Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
George Felos, Lawyer for Michael Schiavo, and Telepath to the Comatose

IN A LIFE IN WHICH I'VE SEEN AND HEARD MANY CREEPY THINGS, IT TAKES A LOT OF MAKE THE HAIR ON THE BACK OF MY NECK STAND UP, but now I am officially creeped out. I admit I haven't given too much thought to Michael Schiavo's lawyer, George Felos. I wrote him off as simply another cell in the vast pond scum that covers the surface of what is called "the legal profession." Then a passing comment at another site caused me to search out his book. I found it first on Amazon, but the reviews there were suspect so I decided I couldn't form an opinion from those. Then I went to the site of his "publisher," Blue Dolphin, reasoning that they would put forward Felos' book in the best possible light. Perhaps they do. Here's the top quote on the page, Litigation as Spiritual Practice (Blue Dolphin Publishing)

Such a deep, dark, silent blue. I stared as far into her eyes as I could, hoping to sense some glimmer of understanding, some hint of awareness. The deeper I dove, the darker became the blue, until the blue became the black of some bottomless lake. "Mrs. Browning, do you want to die ... do you want to die?" I nearly shouted as I continued to peer into her pools of strikingly beautiful but incognizant blue. It felt so eerie. Her eyes were wide open and crystal clear, but instead of the warmth of lucidity, they burned with the ice of expressionlessness.
Got that? Did you grok the black of the bottomless lake of shameless shyster's drooling lunacy? In my ignorance, I had supposed that you needed to demonstrate higher rational functions to be admitted to the Florida Bar. Ah, such a fool am I.

Just in case that purple gem of putrid prose didn't convince you, here's another paragraph from the excerpt Blue Dolphin proudly displays:


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 31, 2005 7:52 AM | Comments (204)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Pre-Owned Jeans

ONE OF THE SMALL ECONOMIES about living in New York City for years and relocating to Southern California is to be had in clothing costs. If one of your jobs in New York was being a men's fashion editor for a magazine, you find that you don't buy clothes so much as have them.

In any case, I dumped clothes by the cartload before I moved, and I still had far too many when I arrived. Since I don't ski, the usefulness of items that would put Nanook of the North into a sweat during January in Greenland are pretty dubious when every day can be a day at the beach. As a result, I've been pretty much out of the clothing shopping cycle for years and I find it, to say the least, refreshing.

In Laguna Beach if you hold two pairs of shorts, a couple of swim suits, a few Hawaiian Shirts and two pairs of jeans for "formal occasions," you're pretty much done. But "wear happens" and I've noted that my Levis have been getting -- even for Levis -- fairly grotty in the last couple of months. Yesterday, I decided they about to be redefined as "rags," and I so set off to purchase my first new pair of jeans in at least six years.

Since I'm a hit-and-run shopper I did what any American male in search of jeans-to-go would do, I turned left into the parking lot of the first Gap I saw and sauntered inside confident of my mission. Unlike my wife who tends to shop like a wild gazelle grazes -- a nip here and graze there and, presto, six different designer shopping bags -- I knew what I wanted. I also knew how much I was going to spend. Unlike my wife who never really spends any money on clothes, but only "saves" money on clothes. [ Me: "You look great in that new outfit with the shoes and the hat. How much did they cost?" Her: "Would you believe I saved over $800 on this? How great is that?" Me: "That's really great."]

I firmly believe that if you have to spend more than 15 minutes in a clothing store, you don't need what you think you need. My list was short. I wanted one pair of five pocket denim jeans, blue, crisp, and coming in at no more than $50. The Gap was the place for me.

Fool. Yes, fool. For if you want to find a pair of crisp, new blue jeans in trendy deco SoCal, you'd better pack a lunch, because you are about to find yourself trapped inside an episode of "Shop Trek."

It's not that you can't buy some new jeans at the Gap, it is just that you can't buy any new new jeans.

Yes, it would seem that sometime in the last six years, the American people have become so fat and so happy and so inordinately lazy that they no longer want to put their own wear, sweat and stress into their Levis. Nope, it seems


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 31, 2005 7:22 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Big Box Store"

YESTERDAY I WROTE ABOUT "The Big Pinata "Today in the Wall Street Journal Peggy Noonan writes about the big box store in "Patriots, Then and Now -- With nations as with people, love them or lose them."

Because we do not communicate to our immigrants, legal and illegal, that they have joined something special, some of them, understandably, get the impression they've joined not a great enterprise but a big box store. A big box store on the highway where you can get anything cheap. It's a good place. But it has no legends, no meaning, and it imparts no spirit.

Who is at fault? Those of us who let the myth die, or let it change, or refused to let it be told. The politically correct nitwit teaching the seventh-grade history class who decides the impressionable young minds before him need to be informed, as their first serious history lesson, that the Founders were hypocrites, the Bill of Rights nothing new and imperfect in any case, that the Indians were victims of genocide, that Lincoln was a clinically depressed homosexual who compensated for the storms within by creating storms without . . .

You can turn any history into mud. You can turn great men and women into mud too, if you want to.

And it's not just the nitwits, wherever they are, in the schools, the academy, the media, though they're all harmful enough. It's also the people who mean to be honestly and legitimately critical, to provide a new look at the old text. They're not noticing that the old text--the legend, the myth--isn't being taught anymore. Only the commentary is. But if all the commentary is doubting and critical, how will our kids know what to love and revere? How will they know how to balance criticism if they've never heard the positive side of the argument?

Those who teach, and who think for a living about American history, need to be told: Keep the text, teach the text, and only then, if you must, deconstruct the text.

When you don't love something you lose it. If we do not teach new Americans to love their country, and not for braying or nationalistic reasons but for reasons of honest and thoughtful appreciation, and gratitude, for a history that is something new in the long story of man, then we will begin to lose it.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 30, 2005 5:16 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What Good? No Good at All.

AT SOME POINT LAST WEEK, caught between the online Scylla and Charybdis of the Democratic Underground and the Free Republic, I began to understand that common humanity in general, myself included, was not going to be advanced no matter what the resolution of the Terri Schiavo matter. Indeed, it didn't seem to matter what your opinion was, you were going to be -- as these things go now in America -- dragged into the mire along with the rest of the country. Once it became clear that there would be no reprieve for this woman, but that the sentence of death-by-starvation-for-her-own good was set in stone, the entire country was condemned to be tainted by the unfolding spectacle.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 29, 2005 5:25 PM | Comments (17)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Tia Jemima: Stamps from the Land of Day Labor

IT SEEMS LIKE ONLY YESTERDAY that the Vincente Fox, the President of the Oligarchy of Mexico was lauding his border-busting constituents for being willing to do jobs in America "not even blacks want." Wait. It was yesterday. Today, however, we see a kinder and gentler face of the Mexican government. A series of postage stamps that illustrates the the immense respect and sensitivity of Mexico to negroes the world over.

Here's some samples of their usually worthless postage stamps which will soon be the most highly collectible items among philatelists of the Klu Klux Klan.
story.stamp2.ap.jpg story.stamp3.ap.jpg

Is it too much to hope that the United States issues a similar tribute using, say, Gordo and Speedy Gonzales?

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 29, 2005 3:47 PM | Comments (19)  | QuickLink: Permalink

ILLEGALS SWARM OVER WHITE HOUSE FENCE TO APPLY FOR OTHER JOBS 'NO AMERICAN WILL DO:' "In a symbolic gesture of the new White House attitude, Mr. Bush offered to dump other loyal staffers in exchange for more positive press coverage as well as Congressional action on some of his policy initiatives." -- ScrappleFace: Card Departs, Bush Offers to Fire Other Staffers

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 29, 2005 9:27 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Be Careful What You Wish For


"In just a matter of hours, classical works by Homer, Ovid and Vergil disintegrated, Europe was overun by Moors and is now under a theocratic dictatorship, works by Michaelangelo and other artists vanished, the slave trade resurrected, his wife ceased to be, and 2000 years of unsaid prayers went unanswered.

He said he wished the Catholic Church never existed."

Funny and not in the peculiar sense.

[HT: The Anchoress]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 28, 2005 3:25 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why They've Got No Further Use for You

AS I WAS QUITE RUDELY REMINDED YESTERDAY, it is possible for people to dump you according to how you vote. Especially if you were once 'one of them.' I've been at some odds to understand this since that is certainly not my default state, but today I found this sensible explanation by a woman who has experienced the same thing. Unlike my emotional confusion about this phenomenon, she has the advantage of being a trained therapist: Condescension and leaving the political fold

Attacks. Name-calling: "imperialist," "colonialist"--and, in one rather memorable case, "Dan Quayle lover," although I certainly hadn't breathed a word about any passion for him. Many of my friends were noticeably cooler to me after these exchanges, and a couple of old friends actually severed our relationship (permanently, so far).

There are a host of reasons this happened, I suppose. But at the time I didn't see it coming, and it was extremely shocking and disturbing to me. But now that I've had some time to think about it, I think that I actually would have gotten a better response from them if I'd skipped the "I've always been a liberal Democrat" intro. Because there are few things more hated than an apostate, a turncoat, a traitor.

Someone who leaves the fold is much worse than someone who was never in it. There's a special rage reserved for those who have rejected the ideas that others hold dear. I don't think I ever said anything condescending to any of these people, but time and again I they told me I was being condescending.

But when I thought about it, I realized that this perception of condescension was inevitable and unavoidable. After all, I was saying "I used to believe 'A,' but now I believe 'B,'" and I was addressing people who continued to believe "A." Under the circumstances, how could they fail to see me as condescending, whether I was really conveying that attitude or not?

An angle I'd not considered which, added to the fact that your very presence reminds them of political realities they would choose to forget, explains a lot of otherwise inexplicable behavior.

Elsewhere at the same site 'Neo-Neocon' is also conducting a longer analysis of what it means to change political horses in mid-life: A mind is a difficult thing to change: Part 3--Beginnings. Recommended.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 28, 2005 1:39 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Being Not Here Now

THE ATTENTION GIVEN TO THE PLIGHT OF THE DISABLED IN AMERICA made me recall this essay I wrote last September: Visit to an Old Friend. More at the link. A part of it reads,

Be. Here. Now. Remember that phrase?

He's here but not here now. It's two decades, two wives, two daughters, and many more than two strokes later. He's here now in this residence hotel for the aged and the infirm in a San Francisco neighborhood doesn't change with the years. He's waiting for me in his wheelchair, in the sun, his brother by his side. He's only 59 years old with God only knows how many years ahead of him.

He might still want to play the piano, but his hands won't answer him any more. They can't it. They'll never do it again. The hands no longer answer when he calls them. He's learned not to call.

Now his hands can barely lift a spoon or maneuver a cup to his lips. His speech is slurred and slow. You can see the end of the sentence fade from his mind before he gets to the middle. Still, in fits and starts, in moments and sparks of expression, you can see him emerge from inside his prison and then sink back in. You find yourself looking for those moments. You glide over all the others.

We meet and we go for a walk and a roll with his brother in the San Francisco afternoon. We come back and take a table in the Indian restaurant under the series of rooms are now his last home. We work our way through the lunch buffet. And we talk, mostly about the past since the past is where he's most at ease.

The fence we built on his ranch/commune. The day the two dogs we owned from the same litter killed the chicken. The stoned, comic film we were going to make with large vats of spaghetti in the first scene. Wives we had and girls we knew. The old songs. The handsome collection of pot plants on the deck that was taken away by the local police. The concerts. The marches. All the old moments, more than we could say in the few hours we had.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 28, 2005 12:50 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dumb Politics Makes for Dumber Headlines

YOU'D THINK Publishers Weekly would have writers who could see unintentional humor in bad headlines instead of being impressed with their own cleverness. You'd be wrong: Not Biden His Time: Senator Random to Hook Up

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 28, 2005 12:10 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
HER BODY, MY SELF : What's In It for Michael Schiavo?

A SHORT NOTE CONCERNING the financial benefits to Michael Schiavo that will accrue from the death of his wife.

I've seen numerous comments that the money given to Terri following various settlements has been dissipated in paying for hospice care and legal bills over the years. I have no way of knowing how true that is, but I suspect that it is, in the main, the case. I also note that the defenders of the man who now has to rank as the worst husband in America since Bill Clinton never tire of pointing out that "he turned down a million dollars " to transfer Terri's guardianship to the family. Again, I have no way of knowing how true that is, but if he did it was a shrewd move and, as we observe Michael Schiavo in his television appearances, we can see he is a shrewd man.

What I do have some sense of is how much money Michael Schiavo stands to make if, and only if, his wife dies. It is, for a man, with a fresh new wife and two children, substantial. Having worked as an editor for Houghton Mifflin and as a literary agent, I have some sense of the price the publishing and media worlds would put on his story. It will be significantly more than 30 pieces of silver.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 28, 2005 7:25 AM | Comments (112)  | QuickLink: Permalink

ONE YEAR OLD: The Mighty Middle : "The real political fight in this country is not between the right and the left, but between reason and fanaticism; between the living and the brain dead."

If you go, be sure to click the banner and watch the video.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 27, 2005 2:44 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Building the Perfect Beast: What Is to Be Done in the Blogosphere

The power of reason, the top of the heap.
We're the ones who can kill the things we don't eat .
Sharper than a serpent's tongue,
Tighter than a bongo drum,
Quicker than a one-night stand,
Slicker than a mambo band.
And now the day is come.
Soon he will be released.
Glory hallelujah!
We're building the Perfect Beast .

        -- Don Henley

The Blog is in the Bias

An offhand comment at an online forum I sometimes frequent noted that political blogs, presenting themselves as unbiased in order to criticize the bias of the mainstream media, were actually the most biased form of media around. Blogs biased? Inconceivable! The statement elicited virtual nods all around as if the participant had discovered the spherical nature of the Earth.

This is the sort of statement that always gives me pause. Could it possibly be that an intelligent person, reading through the endless variety of political blogs available, would come to the conclusion that blogs present themselves, as a group, as an unbiased medium? I've read many thousands and I've yet to discover one. To aim a spotlight on bias in the media does not, it seems to me, wrap the handler of the spotlight in the noble robes of balanced fairness. Quite the opposite.

Indeed, the signal strength -- beyond all others -- that blogs bring to the multi-media festival of the 21st century is their clear and present bias. Show me a blog without an easily discernible bias and I'll show you a link farm formed by a Commodore 64 running untended in a basement closet since 1988 on a 300 baud dialup line with a full frontal ASCII interface. An unbiased blog? There is no such animal.

The bias makes the blog. Without bias there is no reason for a blog to exist and, if one does exist, it's readership can be counted on the digits of a one-legged three-toed sloth. The force of the blog flows from its bias.

For good or ill, blogs are a force to be reckoned with on the national and international scene. What remains to be seen is whether or not blogs, as a medium -- or better still "a multi-medium of the multitudes" -- can build upon this position, bootstrapping themselves into ever widening spheres of influence. This is, as is the manner of blogs, already happening on an ad hoc basis. It will continue to happen at an accelerating pace. But it can be accelerated through applications of capital, organization, planning, and most importantly, intent.

CamoCasters of the Airwaves and Newsstands

Before the consolidation of newspapers that took place across the last few decades of the 20th century, a signal strength of print journalism was, taken on a title by title basis, that it was neither fair nor balanced. Instead, these newspapers dealt in a specific bias and looked to readers with similar feelings to seek them out. Pro-union, anti-union; Democrat, Republican, Socialist, Communist -- all these and more made for a heady brew at newsstands in city and town.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 26, 2005 8:30 PM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
This Is My Rifle, This Is My Gun

General Barnicke: Where have you been soldier?
John Winger: Training, sir.
Soldiers: Training, sir.
General Barnicke: What kind of training?
John Winger: Army training, sir.
Soldiers: Army training, sir.
-- Stripes

Yes, "Army Training!" as seen in the small film @ Boots & Sabers: Artillery 101.

[via Donald Sensing's "Take it from an old artillery guy – this is not the way to fire a howitzer." @ One Hand Clapping ]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 26, 2005 12:10 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Hissing of the Copperheads is Heard About the Land

Go where desertion is no crime --
Where loyalty is dead
Where sad disaster gives no pain;
There is the Copperhead.
Go where foul scorn is heaped upon
Our noble boys, who go
To stand a wall of fire between
Us and our traitor foe:
Go where bold Grant's revilers are --
Where Burnside is defamed;
Where Banks and Butler -- noble names! --
In scorn alone are named:
Go where patriotic pride,
Honor, and Truth are dead --
Where our success brings but despair;
There is the Copperhead.

-- From "Where is the Copperhead? "
Harper's Weekly, September, 1863

VICTOR HANSON, being interviewed by Hugh Hewitt, mentions in passing, "If you go back and look at the Summer of 1864, when people were calling for Lincoln's impeachment, the Copperhead movement..."

Copperheads? That sounds familiar and the poem above has a certain, shall I say, resonance. How familiar and resonant? Well.... read on.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 26, 2005 11:12 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Waking at Dawn

IT IS SO SILENT HERE that the softest of noises can wake me. This morning it was the rush of wings and mutterings from the two doves that seem to have taken up residence in the foliage outside my bedroom window.

It was just after first light, 5:45 by the red numerals on the coffee pot in the kitchen. I took the pot and filled it with water, put in the beans, and started the device. As it whirred and chuffled away, I walked out onto my deck that looks out over the brindle hills and down to the Pacific a mile or so away.

The sea seemed ruffled in large smooth circles, slate in the fading shadow of the hills but, as it rolled out towards the horizon, shading up into a charcoled blue, then to a gray blue haze at the horizon rising up into rose that gave off abruptly into clear and fresh blue.

Hanging just above the line of rose was the full moon gleaming gold in the exact center of all that I could see.

I watched it slide down the sky for some time, then I went back into the kitchen for coffee. When I came out to look again, it was gone.

Unexpected beauty rising in the center of all you can see. Take your eyes away and then look again and its gone. But the day goes on and the light rises around you and you know, with an abiding faith, that beauty will surprise you again when you least expect it, out of the dark on a rush of wings. There are many ways of this world and that one is not the least of them.

I thought for a moment about turning on the news to see what had transpired in the rest of the world while I slept. I decided against it. Held halfway between a death and a life, between Good Friday and Easter, I'd already learned the news of the day.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 26, 2005 7:21 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Eastern Gate

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 26, 2005 12:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Ancient Virus

FOUR DAYS AGO, I noticed a small news item that told me the virus had found another host. It is a clever virus, wise enough to mutate but still remain the same. It thrives in oppressive states and lately has found the means to thrive in an oppressive state that appears to be not oppressive but democratic. As I said, it is a clever virus.

