Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
The Best Book of 2004 is from 1938

by PAT CUMMINGS American Digest Book Editor

Choosing a best book from 2004 is especially difficult for me. First, I rarely read books in the year they are released, because my budget tells me 10 paperbacks are a better deal for a voracious reader than two or three first-release hardbacks. Second, I read so many books, by the time December rolls around, I may not have the same emotional tie to the very good book I read in June that I have to the mediocre novel I'm reading right now.

But looking back through my journal and blog, there is one book that screams, in the voice of Robert A. Heinlein, pick me!—because in reading this book and writing the review, I was prompted to reread three other excellent (though older) books.

For Us, the Living, Robert Heinlein's first novel, has its own review. To review it properly, I reread Stranger In a Strange Land and Farnham's Freehold by Heinlein. And due to the similarity of title and venue, I was led to reread Ayn Rand's first novel, We the Living.

For these reasons, Heinlein's For Us, the Living is my choice for my best read of 2004.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 31, 2004 8:52 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Do You Come Here Often?

Heat Shield Impact Site
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity gained this view of its own heat shield during the rover's 325th martian day (Dec. 22, 2004). The main structure from the successfully used shield is to the far left. Additional fragments of the heat shield lie in the upper center of the image. The heat shield's impact mark is visible just above and to the right of the foreground shadow of Opportunity's camera mast. This view is a mosaic of three images taken with the rover's navigation camera.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 31, 2004 3:21 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
American Digest, 2004: The Condensed Version


A look back at what seems, for now, to be worth keeping. I've lost track of how many entries there have been in the last year, but I am determined that there will be fewer in the future -- at least by me. That's the good news. The other news is that, as is common in this medium, I've compiled a list of what seems to me to be of more than passing interest from the last year's entries.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 31, 2004 1:58 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"A Decent Little Flick"

by JEREMIAH LEWIS, American Digest Film Editor

"You know, we're likely to be stuck in this desert for years..."

Flight of the Phoenix
3.5 out of 5 stars

Perhaps it was my initial skepticism of yet another Hollywood remake that made me wary of Flight of the Phoenix, or perhaps it was my discontent with the last few films Dennis Quaid has aligned himself with; whatever the matter, I found myself surprised walking out of the theatre. Flight of the Phoenix is quite a decent little flick.

Yes, it is a remake of a 1965 film by the same name, starring Jimmy Stewart, Richard Attenborough, and Peter Finch. As remakes usually go, it has the usual updates for current events — Dennis Quaid and his copilot A.J. (Tyrese) exchange some repartee about Bill Clinton, wandering nomads turn out to be gun smugglers, and the passengers are all oil riggers. Though dialogue is less intelligent here, there's definitely more action than the original offers, and


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 31, 2004 9:33 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why the Red Sox Will Continue to Crush the Yankees

by CHRIS LYNCH American Digest Sports Editor


Yes the Yankees just landed Randy Johnson and I wouldn't be surprised to see them get Carlos Beltran either. They are still not better than the Red Sox.

After reading Buster Olney's column yesterday - I had to remind myself that Buster was the beat reporter on the Yankees for many years and his "like" of the Yankees is well known. My bias is towards the Red Sox (but at least I'm upfront with that). I'll tell you how I see things and you decide.

The way I see it, when looking at the teams position by position - it currently stands:

  • Red Sox - 4 (first base, second base, left-field and DH)
  • Yankees - 3 (third base, centerfield and right-field)
  • Tied - 2 (catcher and shortstop)

This is assuming that the Yankees sign Beltran - otherwise Johnny Damon has it in centerfield all over an aging Bernie Williams. This also grants that catcher and short are equal (arguments can be made by either side).

The Red Sox also have a substantial edge in bench depth with Doug Mirabelli and Jay Payton coming off the bench (probably the best back-up catcher and outfielder in MLB).

Tell me Buster - where is the Yankees' advantage? Is it in the fact that the Yankees will be dealing with Giambi and Sheffield steroid's questions all year? Or do the Red Sox have an advantage in that they now have the curse of the Bambino off their shoulders whereas the Yankees get to be reminded about the greatest choke-job in history all year?

Is it in age? Because the starting line-up for the Red Sox averages 1.1 years less than the Yankees (and is therefore less prone to injury).

Starting pitching? Well lets take a look.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 31, 2004 9:05 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Private donations to the Tsunami Disaster Relief Funds via
currently total $4,507,952.00... whoops, make that $4,515,897.72 in the time it took to type this entry.

And it went to $4,526,209.22 in the time it took to post this entry.

Rough estimate: $10,000 a minute. Average donation: $60.00

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 30, 2004 8:32 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Obama Rumor Untrue

Before this gets out of hand, I want to be the first to note that the rumors that Teresa Heinz Kerry has bought a Georgetown mansion for Barack Obama are uttely without foundation.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 30, 2004 7:33 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Telephone Conversation, December 28

FRIEND IN FLORIDA: It didn't take long. In fact, it took them less time than it ever has before.

ME: Who? What?

FIF: The UN. The bodies are still bobbing around in the Indian Ocean with more coming in on each tide, and those useless excuses for human beings are already bitching and moaning about how we're not giving enough money to help the victims.

ME: Well, they'll say about anything to take the spotlight off the mountain of crooks and fascists they've become.

FIF: My idea is that, if they're so upset about the money going to the tsunami victims, they should just take a few billion dollars out of their Bribes Accounts.

ME: Not. Going. To. Happen.

FIF: Correct, but did you ever notice how the first reaction of crooks and liberals whenever disaster strikes is to tell other people to reach for their wallets?

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 30, 2004 7:28 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Sandy Berger and His Stuffed Pants

This guy has dropped off the radar. It seemed like a federal crime at the time but maybe he's gone off to live with Mark Rich. His defense? Yes, Down My Pants. Oh, Like You Haven't?

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 30, 2004 4:48 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Air America?

Anybody heard anything about this "experiment" lately? Just asking if Franken is still cashing his million dollar paycheck?

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 30, 2004 4:41 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Cold Snickets Still Satisfies

This is the story of the three Baudelaire children. Violet loved to invent; her brother, Klaus, loved to read; and their sister, Sunny... she loved to bite.

by JEREMIAH LEWIS, American Digest Film Editor

PG 2.5 stars out of 5

Lemony Snickets' A Series of Unfortunate Events is (besides the world's most complicated title for a kid's movie,) a weird, unwieldy trip into the fantastic. And strange as the movie is, it is actually quite tame compared to the antics of Jim Carrey, playing three characters in very convincing makeup.

Carrey has returned to his roots as a physical comic, yet the roles are darkthink Cable Guy meets The Grinch, with a twist of Dickinsean wicked spirit for added punch. His work gives the movie some firmness, but not enough to save the disconnected and directionless plot.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 29, 2004 6:48 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Reggie White is Dead

A great man and a great teammate.

by CHRIS LYNCH, American Digest Sports Editor

The above simple fact is unavoidable. Reggie White is dead.

It is not clear whether he died from a heart attack or from complications from sleep apnia. Either way - Reggie White is dead.

In the next few days you will probably hear many testimonials on how great a man he was, how great a teammate he was, how great a man of faith he was and how great a family man he was.

You will also hear some people say "yes he is dead but..."

These are the people who would like to call Reggie White a racist for a speech he gave in front of the Wisconsin legislature. These are the people that would have you believe that Reggie White was some sort of black, ecclesiastic, athletic David Duke.

Without exception these people will never have had a moment in private with Reggie White. The


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 29, 2004 6:21 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hanukkah Candles on Christmas Eve

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

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

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

Behind me, those I loved slept warm,
Protected by the grace of God.
Before me lay the village street,
And all the roads that I once trod.

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

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

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

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

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 24, 2004 5:58 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Fear of Fritterware: The Nightmare Before Christmas

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

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

It got worse.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 23, 2004 8:35 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Creche by the Side of the Road

[Republished from December, 2003 -- I'll be looking for it again this year. Report: It was still there.]
A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.

--Eliot, Journey of the Magi

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

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

Airports, malls, oil refineries, the towers along Wilshire and the vast suburbs of the valley put up extra displays to celebrate what has come to be known as "the season." All the lights flung up by the hive of more than 10 million souls shine on brightly and bravely, but the exact nature of "the season" seems more difficult for us to define with every passing year.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 21, 2004 6:46 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Slate, WaPo, and the Blogosphere

The purchase of the Microsoft vanity blog, Slate, by the Washington Post today has the b-sphere in a moderate lather. Best summed up by Hugh Hewitt with the rimshot, "[It] boils down to buying Kaus and some office furniture," the transaction points towards a trend. But what sort of a trend?

I looked about for someone to interview on this question and, since I hate to be on the phone or to travel, I decided to quote myself from my December 6 essay Building the Perfect Beast: What Is to Be Done in the Blogosphere

We've seen the standard axe jobs against the Blogosphere proliferate for a bit in the wake of the election, but those will pass. More important is the tendency of mainstream media to assimilate that which it cannot control.

