital's Intensive Care Ward. Mr. Hamas, in high dudgeon, is addressing the French Doctor in charge.    

    Mr. Hamas: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this Arafat what I visited in this very French hospital...

         M. Le Docteur: Oh yes, the, uh, the Arafat... What's,uh... What's wrong with him?

         Mr. Hamas: I'll tell you what's wrong with him, my lad. 'E's dead, and I can't get anyone to sign this terrorist payroll, that's what's wrong with him!

         M. Le Docteur: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.

         Mr. Hamas: Look, Froggy, I know a dead Arafat when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

         M. Le Docteur: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable Arafat, the Arafat, idn'it, ay? Beautiful headgear, manly face stubble! A right shiny fellow once you get past the facial lesions.

         Mr. Hamas: The face stubble don't enter into it. He's stone dead.

         M. Le Docteur: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!

         Mr. Hamas: All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up! (shouting at the bed) 'Ello, Mister Arafat! I've got a lovely fresh bribe from Jacques Chirac


    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 7, 2004 1:18 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Allah's "Courageous" Soldiers

    I suppose it is too much to ask MSM to stop calling these animals "insurgents." It is, however, clarifying to know that as it is with the killers of children in Russia, so it is with their "brothers" in Iraq.


    CAMP RAMADI, Iraq --An Army unit assigned to I Marine Expeditionary Force, discovered and defused an explosive-laden youth center in Ramadi Nov. 4, which was rigged by insurgents to detonate and potentially kill dozens of Iraqi children. They also discovered more than two tons of explosives hidden in a mosque.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 6, 2004 1:57 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    If Politics Imitated "The Godfather"


    KARL Kerry's dead. So is Little Johnny Edwards -- Michael Moore -- Soros --Daschle -- Teresa. Today I settle all Family business, so don't tell me you're innocent, Dan. Admit what you did.
    (then, to CHENEY)
    Get him a drink.
    (then, to DAN, as KARL shifts in his chair)
    Come on. Don't be afraid, Dan -- Come on, you think I'd make my President a man without a 60 Minutes connection? I'm even going to be taking a seat on Viacom's board after the Inauguration , Dan--
    (then, after CHENEY hands DAN a glass of wine)
    Go ahead, drink it -- drink
    (then, after DAN drinks)
    No -- Dan -- you're out of the Media business, that's your punishment. You're finished. I'm putting you in a limo to the Columbia School of Journalism.
    (then, to CONDOLEZZA RICE, as he reaches out his hand)
    (then, after CONDI hands KARL a limo voucher, which he hands to DAN)
    I want you to stay at the Columbia School of Journalism, but no messing with young students, boy or girl. Understand?
    (then, quietly, after DAN nods and hmmms)
    Only don't tell me you're innocent. Because it insults my intelligence -- and makes me very angry...
    Now who gave you the documents? Daschle or Teresa?

    DAN (after hesitating) It was Teresa.

    MICHAEL Good.
    (then, after standing)
    There's a limo waiting for you outside to take you to the Columbia School of Journalism. I'll call your wife, to tell her what classroom you've been assigned.

    DAN (as he rises, starts to protest) Karl, please...

    KARL Come on -- get outta my sight.

    (DAN turns. RICE helps him put on his coat)

    CUT TO: West portico of the White House. SECRET SERVICE AGENT is putting Dan's luggage into the rear of the limo. DAN gets into the front seat.

    CUT TO: Interior of car. OLIVER NORTH is seen behind DAN, in the back seat.

    NORTH Hello, Dan, remember your reports on the Iran-Contra scandal and and what you did to my run for office ...

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 5, 2004 4:51 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Why Faith is Not a Fantasy

    Dr. Robert Finnerty in Faith and Reality begins where the rather dubious NY Times Magazine article "Without a Doubt" leaves off, or, more accurately put, cannot go:

    Listening to the secular fundamentalists at the NY Times expound on the mind and heart of a man of the Christian faith is akin to a man blind from birth describing a rose: you are far more likely to hear about the thorns than the subtle coloration and beauty of its petals.
    What follows is a quiet, authoritative and persuasive mediation on the foundations of Christianity in the modern world.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 5, 2004 3:35 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    "All the Dogs of Europe Bark"

    E. J. Dionne at the Washington Post is beginning to emit foam with . . . He Didn't Get (Yes, that is the complete sputtering headline.) He begins by noting "We" (Oh, Royal We!) "are aghast at the success of a campaign based on vicious personal attacks, the exploitation of strong religious feelings and an effort to create the appearance of strong leadership that would do Hollywood proud."