"Struggling to remain at the cutting edge of anti-semitism, Canada is issuing, or, rather, re-issuing, politically correct passports for its Israel born Jewish citizens: Canadian Jews born in Jerusalem are having their passports recalled in order to erase the word "Israel" from beside the name of the Jewish State's capital."
Not really the sort of thing you'd expect from one of the West's liberal democracy, is it. But the virus is very clever because the virus is very old.

Anti-Semitism is our most ancient spiritual virus. It is the oldest known virus that attacks, replicates within, and then destroys the human soul. The existence of Israel masks the existence of the virus in many infected souls, institutions, and, yes, liberal democracies by renaming itself as Anti-Zionism. This is especially clever since the renaming has survived the political movment it refers to. Through the renaming of this ancient disease as a “political problem,” many people now become infected through their friends, families, at their schools, from their community, church, or nation, or from exchanging infected fantasies with infected ideologues. (This is especially evident in the increasing support given to the virus by the Left here and abroad.) By changing the name of the disease it has become possible for many to deny that they have contracted the virus. This facilitates the current outbreak. Yes, it is a clever virus and this eerie shape-shifting is one of its oldest methods of perpetuating itself. A contemporary Christian might say it is one of the oldest "Faces of the Enemy." It is what it is.

The origin of the virus is unknown, but many suspect the area to be Bablyon and Sumur with an early leap across borders into Egypt. It was later transmitted through not-so-casual contact to much of the world by traders out of Northern Africa and the Roman Empire.

During the period following the fall of Rome, the virus found traction in early Christianity as a common carrier. In this host it thrived, and was able to survive and spread for many centuries. Of late, many parts of Christianity, now that it has become fragmented, have rejected the virus and those who host it, but strains of the virus can still be found at the center of many subsets of the Christian faith today.

Islam, of course, is the not-that-new major religion to not only host the virus, but to celebrate being infected with it, and to actively take measures to make sure that, within the body of Islam, the virus can thrive and expand and continue its contamination of souls almost unchecked. What to do about this new and virulent strain of the virus is something that is now consuming a great deal of the attention and treasure of Western Civilization.

In our recent past, treatment of the virus, once it had taken over whole nations, was first sought through the application of "the talking cure." This only fed it and let it grow stronger and more virulent. Ultimately, measures were taken similar to those that once dealt with the Black Plague. The cure required a large sacrifice in human life across the face of the Earth and dealt in the application of large amounts of steel and fire on the sites of the infection.

Our more enlightened age is still experimenting with a regimen that mixes "the talking cure" with a small application of highly targeted micro-surgery on some of the infected parts of Islam. It is hoped that this less Draconian cure will work; that it will not be necessary to use radiation treatments. To date, the prognosis seems positive if guarded. A virus-induced flare-up of any significant size within the United States would be a setback and the radiation option would be seriously and immediately considered. Would there be such a flare up? Recent history is not comforting.

Flare-ups of the virus have been common across civilization throughout the last 2 millennia, but an overwhelming series of eruptions in centered in Germany but infecting most contiguous nations and then seething in the lands controlled by the USSR, required a global intervention before the conflagration was deemed to be put out. For a time, like smallpox, the virus was declared, if not extinct, certainly on the wane.

This, of course was an illusion, since like root fires, the virus only smoldered underground in the human and social hosts for a few decades before flaring up once again in the petrified social forests of the Middle East. It short order the flare-ups were repeated, more politely, in the centers of a now Unified Europe. Given the new, improved vectors of communication and air travel, the virus leaped oceans quite nimbly and began its work anew across the face of the planet. As always, the infection started quietly -- a nod, a wink, a small editorial of the most reasoned sort that no reasonable person could possibly object to -- but it came to the same thing in the end. It became, again, acceptable. The virus needs assent to enter the host. Any assent, no matter how small, will do.

With the advent of the "Palestinian cause" becoming chic in Western, European, and Liberal circles -- fed at first by Socialist Progressive romanticism in the late 1960s and early 1970s -- being infected by virus has once more become acceptable to exhibit socially in certain ways. Indeed, in many circles and societies, having the virus has lately become a highly prized fashion accessory to popular academic, media, and state ideologies. More clever still is one of the most ancient disguises of the virus made new again. This disguise is the one where the virus tells you it does not exist and has never existed. Cyclon-B was for delousing and those ovens were only for baking bread.

The virus, because it is an ancient and clever virus, can lie dormant for years, and like HIV, can mutate around a lot of therapies designed to destroy it.

As noted above, in the recent past, it has been shown that large doses of steel and fire can eradicate the virus in some populations, but only for a time. A cure is promised, but seems to be always delayed. The only measures that work are, at best, prophylactic. Another strategy is strict monitoring to prevent the spread of the virus. This seemed to be holding the virus at bay for decades. Lately, however, this method has broken down. The virus, like terrorism, has recently been able to piggy-back on the world-circling data-stream, and infect individuals and groups previously deemed immune.

But there is, as history demonstrates, no immunity to be had from the virus. The only strategy that seems to work is abstinence. This is accomplished by a rigorous rejection of all attempts by the virus to establish itself within an individual host. Constant monitoring and the suppression through education or other means of outbreaks in groups or ideologies or nations is also required. There can be no assent. There can be no reasonable reason. There can be no forgetting.

Since the virus has been present in human hosts for well over 4,000 years, hopes for eradication in our lifetime are slim. Hopes for eradication in the future are better in civilized countries if, and only if, members of the generations now living and infected with the virus become dedicated to not transmitting to future generations. The virus is found nowhere else in nature except within the human host. If it is denied transmission to the young, the virus, clever though it may be, can be eliminated from the world in three generations. But only if.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 26, 2005 12:37 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
First Things and First Principles

IN THE END, it is never a matter of law, but a matter of what you believe. It is clear that Americans today have two sets of beliefs. The first group believes:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The second group believes:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Government and their Laws with many legislatable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Which one you believe determines who you are. And you must choose.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 25, 2005 11:32 PM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink

--or --The American Booksellers At Play in Foggy Bottom

[Yesterday�s exchange about the liberalism that infects publishing put me in mind of a series of items I wrote more than 13 years ago about the state of publishing when I was much more engaged with it. I went to the online attic where a lot of these things are kept and managed to pull a few out of the old dusty packing crates and smuggle them past the ghosts. A few struck me as still germane to today�s publishing environment -- even more so because so little has changed -- except the names of the usual suspects. Don�t think it's dated. This is probably a whole lot like what will happen this year.]

One of the favorite places for the American Booksellers Association (ABA) to hold a convention is Washington D.C. This city of hard-core inept government somehow attacts one of the most inept businesses in the private sphere. It somehow calls them home. Perhaps it makes publishers, by contrast, feel smart and efficient. I don�t know. It is a city of large examples of neo-Federalist and Fascist overbuilding nestled next to one of the worst black ghettos in the world; a city where the very streets and tempo speak of a certain benighted mindlessness; a city careful to close all its museums and most of its shrines on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend; and now a city of thousands of dazed bookstore owners pulling shopping carts along the streets as they head towards the annual show of most of the 57,000 books we will publish this year. Yes, this year. 57,000 brand. new. books.

The mind reels, then pauses, then leaves the body as it enters the convention center, pushes past the large banners proclaiming 1987 to be "The Year of The Reader!� Hope, always hope. Give us a reader, any reader. We gots the books if you gots the time. And thirty dollars.

You enter the bottom floor exhibit hall. The first thing you notice is that Simon & Schuster, Morrow, and a few other heavyweights are on THE BOTTOM FLOOR! This pisses these folks off plenty since they are "heavy" and here they are stuck on the bottom floor which is mostly little publishers. Button at Morrow books:"I (heart) the American Book Cellar Convention." These big pubs are piqued because here they are out of the big time upstairs.

But where are the books?

Not really that visible. Simon has a lot of videos, a lot of failing audios, and a lot of covers blown up, glued down to plexiglass and back lit. These are supposed to be the stars, the big books, the ones all America is dying to read. Hard to make out the titles. They blur.

Pick up a catalog and move on.

All around you are booksellers with full size shopping carts jamming every freebie they can get their hands on. Posters, buttons, stuffed animals.....Simon is publishing CATMOPOLITAN, a slavish bid for the cat market, a send up of some magazine, and booksellers can duck behind a large six foot blowup of a cover, stick their faces in a hole and get a free Polaroid of themselves as the cover cat of Catmopoliton. A thrill, a real thrill! There�s a line.

Morrow's booth...swarming with people but to no discernible propose. Get a catalog. Try to focus on titles. Useless. No books in evidence. No nothing in evidence. Turn the corner. It is Zebra books...the walk-away winner for high schlock...this year a bit down from their usual high marks for real tackiness. They've installed a guy dressed in Louis the 14th duds playing classical guitar. Not at all the cheap Jackie Susan stuff we've come to expect from Zebra. Ignore catalog, walk on.

The autograph rows of heated, excited booksellers looking to get a free book autographed by someone they've vaguely heard of but there none the less. Upstairs we hear the dulcet tones of Joan Baez. She's here to promote "Have Guitar, Will Travel" or some such autobiography. Alas for Joan, Judi Collins is also her promoting her book. Fall 1987 will be the Battle of the Divas for sure.

Move upstairs. A MUCH LARGER ROOM. About ten football fields in area. Solid with publishers, videos, tapes, display stands, tee shirts, bookmarks, novelties, cards,posters, on and on in a numbing procession. Stuff the bag with a catalog and move on. Run into someone you vaguely know. Get their name from their badge. Chat. Move on. Where are the books?

Very few real books visible. Tucked away behind the banners, the free offers, the catalogs and order forms, the video monitors showing Dan Rather commenting on Ernest Worell who's got a calendar, got a commercial, got a movie coming out, got a special on HBO, buy his book, please? Dan Rather on a loop repeating an inane report over and over again for four days. More booksellers, more crammed shopping carts, coffee from a cart the color and taste of weak tea. Move on. More encounters. More brief conversations.

"Seen any books here?"

"Yeah, saw one two rows back. Probably gone now."

"Seriously, seen anything you might want to read?"

"Maybe four titles but I can't think of what they are right now."

"Keep a list. Let me know."

Grab a catalog, shake a hand, move on. Down endless rows. Some booths crammed with people. Other's next door with only a woebegone and terminally bored rep sitting on a chair wondering why they got into this business when


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 24, 2005 3:52 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Snatching the Trivial from the Profound

They've made their cultural casket. Now they will die in it.

AS GOOD FRIDAY APPROACHES THE DEATH OF TERRI SCHIAVO is now only a matter of time but not of chance. Death is, for most of us, a matter of time and chance. But this death has, as all know, nothing of chance in it. It is something chosen for her by a husband and a legion of judges. They have all had their say. They have given or read depositions and testimony. They have looked at and argued the law. They have rendered and affirmed their decisions. This week they will all have their way with her.

At this point, watching the slow killing of her has become nearly as disgusting and excruciating as listening to those who are rooting for it with increasing bluntness. This sentiment from the always crass Chris Matthews is one of the "milder" versions: "The "her" in her, the personality, is basically an ink-well. It's basically a bottle of ink now.... " Elsewhere, commentators of all kinds have been at odds to stress "What a tragic and sad thing this is... I do so feel for the parents..." before launching into another report or an interview with another death expert that all comes down, in the end, to, "Kill her."

It matters little that, as we are constantly reminded by the statisticians of death, "this sort of thing goes on all the time." By dint of circumstance, this one death of this one woman has become other than a statistic -- it has become specific, up-close, and personal. Because of this specificity, because a "procedure" common to our culture has taken a name and a face, it has also become mythic. And faced with the brute power of myth and the meaning it contains, it is little wonder that most of us would choose to turn away; to examine the parochial and dismiss the profound. We will, it seems, always prefer the shallows to the depths.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 24, 2005 10:46 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Oxymoron of the Century (So Far)

"Soft Power"

Wikipedia notes: "This article would benefit from a thorough revision." Volunteers of America ?

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 23, 2005 10:37 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hallucinated Headlines

A DECAFFEINATED MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING to use on the news. Scanning the headlines this morning I came across "Mexico Detains Man Thought Tied to Terror." On the first pass, the story brought me to a dead stop since I read the headline as "Mexico Detains Man Tied to Terror Thought."

Then again, I may just be having a moment of precognition. I think.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 23, 2005 7:52 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Problem with Hillary ... Biographies

CAN THE MOST HUMILIATED WIFE in American history really rise to the Presidency? In this therapeutic age, why the hell not? After all, there's nothing of the hindu in Hillary and, therefore, no sign she's about to climb on top of the Democrat's funeral pyre in a


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 23, 2005 7:29 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke."

YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED the quotation feature at the top of this column. Quotes are a common element of blogs. The feature here at AD pulls a quote at random from a large file I've collected over the years and displays it whenever I update the page.

One quote in particular caused Amy, in the comments about Michael Schiavo's Song to ask,

Your quotation: "A woman is just a woman, but a cigar is a smoke..." I don't think I got it right, and you don't leave comment space for your quotations...drives me nuts... But here's the thing.... a good woman can make you smoke - before and after sex. A cigar can't do that.
For reasons I won't go into here, this is another of the strange conjunctions of circumstance that have cropped up around here lately.

As for Amy's question, I agree about the smoking sex. Still there are many times in a man's life when a cigar is to be vastly preferred to a woman, and this evening is one of them. So I choose to, this day, celebrate cigars over women by lighting up one of my three surviving H. Upmann Connoisseur No.1's Cubans, and settling into some Kipling -- who knew a lot about women and even more about cigars.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 22, 2005 7:18 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Tony Blair: "A Clash About Civilization"

WHILE PRESIDENT BUSH continues to field inane questions from the likes of Helen Thomas, and appear here and there about the land armed with standard soundbites, it falls, as it often does, to Britain's Tony Blair to articulate in a deeper and more meaningful way just what the stakes are in The First Terrorist War. Today 10 Downing released the transcript of Foreign Policy Speech I; the first of three speeches Blair will make on this issue in the near future: "In the second he will outline the importance of a broad global alliance to achieve our common goals and in the third he will say how the international institutions need radical reform to make them capable of implementing such an agenda."

This is an excerpt, but I commend the entire text to you as the definitive answer to "Why we fight:"

There is an interesting debate going on inside government today about how to counter extremism in British communities. Ministers have been advised never to use the term "Islamist extremist". It will give offence. It is true. It will. There are those - perfectly decent-minded people - who say the extremists who commit these acts of terrorism are not true Muslims. And, of course, they are right. They are no more proper Muslims than the Protestant bigot who murders a Catholic in Northern Ireland is a proper Christian. But, unfortunately, he is still a "Protestant" bigot. To say his religion is irrelevant is both completely to misunderstand his motive and to refuse to face up to the strain of extremism within his religion that has given rise to it....

This is not a clash between civilisations. It is a clash about civilisation. It is the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace and see opportunity in the modern world and those who reject its existence; between optimism and hope on the one hand; and pessimism and fear on the other. And in the era of globalisation where nations depend on each other and where our security is held in common or not at all, the outcome of this clash between extremism and progress is utterly determinative of our future here in Britain. We can no more opt out of this struggle than we can opt out of the climate changing around us. Inaction, pushing the responsibility on to America, deluding ourselves that this terrorism is an isolated series of individual incidents rather than a global movement and would go away if only we were more sensitive to its pretensions; this too is a policy.� It is just that; it is a policy that is profoundly, fundamentally wrong.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 22, 2005 7:28 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Mushroom Theory of the Origins of the Current Democratic Dementia

Democratic Caucus, circa 2005

"SHREIK THERAPY" as defined by Richard Baehr in "The Democrats sign up with the anti-Semites " @ The American Thinker:


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 22, 2005 2:17 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The 'Left-Over' Karma of Vietnam

DEVOTO @ bitter sanity casts a cold eye at the costs of never really paying for Vietnam:

That's why the Vietnam protests, and their heirs in this decade, have such a disconnected feel about them. They're not contemplating the possibility of defeat. When America is defeated in war, the only result is a little embarrassment. America feels bad for a decade or so. The consequences of defeat - the massacres, the death camps, the loss of sovereignty, the loss of the common person's freedom - these things happen to someone else. Then, the Vietnamese and Cambodians. Here, these things will happen to the Iraqis and Afghans, not to mention the emerging Iranian and Arab democrats. They'll be crushed. But we won't have to think about it too much.

Until the real consequences, this time, break over our heads, years or decades later.

The lead-in to this is even more damning in ways you might not care to think about. Devoto doesn't post often, but is always worth reading.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 22, 2005 12:06 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Tom Cruise Kills Oprah: The Movie

FROM WAXY: A movie with a long, but well worth it, download time.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 21, 2005 5:59 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Oliver Willis: If He's So Smart, Why Can't He Write?

IT'S TIME TO PLAY "FISH. BARREL. BANG!" in our afternoon series, "Inside Blogball."

I admit I haven't spent a lot of time with OLIVER "Like Kryptonite To Stupid" WILLIS LATELY, but then I haven't spent a lot of time with Cecil, the Seasick Sea Serpent lately either. In general, I find that dim children pretending to be smart are a chore. In fact, it is usually boring to spend time with anyone that, having a modicum of intelligence, likes to pretend they are smarter than they are. I fear that Oliver, like his namesake Hardy, falls into this latter category. Oliver Hardy's schtick, you might recall, was one of playing the ever-so-smart top banana to Stan Laurel. He always came a cropper.

Oliver Willis salutes this grand tradition daily on his strangely popular website. Travel there and you will see this bold banner waving over all:


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 21, 2005 1:23 PM | Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Want to Know What a Million Looks Like?


Via Solarvoid

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 21, 2005 11:02 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
This Just in from "The Deepening Dementia"

FILE UNDER: "You Just C a n n o t Make This Stuff Up"
"Akono, who is from Cambodia and is married to a British man, plans to go on a hunger strike from April 14 in protest against the continuing war on terror.

" 'I want to do everything I can to make sure my child has a secure future,' said the pregnant activist."

Full story Here.