Already we see corporate blogs beginning and more than a few mainstream media are beginning to assign internal bloggers and Blogosphere patrols.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 21, 2004 6:06 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The American Digest Dysfunctional Christmas Gift Tags

HERE'S FOUR OF THE MOST DYSFUNCTIONAL GIFT TAGS of our 2005 edition. There's something here for everyone on your list! Use them to tag your gift to your family and friends that are still Democrats or otherwise afflicted with BDS. It will help to lift the fog from their minds. Now that would be the gift that keeps on giving. We're not saying it will make them into (shudder) Republicans overnight, but it would put a little "in" at the front of their dependency.

All gift tags are proportionally sized to fit on those business card forms you can get for use with a laser printer. You'll have to fool around with the Print Percentage (%) to tweak them into your printer.

To use them you have TWO options:

1) Click on the image and then save the image to your drive. (No, there will not be a tutorial on this. What am I, a talking Paper Clip?)

2) Click on the link called "Download All Images" at the end of this item for a 221K PDF file suitable for printing or framing.



Hint: The little black circle is where you punch the hole and insert the string to make it a gift tag.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 21, 2004 10:49 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dan & Anna & Larry & Alice Get Closer

Pretty people have problems too.

by JEREMIAH LEWIS, American Digest Film Editor

Closer (2004) Rated R, 98 minutes 4 stars out of 5

When the Beatles sing "Baby, You're a Rich Man", the first line asks "How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?". That reminds me of Closer, the new Mike Nichols film about love and relationships between four people. Every single character in this film, down to strangers and hobos on the street, is bee-yutiful. Even their physical flaws are more attractive than the most beautiful non-movie-person's most beautiful feature.

So why is it their lives are a total disaster compared to mine? I don't have a girlfriend or a wife, I don't sleep around (I sleep straight), and I don't look like Jude Law or Clive Owen (or Julia Roberts or Natalie Portman, for that matter). Yet somehow, we're asked to


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 21, 2004 9:47 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Charlie Weis will be Successful at Notre Dame

Weis at work and at play.


Charlie Weis, the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, was recently named to be the new head coach at Notre Dame - replacing dismissed head coach Ty Willingham.

Before we can discuss why Charlie Weis will be successful at Notre Dame, we have to deal with two issues. Obviously, there was some hub-bub about Ty Willingham being let go in the first place. Then there was the issue of Weis not being the first choice for the job.

Ty Willingham was let go because he was not winning enough games. Period. Willingham went 21-15 at Notre Dame and that just doesn't cut it.

Yes - Ty Willingham is African American but what does that have to do with anything? The people who are arguing that he should never have been let go are doing so merely because he was a black head coach - not because he was a good head coach (and wasn't it Martin Luther King who said, "I have a dream that someday I will not be judged on the color of my skin but on my won/loss percentage"?). Where were these protesters when Ron Zook got fired by Florida? Zook was 20-13 at Florida. Was there no outrage because Zook is white?


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 21, 2004 8:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Brilliant Idea, But That's Just Me

This just in from Chris Lynch, our sports editor from his site,A Large Regular

"Independent Websites"
I want to change the way we talk. I would like to see the words "Independent Website" used in more formal settings or in discussions instead of the word "blog."

Recently I started contributing as Sports Editor for the American Digest. Now the American Digest is in the top 200 sites in the TTLB Ecosystem but saying "it's one of the top 200 blogs on the Internet" just doesn't sound as impressive as saying "it's one of the top 200 independent websites on the Internet."

I know this is like calling a garbageman a sanitation engineer but it works. I have friends who are journalists and trust me if I say that I now write for one of the top 200 independent websites on the Internet - they are impressed. However biased and ignorant it is on their part - they still hold their noses when the word "blog" is mentioned....
Well, I'm impressed. So much so that I am not only going to become an "independant website," I'm also bringing back my self-designation as "The Official Weblog of the Internet ©  ."

Of course, if you think this means I'm getting out of my pajamas, you'd be dead wrong. I might, however, start wearing a tie.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 20, 2004 10:07 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Weather Maps of Titan

Evidence of changing weather patterns in the skies over Titan's southern region are revealed in these false color images obtained by the Cassini spacecraft's visual infrared mapping spectrometer over two recent flybys of this largest of Saturn's satellites. In the first image (left), obtained on the Oct, 26, 2004 Titan flyby, from a distance of some 200,000 kilometers (124,300 miles), Titan's skies are cloud-free, except for a patch of clouds observed over the south pole near the bottom of the image. In contrast, the image on the right shows a recent view of this same area of Titan obtained seven weeks later on the second close Titan flyby on Dec. 13, 2004, from a distance of 225,000 kilometers (139,800 miles). This image clearly shows that several extensive patches of clouds have formed over temperate latitudes. The appearance of these clouds reveals the existence of weather. -- NASA Cassini Image: Spying Titan's Weather

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 19, 2004 9:35 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Par-A-Noia Strikes Deep, Into Your Life It Will Creep..."

Times Watch, which tracks the New York Times so you don't have to, has released its New york Times Quotes of Note: The Worst of 2004.

There are so many jawdroppers and gobstoppers listed that it is difficult to pick out a favorite, but the top quote has a lot going for it.

"Abortion might be a crime in most states. Gay people could be thrown in prison for having sex in their homes. States might be free to become mini-theocracies, endorsing Christianity and using tax money to help spread the gospel. The Constitution might no longer protect inmates from being brutalized by prison guards. Family and medical leave and environmental protections could disappear."
-- Editorial board member Adam Cohen, predicting the impact of future Bush appointments to the Supreme Court, October 18.
Yes, indeed, the future "World According to Cohen" is just a bleak demon-haunted landscape in which prisons fill up with unwed mothers taking their babies to term, right next to other prisons filled with Gay couples who had sex,all of which would clutter the landscape in an America where every state was just another version of Utah circa 1878. Not only that, this vast Prison/Theocracy state would be rife with random beatings of inmates in the name of God in an environment of primitive medical care and total pollution.

Sounds like Afghanistan under the Taliban. I wonder if the health plan at the New York Times covers lithium injections and family interventions. If so, Cohen might want to sign up for both.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 19, 2004 3:15 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Christmas Rereading: Fictional Messiahs and Jihads

American Digest Book Editor
[Note: Our new book editor, Pat Cummings, constant reader, also reviews books at his site Paper Frigate, and at Blogcritics as well. He can be emailed here.]

Heinlein's Stranger In a Strange Land tops my Christmas rereading list because it considers the making of a messiah. For those who have not encountered this novel in either the original release or the 1991 uncut version (all three of you), Stranger is the story of a young man raised by the puissant Old Ones of Mars, who then returns to Earth to spread the Gospel (and related powers) they taught him. Heinlein uses the story to jab at the tabloid and main-stream press, fringe and established churches, courts and lawyers, and (of course) the government.

But along the way, the story—maybe inadvertantly, although I doubt anything ever appeared in Heinlein's work that he didn't plan with glee—underscores the original message of the Christ: love each other; and tells us in a less-brutal (because fictional) way than Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, the consequences of preaching love to those focused on money, power—or scripture.

The original novel Dune reveals Herbert's empathy with the nomadic Arab of pre-mandate Palestine. (Remember, Herbert was British.) But to reread this book today is to experience the spooky realization that the Fremen are eco-terrorists.

More to the point, the conversion of Paul Atreides to the messianic Mu'adib—conservative ruling-class heir to fundamentalist jihad leader—maps the slippery path of proselytic education, leading to the vision of all who believe differently as evil and deserving of death. Whether you see mujahideen or red state/blue state bomb-throwers may depend on today's headlines more than Frank Herbert's words.

Nevil Shute himself thought Round the Bend was his best novel. The messiah-figure of this story is Connie Shaklin, a Western-educated Malayan aircraft mechanic, whose message is the moral imperative of good maintenance of machines upon which others' lives depend;

"...Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need..."
(Rudyard Kipling, The Sons of Martha)
The religious movement that grows up around this inoffensive and admirable dictum eventually leads to Shaklin's martyrdom—and the quiet growth of a new religion. The story shows the way a religious meme grows; in seemingly-barren soil, fertilized by the religions that precede it—and watered by the blood of martyrs.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 19, 2004 2:17 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Home from Above -- World as a Blog

[Click to Enlarge]

A less romantic but more mind-boggling view of my home via satellite imagery. Courtesy of the amazing ACME Mapper @ N 33.530609 W 117.76394, 1 m/p

But why?

To participate in this amazing visualization of the Blogosphere: The World as a Blog

[Click to Enlarge]

What? Real time & updating display of weblog postings, around the world

How? geocoding RSS Flash Earth

Check it out. Add yours. Cover the Earth.

UPDATE: "How" to add your blog to World As A Blog is a bit obscure. Go to the world as a blog via the link above and click on "more info" for instructions. Simple and straight forward. If I can figure it out, anyone can.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 19, 2004 10:06 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
George Bush TIME Magazine Person of the Year -- December 27, 2004

Person of the Year: "For sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes -- and ours -- on his faith in the power of leadership, George W. Bush is TIME's 2004 Person of the Year."