    Well, given to the extent to which Hollywood pulled out all the stops for Dionne's boy and piled up many millions for themselves in the process, we will resist the appropriate response of " Neener.... Neener.... Neener," and issue some calm and reasoned advice to Dionne and his ilk instead.

    What you must all do is calmly and reflectively look at the glass America has set before you and ask yourselves, quietly, "Is our glass half full or it is pulverized into leetle flecks of silcon dust and shards so small that not even God, if we believed in Him, could put it back together."

    We understand that prayer is not an option so simply check your email for a reply frequently over the next twenty odd years.

    Thank you for listening.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 5, 2004 3:08 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Not A Good Year to Be On The Cover of The Rolling Stone


    "Rolling Stone, wanna see my picture on the cover
    Wanna buy five copies for my mother (Yeah!)
    Wanna see my smilin' face, on the cover of The Rolling Stone...."

    I guess they forgot the words to the magazine's namesake and theme song:

    You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
    Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
    Ain't it hard when you discover that
    He really wasn't where it's at
    After he took from you everything he could steal.

    Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
    They're drinkin', thinkin' that they got it made
    Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things
    But you'd better lift your diamond ring, you'd better pawn it babe.

    How does it feel
    How does it feel
    To be on your own
    With no direction home
    Like a complete unknown
    Like a rolling stone?

    -- BOB DYLAN

    Oh, by the way:

    Next time, the Democrats might want to reconsider their "must have" media list.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 5, 2004 2:48 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    This Just In


    AVAILABLE NOW AS A SNAZZY TEE SHIRT: Immortalize and savor this moment forever in your always smart, snazzy, and ever-so comfy American Digest    USA TO DEMS: DROP DEAD tee. Order at The American Digest Mall of CyberAmerica!     for only $14.99. Considering how many Dems you can tick off in one cross town block in Manhattan, that's dirt cheap.

    [ American Digest is not responsible for any foaming fits, raving shouts at the sky, immolation, or mass self-Bobbitization caused by viewing this tee shirt.]

    And, as long as we're going retail today, I should point out this snazzy bumper strip that is sure to irritate anti-Semites and anti-Zionists everywhere:

    Standard 10 x 3 Bumper Strip. Click to enlarge

    Also available at     The American Digest Mall of CyberAmerica!    just in time for the Holidays.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 5, 2004 10:56 AM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink

    NOTE: This item was originally written and posted on October 17 of this year, but with the current theme of "the voters are dumb" that's babbling it's way about the blogsphere and throughout the MSM, I thought it would be interesting to bring it back. It seems like only yesterday that the Party Line was that the President was stupid and the people wise. Now it is instantly the reverse. As the old song goes, "What a difference a day makes..."

    It was a smooth evening in Laguna Beach last Spring when I ran into her while going for some Indian take-out. She's a nice woman. Very intelligent. Very political. Very liberal. A good person. I like her.

    "He's so stupid. So deeply stupid," she said while waiting for her to-go orders of chicken enchiladas prepared in the Mexican place down by the beach known for "authentic" Mexican food made fresh by "authentic" illegal aliens. "Don't you want a President who is smart? We have to have a President who is intelligent."

    "Seems to me he was smart enough to get the job in the first place. You don't get the job if you're retarded. Besides, I don't remember a clause in the Constitution stating you've got to pass an IQ test to be President. And anyway, don't liberals always say there's no such thing as a valid IQ test?"

    "Don't change the subject. Can't you see what's happening? Can't you see the censorship that's going on?"


    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 5, 2004 10:18 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    The People, Yes


    by Carl Sandburg

    Between the finite limitations of the five senses
    and the endless yearnings of man for the beyond
    the people hold to the humdrum bidding of work and food
    while reaching out when it comes their way
    for lights beyond the prison of the five senses,
    for keepsakes lasting beyond any hunger or death.
        This reaching is alive.
    The panderers and liars have violated and smutted it.
        Yet this reaching is alive yet
        for lights and keepsakes.

        The people know the salt of the sea
        and the strength of the winds
        lashing the corners of the earth.
        The people take the earth
        as a tomb of rest and a cradle of hope.
        Who else speaks for the Family of Man?
        They are in tune and step
        with constellations of universal law.
        The people is a polychrome,
        a spectrum and a prism
        held in a moving monolith,
        a console organ of changing themes,
        a clavilux of color poems
        wherein the sea offers fog
        and the fog moves off in rain
        and the labrador sunset shortens
        to a nocturne of clear stars
        serene over the shot spray
        of northern lights.