[Via Chrenkoff]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 21, 2005 10:15 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
George Felos: Acid Head and Death Lawyer

IN SOME WAYS I REGRET being so obsessed with the Death-Shyster of Florida, but the more I read of the excerpts from his book, the weirder he becomes. In this choice morsel we have to consider that much of his work has been an acid flashback:

Felos writes that although he experienced his "initial spiritual awakening in my early twenties, I had spent the last few years of my mid-thirties backsliding." (47)

Described as "a superconscious experience," Felos writes, "I was drunk with God" resulting in the inability to walk on his own without the assistance of others. "My predominant expression was laughter and a grin just short of it." (49) "I had imprinted upon me the purpose of life -- God-realization -- and in the knowing of this purpose came instant fulfillment. Although to some I reckon the above sounds like metaphysical gobbledygook, I will attest there exists a Universal Consciousness that not only can be experienced by us but is us." (50)

"I lost the boundary between the idea of myself and the world around me and gained immeasurably. Subject and object merged, and in some way I experienced the essence of each thing my consciousness touched. I felt the joy of grass as it grew and sense the genetic code by which it manifested into physical reality. In ecstasy I became the solemn grace and beauty of a tree and new the freedom of the passing clouds. I don't speak metaphorically." -- Litigation as Spiritual Practice by George Felos (Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2002)

George, George, George, you can't kid a kidder. You been messing around with the mystery molecule and you got some 'splaining to do.

How do I know? I must, in the interests of full disclosure, reveal that as a member of the University of California at Berkeley's Class of 1967, that -- beginning sometime in 1964-1965 -- I too had occasion to "feel the joy" and "became the solemn grace and beauty" .... I too "don't speak metaphorically." I too was, here and there, off and on, stoned out of my mind of LSD. In my case, my experiences with the drug took place, for the most part, before it was declared to be illegal. I even appeared (or should I say "tripped" )on a CBS television documentary done at the time with others of my ilk. (An amusing story but for another time.)

This sort of thing faded with my youth and the age, but I still remember it well. I don't know what your experience with LSD is or is not, but take my word that what you are reading above is a classic example of the kind of stoned, loaded blather common to those years and that experience. What many of us took away from such experiences was that love was good, beauty was all around us, and life was precious. With Felos is seems to be the case that, to quote T.S. Eliot: "We had the experience but missed the meaning."

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 21, 2005 9:14 AM | Comments (27)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Potholes on the Times' Road

THE EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES WEIGH IN TODAY ON JUSTICE SCALIA as the next chief justice. They're a'gin him. This makes him, of course, a perfect choice. It was a standard issue Times editorial, smooth as a baby's bottom, until just towards the end when it rode right over a large pothole at high speed.

Many of the most central principles of American constitutional law - from the right to a court-appointed lawyer to the right to buy contraception - have emerged from the court's evolving sense of the meaning of constitutional clauses. -- That Scalia Charm
I don't think many would argue that a right to a lawyer is a "central principle," but I have a great deal of difficulty putting the purchase of pills, condoms and diaphragms smack dab in the center along with it. I'm sure that to many people who work at the New York Times children are either irrelevant to their lifestyle, or would seriously crimp their career path, but surely that's no reason to make their avoidance a "central principle of American constitutional law." Or perhaps I just haven't been reading the Times enough to keep up on the code. Could it be that "the right to buy contraception" is the new code phrase for "the right to have an abortion." No, that's far too cynical. Isn't it?

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 21, 2005 5:47 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Easter Recess

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood --
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

    -- Eliot, East Coker, Four Quartets


But in the end, it comes down to this: Why kill her? What is gained? What is good about it? Ronald Reagan used to say, in the early days of the abortion debate, when people would argue that the fetus may not really be a person, he'd say, "Well, if you come across a paper bag in the gutter and it seems something's in it and you don't know if it's alive, you don't kick it, do you?" No, you don't.

So Congress: don't kick it. Let her live. Hard cases make bad law, but let her live. Precedents can begin to cascade, special pleas can become a flood, but let her live. Because she's human, and you're human.

Issue whatever subpoena, call whatever witnesses, pass whatever emergency bill, but don't let this woman die.

Like you, I have no power as an individual over the fate of Terri Schiavo. She has now gone beyond being another human being in a dire circumstance to an emblem of a larger issue, that of the culture of life versus the culture of death. If it is true, and I more and more believe it to be so, that each of us has a purpose, great or small, in the vast tapestry of life, Terri Schiavo has come to hers. If it were possible for me to know her will in this, the lesson she holds for me would be simple and clear. But it is not possible to know her will, so the lesson she teaches is something I must find in myself. To do so, I have to go back to the beginning of my re-learning about life.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 20, 2005 3:15 PM | Comments (25)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Time-Outs to Be Forbidden at Gitmo -- Bad for Terroist Esteem


ALAN BROMLEY proposes some bold new Gitmo rules--


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 20, 2005 11:28 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Antiwar Demonstration Approval Rating Stuck at .0001%

smilingsheehan.jpg  howdydood.jpg
"HEY KIDS, WHAT TIME IS IT?" Why is this woman smiling and why doesn't her son have a marker on his grave? [See video at link]

Antiwar views grow, but war protests don't

"Last weekend marked the three-year anniversary of the war's start, and according to press reports, tens of thousands of people around the world took to the streets to protest. In New York's Times Square, the number was estimated at 1,000. In Chicago, 7,000 people turned out."

The spin here is that: "Going into the streets can be a sign that people feel there's no other way to be heard," he says. But in this war, he adds, the polls speak loudly."

Yeah. Right. Next?

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 20, 2005 8:46 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Against the "Utiliarian Valuation" of Life

PORRETTO OF Eternity Road, at the top of his form in "The Convergence Is Complete":

Over the millennia, men have killed one another in uncounted millions. It's not new, or particularly noteworthy, that one man should want to kill another -- not even that a husband should want to kill his wife, whom he's sworn before God and man to protect. What is new is the accelerating approval and support for such a desire among the "intellectual elite," including judges appointed to do justice, defend the innocent, and protect the helpless.

Europe is deeply mired in this trend. The Netherlands is the standard-bearer for "assisted suicide," and for the deliberate execution, with medical concurrence, of inconvenient babies and oldsters. The horror stories are legion -- so many, in fact, that the horror of them has begun to create calluses over our emotions. One can only hear about so many such villainies before stopping one's ears.

Europe is also the rallying point for the condemnation of the death penalty. The lives of men who've maliciously and unjustifiably destroyed the lives of others are therefore valued more highly than the lives of the helpless and utterly innocent.

America has been a bastion against this sort of viciousness...until now. European thinking -- utilitarian valuation of the "quality of life" of helpless persons by third parties -- has reached these shores and formed a beachhead. The abortion wars, as serious as they've been, were only a preliminary, a shelling of our moral defenses to soften them for a decisive breakthrough.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 20, 2005 8:38 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The State of Florida


In Pinellas Park, Florida , there's a man that has gotten the entire legal establishment of the state to help him starve his wife to death, and has arranged for the police to arrest anyone that's trying to bring her food or water. This man is running around free and getting a lot of attention. He has a judge working hard day and night to make sure that his wife will die.

In Homosassa, Florida a man named John Evander Couey, has confessed to abducting and killing a nine year old girl. He is in jail and under suicide watch to make sure he does not die.

In Collier, Florida, Michael Lee Swails, has been put in jail charged with starving his cattle herd.

In Florida today, I score it:
Wives get to die because their husband says so.
Child killers get extra attention so they can't just kill themselves.
Men who starve cattle go to jail.

I'm just not getting this. I'm not getting it at all.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 19, 2005 7:51 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Beneath my sea, my tongue was tied by lies
That said I loved you not when love lay still,
And that false tongue denied your clearer eyes
That saw that love will always conquer will.
But now, as our first year in time has turned
To moments honed from diamonds, now I find
My love for you refracted and returned
In samite nights beside you in that blind
Dark within which only one light burns.
Which is your love, and in such love I sleep
The deeper sleep of one to whom Love turns
When, gasping like some being from the deep,
I first was flung upon your wave-smoothed strand,
And shown beneath your present sea my future land.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 19, 2005 9:03 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Letting Someone Die

IF YOU'VE NEVER DONE IT and would like to know what it is like to let someone die, what follows is a true story.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 19, 2005 8:11 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Retro Democratic Impeachment Techniques

"Hell, I'd wear a purple tutu and ride a pogo stick coast to coast if it'd get Bush and Cheney impeached." -- Kevin Hayden @ Body and Soul

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 18, 2005 7:13 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Drive-By Weekend

SET THEORY VIA MARK STEYN: "Spot the odd one out: 1) mass starvation; 2) gas chambers; 3) mountains of skulls; 4) lousy infidel pop music turned up to full volume."


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 18, 2005 5:38 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Feminist Protests: The Early Years


On the other hand, perhaps not so much progress has been made in Brunette Liberation after all.

Posted on 2006-03-18 by tinabeena93: blondes are stupid brunettes are smart

"blondes are stupid brunettes are smart
hey waz up this is tina & alyssa we are brunettes and we think that blondes are stupid
yah herd meh"

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 18, 2005 1:46 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 17, 2005 7:15 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Dreadful Persistance of the Patriarchy

Click to Enlarge

"Yesterday we noted that nostalgic feminists had met at the Florida State Capitol in an attempt to revive the moribund Equal Rights Amendment."
-- OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today

[Image pointer via the always interesting Coyote Blog ]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 17, 2005 12:57 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Off the Nightstand

NOTE TO SELF: Given the local situation of the last few weeks, is it really a good idea to have Marc Reisner's last work, A Dangerous Place : California's Unsettling Fate as bedtime reading? Probably not, but with only one copy left at Amazon, maybe you can eBay it and cash in before the big one. Better insist on PayPal.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 17, 2005 9:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Well, There Goes the Tundrahood

"A closely divided Senate voted Wednesday to approve oil drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge, a major victory for President Bush (search) and a stinging defeat for environmentalists who have fought the idea for decades." -- FOXNews

Outraged caribou vowed to migrate to Canada.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 16, 2005 4:39 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Daily Shakes

ONE IN THE DESERT, ONE OFF THE NORTHERN COAST, NOW ONE IN OUT SAN BERDOO. I'm feeling bracketed: Magnitude 5.3 quake shakes S. California

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 16, 2005 2:40 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Choppers by Day. Spooky by Night?

THE HEADLINE SAYS Operation Swarmer Expected to Last Days. And there will be as many nights too.

The announced use of aircraft centers on helicopters:

The U.S. command in Baghdad said it was the largest number of aircraft used to insert troops and the largest number of troops inserted by air, although larger numbers of troops overall have been involved in previous operations.

In recent months U.S. forces have routinely used helicopters to insert troops during operations against insurgent strongholds, especially in the Euphrates River valley between Baghdad and the Syrian border. U.S. warplanes are always in the air, ready to strike targets under direction from troops on the ground.

A Pentagon spokesman underscored that "no bombs, missiles or other ordnance were fired from the helicopters."

Now it goes without saying that air support is always close at hand for this kind of operation, but exactly what sort of air support might it be?

Well, without a lot of fanfare, this sort of air support is back in Iraq:

Spooky's Back: "Good Night and Good Luck"

Lethal 'flying gunships' returning to Iraq

What sort of weapon is "Spooky?" Let's just say you don't want to be on the wrong side below this platform: AC-130H Spectre "Spooky"

Armament: two M61 20mm Vulcan cannons with 3,000 rounds; one L60 40mm Bofors cannon with 256 rounds; one M102 105mm howitzer with 100 rounds; one 25mm GAU-12 Gatling gun (1,800 rounds per minute); one L60 40mm Bofors cannon (100 shots per minute); one M102 105mm cannon (6-10 rounds per minute)

And it loves to work nights.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 16, 2005 1:10 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bullet Points

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 16, 2005 12:06 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
And You Can Take That to the Bank

wolfobank.jpg    bonobank.jpg
Onward and upward in DC vs. Back to the Streets with No Name

FILE UNDER: "How to make your enemies froth at the mouth, set their hair on fire, and run from the room screaming 'I got the fear!' "

President Bush said Wednesday that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is his choice to be president of the World Bank.
-- Bush to pick Wolfowitz for World BanK

Note: Certainly seems to be working at the Democratic Underground Forums.     Screams and flames currently number 140 and are rising faster than you can refresh the screen.

Update: As of post time, Bono and the Los Angeles Times, were in rehab and unavailable for comment.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 16, 2005 10:15 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
President H. R. Clinton? Not Likely

PITY THE DEEPLY CONFLICTED NICK KRISTOF IN TODAY'S NEW YORK TIMES' Who Gets It? Hillary. Indeed, pity all Democrats who, in their quixotic quest for the White House in 2008 feel the need to look towards their chameleon candidate, Senator and Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Kristof begins by noting, as others have, Hillary's coming out... for God, that is:

"I've always been a praying person," Mrs. Clinton declared recently. Of course, this approach works in her case only because her religious faith is longstanding.
Is it? I suppose eight televised years of attending services with her husband as part of the ritual duties of First Lady could be seen as such, but does that really measure well against the much more (some would say too much more) religious faith of George W. Bush? Many people of faith would have their doubts about Hillary's calling. especially when looking at her voting record and affiliations over the years.

Speaking of affiliations, Kristof notes the much bally-hooed shift of Clinton's position on abortion into the "Pro-Not-So-Much-Choice" crowd that occupies the middle: "Mrs. Clinton took a hugely important step in January when she sought common ground and described abortion as a "sad, even tragic choice to many, many women." While it is gratifying to see her assume something approaching a sensible stance, it is also the case that many in the right, left and center will not believe her.

Do these maneuvers alone make Hillary electable? Kristof expresses his limited reservations.

Still, I doubt that Mrs. Clinton can be elected president. I use my hometown, the farming community of Yamhill, Ore., as my touchstone for the heartland, and I have a hard time imagining that she could do well there. Ambitious, high-achieving women are still a turnoff in many areas, particularly if they're liberal and feminist. And that's not just in America: Margaret Thatcher would never have been elected prime minister if she'd been in the Labor Party.

In small towns like Yamhill, any candidate from New York carries a lot of baggage, and Mrs. Clinton more than most. Moreover, television magnifies her emotional reserve and turns her into a frost queen. Mrs. Clinton's negative ratings nationally were still around 40 percent at last count, and Hillary-hating thrives.

Well, you can't go wrong citing "negatives," can you? Nor are you mistaken to say that Hillary-hating thrives. Kristof's been off the farm too long though if he thinks that ambition and achievement are negative factors that will work against Hillary. It's not those things at all. If that was the case, Secretary of State Rice would not be glanced at as a possible Republican candidate. What Kristof can't say, what no Democrat can say, is that the single thing that makes Hillary unelectable is the Humiliation Factor.

What the Democrats are dealing with here is the most famous serving Democrat in the country. The problem is that her fame rests, in large measure, on being the most publicly humiliated woman, wife, and First Lady in the history of the world. The length and depth of that humiliation were of an epic quality and will not soon be forgotten or forgiven by the largest voting bloc in the country, women.

It's a romantic country notion to "Stand by Your Man," but I don't really think the songwriter, singer, or female listeners to this anthem took it to mean 'stand by him even while he's lying, cheating, and doing you wrong from earth's four corners on all news outlets foreign or domestic.' And yet she did and they are married still. On the one hand, you might feel that this is a testament to the strength and enduring nature of the Clinton's love -- though that is mighty hard to see when they do, on rare occassions, appear together. On the other hand, it is also easy to see their marriage as a sham that they stay in because it was part of "her deal" -- 'Me President first, you President later.'

Either way, I don't think it parlays into a Presidency for Hillary no matter how "realistic" that may appear to a party desperate for someone, anyone, who can win. In the end, I don't think she can carry enough women to counter the forces arrayed against her. It may have been true that American women once felt that you had to "stand by your man," but there's a whole new world out there when it comes to women who have let themselves be the patsy on the Adultery channel.

It's true that people vote the issues, but they also vote their gut, and there's not a lot of gut support for Hillary out there. Nobody gets elected President because "Hey, its my turn." Presidents get elected because a majority feel, in their gut, that the person has the judgment necessary for the job. I don't think that letting yourself be humiliated speaks for a person who has that judgment. It could be that, given Bill Clinton's health, he could help his wife up by checking out, but a widow's weeds does not a President make unless it is fortunately timed -- say October 10th, 2008.

Absent something as dramatic as that, I don't think Hillary is going to find fulfillment from her makeover, no matter how extreme. Nor will she gain happiness from her relentless drive to the center. What will stop her, ultimately, will be the legions of women who know the limits of standing by their man; those women that know that when the going gets really tough, the tough move out.

Update: In the comments, Allah disagrees very persuasively with plenty of reasons: "... she seems to me to be almost a sure thing."

Update: Captain Ed has a much more detailed examination of the Kristof column at the aptly titled: Captain's Quarters: Democrats And Kristof Still Don't Get It

More to the point, Kristof wants Democrats to change their rhetoric while keeping to the same core values that marginalized them in the first place. In other words, he wants Democrats to lie; does anyone expect Hillary to press for abortion limitations? Has she voted against NARAL positions since being elected to the Senate? Not according to her NARAL rating -- 100%.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 16, 2005 6:42 AM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Weasel Lead of the Year, But the Year Is Young

IN THE WASHINGTON POST'S REPORT,Schiavo Autopsy Shows Severe Brain Damage, the lead to the story by staff writers David Brown and William Branigin reads: "Terri Schiavo died of the effects of a profound and prolonged lack of oxygen to her brain on a day in 1990, but what caused that event isn't known and may never be, the physician who performed her autopsy said today."


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 15, 2005 4:55 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Frequently Answered Questions ®: I

Everywhere you go you see "Frequently Asked Questions" scattered about to help you find out what everybody else apparently knows. Nobody, as far as we know, is helping you with the essential questions of life, the Frequently Answered Questions ®.

These are the questions you ask or answer hundreds of times in your life? But do you answer them correctly? Sadly, millions of people do not.

As a public service we present the first in our ongoing series of answers to Frequently Answered Questions ®. If you have any Frequently Answered Questions® you'd like help with, pop them in the comments and our crack staff of out-of-work philosophers, professional wise-guys, cut-rate gurus, and grief counselors between assignments will be happy to enlighten you.

Was George Bush legally elected president the first time?
Only ask this question if you've got the next five hours to burn.

Have you lost weight?
Always an excellent question to ask. The answer doesn't matter.

Do you want fries with that?
Hey, if you wanted fries with that you'd have ordered the Happy Meal.