From the article: An ordinary politician tells swing voters what they want to hear; Bush invited them to vote for him because he refused to. Ordinary politicians need to be liked; Bush finds the hostility of his critics reassuring. Challengers run as outsiders, promising change; it's an extraordinary politician who tries this while holding the title Leader of the Free World. Ordinary Presidents have made mistakes and then sought to redeem themselves by admitting them; when Bush was told by some fellow Republicans that his fate depended on confessing his errors, he blew them off.

For candidates, getting elected is the test that counts. Ronald Reagan did it by keeping things vague: It's Morning in America. Bill Clinton did it by keeping things small, running in peaceful times on school uniforms and V chips. Bush ran big and bold and specific all at the same time, rivaling Reagan in breadth of vision and Clinton in tactical ingenuity. He surpassed both men in winning bigger majorities in Congress and the statehouses. And he did it all while conducting an increasingly unpopular war, with an economy on tiptoes and a public conflicted about many issues but most of all about him.

Via: EPIC News

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 19, 2004 7:30 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Laguna Beach, Sunset, December 17, 2004
Photo by Sheryl Van der Leun

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2004 12:26 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Trivial Sunday Pursuits

IN WHICH, having finally gotten my G4 back on line, I take a random walk through my Toolbar Times .

LADIES! WHY SPEND THOUSANDS ON MOOD-ENHANCING PHARMACEUTICALS when old fashioned semen exposure does the trick?

"Semen makes you happy. That's the remarkable conclusion of a study comparing women whose partners wear condoms with those whose partners don't.

"The study, which is bound to provoke controversy, showed that the women who were directly exposed to semen were less depressed. The researchers think this is because mood-altering hormones in semen are absorbed through the vagina. They say they have ruled out other explanations."

Here's one experiment many would like to replicate, and obviously calls for deeper research.

KOOKY KONSPIRACY KABAL KABBOSHES Dave Chappelle in The Chappelle Theory . Proving once again that if you have krazy ideas, the Internet is here for you.

On the other hand, it could be that he's just not that funny anymore.

MICHELLE MALKIN NAILS TIME'S LAME CHOICES to the mast with a marlin spike: "Interesting, isn't it, that Bill Gates didn't deserve the honor when he was actually creating something, but only earns Time magazine's highest praise when he's giving his money away." Why? Because if circulation keeps dropping for Time, they're going to need a billion or so from the Gates' Foundation just to keep publishing. That and the hopes of the top editors at Time for a cushy foundation job when they get booted.

THE INFINITE ZOOM via Google Video'sPowers of Ten . A filmed version of the Morrison's classic 1983 book, : Powers of Ten: The Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero

THE HYPERORGANIZED MERLIN MANN CALLS FOR A Vote: alt or option? on Flickr. Much religious affirmation or bickering ensues between the Church of the Mac and the Church of the PC. Jeff Hedglin in the comments suggests we go further in extending our extended keyboards with new keys.

So far, our keyboards have seen "Escape", "Function", "Control", "Alternate", "Option", "Delete", "Home", "Pause", "End", "Insert", and "Enter".

Can I suggest some new keys?
"Action" - just do something.
"Reverse" - back out of that dangerous "Action" you just took.
"Hide" - always a good one.

DEMONSTRATING ONCE AGAIN HOW THE HARD-CORE LIBERTARIAN ATTITUDE makes the "Party" marginal is this warm and welcoming lead from the dubiously named Hammer of Truth "Don’t bother reading on if you voted for either Bush or Kerry last time, as the material provided is either over your head or very likely to piss you off. " Well, okay, we'll just shuffle on off and leave you with one percent of the electorate, most of whom don't vote on "principle." Play nice, kids.

YOUR WEEKLY REALITY CHECK courtesy of the brilliant victor Hanson: Lancing the Boil

"Like it or not, wars are usually won or lost when one side feels its losses are too high to continue. We have suffered terribly in losing 2,100 dead in Iraq; a vastly smaller enemy in contrast may have experienced tens of thousands of terrorists killed, and is finding its safe havens and money drying up. Panic about Iraq abounds in both the American media and the periodic fatwas of Dr. Zawahiri — but not in the U. S. government or armed forces."

You've gotta love the Axis of Panic.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2004 8:11 AM | QuickLink: Permalink


Heidi of Coudal Partners came up with this snappy little solution to dealing with obnoxious cell phone users. The .pdf includes several different versions of a card that you can print, cut out and hand to cell yellers. Brought to you by SHHH! The Society for HandHeld Hushing.

(Via Cool Hunting.)

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2004 8:09 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Bush to Media Muppets and Moral Morons: "My Worthy Opponents May Micturate Up a Thick Coil of Woven Hemp"


Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country.

As the 9/11 Commission pointed out, it was clear that terrorists inside the United States were communicating with terrorists abroad before the September the 11th attacks, and the commission criticized our nation's inability to uncover links between terrorists here at home and terrorists abroad. Two of the terrorist hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al Hamzi and Khalid al Mihdhar, communicated while they were in the United States to other members of al Qaeda who were overseas. But we didn't know they were here, until it was too late.

The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after September the 11th helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities. The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time. And the activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad.

This is a heartening tone and the statement is made stronger since it is based, as so many things in the quisling media is not, on facts.

Reaction among the bad Americans in the political class was swift and predictable with one notable drooler spewing the phrase "King George Bush." One is tempted to ask what part of the title "Commander in Chief" that particular idiot failed to understand but since ambition is his first and second language the answer is "all of it."

In general, the revelation of the program with the all too tedious play it has been given in order to hump some New York Times scribblers latest forgettable tome in the bookstores is one with the flatulent and ceaseless debate over "torture." Just the irritating background buzz of those who are out of power and rightly so.

The problem with the Liberal Left, the Devolved Democrats, and the Morally Stripmined Media is that when it comes to the phrase, "All's fair in love and war," their "philosophy" won't let them take that thought beyond the word "love." They're the experts when it comes to making all love fair but cannot understand the necessities of war. That's why they should be left alone to run the condom programs while the grown-ups run the army. Indeed, if they keep behaving and speaking as they do, the country will probably see to that over the next few election cycles.

In the meantime, I hope the slack-jawed members of the fifth estate will take careful note of the sentences "the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country, " and ask themselves if the Judith Miller incarceration earlier this year was an anomaly, or if she was just warming up the cells.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 17, 2004 5:30 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Real Life List: Things Not Likely to Make the 1000 Things List

No sooner had I posted the item below than a reader noted in the Comments on Dear Seth, The First Thing to Know Is to "Enable Comments!" -- "Apparently the ethereal Seth neither eats, sleeps, nor braves the elements, since his lists don't include such red-state skills as cook dinner, make the bed, or wash your clothes. Are all our thinkers being raised by wolves these days?"

A fair question to which the answer, I suppose, is, "No, those who think that they're thinkers were probably raised by parents expecting the advent of ovine avialtion before the Second Coming." Looking over Seth's list and the one's that he's plucked out of his trackbacks, I'm seeing a slight trend towards the real world, but only as far as "The Real World via MTV."

All of which brought to mind the famous quote by Robert Heinlein in Time Enough for Love

A human being should be able to
  • change a diaper,
  • plan an invasion,
  • butcher a hog,
  • conn a ship,
  • design a building,
  • write a sonnet,
  • balance accounts,
  • build a wall,
  • set a bone,
  • comfort the dying,
  • take orders,
  • give orders,
  • cooperate,
  • act alone,
  • solve equations,
  • analyze a new problem,
  • pitch manure,
  • program a computer,
  • cook a tasty meal,
  • fight efficiently,
  • die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects. - RobertHeinlein
It seems to me that the items on this particular list should be among the first given to children during their formative years and, with the exception of the last, none should be graduated from high school without demonstrating proven abilities in each of them.

Are there others? I think it is the height of hubris to go for 1,000 unless, like Seth Godin, you're planning on picking other's brains to help you make a tidy little PDF book for free.

How many abilities should any person have in order to get through life in a reasonable manner?

Here, at least, comments are OPEN.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 17, 2004 2:42 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dear Seth, The First Thing to Know Is to "Enable Comments!"

seth.jpgSeth Godin, a man presumed to be clued, wants your help in listing : The top 1,000 things to know :

What are the one thousand teachable things that every third grader ought to start learning so she'll know them all before before she graduates from high school?
He then scarcely breaks a sweat in doing, well, 20.

I imagine that he hopes the millions of others on the web compelled to make lists will chime in with the other 980. But how? Comments on Seth's site are disabled.

File under: "Wait, wait! Don't tell me."

Seth, you may recall, was on the receiving end of a rocket from Doc Searls concerning Godin's worship at the altar of Adobe PDF's vs. HTML earlier this month. Godin retreated into the cultural redoubt of "Hey, our PDFs are really pretty" in the face of Searls' observation that Godin's fabled great communication skills had failed him on this one.