        The steel mill sky is alive.
        The fire breaks white and zigzag
        shot on a gun-metal gloaming.
        Man is a long time coming.
        Man will yet win.
        Brother may yet line up with brother:

    This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.
        There are men who can't be bought.
        The fireborn are at home in fire.
        The stars make no noise,
        You can't hinder the wind from blowing.
        Time is a great teacher.
        Who can live without hope?

    In the darkness with a great bundle of grief
        the people march.
    In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people march:
        "Where to? what next?"

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2004 8:20 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    LILEKS for #1 @ AMAZON!


    Even though James Lileks' Senate career died aborning,there's nothing, absolutely nothing, that can stop his run for #1 at Amazon if even half the Blogsphere that thought a political life for him was a good idea weighs in.

    Lileks' readers and supporters were heartened to note today that the master of regrettable food has now given the world regrettable homes @ Books: Interior Desecrations : Hideous Homes from the Horrible '70s

    "Sweet smoking Jesus, what was the matter with these people?" pretty much sums up the book and the man behind it.

    This deathless tome just made my "must give it to everyone that ever lived it" slot on our Christmas list. This means I got one for myself, my mother and 7 other people.

    Since the royalties from this instant classic will go straight into the Jasperwood refurbishing and cigar fund, you can give the books with compassion and a clear mind.

    Already at #79 on Amazon, I would think that a determined Blogsphere could easily knock Jon Stewart's America out of the top slot. After all, who really speaks for America these days, Jon Stewart or LILEKS, (James)?

    Advantage: Lileks.

    Link to this or post your own item, but I think we've really got a shot at winning this election too! If, to quote Dan Rather "the blogging machine which the White House and the Bush-Cheney campaign has used for any number of purposes over their four years" can put a President in office, Amazon should be almost as easy.

    "I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed...."

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2004 4:14 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    As I was saying last July,
    There are millions and millions of citizens who are registered as Democrats and who talk the Democrat talk but do not always walk the Democrat walk when push comes to shove. You might be in a union-- Trade, Government, Teachers, etc. -- that could harm you if you announced for Bush. You might be in a family with deep Democratic roots. You might be a member of a minority in which you would be ostracised if you confessed you would vote for Bush. You might be of a sexual persuasion where you're chances of dates would be severely curtailed if you said you were voting for Bush. You might be working in an office or in a career where you chances for advancement might be crippled if you voted for Bush. You might be at a school where even your grades would be impacted if you said you were voting for Bush.

    In short there are hundreds of situations in which millions of people find themselves where a declared preference for Bush would not be a wise thing to announce. Much better to simply nod vaguely and stay out of the way of any negative consequences. The idea that everybody is going to vote the way they say they will is very oversold, particularly by the media or the pollsters who have a vested interest in declaring the race "tight." The "stealth vote" is especially relevant in an election where the single most pressing question that will come into a voter's mind after the curtains close behind him or her and they stand ready to vote is: "What's it going to be? Issue X, Y, Z, or my life?"

    Sensible people, no matter what they may or may not say, choose life. And sensible people know that that is what this election is about.

    -- American Digest: The Inevitable Bush Blowout, July 29, 2004

    Now I have to say that, in terms of effect, it wasn't exactly what I meant by "blowout" at the time. But still, with the largest number of people voting ever, and the largest number of those by far voting for Bush, and the pick-up of seats in the House, the Senate, and in the states across the country .... well, I'll take it as it stands.

    A blowout? Well that would depend on how close you are standing to the center of the blast.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2004 2:39 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Adventures in Moonbatia Deserta

    ADVENTURES IN MOONBATIA DESERTA: INDC continues its series of anthropological expeditions into the Heart of Darkest Moonbatia with the harrowing: Dances with Moonbats - Moonbat Xtreme

    I suddenly snapped to, jolted to reality by smelling salts and the bizarrely intense stare of my loyal Algerian batman. Ahmed had fired several warning shots and pulled my unconscious form from the midst of the swarm, just as a pack of nihilistas had started to sniff my limp body and gnaw on my legs. Fortunately and contrary to popular mythology, one does not become a moonbat if bitten by them.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2004 1:53 PM | QuickLink: Permalink

    Above: Led by the "Quest for Burgers" Champion Michele Moore in Search of Free Health Care and a Perpetual Government Grant, the Wretched Refuse of America's Left Trudges North.
    Below: Canadian Army Masses to Enforce Canada's ""No Flee Zone" Policy with the Latest in Advanced Canadian Weaponry

    DATELINE: OTTOWA, November 3, 2004

    Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin (pronounced Pawl Mar-teen) today ordered all 215 members of Canada's armed forces south to stem the tide of millions of disgruntled members of MoveOn, Democratic Underground, IndyMedia, and Daily Kos that have begin to surge towards the socialist haven to the north in search of asylum.