Do you love me?
Three answers only are allowed: Yes. Of course. Yes, but...

Be careful with that last one.

Did you pack your bag?
Yes, you always pack your bag. You'll be tempted to say that your new man-servant Abdul Arafat packed it in his tent, and then welded it shut so you couldn't peek. Resist this.

Did you get the license number?
Usually asked from a gurney. The answer is unimportant since the person asking it has just passed out.

Did you sleep with her?
No. Pure and simple even if you're lying.

Did you sleep with him?
No. Pure and simple even if you're lying. Especially if you are lying.

Did you sleep with them?
Always answer YES! Even if it ruins your relationship you always have bragging rights and, who know, he or she might be into it.

Can I call you a cab?
Oh well, another expensive Saturday night shot to hell.

Can't we just be friends?
Okay, let's move along. Nothing to see or do here.

Can you hear me now?
One of the more irritating current questions in popular culture. The only acceptable answer is to ask where this TV joker lives, go to his house, and burn it to the ground. Please send his charred cell phone as confirmation for the thanks of a grateful nation.

Can I call you?
Unless the person you are asking has previously said, "Call me," the answer is "NO."

Buddy, can you spare a dime?
Once popular in song, this question, adjusted for inflation, now translates as, "Yo, can you spare a C-note?"

Are we there yet?
The only reasonable answer to this question is "NO!" since, if you were there, you'd be there, unless there were no there there when you got there.

The unreasonable answer to this question involves asking: "Do you want me to pull over?" and then immediately assuring the party addressed, "You don't want me to pull over."

With small children, asking if they want you to pull over is usually enough to keep them from repeating this question for at least three minutes.

Are you a racist?
Well, if the truth were told, who isn't? But say either "No," or "Who you calling a racist?"

As we all know, this question is never answered in the affirmative except white liberals seeking to curry favor or get a date. Indeed, this question doesn't have to be answered. The fact that you are being asked the question establishes that you are, indeed, a racist. This is primarily true if you happen to be of the white persuasion, but can also be true is you are of a member of a majority-minority. This means any minority which is larger than any other minority present.

Hence, a Native American gets to ask an African-American if he is a racist because the Native American is from a minority-minority (unless the encounter is happening in a Casino). However, the "once-was-a-slave" rule comes into play here since the minority-minority was only conquered and subjugated, rather than captured and subjugated and made to take a long, unpleasant sea voyage. By invoking the "once-was-a-slave" rule an African-American, even if one of the majority-minority, can reasonably deny racism since, having invented the "Are you a racist?" gambit, African-Americans cannot, ipso facto, be racist. Got it? Good. There will be a spot quiz on this question when you least expect it for the next 50 years so you�'d better get crisp about it.

Are you sure this isn't dangerous?
If the answer you hear is "No problem, I've done this thousands of times." -- run. If it is "I'm not sure." -- run faster.

Are you sure this is legal?
The answer you are looking for here is: "Perfectly." Double check.

Are you sure you're 18?
A question that is most often asked in the afterglow. Too late either way.

Are you gay?
Hey, we're ALL gay now. The real question is "Will you shake your booty with me in the boom-boom room?" Should you wish to play for time an acceptable answer is "I'm in transition."

Are you straight?
Nobody is straight anymore unless they've got a guest spot on Queer Eye, in which case they are straight for the length of the episode only and then can get back to being gay.

Does this make me look fat?
Always answer "Yes." You will save money in both the short and long term -- once you amortize the lawyers' fees.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 15, 2005 11:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Happy at Last in Israel

Thought provoking as always, the insightful Michael J. Totten writing on The Paradox of Terror tries to come to terms with an unsettling recent poll.

Three different countries were recently polled, and respondents were asked whether or not they were satisfied with their lives. The three countries were Israel, the United States, and Canada.

Now. Ask yourself which of these three countries is probably the happiest, and which is the most distraught. I would have guessed Canadians would be happiest, followed by Americans, and then Israelis. And I would have gotten it exactly backward.

In Israel 83 percent say they are happy.

In the United States 64 percent say they are happy.

In Canada only 45 percent say they are happy.

Totten speculates briefly on why this should be so and reaches the conclusion that terrorism is an utter failure if it seeks to create unhappiness in a society.

That is as it may be, but the item made me remember Louis.

Louis was a close friend in college when I was at Berkeley during the mid to late Sixties. And yes, it was all that you've heard about it and more. There are those that say that if you remember the Sixties, you weren't there. That is as it may be, but I remember them all too clearly. One of the things I remember is Louis' paranoia.

Louis was a radical. Louis smoked a lot of weed. Louis dropped a lot of acid. Louis started, and had no little success with, a publishing company that printed up a lot of radical images that proved very popular. As a result, Louis was paranoid. He was paranoid about his politics. He was paranoid about his stash. He was paranoid about his money. He was paranoid that "they must bust in early May,/ Orders from the D.A."

Louis was a history major, and Louis was an American Jew with communist parents. As Louis said, "I've got my reasons to be paranoid and they're not little ones."

These were paranoid times, with reason, but we all agreed that in terms of the Paranoia Olympics, Louis took the gold in a very crowded field in Berkeley.

Time moved on and, as usually happens, everyone in our little radical set drifted apart. I moved to New York and lost track of everybody. Then, one day at my magazine job, my phone rang. It was Louis, checking in after about 10 years.

We arranged to have lunch and catch up. "Where can I take you? I've got a killer expense account." "Doesn't matter," Louis said, "as long as it's kosher." "Kosher?" "Kosher. You know I'm a Jew, but now I'm really a Jew."

We met somewhere down near Hester Street at some blintz palace. Louis walked in looking tanned, rested, ready and decidedly unparanoid. In fact, he looked confident and happy for the first time in living memory.

He guided me through the menu and told me about his life since leaving Berkeley. In short, he'd gone back to Israel under the law of return and was living in Tel Aviv working for the Jerusalem Post.

I was flabergasted. "Louis,' I said, "let me see if I've got this straight. You are the most paranoid person I've ever known."


"Okay, but you were, right?"


"So, as a paranoid, pot-smoking, acid-head, radical communist Jew, you've moved to the one place in the world where it is most dangerous to be a Jew?"

"You got that right."

"Louis, have you gone finally insane?"

'No. I've gone sane. Israel is the best place to be if you're a paranoid Jew."

"Really. How come?"

"It's simple really. Isreal is the one place on earth where, if you are a Jew, you really KNOW who your enemies are. It's not vague. They're right there. You know where they live. At last, I'm someplace where I know what is what and who is who. Plus there's an extra benefit."

"Oh yeah? What's that?"

"They give you a machine gun."

Posted by Van der Leun Mar 15, 2005 10:10 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
California Dreaming

LET'S REVIEW. Torrential rains, massive mudslides, local dry-weather landslides, desert earthquakes, and now California quake triggers tsunami warning


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 15, 2005 8:25 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 14, 2005 7:55 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 14, 2005 7:51 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 14, 2005 7:47 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dumping Out the Gods' Weather Bag

I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE who has had it up to here with the Seattle ("It isn't a normal") Winter. Robert Fulghum, a long time Seattle native, has a few choice terms as well in "Expletive Deleted":

For months now our town has had underwater weather. Cold, wet, windy, and gray. The unrelenting waves of dreary days have ground down even the cheeriest dispositions. Desperate people are driven to shake their fists at the sky and shout STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!

There was a small crack in the ceiling on Sunday. Just enough to get people outside. And then the weather gods got freaky, as if they had decided to dump the drag ends of everything left in their trash bag all at once: rain, wind, cold, sleet, snow, hail, fog, mist, lightning, toads, hairballs, leeches, virus, and great clots of unidentifiable phlegm.

He's right. If this keeps up, everyone here is going to stop believing in the unofficial motto of Seattle: With Fleece, All Things Are Possible

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 14, 2005 11:58 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Err, ahh... on second thought."

Democrats Beat Quick Retreat on Call to Censure President : "Senate Democrats on Monday blocked an immediate vote on a call by one of their own to censure President Bush for his eavesdropping program.... Democrats, while distancing themselves from Mr. Feingold's assertion that the president "plainly broke the law" in approving surveillance without warrants, said his proposal merited more consideration than a hasty vote."

Okay. Let's consider it. Let's make it very, very simple so that even Rep. Feingold can understand it.

1. If you are in Seattle and you are calling your mother in California, you have a right to expect that that call will not be listened to by the Government under the current laws of the United States.

2. If you are in Seattle and are calling your friend in Paris, France, your call is an international call and you and your friend do not enjoy the same freedom from being listened to as you do if your call is local or state to state.

3. And how do you know what sort of call you are making? Look at your phone bill. Your telephone company makes it easy to spot the international calls. Many even label them "International."

That should be simple enough. Even a Cheese Head could understand it. You'd think.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 14, 2005 10:27 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Me or Your Lying Eyes? Redux



Posted by Vanderleun Mar 14, 2005 10:06 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Revolution Will Be Televised

AN AMAZING AND INSPIRING COLLECTION OF 30 SECOND VIDEOS of the massive demonstrations for freedom in Lebanon today is at: beirut & lebanon in a nutshell

Go there and browse. It is simply stunning.

[Link via the comments section @ Roger L. Simon: Beirut! Beirut! Beirut!]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 14, 2005 9:48 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head

Skin care specialist sports world's biggest mangos: "When I touched it, it fell right into my hands."

Woman Shows Off Five-Pound Monster Mango: "When Colleen Porter took her mango to the local grocer, it wasn't to sell it, but to weigh it and show it off. Colleen Porter, already a state mango record holder, has been confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records as growing the world's heaviest mango — 5 pounds, 7 ounces. The monster mango appears to be close to the size of a human head."

Cue Rosemary Clooney's "Mangos."

Mangos, papayas, chestnuts from the fire
In my house of straw, I have so much more
Pie from the pidgeon, I fix in the kitchen
Each bite is just right for your appetite

Now if you like-a the way I cook,
And if you like-a the way I look,
Then step inside my shady nook,
And youll find mangos and papayas,
Anything your heart desires.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 14, 2005 8:23 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
They Don't Call Us "Lagunatics" for Nothing

REACH FOR YOUR WALLET LOCAL GOVERNMENT CONTINUES: Laguna Beach Mayor Announces Nationwide Adopt a Landslide Family Effort

Fresh from a pedicure and looking pert, Laguna Mayor Elizabeth Pearson-Schneider


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 14, 2005 6:28 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dictatorship? What Dictatorship?: Washington Post Managing Editor Chats With The Peoples' Daily

PHILIP BENNETT, MANAGING EDITOR OF THE WASHINGTON POST, either does not know or does not care that information travels everywhere. That's the impression one gets from his remarkably candid comments in the "Exclusive Interview " he gives to The People's Daily of the People's Republic of China. Perhaps the Washington Post, like The Godfather's "I have business with Mo Green", has business with the PRC and this interview was meant primarily for internal consumption in Beijing. Still, the translation has moved to the internet with People's Daily Online -- "I don't think US should be the leader of the world" and Bennett's attitudes, the attitudes that drive the Washington Post, are illuminating to say the least. The entire interview is worth reading, but here are some choice excerpts.

America according to Bennett and WAPO:

Another source of the resentment is the perception that Bush administration wants to act unilaterally in the world, outside of alliance that traditionally governed the ways Bush made foreign policy decisions. In some ways the core of perception problems is centered on 911 terrorist attacks in 2001 in which the US government and Bush administration reacted by deciding that the country would make decisions in foreign affairs that respond only to US interests. They were not going to consult very widely, and not to compromise in making those decisions. That caused rift even among the US allies. So it is natural to see that the image of America is the lowest in public opinion.
Mr. Bennett seems to have forgotten, or not known of, the six-month run up to the Iraq war, the endless shuttling of diplomats east and west, north and south, the speeches to the UN, the passage of resolutions by the United Nations, the visits by Bush to same, the building of a coalition of nations -- sans the really important France and Germany-- , and the ultimatums an long count-down to war. All of which the Washington Post reported in great detail. He needs to take time out to read his own paper.

America, according to Bennett, is more than its foreign policy. Who knew?

But it is important for Chinese to understand that the image of America is many things, not just the image of the government. American culture, as expressed in Movies and music etc, is still quite popular in the world today. American movies are remarkably popular all over the world to the extent that you can buy them on the streets of all major Chinese cities.
Why you certainly can, Mr. Bennett, the only question is whether they are better bits of piracy than those you can buy on the streets of New York City.

Should America be the leader of the world? To answer in Bennettese is to "complexify" and nuance to the hilt while ignoring the fait accompli.

No, I don't think US should be the leader of the world. My job is helping my readers trying to understand what is happening now. What is happening now is very difficult to understand. The world is very complex. There are various complex forces occurring in it. I don't think you can imagine a world where one country or one group of people could lead everybody else. I can't imagine that could happen.
This just in, world complex, we're from your Washington Post, and we're here to help. Cool Hand Bennett: "What we have here is a failure to imaginate."

Bennett then defines Democracy down....


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 14, 2005 4:17 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
When the SmartMobs Rule


The Old Regime

The tumbrils creak and rumble on
Within the roads of slate,
Retracing rutted years of sand
Whose distance storms debate.

Its passengers stand fixed as stone
While faces cheer from snow.
The blade awaits it's midday meal,
When above becomes below.

Innovations carved from clouds
Give despair and dance new measures.
The blade reflects its evening meal
When kings slake lower pleasures.

Arrived at now they gaze at mist
Where granite horses roam.
Their schedules as fixed as dark.
Their future white as bone.

The head within the basket sees
Vast parliaments of sky.
Its ears hear only fading surf
Where the past gone years reply.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 14, 2005 1:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Building Berms Along the Iraq-Syria Border

02/25/05 - Marines with 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Tank Battalion, provide security while other Marines use bulldozers to build a barrier berm along the Iraqi-Syrian border south of Husaybuh, Iraq, on Feb. 25, 2005. The Marines are currently engaged in security and stabilization operations in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq. DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher G. Graham, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)
DefenseLINK Multimedia Gallery - military pictures, clip art, sound clips and video clips

Berms ()the building up and the taking down) were a consideration in March of 2003 along the Kuwait/Iraq border.

For weeks the whispered plan had been that, come the invasion, border berms, ditches and fences of electrified wire would be reduced at dozens of places by huge Army bulldozers simultaneously ripping away in the dark, with the entire army swarming through at dawn. It was said a mock-up had been built in the desert and assaulted again and again with 62-ton Caterpillar D9 Dozers. Their operators wore night vision goggles as they kicked over high berms and filled in deep ditches and blasted through fences in the dark.
--McGraw-Hill Construction | ENR -Border Berms Cleared To Make Way For U.S. Invasion Of Iraq

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 13, 2005 10:34 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Canada Erases Israel

STRUGGLING TO REMAIN AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF ANTI-SEMITISM, Canada is issuing, or, rather, re-issuing, politically correct passports for its Israel born Jewish citizens:

Canadian Jews born in Jerusalem are having their passports recalled in order to erase the word "Israel" from beside the name of the Jewish State's capital.

B'nai Brith of Canada has filed an application for judicial review of the Government's policy to deny Canadian citizens born in Jerusalem the right to have Israel noted in their passports as their country of birth.

Though the request was filed on behalf of a 17-year-old Torontonian, many others have now been affected by the Canadian policy as well. In recent months, scores of Canadian Jews have been contacted by Canadian Passport Office officials and told to surrender their passports showing Jerusalem, Israel as the country of birth.
-- Arutz Sheva - Israel National News

I can hardly wait for the new-old maps of "Palestine" to start showing up in Canadian textbooks and other "official" maps. It really is only a matter of time. Canada, always avant-garde, n'cest pas?

Of course, if Israel would only make French their official language, all this merde Canadian would vanish c'est soir-la. Oui? Bonne chance.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 13, 2005 8:48 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Oklahoma Will Be Just Fine When Al-Qaeda Shows Up

"No, honey, you've got to lead them just a hair."

AND NOW FOR A BRIEF VIDEO FROM The Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot.

Oklahoma: A state that knows that the First and Second Amendments go hand in glove.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 13, 2005 2:07 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Blogging from Sun Not Dangerous

TIM BRAY, FROM SUN, HAS BEEN GIVING INTERVIEWS to journalists of late on the "dangers" of blogging from work. His question @ ongoing -- It's Not Dangerous is:

Why? Uh, why is the mainstream press so incredibly interested in this people-fired-for-blogging story? Is this happening to a lot of people? No. Are a lot of people blogging? Yes. Has it happened to anyone senior enough to impact the company involved? No. Are senior people blogging? Yes.

If I were cynical and paranoid, I'd suspect that the media running these stories were frightened of something.

Hummm, could be. Could just be.

Bray doesn't feel the crushing oppression of blogging from work at all. In reaction he supplies us with this handy list that bears thinking about on all levels.

Ten Reasons Why Blogging is Good For Your Career

  1. You have to get noticed to get promoted.

  2. You have to get noticed to get hired.

  3. It really impresses people when you say "Oh, I've written about that, just google for XXX and I'm on the top page" or "Oh, just google my name."

  4. No matter how great you are, your career depends on communicating. The way to get better at anything, including communication, is by practicing. Blogging is good practice.

  5. Bloggers are better-informed than non-bloggers. Knowing more is a career advantage.

  6. Knowing more also means you're more likely to hear about interesting jobs coming open.

  7. Networking is good for your career. Blogging is a good way to meet people.

  8. If you're an engineer, blogging puts you in intimate contact with a worse-is-better 80/20 success story. Understanding this mode of technology adoption can only help you.

  9. If you're in marketing, you'll need to understand how its rules are changing as a result of the current whirlwind, which nobody does, but bloggers are at least somewhat less baffled.

  10. It's a lot harder to fire someone who has a public voice, because it will be noticed.

Print out that tenth reason and post it on your refrigerator. Then post more on your blog.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 13, 2005 12:54 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
I've Got Your Six! [Illustrated]

"The Sharon Stone, using only the power of her giant throbbing brain, is trying to mesmerize."-- Manolo

DILBERT'S CREATOR on "Boondocks' " creator's decision to take a break:

"Believe me -- I understand how hard it is to work on an animated TV show, unless you have a big writing staff like the Simpsons. It's literally 100 times harder than writing a comic strip. But still -- four sentences? Come on.

"So I started to wonder what sorts of writing jobs could be easier than writing comics. The only thing I could think of was writing traffic signs.