This looks like another case of "CoolHandLukism" ('What we have here is a failure to communicate'). What gives, Seth? Blogs are only interactive to the extent that "comments" are turned on. They have no other interactivity available. Seems to me that if you ask a question without any means of providing an answer, you're not really asking at all, you're just preening to the converted.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 17, 2004 12:25 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ordinary Heroes

A MOTHER IN A BURNING BUILDING throws her baby from the 3rd floor. Video of the man who caught it.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 17, 2004 8:26 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
I, (Frank Rich) Robot

If it is Sunday, it means it may be hard to avoid Frank Rich. Yup, there he is in full blather mode over at the New York Times: The Year of 'The Passion'

I once asked if Frank Rich of the New York Times got his position by bribery or by begging on his knees. He certainly didn't get it from a power-packed prose style or intellect. I was assured that he didn't have the kind of money for bribery.

Today Rich is back at his favorite Kool-Aid stand where he sells large glasses of his particular brew. At hand is his latest screed against the Right in general and Christians in particular. He loves this theme and returns to it "as doth a dog to his vomit."

But the particular paragraph below caught my eye.

Frank Rich from the Left: What is this about? How can those in this country's overwhelming religious majority maintain that they are victims in a fiery battle with forces of darkness? It is certainly not about actual victimization. Christmas is as pervasive as it has ever been in America, where it wasn't even declared a federal holiday until after the Civil War. What's really going on here is yet another example of a post-Election-Day winner-takes-all power grab by the "moral values" brigade. As Mr. Gibson shrewdly contrived his own crucifixion all the way to the bank, trumping up nonexistent threats to his movie to hype it, so the creation of imagined enemies and exaggerated threats to Christianity by "moral values" mongers of the right has its own secular purpose. The idea is to intimidate and marginalize anyone who objects to their efforts to impose the most conservative of Christian dogma on public policy. If you're against their views, you don't have a differing opinion — you're anti-Christian (even if you are a Christian).

How wrong and how Richian, I thought. And then I took another look and saw that Rich was not, after all, a writer, but a bot in the Times copy computer. Why with just a few, a very few, changes it could read exactly the other way around... say...


Frank Rich from the Right: What is this about? How can those in this country's overwhelming political majority maintain that they are victims in a fiery battle with forces of darkness? It is certainly not about any loss of freedom. Freedom is as pervasive as it has ever been in America, where it was declared a God-given right by the Declaration of Independence. What's really going on here is yet another example of a post-Election-Day loser-needs-power grab by the "politically correct" brigade. As Senator Kerry shrewdly contrived his own crucifixion all the way to the bank, trumping up nonexistent threats to freedom to hype his candidacy, so the creation of imagined enemies and exaggerated threats to freedom by "political correctness" mongers of the Left has its own fantatic purpose. The idea is to intimidate and marginalize anyone who objects to their efforts to impose the most liberal of Demmocratic dogmas on public policy. If you're against their views, you don't have a differing opinion — you're anti-Humanity (even if you are a Human.)

No need for the Times to hire a new conservative columnist. I'll just rewrite Frank Rich columns for them. It is so easy, I'll do it for free and an invitation to their ChanukahKwanzaHolidayC____mas Party.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 17, 2004 8:23 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
He Shuffles the Shuffle

WHAT'S ON BUSH'S IPOD? He tells you right here.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 17, 2004 1:11 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Nonlinear Crocheting

If you're up to speed on your crocheting, its still not too late to whip up this perfect gift for the mathematician on your Christmas list.


Even if crocheting isn't on your list of skills, you can at least add this to your collection of unusual PDF files:
Crocheting the Lorenz manifold
Hinke Osinga and Bernd Krauskopf
Abstract: This paper explains how one can crochet the Lorenz manifold, the two-dimensional stable manifold of the origin of the Lorenz system.

"Imagine a leaf floating in a turbulent river and consider how it passes either to the left or to the right around a rock somewhere downstream.

"Those special leaves that end up clinging to the rock must have followed a very unique path in the water.

"Each stitch in the crochet pattern represents a single point - a leaf - that ends up at the rock."
-- Hinke Osinga

Hinke Osinga, Lorenz Manifold, Bernd Krauskopf

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2004 9:43 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The State of the Union As Heard by Liberals

"At this time, we must offer every American child three nuclear missiles."

What are you doing here? Click the link and take in The Subtext State of the Union.

Pointer via

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2004 4:55 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2004 4:41 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Most Frightening High-School Yearbook Picture in Known Space


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2004 4:16 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Yes, You Can

Yet another quote for my ever expanding file marked, "Pay Attention to Peggy Noonan:"
You can get so well educated in America that your thoughts become detached from common sense. You can get so complicated in your thinking that the obvious isn't real to you anymore. -- OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2004 3:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
25 More Reasons to Read the Blogosphere

Well, I imagine if you've gone so far as to name yourself "Project Censored" you need to find things that have been, in fact, censored. Hence this year's linked list Project Censored 2005 - Top 25 Censored Stories.

I went to the link with keen anticipation. Here, at last, would be all those stories that I hadn't heard about because of, well, censorship. Censorship, as we all know, is a massive problem in today's multi-mediaverse. So many things just never, ever, see the light of day.

But none of those things, whatever they may be, seemed to make the Year's Most Censored List at Project Censored. Of all the 25 items listed, there was not one I had not read about in some detail, as it unfolded, at some site across the Blogosphere.

Here's the first 10 listed. See how many ring a bell with you.

  • #1: Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy
  • #2: Ashcroft vs. the Human Rights Law that Holds Corporations Accoutable
  • #3: Bush Administration Censors Science
  • #4: High Levels of Uranium Found in Troops and Civilians
  • #5: The Wholesale Giveaway of Our Natural Resources
  • #6: The Sale of Electoral Politics
  • #7: Conservative Organization Drives Judicial Appointments
  • #8: Cheney's Energy Task Force and The Energy Policy
  • #9: Widow Brings RICO Case Against U.S. government for 9/11
  • #10: New Nuke Plants: Taxpayers Support, Industry Profits
Offhand, I'd say each and every one of these "censorsed" news stories has been beaten down beneath the bedrock like the proverbial dead equine.

I probably missed the censorship of the "Water is wet" expose and the carefully expunged tale about how "Bush Lied." I'm sure both will be censored again next year. But I only know what I read.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2004 12:16 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Earth to Bloggers: Seek Professional Help

Bad magazine.Rotten Idea. Worse Logo.

Would the last blogger leaving orbit, please ignite Steve Rubell's retrorockets?

Don't get me wrong. Steve's a nice man and I generally enjoy his insights, but a stopped clock is wrong all but twice a day, and Steve is not in either "Now" with his boosting of bloggers for Time's "Person" of the Year.

For 2004, I cannot think of a single person or persons that had a greater influence on society than the bloggers. Let's remind them by making our voice heard. If you think about American politics, media, business - no one, no one had a greater influence for better or worse than the bloggers. Not Osama Bin Laden. Not Sadaam Hussein. Not John Kerry. No one. The bloggers absolutely deserve to be this year's People of the Year. -- Micro Persuasion: The Bloggers Should Be TIME's People of the Year
Other than being stark raving mad, what's just so wrong with this picture?

We can just mention and pass right over the psychosphere's "abusive relationship" meme, where the abused and scorned member of the relationship compulsively seeks approval from the abuser. Andrew Sullivan's got that covered and he'll be along as soon as he figures out it will boost his hit count.

We can also spare you the 3,589 words of exposition on how the secret, dark, and compulsively neurotic decisions about the Time cover are made over bong hits in the back room at Michaels. PressThink will slap that one up in less time than it takes to type it.

We could mock up an internal memo, complete with valid typefaces, but why bother ? Romanesko will have the real one with his standard disclaimer that says it should go to Tina Brown this year and every year.

We'd point out that the whole thing is just a puff piece for the dominant magazine of Time's group, People, but Jonah Goldberg has beaten us to it.

Instead we merely remind everyone out there on a keyboard and a shoeshine that "Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make insane." (Not that there aren't plenty who got into this game because


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2004 8:30 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why's That?
Have you ever noticed that "Why?" is qualitatively different from all the other interrogatives? ("What?", "When?", "Where?", "Who?", and "How?") Of all of them, only Why calls for interpretation of human opinion. All the others call only for fact. -- Ole Eichhorn @ Critical Section

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 15, 2004 10:32 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
FREE! American Digest's Living Author Holiday Give Away

Take a guess, get a free book. The first American Digest reader to correctly identify the American author shown below will receive, free and post paid, a copy of one of his classic tomes.

Take a look and take a guess in the comments section to this post.

Who am I?

[Members of author's family or the family and associates of American Digest are not eligible.]

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 15, 2004 1:44 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Reuters' Mid-East Bizarre Bazaar Still Open for Business

Call me irresponsible but more and more I think that the single job for a writer that would most certainly condemn you to hell in this life and the next has to be reporting for Reuters. Impervious to sense and humanity, this "Service" continues to pump out what passes for "reportage" using editorial rules and filters from somewhere in "the Stone Age". I use that term advisedly.

Here's a full report that just moved over the wires from that bastion of religious peace, harmony and toleration, Iran.