    "We feel their pain," said Martin speaking to 2 reporters at a hastily called press-conference in the Sauron province headquarters, "but we simply can't let in any more 'sunshine' Americans. We did that during the Vietnam years and our mental health care system is still groaning under the load. To let in more of Les fou Americans at this point would pretty much overload the sidewalk spaces already staked out by Canada's homeless.

    "Alas, mon amis, we must say to you, as that great French general said at the crisis of the First World War Ils ne passeront pas.

    "Please take your laptops and your bongs and go back and make what life you can in the ruins of your once celestial city."

    * * *
    It's up, up and away in Louisberg Square this afternoon.

    In other news, AMERICAN DIGEST reporters embedded in the remnants of the John Kerry campaign in Boston observed an attache case contain the Kerry Plans for Peace in Iraq and a bigger and better United Nations of America being smuggled aboard a helicopter as Teresa Heinz and her consort prepared to flee to an undisclosed location on the French Riviera.


    Note: As God is my witness, the above item was written, posted and filed before I knew anything at all about this: - No Canada safe haven for Democrats - Nov 3, 2004

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2004 1:08 PM | Comments (64)  | QuickLink: Permalink

    Television news' odd couple, Dan Rather and Ed Bradley are still, it seems having trouble coming to grips with the technology that is taking them apart molecule by molecule. Witness this telling exchange courtesy of Roger L. Simon's "Blogging Machine" here

    DAN RATHER: One would expect that the blogging machine which the White House and the Bush-Cheney campaign has used for any number of purposes over their four years will start now, if it hasn't started already, to say, listen, Kerry-Edwards, for the good of the country, need to concede.

    ED BRADLEY: I'm sure it's started already. If we could tune into the Internet we'd see that people are already saying that now. That's certainly the drum the White House is beating.
    [Emphasis added]

    Now I don't want to go off on a rant here....

    Well, okay. Short form.

    It seems to me that with all the CBS producers, interns, and assistants backing up these two overpaid and over-hyped professional blatherers, someone, somewhere could give them a reach-around and explain that the "Internet Channel" is Channel #15,648 on the dial and that "Your arms too short to box with Internet." [Bradley will get the reference. Not sure about Rather.]

    More sophisticated users might point them towards IRC, but since it is obvious neither has mastered touch-typing (Key Internet Skill # 1, 2, 3, 4....) I'm not looking for them to show up there any time soon.

    The question is whether or not these media fossils' company Viacom will buy them a clue or simply buy out their contracts.

    Better still, both Radley and Blather need to heed those few simply words spoken by their arch-nemisis Dick Cheney at the Republican Convention of 2000: "But, my friends, that last hour is coming. That last day is near. The wheel has turned, and . . . it is time for them to go."

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 3, 2004 11:59 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink


    The crew gathered about Paula Zahn is, with James Carville taking point, announcing that George W. Bush has won the Presidency.

    Carville: Look, there's no point in spin at this hour. I've talked to the Kerry people on the ground in Ohio and they'd like to give me good news, but they've got no good news to give.

    2:30 AM Eastern Time, November 3: Kerry, lacking manliness in defeat, sends his boy out to say that while "Hope" is no longer on the way, lawyers are. Sigh. The Democratic Race ends as it began, classless and leaderless.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 2, 2004 9:58 PM | Comments (23)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Fifty Reasons Why

    [Note: October,29 In case you haven't figured out my vote, here it is and here's why. Returned to the top of the page for the duration. ]

    Hugh Hewitt asks "Why vote for Bush and What's Wrong With Kerry?"

    I'll leave it to others to tackle the second half of that question as they do so ably at the many links off Hugh's site.

    The polls are open in California and after I finish this item, I'm going down to the Albertson's Supermarket across from the beach here in Laguna Beach and cast my ballot. It will be the first time I've ever voted for a Republican ticket in a National Election.

    Before this, I voted Democrat right down the line. But I was asleep and I was foolish. Now, at least I can say I'm awake.

    It's not that I'm overjoyed with George Bush (although at least one of my friends cannot be convinced otherwise), nor that I think the Republican Party is overwhelmingly admirable. None of that. It's never easy to vote when the only viable choices are two, but that's the deal right now. And my job today as a citizen is to choose. So I will choose George W. Bush.