"Hmm... I need a sign indicating that the motorist should cease all forward motion. I've got it: STOP! Man, I'm burnt out now. I'd better take the rest of the day off."

LOVE, SEATTLE STYLE: You - Gorgeous... Me - A Gamer... - m4w

It was last Friday. I had just gotten up from a SWEET game of Warcraft on my PC. Anyway, I realized I was dangerously low on Mountain Dew, so I threw on my lucky green sweat pants and my trenchcoat to walk 3 blocks to the convenience store. I figured if I had enough change, I might even pick up some Slim Jims, but I digress...

On my way back to my apartment, Dew and Slim Jims in hand, I saw you and your friends walking into the Jazz club across the street. You seemed so comfortable and cool dressed to the nines for an evening of drinks and dancing with those closest to you.

IF SEATTLE HAD KNOWN OF THIS SUFERING, IT WOULD HAVE LENT THEM A SPARE 30 DAYS: "Phoenix's airport received nearly an inch of rain, marking the first time in 143 days that it received at least a trace of precipitation." -- CNN

ROGER SIMON ASKS: Is he lying or is he an idiot? Yale fundraiser Alexis Suvorov says he was "only vaguely aware of Taliban practices."

I'm going with "lying idiot" myself.

QUINK THICKLY: Inner Blonde Quiz

Time to do the inner-blonde test! Pay close attention! There are 10 questions, so you should be able to answer them all in 5 minutes.

LIAR'S POKER JACKPOT: Several Million Little Dollars

If James Frey is still smarting from his public flogging at the hands of Oprah Winfrey, perhaps he will feel some comfort this month when checks for more than $4.3 million show up in his mailbox -- royalties on sales in the last three months of last year of his now-discredited memoirs, "A Million Little Pieces" and "My Friend Leonard." And he has earned an additional $1.5 million since he admitted making things up.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 13, 2005 8:47 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Pop Goes the Real Estate $500,000 Challenge

YOU HAVE HALF A MILLION, $500,000, Five-Hundred-Thousand-Dollars cash in hand to buy your home.

Do you:
A. Buy a house outright for $499,000 in the red hot dead center of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, California?
B: Buy two thirds of a house for $740,000 in the fabulous and sophisticated community of Redwood City, California?
C. Buy a house outright somewhere on the fringes of Ozark, Missouri?

Whichever house you choose, you will have to live in it for at least five years. Made up your mind? Good. Click "Continued" and see how you'll do.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 13, 2005 12:09 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Ecstasy and the Agony

THE PAGE CALLED New popular sites can give you a rapid scan of webtrends expressed as which pages are the most noted on I check in on this page at least once a day as one way of seeing what is not only new on the Net, but significant. The page is, as these pages often are, somewhat Nerd-centric Still there's better group when it comes to keeping up with constant change? Especially when there's around half a million of them.

But like any group it does have its aspirations and anxieties, and those two factors were never more succintly expressed than yesterday's tie for 6th place as the most popular new web page on


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 12, 2005 11:11 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
A-Team of the Blogroll

"For a blogger there is nothing like the feeling of having something you've written being judged "linkworthy" by another blogger. I've been linked by Instapundit, American Digest, Hugh Hewitt, Betsy's Page, Baseball Musings, NRO, Baseball Crank, Offwing Opinion,, and many, many more (each link of which I am extremely grateful for and humbled by)."

Drop by and humble him some more.

I am in El Paso, Texas. It took me THIS LONG to get here, but at least I am back in the States.

Perhaps it's better this bastard is still alive, at the moment. Perhaps justice is best served by letting him see the unintended consequences of his bloody savagery, and let him watch all his dreams die...

...before a US soldier drills a high-caliber round through his brainbox.

God will punish him.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 12, 2005 12:42 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Finest Reporting on Iraq Available Anywhere

THE BRAVE AND BRILLIANT MICHAEL YON continues his on the spot reports from the war with:The Battle for Mosul.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 12, 2005 11:20 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Finest Sports Story of the Day, Week, Month, Year

SOMETHING THAT WILL make a difference in your day: Ryan's song: His shot changed life, school, town

"The noisy gym quieted for a split second as the ball seemed to hang in the air forever...."

Do a friend of yours a favor. Pass it on.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 12, 2005 9:36 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Rising Plague of Mainstream Media's Attention Deficit Disorder

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

[Editor's Note:This is a test. A long test. If you can't read all of this you may be infected by media-induced ADD / HD. Seek professional help.]

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

RECENTLY I BECAME ACQUAINTED with a young boy, just turned nine. He's a brilliant and happy kid, but he has a problem with cleaning up and organizing his room. It isn't that he can't do it, he simply has to be told about every five minutes to continue the process. In the course of picking things up to put away he discovers anew their potential to fascinate him.

The Gameboy? "Oh, here's where I saved that last stage of Turoc. Let's see if I can get the flame-thrower and..."

Any one of the 3,000 + Lego units? "Gee, I never did get the moon base hemi-dome set up, just let me put these 400 blocks in place and..." Books? "Sure thing and, hey, did Horton ever hatch that egg..."

On it goes until, after the sixth or seventh cajoling instruction, a path has been cleared for the vacuum cleaner. After which, he promptly begins taking everything he has put away out and strews it about the floor once again.

Today's pop psychologists, addlepated educators and the marketing departments of large drug companies are hard at work trying to convince me children who behave like this have "Attention Deficit Disorder" or ADD. But I know enough to know it is the companies who are obsessed, confused and greedy in about that order.

What this young boy suffers from is no more than being a normal, heedless and all around great nine-year-old boy. He doesn't have ADD anymore than I have an elephant chained in my back yard. (Yes, I just checked.) What he does have is a smart child's ability to multi-task beyond a normal adult's capacity. As adults we are often guilty of projecting our frailties onto the young. We forget that they are more nimble in all things than we are, and are all too eager in this age of instant advice on any problem to ascribe to the young a malady confined to the mature.

Professional Distractors

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


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 11, 2005 5:37 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Drive Him Fast to His Tomb"


The Gorgon had surveyed the building again in the night, and had added the one stone face wanting; the stone face for which it had waited through about two hundred years. It lay back on the pillow of Monsieur the Marquis. It was like a fine mask, suddenly startled, made angry, and petrified. Driven home into the heart of the stone figure attached to it, was a knife. Round its hilt was a frill of paper, on which was scrawled:

"Drive him fast to his tomb. This, from Jacques."

--A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

Slobodan Milosevic Dies in Prison Cell

Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, the so-called "butcher of the Balkans" being tried for war crimes after orchestrating a decade of bloodshed during his country's breakup, was found dead Saturday in his prison cell. He was 64.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 11, 2005 11:04 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"We Support Some Troops"

FILE UNDER: "DEMOCRATS' SPITE KNOWS NO LIMITS" It felt strange to me to actually vote Republican last November after over 30 years as a Democrat, but when I read the endless litany of incidents and speeches and actions of this once great party, I sometimes feel as if I've escaped from Mordor. Today's proof of the continuing psychosis that grips the party is:

Marines at nearby Marine Corps Reserve Center say on Tuesday morning, the director of security at the UAW told them that while they support the troops, Marines driving foreign vehicles or sporting a President George Bush bumper sticker were no longer welcome to park there.

U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge told Action News, "We received a phone call from the UAW, who support us by letting us park down at their facility. They called and said they weren't going to allow or they would turn away some vehicles."

A spokesman for the UAW released a statement to Action News which reads:

"While reservists certainly have the right to drive non-union made vehicles and display bumper stickers touting the most anti-worker, anti-union president since the 1920s, that doesn't mean they have the right to park in a lot owned by members of the UAW."

As U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Lee Cooper explained, "We're very appreciative, but on the other hand, it's kind of discriminating between, let's say a lance corporal going through college can only afford a 15-year-old vehicle and it happens to be a Nissan."
-- WXYZ: Local News -- Detroit

I live just north of the Camp Pendleton Marine base in Oceanside, California. Unlike most other towns on the coast of Southern California, Oceanside is a working and military class town. You don't see the multi-million dollar resorts, the endless McMansion developments at $3 million per house, or the curb-to-curb Mercedes. You see Harley franchises, pawnshops, USOs, thrift stores, check-cashing scam stores, and the other items common to a town where people and families are just getting by. And yes, you see a lot of 15 to 20 year old cars in various states of decay. You don't see them because the drivers wouldn't like a brand new Lincoln Navigator, but because they can barely make the payments.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 11, 2005 7:00 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Brand-Extension Blight

A FRIEND THAT EDITS A MAGAZINE WRITES, to his personal email list of cranks, loonies, and general malcontents:

To all: For an upcoming article celebrating curmudgeons, we're planning a list of "50 things that aren't as good as they used to be" and we invite your contributions. Thanks a bunch. Creativity counts. Crankiness too. Here are two, to give you an idea: Not as good as they used to be: TV News Anchors -- Buncha movie star pretty boys. Chet Huntley had a dog face, but you could trust him. Traveling Carnivals: They've shut down the freak shows and moved them to FOX.
My just-off-the-top-of-my-head response reads as follows.

OREOS -- This was, without a doubt, America's greatest store bought cookie ever. And it dominated the market. But was that good enough for the sleazoid 90s "marketing" department? No. They wanted more and even more. As a result they have 'New-Coked' this cookie into oblivion with endless variations on the theme.

The heresy began with "Double Stuffed" Oreos. This simple-minded d-oh moment came when somebody thought, "Hey, let's double the stuffing!" It did not matter to them that the perfect proportion of white cream stuffing had already been achieved. Nope, this is the DoublePattyWhopper school of marketing drool: 'If one is good, two is twice as good.' Actually, if one is good, two in the same bun or cookie wafers is a bloody mess. And in addition, in order to get the double stuffing working correctly, they've upped the glue in the stuffing. No double stuffed Oreo comes apart neatly and cleanly. It always shatters. The pleasure of the original Oreo was that you could take it apart and have a chocolate wafer option. A bittersweet chocolate wafer option. Now even the wafer's been made sweeter.

MUSIC IN RESTAURANTS, BARS AND EVERYPLACE ELSE: God forbid we actually have to talk to each other in any of the places that we congregate. And, with the now universal notion that if the music is bad you make it louder, all conversations are conducted at a shout. Having Coldplay's latest hit follow you into the john is the final insult.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 10, 2005 5:16 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink

THE ASTUTE FINAL HISTORIAL @ HISTORY'S END looks to an Austin Bay item and sees the breakout phase in the WOT coming with The Seeds of War are Sown

I suppose all eyes are on Lebanon now, as the WoT moves into another phase. We are starting to see what I suppose could be called phase 3. Phase 1 was the removal of the Taliban and the pacification of Afghanistan. Phase 2 was the Iraq War, leading up to the election. Phase 3 is now the breakout phase, where the tentacles of freedom start spreading throughout the region. Because the fight, at the moment only ideological, is outside of Iraq, the fighting will soon migrate out of Iraq as well. Much of the fighting inside Iraq was sponsored and supported in Iran and Syria, now they will be slowly forced onto the defensive. Iraq was in itself an offensive operation, but tactically the US operated defensively after the fall of Baghdad. That is now changing. Containment has failed, and a wider war is inevitable. The only question now is exactly what that war will look like. Will Syria and Iran follow "Hama Rules?" And will the US retaliate with "Chicago Rules?"
A little foggy on "Chicago Rules?" Follow the link and get updated.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 10, 2005 4:33 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Me or Your Lying Eyes?

Remember, both his feet in reality are flat on the pavement

-- Impact Lab - Amazing 3D Sidewalk Art Photos

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 10, 2005 3:51 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Sit Back and Relax and Enjoy the Rest of the Flight

Oh, yes, you want to click this link and you will.

Via live from the guillotine

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 10, 2005 2:55 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Other Side of Rather

HOWARD ALTMAN OF PHILIDEPHIA'S CITY PAPER offers this parting assessment of Dan Rather's career in the Poynter Online - Forums

Dan Rather had a career most journalists envy and no blogger can match. And I say this as a journalist and a blogger.

The sins of the MSM are many, the reasons for its careening demise well documented and certainly, the end game of Dan Rather's remarkable career will go down in history as how not to cover the news. But, for nearly every major story of my lifetime (and I just turned 45) Rather was there. Whether fueled by curiosity, ego, the priest-like calling to find the truth, or some combination, Rather got out of the studio and into the frontlines of unfolding history. From Kennedy's assassination, to the civil rights movement, to Vietnam, Watergate, Tianan-men Square - the list is as long as it is ubiquitous - he was there. Something my colleagues in both journalism and blogging should not be so quick to dismiss.

It's one thing to sit in an office or at home, make some phone calls, type some words and call it a day. Sure, you can make a difference that way. You can even take down an icon like Rather. But it is something else entirely to go to the story. To risk safety and comfort in search of the truth. For a variety of reasons, most journalists don't do that. Few bloggers do. Yet both groups are vital to the future of our democracy. Yes, Dan Rather did not have a pristine career. He erred, he faltered. But in my mind, his successes - which far, far outweigh his failures - offer a roadmap of how the media (in whatever form it may exist) has to live up to its First Amendment rights by living its First Amendment responsibilities.

Laugh all you might. But it does have a lot to do with courage. Now more than ever.

Inspite of all the other things written here and elsewhere about Rather, these things are also true.

And with that, via con Dios, Dan.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 10, 2005 2:21 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The End State of Moral Relativism at Princeton's "Center of Human Values"

PETER SINGER, WHO HOLDS THE MOST IRONIC TITLE IN ACADEME ("Professor of Bioethics, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University",) KEEPS A FAQ that defines the new absolute bottom of "morality" coming in from the academy. If you don't think that the problem of evil in the world is real, listen carefully to this "educated" person:

Q. You have been quoted as saying: "Killing a defective infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Sometimes it is not wrong at all." Is that quote accurate?

A. It is accurate, but can be misleading if read without an understanding of what I mean by the term "person" (which is discussed in Practical Ethics, from which that quotation is taken). I use the term "person" to refer to a being who is capable of anticipating the future, of having wants and desires for the future. As I have said in answer to the previous question, I think that it is generally a greater wrong to kill such a being than it is to kill a being that has no sense of existing over time. Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time. So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.

I bet that you never thought that a newborn baby doesn't "want to go on living," did you? According to the depraved mind of Singer this would seem to be the case.

In this you can see the fundamental argument for freedom of speech. We need to know these thoughts so we can gauge just how deep the depravity of some of our fellow citizens goes.
Update: This gem from Axel in the comments:

Singer has his criterion both muddled and backwards. An adult, on average, has already bungled his or her future, whereas a baby, even with hypothesized defects, is full of potential. This is why it is always worse to kill a baby than to push a professor into the path of a runaway septic-tank-pumping truck.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 10, 2005 9:50 AM | Comments (17)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lebanon Hold-Em and the Poker Skills of George Bush

REIHAN @ The American Scene offers a sobering assessment of what could happen during a Lebanon end-game:

Once Hezbollah stands by its paymasters, always the most likely scenario, the game is over. Hezbollah can leave tremendous bloodshed in its wake, provided it stands with Syria and Iran until the bitter end. And there's no reason to believe it won't. The "Curley effect" comes to mind. A self-interested ruler isn't necessarily interested in the well-being of his charges -- it's far more likely that he'll be interested in maximizing his own power, the interests of a saintly suffering population be damned. A democratic Lebanon can't coexist with a heavily armed statelet with a foreign policy of its own. The flock Nasrallah tends so assiduously will, under that set of circumstances, grow restless over time. It is, in the end, an unacceptable outcome. If others get trampled underfoot, so be it.

President Bush, I'm sorry to say, could be handling this more deftly.

Now perhaps the President and the White House, to skew a line from "The West Wing," is juggling a bit too many items "of live ammunition" a bit too quickly here. Then again, perhaps not. In Lebanon Hold-Em, we've seen the flop, may be looking at the turn, but we're not yet at the River and we've only just a peek at what Bush's hole-cards are.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 10, 2005 8:11 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
NEWSERS:News by Users

THE DEPENDABLY BRILLIANT KEVIN KELLY has written a guide to Consensus Web Filters @ Cool Tools .

"Like a lot of people, I find that the web is becoming my main source of news. Some of the sites I read are published by individuals, but I find the most informative sites are those published by groups of writers/editors/correspondents, including those put out by Main Street Media (MSM). However for the past three months my main source of "what's new" has been a new breed of website that collaboratively votes on the best links.

"This genre does not have an official name yet, but each of these sites supplies readers with pointers to news items that are ranked by other readers. None of these sites generates news; they only point to it by filtering the links to newsy items."

He supplies a sheaf of links to these sites.

No name for "this genre" of sites that supply News by Users? We like "Newsers." At the least it's a better name than, well, "Blog."'

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 10, 2005 6:47 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Last Ironic Look Back at Oscar

FROM A COMMENT added to The Oscar Encores @ AMERICAN DIGEST

"THREE 6 MAFIA: One oscar, Martin Scorcese: Zero"

When you think about it, that pretty much says it all.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 9, 2005 10:04 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
THESE ARE THE THINGS: The Found Poetry of War

BLACKFIVE BRINGS US A LONG REPORT FROM THE FIELD with the deceptively bland title : Air Force Pilot Experiences Ground Combat

"Here is a report from an Air Force pilot who was assigned to several operations in Iraq as the Forward Air Controller - the USAF guy responsible for calling in Air Strikes and communicating with the aircraft above a ground combat mission."
It is more a memoir than a report and, although lengthy, I commend it to you.

By way of example, here's an excerpt from a long block of text that I've broken into a kind of poetry by this anonymous officer.

Do you doubt it? Take it to your nearest Poetry Slam and give it an outing, or just read it aloud to yourself. You'll see what I mean.

Something to read in response to the next strident reporter claiming to be the victim of soldiers much too quick on the draw.

These Are the Things That Wear On You
by Anonymous, Air Force

The things no one really talked about,
or even thought about much:
except for one percent of your time --
when you had a free moment --
those thoughts crossed your mind
that you wish didn't.

Stupid things like:
I wonder if going to the port-a-john today
will be a life or death decision based
on which one I choose, and at what time I go,
based on when and where
the mortars or rockets impact.