Iranian Adulteress Faces Noose or Stoning-Official

Dec 18, 2004 -- TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian official said on Saturday he was waiting for orders on whether to stone or hang a woman convicted of adultery, the latest in a chain of death sentences passed against women for "fornication."

The official from Iran's conservative judiciary said Hajieh Esmailvand's prison sentence, that began in January 2000, would end in less than a month -- a jail term in the northern city of Jolfa that was always intended as a precursor to execution.

"Her (death) sentence is approved by the Supreme Court, but there are no orders to carry out the sentence. We do not yet know if it is by stoning or hanging," he told Reuters.

Hanging is the most usual death penalty in Iran but some adulterers have been stoned.

Stoning has sparked scathing international criticism, with victims being buried up to their midriffs and then pelted to death with medium-size stones that should not be so large as to kill instantly.

That's it. Whole item. Starts well with a terse factual headline. Goes on in that vein with fact, fact, identified quote, fact ... and then the end. Snip.

Well, it is nice, I suppose, to know that "international criticism" of stoning has been scathing (Although we presume that some countries in love with Iran have been less scathing than others.). But the story does leave you wondering just what that "criticism" might be. Depth to which victim is buried? Size of stones used? Number of stoners invited to the festive moment?

Also left out is the mention of any possible "international criticism" of the charming practice hanging women for "fornication." Are we to assume that stoning is so evil that the world just gives Iran a pass on the noose?

The more that you look at this example of the Reuter's Way of Journalism, the more you see the large empty hole in the middle. The place where ethics and morality should be.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 15, 2004 11:00 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dysfunctional Gift Suggestions

Do you know someone who has trouble with tailgaters and lane changers? Just get them these balloons.
1) Inflate.
2) Attach to vehicle with tethers of varying lengths.
3) Drive like the wind and watch others just back away from the vehicle.

[Points of origin: Steel-mail to Ramblings' Journal to Charlite]

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 15, 2004 8:23 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
OUR GIFT TO YOU: American Digest Dysfunctional Christmas Gift Tags


Here's the four most Dysfunctional Gift Tags of our 2004 edition. There's something here for everyone on your list!

All gift tags are proportionally sized to fit on those business card forms you can get for use with a laser printer. You'll have to fool around with the Print Percentage (%) to tweak them into your printer. All were created and built to exacting tolerances by my wife, Sheryl Van der Leun.

To use them you have TWO options:

1) Click on the image and then save the image to your drive. (No, there will not be a tutorial on this. What am I, a Paper Clip?)

2) Click on the link called "Download All Images" at the end of this item for a 221K PDF file suitable for printing or framing.

Our Free Gift from our house to your house. Let us know what you think and any reactions to the ones you use.



Hint: The little black circle is where you punch the hole and insert the string to make it a gift tag.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 14, 2004 2:50 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Mainstream Media

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Posted by Vanderleun Dec 14, 2004 1:57 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Village

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Posted by Vanderleun Dec 14, 2004 1:56 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Fred's Dead

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Posted by Vanderleun Dec 14, 2004 1:54 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Roadside Distraction

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Posted by Vanderleun Dec 14, 2004 1:52 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Countdown to a Dysfunctional Christmas



A gift tag from the Holiday Boutique project.  (This was one of the "normal" ones.)

I'd love to tell you that outside our house the lights are hung with restrained elegance; that bells tinkle when you walk through my fragrantly wreathed front door; and that the smell of freshly-baked gingerbread warms our charming abode, decorated as it is in this season's must-have holiday jewel tones. I would brag about the majestic Douglas Fir brushing the cathedral ceiling of the living room, and how the presents -- tenderly wrapped in handmade paper -- promise magical moments of surprise and delight on Christmas morning. You'd know instantly that in this house holiday traditions abound and that this family truly treasures the spirit of Christmas.

But I'd be lying.

Truth is, we do have a tree, but it's still out on the back porch. My husband had called me from Home Depot a couple of weeks back.

"Do you think Jackson (my 10-year-old son) will be upset if he doesn’t get to pick out the tree?" he asked.

"Hey, if he says anything we'll tell him we're moving to Connecticut where the State Appellate Court ruled that it's OK to beat your children," I said.

Planted in a bucket, it's supposed to be a "living" tree, but already it's looking a bit puckish. I wish I


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 14, 2004 10:08 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Pedro to the Mets - It's Not Business It's Personal


My work here is done.

Pedro Martinez is set to cut his ties to the World Champion Boston Red Sox and sign with the New York Mets for a reported $56 million over 4 years GUARANTEED!

Many Red Sox fans are upset by this. Jilted seems to be the word that best fits.

Other Red Sox fans are disappointed but are trying to be philosophical. They want to echo Michael Corleone in the film version of The Godfather,"It's not personal. It's business." That's their adopted mantra.

I understand the business part of the deal. I understand that $56 million is a lot of money and that the Mets went to 4-years when the Red Sox were only willing to guarantee three. I understand Pedro, who came from abject poverty, would be hard pressed to turn down all that money. However, I do think the Mets and Omar Minaya in particular made a bad business decision with this offer. Because of the type of contracts Omar has given to Pedro and to the just better than average Kris Benson (3-years $21 million) - in the end I think Pedro will be with the Mets longer than Omar Minaya.

I understand that this is a good business decision for Pedro and I literally can hear Al Pacino's voice in my head saying, "It's not personal. It's business."

The thing is - I read Mario Puzo's book and I know that phrase has been completely taken out of context. This is what Michael Corleone actually said in the book:

"Tom, don't let anyone kid you. It's all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it's personal as hell. You know where I learned that from? The Don. My old man. The Godfather. If a bolt of lightning hit a friend of his - the old man would take it personal. He took my going into the Marines personal. That's what makes him great. The Great Don. He takes everything personal."
The Red Sox offered Pedro $40 million over 3-years with lots of perks and he turned them down. I take it personal.

For seven years Pedro was the face of the team. He went 117-37 for the Red Sox during his time with the Sox (an incredible 76% winning percentage). His 1999 and 2000 seasons were among the best seasons by a starting pitcher in history. Pedro won two Cy Young Awards and it should have been three except he was held to a higher standard in 2002. Once I was the most passionate defender of Pedro. Now I have no feeling for him.

The Red Sox paid him $17.5 million this year. They have been very good to Pedro Martinez. $40 million over 3-years was an excellent offer from the Red Sox and Pedro turned it down.

I'm taking it personal.

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

Lynch can be reached at

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 13, 2004 7:10 PM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Contributors Note

For some time I've been hoping to find other writers of wit and worth to contribute to American Digest. Indeed, that was the original conception that I let slip away. After all, just one voice and point of view becomes tedious. One person can never hope to digest all things American in any case.

I know a little bit about a lot of things, but, with a few exceptions, not a lot about any one thing. As a result, I'd be more than open to anyone who could fill in the continental blanks in my knowledge on any given day.

If you'd like to have a go, send me a note via the email link under the flag on the right. We'll see what we can do.

Two new contributors have joined American Digest with several more in the wings.

CINEMA: Jeremiah Lewis of the incisive Fringe came onboard last week, and has already reviewed two films, the fascinating and overlooked Stander , and the rapidly cooling Oceans 12.

Lewis reviews films both at his site and American Digest. He can be reached directly at

SPORTS: Debuting today is Chris Lynch from his always fascinating site,A Large Regular Lynch discloses under interrogation that he is the father of four whose vocation is high tech sales management, but whose avocation is now -- and has always been -- sports.

For the past two years Lynch has also contributed to

Lynch is an unabashed rooter for all Boston teams, but tries to be fair and openminded. Especially since the Red Sox won.

Lynch can be reached at

Other voices from the realms of books, cartoons, and photography to come.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 13, 2004 7:01 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Summer Wind

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Posted by Vanderleun Dec 13, 2004 4:34 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
All Bets Are Off

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Posted by Vanderleun Dec 13, 2004 3:59 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Sunday Meditation: The Children Whom Reason Scorns

[ Note: Several weeks ago, it became widely known that the Dutch were expanding their "euthanasia" program to formalize the previously informal murder of "inconvenient" children and other human beings at the hands of doctors. This further step down into the pit troubled me greatly along with millions of others. I spent a lot of time researching the question of how a society, inch by inch, arrives at such a degraded state in the name of sweet reason. I'd intended to write something about this, but then I found (Via As the Top of the World Turns) The Children Whom Reason Scorns written by 'Dr. Bob' at The Doctor Is In. This says all I would have hoped to say and more -- far better than I ever could.

With the author's permission I am republishing it in full on American Digest. I urge you to not only spend the time reading and thinking about this essay, but to pass it on to all those you think might also be interested. As well, I also urge you to discover The Doctor Is In for yourself.]

You Also Bear the BurdenIn the years following the Great War, a sense of doom and panic settled over Germany. Long concerned about a declining birth rate, the country faced the loss of 2 million of its fine young men in the war, the crushing burden of an economy devastated by war and the Great Depression, further compounded by the economic body blow of reparations and the loss of the German colonies imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. Many worried that the Nordic race itself was threatened with extinction.