    There are many reasons why, but here's 50.

    reasonswhy01.jpg reasonswhy02.jpg
    That our soldiers like this keep flying and they come home soon with honor.

    reasonswhy03.jpg reasonswhy04.jpg
    That this hero will not have died in vain, and that our victory means a birth of freedom for Iraq.

    reasonswhy05.jpg reasonswhy06.jpg
    That men like this are hunted to the ends of the Earth and destroyed.

    The Rest of the Reasons


    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 2, 2004 2:35 PM | Comments (558)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    WHY WE ARE IN IRAQ : Military Bases Are A Requirement, Democracy is Merely an Elective.

    Resolved: To safeguard the personal and economic wellbeing of the civilized world in the 21st century, it is essential for the United States to control Iraq for strategic and tactical military purposes alone.

    Let's take a step back from our always entertaining electoral circus to cast a cold eye on what needs to be done in Iraq beyond November and far beyond 2005. Don't watch the hand waving the magic wand around, watch the hand held behind the back. It holds what is going to be pulled out of the hat.

    Instead of spending untold hours listening to this or that speech from the two sides of the American coin, it's more instructive to take down an atlas, turn to a spread displaying the middle-east and meditate on what needs to be done to control that section of the world.

    And while you're at it here's a couple of things you can forget about:

    • 1) Democracy in Iraq at all costs.
    • Forget that "We" are in Iraq to bring the blessings of "democracy" to the people. It would be a nice gift to instill "democracy" in an Islamic state of the middle-east. We will spend a lot of money trying to achieve this. We will be sincere in our desire for it to be born. It will make our task easier in the short and long term. But "democracy" is not strictly necessary for the current strategic interests of the United States in the region.
    • 2) Troops home "sooner" or "later."
    • Forget the idea that our troops are coming home any time soon. We are going to be in Iraq for the long haul. The only question is "how many troops will be stationed there?"

    That answer turns on the general approach to fighting the war. That current strategy and tactics employed in Iraq are being driven by political needs in the United States is an obvious statement. Our current restrained approach will not, nor is it designed to, continue long past November 2 of this year. If you would


    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 2, 2004 6:37 AM | Comments (30)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Election of 1864

    From the Belmont Club

    The election of 1864 bears an uncanny resemblance to 2004's on several points, a comparison that has not escaped others. After three years of war, victory in 1864 over the Confederacy seemed farther than ever. The Democrats, therefore, fielded ex-general McClellan as a candidate on a something of a peace platform, for many in the party intended to negotiate either a return to the Union of the seceding states (allowing them to keep slavery) or recognize the Confederacy. Lincoln himself thought it unlikely that he would win. In fact, he had made matters worse by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, which made it abundantly clear that while he remained President, the South would be fighting not only for State's Rights but to preserve its entire social fabric. It was therefore true that Lincoln, by his obduracy, had made peace impossible in a war that had cost nearly half a million lives on a population base of 30 million. And all the Democrats were saying, was that after a failed war of three years, that it was best to give peace a chance.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2004 9:57 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Attention, Losers! Housing Swap Opportunities in Holland

    All Democrats who are just fed up! already, take note of Dutch Blogger Zacht Ei's item : Three in ten Dutch want to flee the country

    According to a national survey, 28 percent of all Dutch would leave the country if they had the opportunity. Admittedly, my first emotional response to the Van Gogh murder was: "That's it. I'm moving to the USA."
    Seems like the perfect chance to swap lives, kids. Upsides: No Bush and plenty of weed for your bongs! Downsides: Three bullets in the chest and a knife stuck in your torso if you dare to whisper a bad thing about Islam. So, hey, what's the worry? Start packing. You'll fit right in.

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2004 2:13 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    And the Number One Reason to Vote for Bush is ....

    I can't believe I missed this one: "Because he doesn't have a law degree."

    From Mitch, who has 99 more @ Shot In The Dark: 100 Reasons I'm Voting For Bush, Not Kerry

    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2004 10:31 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Trying to Divide the House Against Itself


    A more detailed translation of the threats made against America by OBL comes from MEMRI: Latest News

    The tape of Osama bin Laden that was aired on Al-Jazeera(1) on Friday, October 29th included a specific threat to "each U.S. state," designed to influence the outcome of the upcoming election against George W. Bush. The U.S. media in general mistranslated the words "ay wilaya" (which means "each U.S. state")(2) to mean a "country" or "nation" other than the U.S., while in fact the threat was directed specifically at each individual U.S. state. This suggests some knowledge by bin Laden of the U.S. electoral college system. In a section of his speech in which he harshly criticized George W. Bush, bin Laden stated: "Any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security."


    Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2004 12:38 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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