Thoughts like :
I wonder if the piano wire
attempting to decapitate us
will be strung between the trees or telephone poles
along our route tonight.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 9, 2005 11:48 AM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Gruesome Origins of a Common Catchphrase

WHILE DIVING DEEP INSIDE the Los Angeles Public Library's vast online photo collection, I came across this image from 1928:

As it was part of a larger image search that had nothing to do with one "Sanford Clark," it gave me a brief moment of amusement. It is has become a common catchphrase in the last few years, to say with a small laugh or a knowing smirk, "That's my story and I'm sticking to it." People tend to use it following the telling of a silly story or when relating an absurd rationalization. I saved the image and went on to pursuing my original subject. Sorting through about 500 saved images from that search this morning, I came upon the image again. Noting that the item was from, according to the information that accompanied it, 1928, it struck me that this was a very early use of a catch-phrase in common usage today. There are fashions, fads, and phases in our common language (Where is "Where's the beef?" today? Does it "Sleep with the fishes?"). Still it seemed that this was a very early example of a contemporary chunk of current conversation. What did it actually mean? What was the story that this Sanford Clark "will stick to?"


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 9, 2005 9:17 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Media Shocked, Shocked, by Water Price Blowout!


"By failing to account for inflation, the media have some Americans so alarmed that we can't think straight. "What costs more," I asked customers at a gas station: "gasoline or bottled water?" The answer I got from almost everyone was gasoline.

"At that very gas station, water was for sale at $1.29 for a 24 oz. bottle. That's $6.88 per gallon, three times what the gas station was charging for gasoline. "

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 9, 2005 8:59 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Goodbye to the Dans: On Fat Ladies and Singing

I'VE PACKED UP MY SHARE OF OFFICES and had the good-bye cake and gone out for the adios dinner. Once I was even asked to give a speech and I did. But I certainly wish I'd been able to crib this howler from Tom Shales' "Bring out the crying towels" hummer in the Washington Post on the Last Day of Dan Rather:

"First of all, from where I sit, I am leaving on a high note," Rather says, "and a higher note than I deserve and certainly a higher note than I ever thought possible when I walked into this job. " -- Dan Rather, Leaving By the High Road

That is, no matter how you feel about Rather, a soundbite of sheer genius. It elevates that moment into song, it brings to mind so many magical moments from Broadway musicals from "If I Loved You" to "Memories" to "Brigadoon."

I know many are spending these last fading moments of the Rather Regency either preening over their hand in the fall, or lambasting Dan for continuing to insist -- "past all reason" -- that mistakes were made but the mistakes were true.

This is uncharitable and lacks insight.

Uncharitable because it is foolish to insist Dan stand up, wave his bloody shirt, and proclaim: "ALL RIGHT! THEY WERE PHONY. I KNOW IT, YOU KNOW IT, WE ALL KNOW IT, BUT SO WHAT? THAT SMARMY SQUIB IS STILL PRESIDENT SO WHAT HARM DID IT DO? HAPPY NOW? HAPPY NOW, KENNETH!?"

Gentles, the man is simply not going to cop a plea and confess on this one. Not now and not in his forthcoming autobiography "Shoot Low, Boys. They're Riding Blogs." It cannot be done. It would be the final treason to the class he has spent his whole life clawing his way into. They would not forgive him. Gone would be the easy invites to Davos, gone would be the hope of redemption found in a Nixonian decade of good works or, even better, a Democratic Restoration and a turn as Hillary's Press Secretary. All that would be gone with the winds of admission. Do not expect this, this final humiliation, from this man. It is simply not in him, and, more to the point, it is not in his best interests.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 9, 2005 7:43 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Government So Gigantic Even the Communists Are Concerned

IF EVER A COUNTRY CRIED OUT FOR A RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY: "China now has 46 million government bureaucrats, new statistics revealed yesterday, a number almost as great as the entire population of England.

"While the country is used to outdoing the rest of the world for sheer numbers, the explosion in officialdom is alarming its ruling Communist Party." -- China's bloated army of 46m bureaucrats worries ruling elite

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 9, 2005 7:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Bipartisan Candidate for Oh-Eight

AT LAST, somebody that has something for everyone.

A people,
can never be

Pssst.... Just seeing it sorta gives ya chills all over, don't it?

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 8, 2005 7:59 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Vacation Explorations We Would Not Have Thought of On Our Own

From Travelocity's home page:


When you click "More" things get really wild for the whole family.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 8, 2005 7:49 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
One Moonbat Queen to Rule Them All

JUST WHEN YOU THINK IT IS SAFE TO LISTEN TO THE DEMOCRATS, out comes an amber alert. Here are some of the "refreshing" remarks and actions of she who would be Hillary, Teresa Heinz Kerry, during a recent work-release outing in Seattle. Proving once again that nothing keeps you out of the asylum better than infinity money, her hyper-kenetic ways were on view all over the town , as reported by smiling Joel Connelly of the aptly named Seattle Post-Intellingencer . [Italics added]:

"Nobody told me what to do," she told a Saturday fund-raiser here.

How many millions of votes the free-wheeling Teresa Heinz Kerry cost her husband is unknown but as her own step-children have noted, you don't cross the "Step-Money," especially if she owns the plane. Speaking of which...

Heinz Kerry flew into town on her own Gulfstream jet (the Flying Squirrel, named for a Sun Valley ski run) direct from a conference on global philanthropy at Stanford.

She talked energy-efficient building design with Seattle Art Museum boss (and old friend) Mimi Gates. She dined at Wild Ginger and flew back east with takeout food from the Third Avenue restaurant.

After her energy-efficiency meet-up, we assume she sold The Flying Squirrel and took Southwest back home thus improving the ozone and fighting global warming one private jet trip at a time. Right? Right.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 8, 2005 5:37 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink

AND THE BEST THINGS ABOUT THE OSCARS WERE.... (:MAY I HAVE THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE?") : "Brokeback Mountain" did not win best picture, "Munich" won nothing, and the Palestinian suicide bombers movie won nothing. There was no angry self-righteousness from Vanessa Redgrave against "Zionist hooligans," or from Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon for the Haitian boat people. There was no Bush-bashing. There was no Michael Moore. The host was not Whoopi Goldberg, so that's a big fat reward to every man, woman and child in America right there. " -- AnnCoulter

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 8, 2005 4:18 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
New "LobsCrab" Combines Feasting and Flossing

JUST ADD BUTTER: "Marine biologists have discovered a crustacean in the South Pacific that resembles a lobster or crab covered in what looks like silky fur." -- 'Furry lobster' found in Pacific

UPDATE: NOW YOU CAN sew your own plush replica of Kiwa Hirsuta.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 8, 2005 10:11 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Anything to Declare?

Another fine addition to the American gene pool

FILE UNDER "Speaks for Itself:"

On April 25, Gregory Despres arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Calais, Maine, carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood. U.S. customs agents confiscated the weapons and fingerprinted Despres.

Then they let him into the United States.

The following day, a gruesome scene was discovered in Despres' hometown of Minto, New Brunswick: The decapitated body of a 74-year-old country musician named Frederick Fulton on Fulton's kitchen floor. His head was in a pillowcase under a kitchen table. His common-law wife was discovered stabbed to death in a bedroom. -- Customs saw nothing wrong with suspect

Meanwhile, 80-year-old Swedish bachelors in walkers continued to be strip-searched at, well, just about any American airport you can name.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 8, 2005 9:57 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Everybody's Working for the Weekend, Everybody's Going Off the Deep End


Conscientious Objection- resisting the draft (8 registered participants)
95 Horatio Street #224
New York, NY
This gathering will provide information about Conscientious Objection: what it is, how to prepare a CO file, and how people of all ages can participate in resisting the draft. If there is time at the end we can discuss other MoveOn agenda issues, but the focus will be on the main topic.
West Village, just south of meatpacking district.
Thursday, March 10, 07:00 PM
Just south of meatpacking and a couple of decades late, but who's counting?

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 8, 2005 8:45 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Unbroken Vows

FRANCIS PORRETTO has written an extremely thought-provoking essay on what makes marriages fail and what makes marriages succeed.

Why, then, does the "me-centered" approach to marriage persist? Oughtn't such persons to be breeding themselves into extinction?

Possibly they are. Among other data, it appears that persons with a traditional view of marriage are producing more progeny than persons without that view. Certainly their marriages are lasting longer, which gives them a better chance to pass their attitudes on to others. They prefer one another's company, which reinforces their convictions. They tend to frown on abortion as well as on frivolous divorce. They also exhibit greater geographical stability than the easily divorced: they move less often, and when they do move, they tend not to move as far.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 7, 2005 12:00 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Religion Breaks Out on the Supreme Court!

-- from ABC New's Manuel Medrano, a legal affairs correspondent, who also seems to think that the Supremes Federal Funding/ Law School decision might lead to "the government condition[ing] receipt of say, a driver's license, on you swearing to support the war in Iraq." Me? I say let the Supremes continue their churching, Manny. Renew that driver's license now so that your dissent cannot be suppressed!

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 7, 2005 10:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
10 Things That Have Nothing to Do with Each Other

1. NSFW [NOT SAFE FOR WIFE]: A Sampling of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Supermodels

2. SCROOGE McDUCKSKY'S MONEY BIN:Russian Thieves Break Into Soviet-Era Missile Silo to Find it Filled With Money Bills

3. MONEY, SEX, TRAVEL, SEX, SHOP, SEX:Web users now have almost 76 million sites to choose from, yet most only visit six on a regular basis, it was revealed today.

4. AGROUND: World's oldest ship timbers found in Egyptian desert

5. SEARED, SEARED!, WITH THE MEMORY OF the perfect steak.

6. FIRST AMONG PREQUELS: Rudy Giuliani is the most popular politician in the country. ... Giuliani's mean score was 63.5 .... Hillary Clinton 50.4.

7. BEST PUN IN A HEADLINE THIS MONTH: Oscars TV viewing figures crash

8. DOOMED, I tell you! DOOMED!

9. ATTENTION PRISONERS OF THE CUBES: It's more important to look busy than be busy. Here's how.

10: FOUR ELEMENTS required to form a wise crowd.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 7, 2005 7:54 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Mother of All Beer Bongs

Fully funded for
higher education.


The MOABB was concieved one stoned night on the way back to our dorm. We looked up, and thought to ourselves, "We could build a beer bong that ran down the whole thing!" (10 stories). So we wrote it on the back of our hands, and when we woke up the next day we headed to the harware store. No one thought we could do it.
Sort of restores you faith in American youth, doesn't it? Cue the "If everyone lit just one little candle..." theme.

[HT: The LLama Butchers]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 6, 2005 3:17 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
We Shall Know Our Long Racial Nightmare is Over When....


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 6, 2005 12:59 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
New Rules of Asymetrical Warfare #679

JIM GERAGHTY ROLLS HIS OWN @ TKS on National Review Online:

"On the other hand, considering how effective these young women have been in garnering attention from the (COUGHmaleCOUGH) blogs, we may be witnessing a revolution in asymetrical warfare: The side that can deploy the most attractive young women in front of the media cameras wins."

Which would lead one to imaging the plea from somewhere in Sharia tonight, "Most honorable mullah, I regret to report that these floor-to-ceiling burkas just aren't getting it done. We need a fatwa to allow us to deploy the Martha Stewart Poncho."

marthaburka.jpg marthaponcho.jpg
Martha Stewart and daughter Alexis, before and after fatwa

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 6, 2005 11:52 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Oh, the Unfairness of It All!

THE ALWAYS SLIPPERY NEW YORK TIMES IN Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind says that:

Under the Bush tax cuts, the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes - a minimum of $87 million in 2000, the last year for which the government will release such data - now pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes amounting to virtually the same percentage of their incomes as people making $50,000 to $75,000.
Oh, shoot, New York Times. Now you tell me. That sounds just SO UNFAIR! Especially if your readers don't do the math.

Let's see, I'm in the second group and not the ultra-rich. If I have to pay a third of my income in taxes, I have to pay $24,750. If that low rent ultra-rich person with $87 million in income has to pay a third of that income in taxes, that person must pay nearly $29 MILLION in taxes. That is clearly NOT ENOUGH! -- even though I am clearly paying MUCH MORE THAN ENOUGH! If that ulta-richoid would only kick in 99.9% of his or her income, it would let about 3,500 of folks like me off the hook completly. What could be MORE FAIR than that?

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 6, 2005 10:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Naziosis Outbreak Continues

auschwitztat.jpg DBarrymore_02x1.jpg
Visual Aid for the History Impaired: (Left) Auschwitz Tattoo***, (Right) Hollywood Star's Tattoo

DEEP WITHIN THE DAILY KOS, the killer virus of Naziosis claims another victim who has lost the ability to distinguish between Auschwitz and Anaheim (Hint: Anaheim is the one with the Magic Kingdom, Auschwitz is the one with the crematorium tour.):

Daily Kos :: A Promise to My Grandfather: A Follow Up

I don't want to see that here or anywhere else. I do not want there to be cattle cars filled with people that these hate mongers scream out against. I do not want to see gays, liberals, Mexicans, hippies, Hollywood Actors, or anyone else have to be tattooed with a number. No more 58877241s.

This summer, my family and I will be traveling to Auschwitz, so my children understand what there grandfather went through. I want my daughter to know why I see him in her eyes. And then everytime I look in her eyes I will see hope and love and not 58877241.

So to the Phelps and Coulters of the world, you are on notice, we will fight your hate because we will not have this happen again.

Sigh. A waste is a terrible thing to mind, but what can one say? Like long-term addictions to smack and speed, this affliction is probably one of those 'Once the needle goes in, it never comes out' kind of deals. No real cure for the mania, but there is probably something that can be done to reduce the pain of the unremitting hallucinations. It might help if an intervention could remove him from an enviroment filled with fellow sufferers and enablers, but who has the stomach for it?

Shock therapy is the only hope. I'm thinking of raising a fund to have him star on Blind Date with Ann Coulter. That might bring him around. Then again it might send him over the edge. Either way his pain would be over.
For some extended realism about exactly what was happening in the death camps, see The Evolution of Tattooing in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Complex

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 6, 2005 9:55 AM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Handicapping Huffington

I'M JUST WONDERING ( and I can't be the only one) how quickly Arianna Huffington's Huffington Post Buddy Blog will join Air America in the slaughterhouse holding pen labelled, "Liberal Media Irrelevant to Their Medium." Less than a month old and already the tedium is thicker than clotted cream from Devon, or the blood beneath the killing floor.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 6, 2005 9:53 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
D-Day + 61 Years

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 6, 2005 8:53 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Quote of the Day from...


"In Bush we do not have an intellectual who sets dinner companions atwitter on the Left Bank and Islington; but, and putting it plainly, we have someone who is not a bullshiter (like his predecessor, who was an unusually good one). He walks the walk. And people know it (I have a friend who was recently deep in the Amazon. An Indian, in a primitive and remote hamlet, said he was scared of Bush's electoral victory. Why? Because he really means what he says came the response, ie more wars could be in the offing the Latin American, lefist-infused thinking went). Chuckle at my feverish cheerleading in trotting out such vignettes. But the fact is that when a typical President might have said something like "I call on the great and proud nation of Egypt to bla bla" the typical reaction in Cairene ministries would have been to ignore the prattle deeming it was meant mostly for domestic consumption. Not this time; as Mubarak felt compelled to start pushing forward real reforms. Again, Bush is judged to really mean it."

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 6, 2005 8:50 AM | QuickLink: Permalink

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN ASKS: "Is it possible that urging the overweight or mildly obese to cut calories and lose weight


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 6, 2005 8:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
MoveOn.Org's Lebanon Liberation


Since its inception, has championed the cause of People Power, harnessing the mighty force of millions of ordinary Americans from Park Slope to Williamsburg, from Los Feliz to Santa Monica, from Wicker Park to West Wicker Park and everywhere in between. Through our organization and fundraising efforts, we have inspired countless millions of everday Americans to log off of Craig's List, get up out of their Aeron chairs, and work together to change the world. And now this prairie fire of activist People Power, first kindled by MoveOn, is spreading across the globe.

Case in point: witness the street protests that took place in Lebanon this week. No doubt inspired by the election year example of MoveOn and other vital progressive organizations in America and Europe, thousands of young Lebanese people marched through the streets of their cities. The parallels to our 2004 anti-war actions were almost eerie: here was a spontaneous march of courageous young people saying NO to violence, and demanding things. Also, many of them were carrying signs. If you squint your eyes just right, and mentally PhotoShop in a jpeg of Madison Square Garden and a few "No Blood For Oil" banners, you can almost see the MoveOn protest at the GOP National Convention.

Please join me in saluting the global achievements of these great Americans by reading the whole thing at -- iowahawk: is Blowing The Winds of Freedom

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 6, 2005 8:07 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Coupling

Photo: GVdL

For What Binds Us
by Jane Hirschfield

There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down-
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,

as all flesh
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest-

And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 5, 2005 3:53 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Your Academic Tax Dollars at Work


MARINA DEL REY, Calif.-- The popular computer game Unreal Tournament 2003 invited players to become the "ultimate techno-gladiator of the future," blasting foes with "a smorgasbord of ferocious, flesh-chewing weaponry."

Now, researchers are turning the game into a tool for U.S. troops in Iraq — not to make them fiercer in combat, but to sharpen language and cultural skills that could help them avoid a potentially deadly confrontation.

.... no one had ever tried to make a nonviolent modification until a team from the Information Sciences Institute from the University of Southern California came along.

Hannes Hogni Vilhjalmsson, an Icelander working at the institute, has spent the past nine years studying nonverbal communication. His specialty is recreating body language in 3D computer programs.....

Instead of wielding a bio-sludge gun, Tactical Iraqi players use their verbal skills to negotiate a virtual Baghdad populated with numerous Arabic speakers. Missions range from entering a cafe and locating the owner to securing medical aid for an injured comrade.....

"It was actually quite difficult to find information on how to eliminate all weapons," says Vilhjalmsson.

W. Lewis Johnson, director of the institute's Center for Advanced Research and Technology for Education, recalled that "in one of the earlier versions we got rid of the weapons, but one of the testers discovered that if he stomped on other characters, they would explode in blood and guts."

It's the years of teen-age training kicking in here. I don't know about anyone else, but if you are running, say, DOOM II and six zombies show up, do you walk over and talk to them or select "rocket launcher"?

[Pointer from Perez-Miller @ confessions of a failed polymath]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 5, 2005 2:35 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Beyond the Valley of the Care-Bears

by JEREMIAH LEWIS, American Digest Film Editor

The Pacifier 3.5 stars out of 5

Actually, it doesn't stink.