The burgeoning new sciences of psychology, genetics, and medicine provided a glimmer of hope in this darkness. An intense fascination developed with strengthening and improving the nation through Volksgesundheit - public health. Many physicians and scientists promoted "racial hygiene" - better known today as eugenics. The Germans were hardly alone in this interest - 26 states in the U.S. had forced sterilization laws for criminals and the mentally ill during this period; Ohio debated legalized euthanasia in the 20's; and even Oliver Wendall Holmes, in Buck v. Bell, famously upheld forced sterilization with the quote: "Three generations of imbeciles are enough!" But Germany's dire circumstances and its robust scientific and university resources proved a most fertile ground for this philosophy.

These novel ideas percolated rapidly through the social and educational systems steeped in Hegelian deterministic philosophy and social Darwinism. Long lines formed to view exhibits on heredity and genetics, and scientific research, conferences, and publication on topics of race and eugenics were legion. The emphasis was often on the great burden which the chronically ill and mentally and physically deformed placed on a


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 12, 2004 12:16 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
12 Oceans Short of A Dozen: Jeremiah Lewis Sits Through the Oafishly Bungled Caper, Oceans 12, So You Don't Have To

We steal your admission price and then we get away to do it again!

Ocean's Twelve (2004) Rated PG-13 120 minutes | 2.5 stars out of 5

In the words of a long-dead Frenchman, "Deliver me first from the pain of subjugation and oppression, second from the fear of death, and third from the waste of potential."

Okay, so I lied. I made that quote up. But the third part of it applies most ably to the poor and underwhelming Ocean's Twelve, with a cast so star-studded it makes Tiffany's look like a chocolate shop selling candy rings to school children.

What 2001's Ocean Eleven did nearly flawlessly, Ocean's Twelve stumbles and bungles through painfully, even somewhat dangerously, as plot-thin sequences devolve into silliness (Julia Roberts as the returning character Tess, who is forced to act as Julia Roberts), and characters suffer crushingly weak development (Matt Damon as the son of two thieves, who must learn not just the art and craft, but the professionalism of thievery). While it's a stretch to say that Ocean's Twelve is bad per se, it really is too much to give it any props.

Even the spunky playfulness of director Steven Soderbergh seems stale and uninspired, utilizing weak fresh-out-of-film-school techniques that would make Darren Aranofsky blush, covering for a hopelessly meandering, slow-paced steamship wreck of a script by George Nolfi, whose sole previous credit is the abominable Timeline.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 12, 2004 11:29 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
All the Moons of Saturn

[Click to Enlarge]

From Ole Eichhorn's more detailed examination of Titan @ Critical Section which points at NASA's interactive Saturn Spotlight - Journey to a Ringed World: Why Go to Saturn

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 11, 2004 3:23 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The UnSolitary Cybercrowd: Over 5 Million Served

December 11, 2004: 8:43 AM Pacific Time

TECHNORATI'S MAIN PAGE : 5,002,014 weblogs watched. 718,687,874 links tracked.
"Nobody goes online anymore, it's too crowded."

Going online and being online are not solitary experiences. If they were, only hermits would bother with them.

If all online was was a only collection of data bases, data dumps, bots, and a hoary assemblage of mediators/librarians/whatever ... then we'd see a lot less emotion, time, and thought expended on it. Many people read and are moved by various online interactions. Few people are moved by encyclopedias and databases although all would agree they are useful. Even if online were all of the world's records stored on an infinite hard drives and accessible to all at any moment, it would still be nothing more than a card catalogue as high as the sky. We'd use it but it wouldn't seem any more compelling than the reference section.

Quite the contrary, online is a state that evolves from the wish not to be solitary. It arises from the desire to be "connected" on a new level to others -- to their knowledge, their businesses, their tastes as they choose to reveal them, to their personalities as they choose to construct them. The gravitational attraction of online for people is other people.

WiFi cybercafes, as a group, are emblematic of this state. Where a cafe's business plan once stopped at beverages, sandwiches and pastry, one that does not offer WiFi today is a cafe heading for oblivion. Those that offer free WiFi are the one's heading for success. Touted by the cafe conglomerate Starbucks as "the third place" in American life, the addition of WiFi to this place weaves all those places into a single space that is both of and beyond the physical location in which an espresso and a laptop rests on a table.

This drive to reach through the abstract nature of the experience to something more concrete is one of the primal power sources of the Net. It drives the metaphors and the metaphors are key to how humans perceive and use the medium: "cyberSPACE," "virtual COMMUNITY," "Where do YOU want to GO today?" and "LiveJournal" to cite a few. That's why we respond on a deeper level to personal home-brew blog pages than we do to something like Apple's movie trailer site -- even though the utility of the latter seems to be larger than the former.

We're pack animals, although we call our origins "tribal" to differentiate ourselves from beasts. As pack animals we try to assemble a group around us in life that augments and extends our


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 11, 2004 8:48 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Stander [Reviewed by Jeremiah Lewis]

(NOTE: The first item from American Digest's new and vastly improved film critic, Jeremiah Lewis of Fringe. He will call them as he sees them when he sees them. Lewis can be reached directly at )
Stander (2003) Rated R, 111 minutes 3.5 stars out of 5

Andre Stander was a man on the edge, disgusted with the political and racial practices of his time and country and violently aware that the policies under which he served (and which he subsequently enforced) were wrong. His response is one of the more interesting stories to come out of the South African 'apartheid' era, a time notable for its share of lawbreakers, violence, and humanity at its most ignoble.

Andre Stander, a fine police captain whose work in the all-white force was recognized as responsive and exemplary, put his career away and became the most wanted man in South Africa. He was a kind of Robin Hood anti-hero to the working class, who saw his incredible bank robbing spree as a fist in the face of a government and society that had long abandoned any semblance of equity and human rights.

Thomas Jane is remarkable as the enigmatic Stander. His attitude throughout the film is as vigilante and happy-go-lucky as it is reactive. His actions defy categorization, precisely because the reasons behind them are unprecedented.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 10, 2004 1:40 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Who's Behind Outsourcing? The Butt-insky Party

The lucid Porretto @ Eternity Road is talking cold turkey about the roots of oursourcing in "Finding The Waste Line." To four heavily over-regulated items that make the US uncompetitive he adds a fifth:

If we add the frequently visible fifth component of capital plant, another set of regulatory bodies is called into action: zoning boards, building inspectors, open-space-preservation-and-acquisition agencies, and legions of non-governmental "community activists" with far too much clout. At this time, all of these regulatory groups are de facto more powerful than anyone who might want to undertake production -- and far too adept at getting their hands into his pocket.

It's not a matter of amassing the money and the land any more. Not in America. It's more about getting permission from an ever-expanding gaggle of third party meddlers. Some of them can call the cops to enforce their will. Others are skilled at trading their influence for bribes of various kinds, though the transaction is seldom baldly described as such.

All in all, a thought-provoking item, in the Poretto tradition.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 10, 2004 12:25 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
My, My, My. Whatever Shall We Do With Andrew?

[He's baaaaack! Having run through any monetary advantage he received from insulting Michelle Malkin last month, Andrew Sullivan is back taking a run today at Glenn Reynolds and Powerline. Sullivan's site meter and revenues must be running lower and lower if this sort of monthly hysteria is any indication. And yet, it must, in the short run be working for him. After all, you can't stay in an excited froth over torture 24/7/365, no matter how much you are fascinated by the details of that rough trade. Below is something from about a month and a half ago on Sullivan's scam. The same thing still holds true today. Just change the names.]

Andrew Sullivan is once again running his well-worn but so-far successful "Look at Me" money scam on the Blogosphere. And, once again, it seems to be working on those that just can't stop themselves from giving ink and link to a serial panderer.

I'm loathe to play along since it only increases the success of Sullivan's smarmy little maneuver. Still, I'll have one last go so nobody who chances to read this can say they didn't get the cluecard.

Andrew's been very successful at mining the blogosphere for adulation, attention, and cash over the years. He's been successful because he understands better than most how to push the buttons and chum the waters. Above all, he understands "online-drama" and how to milk it to the last drop found in the last cow in the last pasture beyond the last bus stop. When it comes to political drama, Andrew's got the full wardrobe and makeup kit ready at hand.

The only person more canny than Sullivan at this is Drudge who, unlike Sullivan, makes no pretensions otherwise. Indeed, Sullivan is Drudge-light without the scoops or handy link lists.

The current Sullivan gambit is to pick a sentence from Michelle Malkin -- a single sentence -- and then tack the word "Award" behind her last name. Stunning creativity, yes?

All right, no.

Even less stunning is Sullivan's immediate compulsion to run his patented "Cut&Paste" blogging macro behind this lame-brained conception, and then run plop in a pile of what he hopes you'll mistake for daily "Posts" or "Content" to fill up his dark and otherwise unreadable page.

This little "Award" gambit worked well for Sullivan after 911 when Susan Sontag drop kicked the


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 9, 2004 4:03 PM | Comments (20)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Into the Silence

The last sound heard before the silence
Settled on my flesh in wisps,
Was the shriek of frozen ambulances
Wraped in sharp, revolving red.
Then two holes in my skull sealed shut,
And on my tongue I heard the tang of brass.

At first a ringing whine rose high and faded far,
Then bells began, each dun and laced with smoke,
And merged with walls of wind upon crisp water,
Bloomed high in white, white only, drifts
Of softly falling snow that falling softly
Blurred beneath all shapes of sound and speech.

The memory remained awhile, and moving lips
Became the signs of sound I could not see
To read, and all my mind filled not with silence,
But with dark brushed on deeper dark
Within which all stars died and dying threw
A single fist of sound beyond all song.

It moaned and chittered, groaned and sighed.
It grinned at me, inscrutable and blank
As shells evicted by the sea are spurned
By waves and parch above the sand,
Polished first by dust, then honed by rain,
Into whitened replicas of stone.

Made new, I loved large gestures.
Marked furrowed face and curl of lip.
Memorized the signing hands that stripped
My half-guessed comprehension bare,
And learned at last to wait upon a glance,
Upon small words scratched on slate.

As days to years enlarged their rule,
All records writ within my skull were smudged,
All songs and music drifted off to send
Pale emblems of their realms as tribute
To the stone that once had formed a throne,
Now crowned with unsensed pleasures shrugged.

All treasure spent, all gems decayed,
All metals melded into dust, all trace of walls
Where once the filigreed firebird sang,
And drums of heroes' skins were stunned,
Were now but shadows strewn as faint
As lines of light on planets seen from space.

And then, with time, all that too -- Erased,
And sands and seas swarmed over all,
And ruled at last alone a globe of frost,
Of ice, of snow, of sheaves of glass,
Until along the farthest strip of polished shore
One distant crystal glinted, gleamed, and chimed.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 9, 2004 11:18 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Costs of Capitualation

For those that need a brilliant and condensed version of why Al-Qaeda remains very much alive, I commend them to Dan Darling's Al-Qaeda: The Scope of the Threat at Winds of Change. Those that believe the road of the Terror War is either already too long or will soon be ended need this sobering assessment of the reach and the depth of our enemy.

So if you want to make the argument popular among both paleocons and liberal isolationists alike that if we just pull out of the Middle East and stopped supporting the region's governments that the whole problem of terrorism would go away. My answer to such a charge would be that's fine, just understand that in doing so you're not only basically saying


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 8, 2004 12:04 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Is the Reporter Now Wearing His Surge Protector?

In the sphere-wide wave about the Rumsfeld set-up by an embed, everyone is looking hard at the reporter's self-promoting email. The sentences that reveal the reporter's plan to make the news and not just report it are:

Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have. While waiting for the VIP, I went and found the Sgt. in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd.
That seems pretty clear, even though Editor and Publisher seemed unable to quote it directly for their readers yesterday. Then again, as Donald Sensing notes in the best wrap-up on this issue, they can't get their minds around what might be wrong in using a soldier to shill for a reporter.

But another sentence struck me in the next paragraph of the email:

... I have been trying to get this story out for weeks- as soon as I found out I would be on an unarmored truck [Emphasis added.]
I find this confession-in-passing even more revealing of the mind-set of this reporter. The state of armor on vehicles and elsewhere in Iraq has hardly been


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 7, 2004 11:47 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Things Invisible to See

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
           -- Paul, Romans I

If like me you are a "Christian-in-a-Crisis" only, you probably haven't been following Donald Sensing's SundaySermons for Advent. Like me, you might want to reconsider. Sample:

The prophets, like us, could not grasp either the totality of the God in whose behalf they spoke or the fullness of the prophecy they were given. I often think that Isaiah himself didn't understand his own prophecies very well. Those of us who seek understanding of their words might do well to be humbled that there is not only more to God's purposes than we comprehend, there is more than we can comprehend.
To me this is a key insight into the human condition today; an insight that those of the secular faith are quite content to skip over. They are content to ignore it because it trumps the religion of the self on all levels. It says, as clearly as possible, that God is not finished with us, either as individuals or as a species. It reflects the self-evident truth that, for all our instruments that peer down into the core of matter or out to the birthplace of creation, the internal instrument that we use to interpret all of this is the least tuned or understood of all. The more we understand about the mystery of the universe we find ourselves within, the deeper the mystery becomes. For all that we know of ourselves and the world, we still seem to be at a place in our understanding that is little better than pagan cosmologies from Mesapotamia; a place where it is still "turtles all the way down."

This interests me because it betokens one of the many points at which, more and more, we see the realm of science edging towards the realm of religion in more than one discipline. Indeed, it is not too much to say, for those that track the disciplines of particle physics and cosmology, that physics and metaphysics seem to be melding more with every passing day. Now I am sure there are many professional scientists and mathematicians that would have a problem with that formulation, but I am equally sure that there are many others who would not.

There has been a lot of loose talk over the past month concerning who among us is truly "intelligent" and, by extension, must then be more fit to lead than those deemed "less intelligent." As a formerly "very smart person," I've leaned to be very wary of those who claim a superior intellect based on "social ideas" alone. I've seen, in my life and in my readings of history from all sides of the political spectrum, how deeply into the pit "brilliant social theories" can lead mankind; seen the depravity which a worship of educated intelligence can create, and have come to understand that intelligence can rest in the hearts of men, the hands of men, and the souls of men as easily, and at times to more benefit to men, than that which resides solely in the brain.

These days I'm more and more of the mind-set that says God and/or Evolution (And why can these two ideas not co-exist?) is far from finished with us. Until then, I'll stand with those whose intelligence says that intelligence is measured more through an understanding of our ignorance than a worship of our accomplishments.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 7, 2004 11:03 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Sunday Meditation

"We live in an age whose chief moral value has been determined, by overwhelming consensus, to be the absolute liberty of personal volition, the power of each of us to choose what he or she believes, wants, needs, or must possess; our culturally most persuasive models of human freedom are unambiguously voluntarist and, in a rather debased and degraded way, Promethean; the will, we believe, is sovereign because unpremised, free because spontaneous, and this is the highest good. And a society that believes this must, at least implicitly, embrace and subtly advocate a very particular moral metaphysics: the unreality of any 'value' higher than choice, or of any transcendent Good ordering desire towards a higher end. Desire is free to propose, seize, accept or reject, want or not want -- but not to obey.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 5, 2004 11:48 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dutch Do-It-Yourself Death-Cult Expands

Why wait for the demented death-cult among your Muslim population to kill your citizens when you can just do it yourself?

Dutch health officials are considering guidelines doctors could follow for euthanizing terminally ill people "with no free will," including children, the severely mentally retarded and patients in irreversible comas.

Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia -- ending the life of someone suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, with their approval....

Eric Van Yijlick, project manager for SCEN (Support and Consultation on Euthanasia in the Netherlands), said the Groningen cases involving newborns should be referred to as "life ending without request" rather than euthanasia, because that term indicates the dying party has requested the procedure.
-- - Dutch ponder 'mercy killing' rules - Dec 1, 2004

Look hard at that last phrase, "life ending without request." Then try to comprehend that this is something that the "sensible" elements among the Dutch are actively discussing. Then understand the discussion go far enough and be sensible enough, "life ending without request" will be the policy and law of the state. Keep in mind that the Dutch are firmly opposed to the death penalty and still consider murder to be a crime.

But "life ending without request" will be different?

Really? How? If you are in a coma believed to be irreversible? If you are born with a birth defect that is "too much?" If you are retarded enough? Severely this year, not quite so severely next year, just a little retarded the year after that?

I like the Dutch. I'm part Dutch myself. I have relatives in Holland. I've spent quite of bit of time there. All that and more. But looking at the way they seem to have been allowing their insane intellectuals to run their policies and shape their debate, it looks more and more like Holland is heading to one big Jonestown Kool-Aid Festival in the coming years.

Too bad. They had some great cheese.
HT: The Diplomad

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt goes deeper into the grisley meanings of this story inDeath by Committee: This is either a low point, or a point of no return. The establishment of "independent committees" to dispatch non-consenting humans is nothing but a


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 5, 2004 11:43 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why We Are In Iraq: The Short, Illustrated Explanation


You'll get further with a kind word and a gun
than with a kind word alone.

-- From Tom Weller's Minims

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 4, 2004 1:05 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Working It Out

Should you feel a sudden urge to get out of your chair and exercise, watch this cutting-edge fitness video and it will pass.

WARNING: The management of this site is not responsible for any lasting mental damage, permanent facial twitching, or incidents of spontaneous human combustion.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 3, 2004 11:47 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
In the Truck or Under It

I confess I'm not quite sure what Cobb is driving or driving at in The Vector but I have to admit I like reading the whole thing. Excerpt:

The difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives know the truck is always coming. They're looking for ways to escape - to get away clean. The liberals are trying to set up traffic lights and warning signs so that nobody gets hit. That's why liberals are so attracted to despair. They know the feeling, while trying to be nobody's enemy, of watching a fellow human splattered. Writings of despair could be shared by liberals and conservatives. Perhaps it is the proper nexus. It was despair that changed me.