WHAT WORKED ONCE for Schwarzenegger in 1990 seems to be an effective vehicle for similarly styled action and sci-fi star Vin Diesel, whose considerable frame is now harnessed to a family friendly improbably-but-enjoyable plot involving a top-secret weapons program, terrorists, and...babysitting.

In a move such as this, Diesel might be warned by his agent to steer clear of both action and comedy for a while. Give audiences some time to accept him as a tough, but warmhearted hero whose thick skin never gets in the way of his good intentions. It shouldn't take long, as The Pacifier contains enough kid-friendly material to make parents happy, without keeping them bored in the theatre in the process. Ultimately, however, the question of how well kids can take a burly, deep-voiced tough guy as the star rest on the strength of the script.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 5, 2005 1:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink

ROCKENOMICS: "As Coldplay's recording budgets have grown, so have its reverberation times."

HOW TO BUILD A Gauss Rifle at home in your spare time: "This very simple toy uses a magnetic chain reaction to launch a steel marble at a target at high speed."

IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME: Stop or I'll Shoot This Koran: "Sure," I said. "I use Korans for everything: Oven mitts, ash trays, air sickness bags and car wash shammies. You never know when one'll come in handy."


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 4, 2005 5:00 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Taibbirea: A New Low in New York City Media

ON AND OFF FOR OVER 30 YEARS I lived in New York City and I was always surprised to find that, whenever you thought you'd seen the utter bottom in human degredation performed for the sake of personal advancement or self-aggrandisement, there was still filthier mud waiting down below.

There's something about the media industry in that city best described as "Hell with good restaurants" that calls out for items that showcase a greater and greater degredation of the self in order to advance. God knows I played my part. It's been two years since I've wandered the streets of Gotham where papers giving directions to any flavor of self-abnegation you wish are stacked in every coffee shop and free on every corner, but it was with a feeling of extreme deja vu that I saw The New York Press's new cover and knew that a new bottom had been achieved.


There's something about a whole class of people that get drawn to New York that allows them to drain any drop of decency and humanity from their souls and refill it with filth to wild applause from others of their ilk. We're seeing that vile ritual acted out here at the hands of one "Matt Taibbi." Not content, I imagine, with his previous position in the daisy chain of disgusting souls, he seeks to improve it with the standard anti-Catholic outrage. Hard to do in a town that tolerates in the name of art the placing of dung on the Virgin Mary, but Taibbi proves himself just the insect for job.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 4, 2005 1:35 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Let Us Now Praise Famous Hosters


THIS IS GOING TO BE OF INTEREST mainly to those who blog or those who would blog, but bear with me since "attention must be paid."

Even with the smaller blogs such as mine the key to daily peace of mind is your hosting service. There are lots of these and I've been with a few. One service was, it turned out, a nest of vipers and spammers so devious they took a turn inserting a snippet of html into every page they hosted that pointed back to one of their own businesses -- a kind of auto-spam that their customers paid for. When caught they claimed that a consultant made them do it, but they were cheesy and sleazy and were soon on to other odious practices.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 4, 2005 10:22 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Cherry-Picking the NHL: The Real Deal Behind the Bain Offer

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

BY NOW YOU MAY HAVE HEARD about the $3.3 BILLION bid by a group headed by Bain Capital to purchase the entire NHL.

Some folks have said this deal would never happen because teams like the Bruins and Maple Leafs would never sell. Others, like Eric from Off Wing Opinion, see this as a possible PR move by Bain and Game Plan.

I see this as a Trojan horse. Bain is as smart as they come when it comes to takeovers and turnarounds. They see real value here. There is a product with a large base of loyal consumers but there is also a management in place that has consistently shown that they don't know what they are doing. I don't think Bain really wants to buy all 30 teams.

I think they might just want to buy just 15-20 teams.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 4, 2005 8:10 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Sure Sign of American Victory in the Middle East?

James Frederick Dwight @ soxblog has it:

2) The other way we'll know we've won?

When a free and democratic Afghanistan and a free and democratic Iraq unapologetically screw us the way France and Germany did the past few years, then we'll know that victory is ours.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 4, 2005 7:30 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lincoln's Land Without God

THERE ARE MANY MOMENTS IN MY LIFE, now more than before, when I wish I could hear within myself a clear call to an abiding faith. But I would be a hypocrite to claim that I do. I've listened deeply for a long time, but I just don't hear it.

That said, I understand that many, many people do hear it and live by what they hear. That's why it strikes me that this continuing assault on various icons such as the Ten Commandments by the transnational secularists of this country must be seen as a deep insult by both people of faith and those of good will. It's all part of the unremitting assault on the few remaining islands of our shared nobility that can only be seen as mean-spirited, small-minded, petty, controlling, feeble and nasty.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 3, 2005 3:00 PM | Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
I Repeat, "No More Letters to the Editor!"

[TODAY'S FUROR OVER THE AWFUL LA TIMES LOVE TYRST WITH NORTH KOREA -- N. Korea, Without the Rancor -- is neither surprising nor unexpected. What is somewhat upsetting is that the blogosphere seems to be stuck in an outmoded model of complaint. Even the sage Hugh Hewitt falls back on an exhaustive list of Korean-American organizations to contact while canceling the subscription to the Times you gave up long ago.

Well, let me tell you that venting spleen into a phone or canceling a sub JUST DOESN'T CUT IT when it comes to getting the editorial attention of the LA Times. They DON'T CARE. They have NEVER CARED. They won't CARE IN THE FUTURE. They will all still receive their checks and benefits no matter how many times you write, call or cancel. Why? Because your opinion and your subscription DOESN'T REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

What makes a difference to these papers is one thing, and one thing only, THEIR ADVERTISING REVENUE. To get their attention you've got to cost them ad dollars, you've got to get advertisers to cancel their ad orders. I know full well that circulation at the LA Times is sliding down, but that's a slow attrition. A hundred or thousand subscribers bowing out over a single bad story doesn't make an impression. One advertiser yanking $50,000 worth of ads makes a meeting and an unpleasant one at that in which the Publisher asks why the idiots in the editorial chambers are pushing him into bankruptcy again.

If you want to be effective this time, it would be a good thing to put a BlogSquad on the case of going over the last month's worth of LA Times and pulling out every ad that speaks to or is owned by Korean-Americans. I would, but I cancelled my subscription years ago.

Here's an item from my back pages of May 2004 that spells it out in more detail.]

Quit Being a Chump and Start Being Effective: Here's How to Make Your Views Matter to the Mass Media

EDITORS LOVE IT when you write outraged letters to them, but not for the reasons you might think.

Editors love your outraged letters because it tells they you're reading them. They love your letters, even when you scold them, because it shows you care.

Editors love printing your letter that takes them to task because it shows they are pleased to balance a large chunk of airtime or copy with a few seconds or inches of dissent.

But the dirty little secret beneath the editors' love for your outraged letter is that means, almost all of the time, that you didn't send that letter to one of the editors' advertisers.

Editors hate it when people write to the advertisers. If enough people write, editors have to have a conversation with their advertising director. Not that anything will come of it, but they hate the casual watercooler conversation that begins, "We're getting some heat from Nike about that dingbat Robert Scheer, can't you get him to..."


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 3, 2005 2:21 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
All You Need to Know About the LeftLogs in One Anonymous Comment

VIETPUNDIT'S ENTRY Silence of the lambs, part two elicited this comment that went far beyond the subject at hand:

"Well you have to remember its nice that the elections in Iraq and Afganistan worked, its nice that Libya has given up its nukes, and that we supported things in Ukraine, and that Egypt is making changes and that the people in Lebanon are opposing an evil occupation, but you have to remember this: A gay prostitute asked a softball question at a press conference. After all first things first." -- Anonymous
This Anonymous guy is rapidly becoming my favorite writer, and, what's more, he's everywhere.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 3, 2005 1:07 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
You'd Think Billionaire Brothers-In-Arms Would Be Able to Get Their Shared Hairdresser to Do Something...

... but you'd be wrong.


[Hint via The Corner on National Review Online]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 3, 2005 11:54 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Put Down That Newspaper and Step Away from the Anchordesk

THERE'S SO MUCH GOOD SENSE in Peggy Noonan's And That's the Way It Was: How to revive CBS News, that it is hard to know what to highlight. So, at random, let's choose a pocket essay on exactly why The New York Times is very bad for broadcast news:

If you allowed your fine and grizzled correspondents to find the answers and tell us, you would get a fresh and refreshing broadcast. But this does involve putting down your copy of the New York Times.

I worked at CBS 20 years ago and what was true of us then is true now, and true of every other network newsroom: They key evening news coverage off the front page of the New York Times. In Ken Auletta's piece in The New Yorker this week on Dan Rather's goodbye he has Mr. Rather in a "Front Page" mode, briskly asking his executive producer what the lead will be that night. Iraq, he answers, and part of the package keys off today's Times report.

Why do they do this? Is it because the Times knows everything? No. And network producers know it doesn't know everything. But the bosses of the producers read the Times. And the owners of the network read the Times. And the subordinates of the producers read the Times. They do this because it's there. If it's in the Times, it's real. This is a thought-hangover from 30 years ago, but it lingers.

Thirty years ago this thinking was more understandable. The Times, infuriating on any given day or not, was acknowledged as the nation's great newspaper. But the Times is now simply an esteemed newspaper. And more and more it plays to a niche, Upper West Side liberals wherever they are. It is not the voice of the age, it is a voice. So less reason than ever to key your coverage off it.

Worse, it kills creativity and enterprise. And it makes the news boring. Who wants a 7 p.m. newscast that reflects the newspaper that hit the Internet 18 hours earlier? The old excuse was, Yeah but we got moving pictures. Now however those pictures have been all over the news by the time it's 7p.m.

Turn this bad old habit on its head. Don't make "It was in the Times" the reason to do a story. Make "It was in the Times" a reason not to do it.

Ms. Noonan provides other measures for restoring the luster (and profitabillity) of network news. In fact, she draws those who manage it a road-map to success. Will they follow it? Not for a nano-second. They're too busy planning for their next off-roading expedition at Davos.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 3, 2005 9:06 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Fine Art of Slant

SLANTING THE NEWS IS AN ART; an art learned delicately over many years of careful craftsmanship. And as music is an art defined by the silences between the notes, the art of slanting the news is often defined by knowing what to leave out. Knowing what to leave out is very valuable to "reporters." It shows, to their editors and collegues that they "get" the unwritten rules of shaping and molding the impressions people take away from what seem to be "hard news" stories. If readers take away the "correct" impressions, the reporter can count on his stock and salary rising.

A classic example of the fine art of slanted news is the recent story scribbled by Editor and Publisher's editor, Greg Mitchell. It is a minor masterpiece of sorts and I'm sure Mr. Mitchell can look forward to a lot of invitations to fine parties as a result of it and the others like it he carefully crafts on his little prose bench.

First read the entire article and form an impression from it. Then we'll look at how that impression is created.

One in Four Americans Would Use Nukes Against Terrorists, Gallup Finds
By Greg Mitchell
Published: March 01, 2005 12:00 PM ET

NEW YORK More than one in four Americans would go so far as to utilize nuclear bombs if need be in the fight against terrorism, according to a national survey reported today by The Gallup Organization.

Gallup asked Americans whether they would be willing or not willing "to have the U.S. government do each of the following" and then listed an array of options.

For example, "assassinate known terrorists" drew the support of 65% of all adults. "Torture known terrorists if they know details about future terrorist attacks in the U.S." won the backing of 39%.

Finally, the option of using "nuclear weapons to attack terrorist facilities" drew the support of 27% of adults, with 72% opposing, which would shatter the taboo on using these weapons militarily since the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Experts agree that the power of today's weapons, their range of damage and the peril of drifting radioactive fallout far exceeds the bombs used against Japan. That support has declined 7% since 2001, however.

Greg Mitchell ( is the editor of E&P and co-author (with Robert Jay Lifton) of the book "Hiroshima in America."

It seems to me you can come away from this small item (which was widely circulated and commented on from the right and the left yesterday) with the distinct impression that there's a lot of Americans ready to assassinate, torture and nuke our enemies. And in that you would be right. If you lean left, you'll probably feel shocked and upset that insanity is rising. If you lean right, you'll probably be heartened by the fact that sanity is rising.

No matter what you feel, you'll be wrong.

You'll be wrong because what this slanted art work leaves out (except for the parting "escape" statement in the last sentence) is that in ALL THREE "FACTS" reported -- out of four in the survey -- American support has DROPPED since October of 2001.

That's right, fewer Americans in January of 2005 approved of the assassination of terrorists, of foreign leaders who harbor terrorists, of the torture of terrorists, and the nuclear option than in October of 2001.

How do we know this? Well, we went to Mitchell's original source at Gallup's Would Americans Fight Terrorism by Any Means Necessary?, signed up for their free 30 day trial, and took a look at the same data he looked at.

Here's what you see:


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 2, 2005 11:53 PM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Nerf Balls to Go

EXHIBIT A TODAY IN "Why I love this medium" is this anecdote from The Doctor Is In's arfticle in his fascinating multi-part study of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, "The Two Towers - Pt II:Concrete Thinking."

The author, Dr. Bob, usually writes brilliantly on medical and spiritual themes, so this series comes as a surprise and a pleasing one at that. In the midst of which comes this single startling factoid:

At the end of each pour, the pipes must be cleaned. The solution is ingenious: nerf balls. A section of pipe is removed near the pump, and several large nerf balls are placed inside. Water pressure is used to push these through the pipes, forcing the residual concrete ahead. When they arrive at the caisson, they are then returned through the now-empty pipe with high-pressure air. One non-official pastime of the crew is shooting the returning nerf balls from the hose near the pump; they sometimes travel 3-400 yards after exiting. One nerf ball thus launched ended up on the grill of a Mack truck driving over the bridge; it’s location is unknown, presumably in southern California.
And probably found its way onto a hillside in Laguna Beach where its weight was the final straw that brought it all down.

[HT: As the Top of the World Turns ]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 2, 2005 11:25 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Headline of the Day

d i z t o p i a celebrates [?] the beginning of year two of its existence with a story titled: Gimme Back My Snow-Testicle, You Little Minx

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 2, 2005 10:55 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Atlantis of the Sands

THE APTLY-NAMED CALLIMACHUS @ Done With Mirrors takes us on a sentimental journey with "Fallujah Calling:"

Remember Fallujah? Three months ago, U.S. Marines waded into the warren of its streets and fought their toughest battle since Vietnam. They captured the former capital of the Islamist terrorists in Iraq. They ended the reign of Abu Musab al Zarqawi there, where he had created a grotesque miniature picture of what all Iraq would become if the U.S. packed up and came home, as war opponents wanted us to do.

Our troops scoured the city, and chased or killed the thug army that had made it its citadel. The fighting devastated Fallujah, which once had been home to 300,000 people. We said we would help them build a new Fallujah, when they returned. This was to be a showplace of the new Iraq, in the heart of the Sunni region, in the Baathist bastion.

Well, how's it going? Are we keeping our promise? Are we doing it well or poorly? What do the people say?

You'll never find out by reading the Associated Press. Or the New York Times. For the print media, Fallujah seems to have fallen off the map as totally as Atlantis.

Callimachus points out that this is not "a good news/bad news" issue, but a "no-news" issue. No photos online from AP for February, no updates moving on the wires, the whole town -- so make-or-break for the US effort in Iraq -- was a "make," a victory, so what interest could the aftermath possibly have.

This is more than a no-bleed / no-lead item. This is an issue where a win for the United States is obviously not worthy of any follow-up whatsoever. Daily body counts are great, but daily reclamation and restoration victories are in the strange amoral universe of the MSM unworthy even of notice.

Still, there is some news trickling out and Callimachus is kind enough to distill it for you. Why large international news organizations would fail to do this, I leave to your own conclusions.

[Pointer via Final Historian @ History's End]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 2, 2005 10:03 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Somebody Stop Earth Before It Blogs Again!

THE BBC, WHICH TAKES A LOT OF THINGS AT FACE VALUE, reports that Technorati , a company much better at marketing than programming, has announced that there is One blog created 'every second.'

Uberblogfather Glenn Reynolds has pronounced this: "Cool," and I agree as long as I don't have to read each one as it comes online. That's Glenn's job.

But of course, just that one neck-snapping statistic isn't enough for Technorati, the head cheerleader for DotComDementia Ver. 2.0. It takes it a step further,

"In its latest State of the Blogosphere report, it said the number of blogs it was tracking now stood at more than 14.2m blogs, up from 7.8m in March.

It suggests, on average, the number of blogs is doubling every five months.

A stunning rate of growth which will gobstop many. But still, we might want to consider stepping on the brakes just a tad.

At this rate of growth, there will be 57 billion blogs in 5 years. One percent of these blogs will argue about intelligent design. One percent will enshrine the "Lies of President Jeb Bush." The rest will be about cats.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 2, 2005 8:36 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Inside the Committee that Runs the World

IS THE PROVOCATIVE TITLE OF the new Foreign Policy article by David J. Rothkopf.


An increasingly bitter philosophical debate pits the supporters of the policies of former President George H.W. Bush and many of his one-time team of foreign-policy experts, led by former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, against those who back views embraced by President George W. Bush and his team, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. What Scowcroft calls the "traditionalists" of the Bush 41 team are pitted against the "transformationalists" of the Bush 43 team, pragmatists vs. neocons, internationalists vs. unilateralists, the people who oversaw the end of the Cold War against those who oversaw the beginning of the War on Terror. Of course, the irony is that many of these people were not too long ago seen as parts of a whole. All are or once were close. What happened?

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 2, 2005 5:42 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Just Stake Him Out on an Anthill and Be Done with It, Okay?

IT IS NOT IMPROVING MY MOOD OR MY CHEST COLD to see, again and again, stories on the fake, phony, fraud Ward Churchill that describe him as "embattled." A Google News check on embattled Churchill yields 202 hits, up from 173 yesterday.

There's nothing "embattled" about this poor excuse for a man at all. He's just one of a legion of poseurs hiding in the petrified forests of our groves of academe, that has had the misfortune to play his cards a bit too loose and be exposed for the reptile that he is. Now that he is exposed, let's just finish him off an be done with it. "Embattled" suggests something noble whereas in truth there's nothing noble or even savage about this man. He a quisling. Always has been and always will be.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 2, 2005 11:46 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Freedom for the Entire Middle East? Just How Much Fight Have We Got?