I turned Republican when I realized that catastrophe is inevitable, and the only salvation is becoming


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 3, 2004 6:03 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Recessional by Rudyard Kipling


GOD of our fathers, known of old--
      Lord of our far-flung battle-line--
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
      Dominion over palm and pine--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies--
      The captains and the kings depart--
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
      An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!


There may well be even more terrible things to come in Iraq than what we have seen already, but there will also be far better things than were there before. And there will come a time, when all those who slandered the efforts -- the Germans, the French, the American radical Left, the vicious Michael "Minutemen" Moore, the pampered and coddled Hollywood elite, the Arab League, and the U.N. will assume that Iraq is a "good thing" like Afghanistan, and that democracy there really was preferable -- after they had so bravely weighed in with their requisite "ifs" and "buts" -- to the mass murders of Saddam Hussein. Yes, they will say all this, but it will be for the rest of us to remember how it all came about and what those forgotten soldiers and people of Iraq went through to get it -- lest we forget, lest we forget....
-- How Far We've Come, Let's Not Forget by Victor Davis Hanson

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 3, 2004 1:30 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
CBS Announces Dan Rather's Replacement

IN A SUDDEN TURNABOUT THAT SHATTERED MANY DREAMS AT CBS NEWS, LES MOONVES, HEAD OF CBS, today announced that the network has decided to replace veteran anchorman Dan Rather " with the only man in news broadcasting today that can repair and restore our credibility and ratings, Jon Stewart."

Mr. Stewart, host of The Daily Show on the Comedy Channel, brings, Moonves continued, "youth, truthfulness, and what we seem to lack most -- viewers and viewers who are young as well."

Asked if Dan Rather had any say in the selection of his replacement, Mooves commented "Dan reviewed Stewart's resume which was faxed over to his office and pronounced that document genuine. Beyond that Dan's made his last comment about anything. We want to move this story off of Dan Rather and onto the new line-up for CBS. Now, with the addition of Jon Stewart and CSI: Teaneck, New Jersey we've become the one to beat."

Outside analysts were unanimous in approving the move. William Safire of the New York Times remarked, "Jon Stewart who? Well, a baboon could do better. That Stewart show is past my bed time." Frank Rich, also of the New York Times said, "He's cute. Real cute. A Cary Grant for our time, but with firmer buttocks." Bill Moyers of PBS noted "Stewart has the uncanny ability to hold two different positions at the same time and John Kerry wasn't available so he'll have to do." Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, contacted by email replied, "Indeed."

Although veteran television news analysts at CBS were dumbfounded at being taken out of the running for Rather's slot, they failed to notice that this is the position the clever Mr. Stewart has been angling for throughout his career. One member of Mr. Rather's staff commenting on background said, "We should have seen it coming when Jon took that supporting role in Death to Smoochie, about the backstabbing that goes on at a children's television show. 60 Minutes has been a lot like that lately."

Reached by phone in Baghdad where The Daily Show is preparing to cover the upcoming Iraqi elections, Mr. Stewart would only say "Dan Rather is like a God to me. I am not worthy. Gotta go, we've got incoming..... "

Mr. Rather was unavailable for comment, but his office promised a statement from him "just as soon as Andrew can talk him down from the edge of the roof here at Black Rock."

UPDATE: Less than three hours after this announcement was made, an outraged Bill O'Reilly had to be escorted from the lobby of Black Rock by no less than three security men. Ask for comment, O'Reilly would only say, "Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine...."

[Originally published September 27, 2004]

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 2, 2004 11:20 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Coming Distractions

We regret that our usual prodigious output of free-association and unrestrained blather has been constrained in the last few days. We have been having issues.

Say rather that our hosting service has been having issues with us. Issues that I shall not go into just yet, but will rant upon fully at a later date.

Previous Hosting Situation

Suffice it to say that these issues were enough, when coupled with research into said late host at webmaster boards across the net, to induce me to move the site onto new, improved servers at the hallowed Hosting Matters.

New American Digest Control Room @ Hosting Matters

I'd been toying with this idea for a few months but, overcome by inertia, hadn't really pressed forward on it. Now, with the tireless help of my long suffering friend and web designer, Tom Eberle, the move has been accomplished.

About Tom, more later as well. For now, American Digest is feet dry at Hosting Matters. I must say it feels good.

In the coming week, it will be back to blather as usual here. I've got several items at the half-bake in the background and I hope to be able to put them up soon.

Among them will be:

  • "Blog-Forward:" The Next Steps Already Taken in the Evolution of this Medium.
  • "Evolutionary Creationism:" The Hidden Nexus of Two Opposing Views of the Universe
  • "Waiting for Bartlett:" Remaking the Democratic Party in It's Own Graven Image
  • "Frequently Answered Questions"
  • "Killing Children 'For the Children':" The Dutch Way of Death Coming to a Cultural War Theater Near You Soon
  • "Immigrant Mother:" The Photos Around and the Story Behind Dorthea Lange's Most Famous Depression Photograph [Illustrated]
  • "Ansel Adams, Cub Newspaper Reporter:" The Urban News Photography of America's Most Celebrated Nature Photographer [Illustrated]
  • "While Visions of Rednecks Danced In Their Heads:" Fighting Bad Blue Acid Flashbacks
  • "The Black Freighter:" The American Ship of State in the 21st Century

Plus a few Christmas presents for your all suitable for use in a last minute wrapping frenzy and sure to offend someone on your list.

And... maybe... a regular film reviewer which, lucky for you, will not be me.

For now, however, suffice it to say that spending a week or so moving two hundred megabytes of blog from California to Florida has tuckered me out. I'm taking a break for a few hours.

See you on the flip side.

[If you must, we point out that the Archives tab above now works. So dunk around if you've a mind. All told there are over 4000 entries to choose from.]

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 1, 2004 9:47 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Inside Blogball: Unfortunate HTML Formatting of the Day

There's an arcanel dust-up going on today with Jeff Jarvis and the esteemed Doc Searls putting the smackdown on Seth Godin for his web-breaking worship of the "very special and they don't suck" PDF files handed out by ChangeThis.

Yes, yes, I know that's it is all just a bit too much "inside-blogball," but bear with me. Seth makes much of the muchness about why the Change This PDFs don't suck because "We spent weeks meticulously designing a PDF layout that is specifically designed to look beautiful on the screen. A layout that is a joy to read." He's right. But then again, he should be paying more attention to the Change This main page and its layout where today we see:

I trust Ms. Suitt is a calm person, otherwise I'm thinking LawSuitt.

I remain agnostic on the PDF vs. HTML issue, but I don't think this would have happened in PDF.
UPDATE: Results!

The text in the graphic above now reads:
30-November | The Art of Alpha Female Blogging
Halley Suitt | As blogging has crept into the mainstream, the question's no more "what's a blog", but why or how... more »

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 1, 2004 3:39 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Hey, Kids, What Time is It? Why, with the World Burning, It's Time to Celebrate Hybrid Horseshit!

FILED UNDER "THIS IS A FAT COUNTRY AND WE'VE GOT TIME FOR FAT THINKING!" PJM News - DC Global Warming Activists to Drive Home Message to President: First Annual Hybrid Car Parade, Dec. 3

On Saturday, December 3, 2005 at 11 a.m. EST, Washington-area global warming advocates will hold the First Annual Hybrid Car Parade around the White House. 45 hybrid cars will circle 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as advocates demand real solutions to the problem of global warming.

No doubt about it, there are lots of fellow citizens who actually believe the main thing on the Earth that's trying to kill them is the internal combustion engine.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 1, 2004 1:51 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Blog Scan

THE WISDOM OF THE INCREDIBLES applied to the Democrats @ Right Side Redux.

BEST TRIPLE ENTENDRE HEADLINE OF THE YEAR is at the top of the scroll over @ Roger L. Simon's


To which one can only reply, "What do you mean 'We,' white liberal leftoids?


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 1, 2004 11:38 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Stealth Hatred on the Web? What Else is New?

Here's a bit of surprising antisemitism hiding at Modern Marketing - Collaborate Marketing Services: FCUK Open Source

While following a link trail this morning, I called up the above article. A bit edgy that title. Flopping the UC to the CU.

What was disturbing, however, was not the title of the page, but the title of the link in the raw html address. This is (at least for now):

This company bills itself as "Our specialism is planning marketing campaigns that respect this new world. We mix traditional marketing activities such as design, PR and advertising with new digital techniques to create powerful communications programmes."

I've written the site to ask: "Do you think this file name is proper for your site?"

I'll be interested in their reply.
REPLY, UPDATE AND CORRECTION: James @ talks about the background of the unfortunate filename in the comments to this item.

FCUK is a European brand name for a company called French Connection UK. They use the play on the name to appeal to an edgy teengae audience. In a conversation with a fellow UK blogger, we were discussing the possibility of brands being hijacked for evil reasons. I initially gave the post that title but then changed it thinking it was a bit much. However, the filename had been created. Once again apologies for any offence. (I am actually Jewish myself, thus my interest in my fellow bloggers comments.)
That seems more than reasonable to me and I accept this explanation and apologize for taking offense so quickly at something that the software puts beyond his control.

Posted by Van der Leun Dec 1, 2004 8:46 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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