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white
with the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear: "A Fool lies here
who tried to hustle the East."

           -- Rudyard Kipling

LIKE ANY SENSIBLE MAN in this era of universal bad news, I tend to take any good news I can find, but I always try to take it with a grain of salt.

Over the month of February, the news about freedom and liberty has been especially good. An election in Iraq so triumphant that even the New York Times has been forced to acknowledge it. The continuing destruction of the terrorists in Iraq on a daily basis. Renewed hopes for a final and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace. Promises of greater freedom in Egypt and even Saudi Arabia from the ossified rulers of those primitive states. Movements of the masses to insist on liberty and freedom in Lebanon. Shake-ups in Syria. The continued reminders of the much-touted youth movement of Iran that's ready to replace the mullahs with MTV. And the fading of the "Arab street" as an operating cliche. All that's left is for Johnny Apple to eat congealed quagmire pie on Meet the Press and my little world will be complete.

All this makes me very happy, very pleased. It is delicious to be right, but even sweeter to say to one's opponents "I told you so." And in the last few days there's no shortage of those who were right about the attractions of liberty and freedom taking a victory lap around the media and the blogosphere with a rising chant of "Neener, neener, neener..."

All this makes me very nervous. It makes me nervous because it brings to mind the very narrow edge on which all this triumphalism is currently based: one successful election made possible by several hundred thousand of the best troops in the world.

I don't deny the triumph of the election nor the courage and desire for freedom of the Iraqis. I just worry that it has to be repeated, and repeated elsewhere, to really matter. I worry because it is not my impression that totalitarian regimes always go gently into that good night just because their people camp out in public squares in search of self-determination. A square named "Tiananmen" comes to mind in this regard. That, you will recall, did not end happily.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 2, 2005 10:25 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"... and a Landslide on the Side, Please."

UP HERE IN ARCH BEACH HEIGHTS, about 400 yards away from the scene of yesterday's Laguna landslide, everything last night was quiet -- except for the persistent roar of the helicopter from Channel 2 News that had been overhead with four to six others all day. By the time night arrived most of the helicopters had left, but Channel 2 had decided on a full-court news press for their 11 o'clock edition and so kept their chopper up and running its spotlight hither and yon around the affected neighborhood.

This meant that they were hovering pretty much in the same spot that they were all day over another neighborhood. As I discovered yesterday the noise of a helicopter hovering above you hour after hour tends to put you just a tad on edge.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 2, 2005 9:44 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Other Iraq

THE BRILLIANT, BRAVE AND AMAZING Michael Yon continues with his upclose and personal reports from Iraq. One is from a town where things seem to have improved in many major ways, not the least of which are in terms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness:

Once in Dohuk, American soldiers removed helmets and body armor, and carried only their weapons. The commander set them free, with orders to return later that day. I walked with some soldiers to a department store where we passed by the kiddie rides outside. The storefront may well have been in Colorado Springs, or Munich. There were big push-carts for the adults, and little carts for the children.

Inside the store was a grocery section, where the people smiled, fresh canteloupes smelled sweet, the apples red and green and yellow. There were oranges, bananas, and more. Nearly half a year had passed since I had seen such things.

[Be sure to take note of Yon's photographs of the market.]

Another report is from from Mosul where things are quite different and the "tactics" of the men called "insurgents" continue:

Recently, an insurgent hid behind a child in order to attack Americans. The tactic came as no surprise to the soldiers here. Terrorists routinely play wounded or feign their surrender in order to get close enough to launch an attack on Coalition or Iraqi Forces. In January I wrote about one bomber who grabbed the hand of a small child while she was playing on a sidewalk. Smiling, he walked with the child in hand, approaching some Iraqi police, and exploded. Americans standing close by were unharmed.
Tell me again about the "heroism" of Muslim terrorists. Tell me again about the need to "understand" them.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 2, 2005 7:18 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Exposing a Useless Idiot

JUAN COLE BELIEVES OUR ".... enemy is four guys in a gymn (sic) in Leeds."

Michael Totten's refresher course in the war has a number of graphic photos proving him, as always, dead wrong.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 2, 2005 6:48 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Browsing Magazines

Instead of drearily working their way to the top, today s exalted executives travel a route more like something out of a Harry Potter novel. Initially, the wunderkind finds his way to one of our most elite universities, which still proves inadequate to contain his prodigious mental energies, as in the case of Harvard dropout Bill Gates and the two founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who abandoned a Stanford Ph.D. program. Then he retreats to a holy site (often a Silicon Valley garage), where there s a period of mysterious wizardry involving smoke and flashes of light before our hero emerges with his Creation. More years of struggle follow, and then comes the magical ceremony that finally earns him the mantle of true genius: the initial public offering.
-- Wilson Quarterly's The Revenge of the Nerds by Steven Lagerfeld

While the comments that followed [at Daily Kos] rejected such speculation, a consensus developed that President Bush was nonetheless to blame for Thompson's demise. Opined one Kossack: "His blood is also on Bush's hands. Probably just couldn't accept life with four more years of Bush. Guess he chose to take the easy way out." Other commenters were slightly more reasonable. Recalling an acquaintance who had committed suicide shortly after the 2000 election, another Kossack conceded, "I doubt he killed himself over Junior Caligula's ascencion [sic] to the throne . . . but it no doubt was on the background."
-- The Weekly Standard's Kos Party

Renowned physicists, authors of astronomy textbooks and prominent popularizers of science have made incorrect, misleading or easily misinterpreted statements about the expansion of the universe. Because expansion is the basis of the big bang model, these misunderstandings are fundamental. Expansion is a beguilingly simple idea, but what exactly does it mean to say the universe is expanding? What does it expand into? Is Earth expanding, too? To add to the befuddlement, the expansion of the universe now seems to be accelerating, a process with truly mind-stretching consequences.
-- Scientific American: Misconceptions about the Big Bang

In her testimony, told and retold over the last forty years, she claimed among other things that she was looking at the limousine where she saw Kennedy and his wife, Jackie; the couple was looking at a little dog between them, a white fluffy dog. Hill then jumped to the edge of the street to yell, Hey, we want to take your picture! JFK turned over to look at her. At that point, he was shot, and Jackie shouted, My God, he has been shot! Then, Mrs. Hill said that she saw some men in plain clothes shooting back and a man with a hat running toward the monument on the other side of the plaza on the so-called grassy knoll. Immediately, she started running after him, thinking he was involved in the shooting.
-- Facts and Fiction in the Kennedy Assassination; Notes on a Strange World (Skeptical Inquirer January/February 2005)

Computer enthusiasts have worked out how to reprogram Apple's iPod music player with their own code using an ingenious acoustic trick.

They adapted the component that generates clicks - or "squeaks" - as a user scrolls through the on-screen menu in order to extract vital information from the latest generation of the device. This allowed them to install an alternative operating system and make their iPods run games and other new programs.
-- New Scientist Breaking News - iPod 'squeaks' betray software secrets

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 9:46 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Online Evisceration of Chris Rock


A small taste of the entire operation:

Well, in the sense that he ordered the invasion, Bush certainly started the fighting, though to say he started the war is a stretch. To wit: what Rock neglects to mention is that GAP employees had been fired upon daily in the employee parking lot by Banana Republic staffers for twelve years following the GAP's repulsion of Banana Republic from Abercrombie and Fitch (which it tried to take over by force in 1991.) After the GAP and its allies from Cinnabon, Panda Express, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc repelled the invading Banana Republic volley, Banana Republic signed a cease fire agreement, which it then almost immediately violated; additionally, Banana Republic's longtime CEO tried to have a former GAP president assassinated -- and that former GAP president just happens to be the father of that same George Bush who supposedly "started"the war).

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 4:21 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
It Was Only A Matter of Time....
John Paul II is currently alive and Pope.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 3:49 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Not My Will, But Thine, O Lord"

I REMEMBER VISITING THE EDITORIAL FLOORS OF NEWSWEEK IN NEW YORK every so often. High up. Carpeted. A relaxed humm of 'damn it we're important' permeating the place. But that was then and this is a now in which Newsweek and its ilk grow smaller and more out-of-it every passing week. This week's case in point is a vile and smarmy little scribble about the Pope, He Has Willpower—But No 'Living Will' . In it, the obviously secular and utterly clueless Christopher Dickey has the temerity to write:

Yet this same pontiff who continues to assert his will in the daily life of the church has given his doctors no instructions about how to sustain his life, or not, should he slip into a persistent coma. Could anyone -- would anyone -- pull the plug? And under what circumstances?
You will have to read through many, many copies of the Weekly World News to come across a dumber insight or hook for a story than that one. Christopher Dickey obviously enjoys some special protected status at Newsweek to be able to file such tripe and still draw a paycheck.

Most people would know, without a lot of reflection, that the Pope by definition is not going to be into the artificial shortening of life either before birth or on the edge of death. It has to do with something called surrendering to God's will and abnegating one's own will; the "Thy Will Be Done" syndrome. This is pretty much stock intellectual and spiritual equipment when it comes to Popes of the Roman Catholic Church. You'd think someone assigned, however briefly, to the Vatican Beat by Newsweek would understand that. You'd think so, but you'd be wrong. Someone should bring Christopher Dickey home before he starts writing articles on which organs the Pope should donate and why.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 3:14 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Unbearable Lightness of Being a CNN News Bimbo

SHARON COLLINS, ONE OF CABLE NEWS' VAST SELECTION OF BLONDE NEWS BIMBOS, is clearly not ready for day time much less prime time.

About 10 minutes ago on CNN Headline News, Ms. Collins took a report from a CNN reporter in Florida who was summing up the last few hours' moves by Terri Schiavo's parents to save their child through the court "system." After the reporter wrapped up, Ms. Collins looked into the camera with an expression of exasperated sympathy and said, "For a lot of us covering this, it's beginning to feel a lot like Groundhog Day."

You remember Groundhog day as should Sharon Collins. Especially this little moment:

Phil: There is a major network interested in me.
Larry: That would be the Home Shopping Network.

Susan, buff your resume, eat salads, and keep going to the gym.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 12:24 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Man Versus Doofus: The Body Language Says It All

PHOTO COLLECTION OF MEMORABLE MOMENTS IN ELECTION, 2004: You'll laugh, you'll laugh til you cry, and you'll know the reason why.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 11:46 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Newspaper Hierarchy

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country, and who are very good at crosswords.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand the Washington Post. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country, if they could spare the time, and if they didn't have to leave L.A. to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country, and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country, as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country .... or that anyone is running it; but whoever it is, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs, who also happen to be illegal aliens from ANY country or galaxy as long as they are Democrats.

10. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

12. The Santa Fe New Mexican is read by people who are thinking of leaving the country or better yet want the other 51% of the people "out there" to leave, "so we can get back to the normal, right way of running the country."


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 10:51 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ghouls of the Rockies

I WAS A BIT TOO HARSH on old Hunter Thompson the other day when I observed in Hunter Thompson: What A Man! Yeah, Right. that he was a selfish bastard for leaving his shot-through-the-mouth corpse for his wife and family to clean up. Yup, too harsh by half. We now learn that his family actually liked having his corpse around as, I guess, a conversation piece as they got snozzled.

According to a bizarre story in the Rocky Mountain News within hours of his death

Hunter S. Thompson still heard the ice clinking.

The literary champ was sitting in his command post kitchen chair, a piece of blank paper in his favorite typewriter, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot through the mouth hours earlier.

But a small circle of family and friends gathered around with stories, as he wished, with glasses full of his favored elixir — Chivas Regal on ice.

"It was very loving. It was not a panic, or ugly, or freaky," Thompson's wife, Anita Thompson, said Thursday night in her first spoken comments since the icon's death Sunday. "It was just like Hunter wanted. He was in control here."

What can one say other than that a man with the back of his head blown out will always, in a sense, control the attentions of a drinking party. I suppose it would be uncharitable of me to note that designating the cheap blend of Chivas Regal as a favored elixir does not speak well of the tastes of the departed, so I won't. Instead, I'd like to reflect on the loving nature of the gathering.

Old memories. "Hey, remember when he..." "And then there was the time that..." Toasts. Clinking ice. Refills on the house. "Hunter, what's up? You haven't touched your drink. Here, let me help you. Oops, leakage. Well, can't be helped I suppose."

The "piece of blank paper in his favorite typewriter" is a nice touch, don't you think? The very stuff of which legends are crafted. Of course it would have been much better had the paper been half-filled with "All work and no play makes Hunter a dull boy...," but you can't think of everything when whipping together an impromptu apres-morte tableau.

Present in the house when Thompson pulled the trigger were:

Juan Thompson and his wife, Jennifer Winkel Thompson, were up from Denver at the property known as Owl Farm for one of their weekend visits. It was typical: They went sledding and watched The Maltese Falcon Saturday night. They were with their son, 6-year-old Will.
News reports don't say if the 6-year-old grandson was part of the apres-morte drinking party. If not, one wonders where he was and who was taking care of him.

As for Thompson's wife of the moment, she is quoted in a burst of obviousness as saying:

"I always knew that Hunter was going to die before me," Anita Thompson, 32, said of her 67-year-old husband. "I'd accepted that. I just did not know it was going to be like this. I would rather have him back."
This yearning, however, did not keep her from finding the beauty of the moment:
After wading through the police officers outside, Anita Thompson recalls seeing her husband's dead body for the first time. "He was sitting in the chair when they brought me in, and I got to hug him and kiss him and rub his legs," she said. "All the anger was gone when I saw him."
On the other hand, since she obviously can't have him back, keeping the house will make up for her loss:
Anita Thompson believes she will stay on at the expansive property and famous house that was an ever-changing archive of political, literary and name-your-category items. And she will continue to help administer Hunter Thompson's works.

"I'm going to keep on working for Hunter," she said. "He wanted this. He made sure that I was in place to continue on. I'll just do my job until I can be with him again."

In like, maybe, 50 or 60 years and two to four other husbands.

In the meantime, Prosit! Skol! Have another hit.

What a family! It's dysfunctional enough to make you want to, well, just shoot yourself.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 10:16 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Meanwhile, the Religion of Peace, of Allah the Merciful and Compassionate, Grinds On
"Mama, mama," cried Hadeel, 24. "They have just executed my husband in front of my eyes. Please help me. They just shot him in the head. Please help me, mama."

A male voice then told Alloussi, a prominent Iraqi gynaecologist: "We have killed him and now we shall kill your daughter as well."

She begged for the young woman's life, promising to hand over gold, cash and a valuable building if her captors would set her free. But the line went dead.

Two bags containing the bodies of her daughter and son-in-law, graduates in medicine who had taken internships at al-Qaem hospital close to Iraq's border with Syria, were dumped near their Baghdad home 48 hours later. Alloussi's daughter had been shot in the heart. -- Rebels kill Iraqi women as 'betrayers' of Islam - Sunday Times - Times Online

You can read the rest if you are in the mood to be sick to your stomach.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 9:06 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Two Reasons to Read Varifrank


Imagine getting assigned to seat 22b, the dreaded middle seat, in the back of the plane, with no view, and your seat cannot recline.

Now, imagine that the flight is 80 hours long, and that you can't sleep at any point of the flight.

Now imagine that you're not just a passenger, but you're the pilot. And its not a well tested and understood Boeing 737, but a one time creation, made mostly out of plastic, and it doesn't have two engines, but one.

And no one has ever done what you are about to do. Fly around the world, nonstop, Solo, on one engine without refueling.

There's more and well worth it too.

Reason #2 Varifrank: I, The Jury

We have an adversarial political system in this country, but as a member of the jury, I do not "belong" to either of them, nor do I "belong" to any third politcal party. If I am to be a good citizen and fulfill my function in the jury box, I must listen to the case the Attorneys from either side put into evidence in the court to make their case.

For this moment in time, the Republicans a better case to the majority of the jury. This is not an indictment of the people who belong to the Democrat party or a prize to those in the Republican party, it is simply an indication of how well their lead attorneys on each side are doing translating the evidence of daily life into information that the jury can use to make its decision at the polls.

Wit, wisdom, and range. Who could ask for anything more?

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 8:43 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Excellent Questions with Obvious Answers

Dave Weigel's got questions about Gunner Palace

Why do I have to go the movies to see video of soldiers in Iraq? The TVs blaring over our desks in the office had been playing nothing but human interest stories all week - Terri Schiavo, Robert Blake, Scott Peterson, some missing girl in Florida (why is it ALWAYS Florida?) Stories of euthenasia and murder in small-town America and Hollywood. I could expect to hear about this stuff in times of peace. But we have 150,000 soldiers risking their lives for us 24/7 in Iraq and Afghanistan. They're shooting it out with snipers, busting down doors, arresting assassins, quelling riots, handing out candy to schoolkids, cuddling babies at orphanages, Hummering down to the Baghdad airport's McDonalds to get a precious Big Mac. In what twisted universe is this not interesting? What the hell convinces TV producers that this stuff is less interesting than the latest frigging Amber alert for some frigging mullet kin in Bumbleshit, Broward County?
Cruel. But fair.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 7:41 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Okay, Here's Our Plan. Any Questions?"

"We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again. The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we will rule Britain and the entire world -- except for the Jews. The Jews will not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule, because they are treacherous by nature, as they have been throughout history. The day will come when everything will be relived [likely relieved -EV] of the Jews -- even the stones and trees which were harmed by them. Listen to the Prophet Muhammad, who tells you about the evil end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew." -- Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris

Well, at least we can't say we weren't warned.

Via The Volokh Conspiracy

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 7:02 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Harvard Hall Pass

FILE UNDER: "Every Dark Thought You Have About Academia is Correct"

To [Roland G.] Fryer [ assistant professor of economics at Harvard ], the language of economics, a field proud of its coldblooded rationalism, is ideally suited for otherwise volatile conversations. ''I want to have an honest discussion about race in a time and a place where I don't think we can,'' he says. ''Blacks and whites are both to blame. As soon as you say something like, 'Well, could the black-white test-score gap be genetics?' everybody gets tensed up. But why shouldn't that be on the table?''

Fryer said this several months ago, which was well before Lawrence H. Summers, the president of Harvard, wondered aloud if genetics might help explain why women are so underrepresented in the sciences. Summers -- who is also an economist and a fan of Fryer's work -- is still being punished for his musings. There is a key difference, of course: Summers is not a woman; Fryer is black. -- Toward a Unified Theory of Black America

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2005 5:59 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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