Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
The First Terrorist War's Daily American Casualty Rate (So Far)

Day One, September 11,2001: +/- 3,000 Deaths from Enemy Action

September 12, 2001 to Present: +/- 2,000 Deaths from Enemy Action

Total: +/- 5,000

Days of War: 1519

Average Number of American Deaths Per Day in the First Terrorist War: 3

Forward Projection: That depends on just what kind of a day we have, doesn't it?

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 31, 2005 12:56 PM | Comments (17)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Year in Bushlines

Final Fears Confirmed: Being a Brief Summary of the 2005 High Crimes and Misdemeanors of the Great and Powerful Bush. It's not only worse than you imagine, it's worse than you can imagine.

January 20 - George W. Bush is inaugurated in Washington, D.C. for his second term as 43rd President of the United States, and immediately begins sucking down one to two bottles of wine a night in order to tool up for a year of using his new Godlike superpowers to, dare I say it?, rule the world.

January 25 - Warming up his vast telekinetic powers, Bush, like Mandrake the Magician, gestures mystically at the globe in the White House war room causing a stampede at Mandher Devi temple in Mandhradevi during a religious pilgrimage in India that kills at least 215, mostly women and small children. While doing so he sips a superb Pinot Noir and consumes an entire tin of Altoids to keep his wife in the dark about his comfortable return to his own private alcoholism. "I just can't keep going out to the White House garage after dark," he reflects.

January 30 - After making sure that the fix is in with millions of Iraqis in the form of free Happy Meal coupons, Bush allows the first free Parliamentary elections in Iraq since 1958 take place. To stain the fingers of the electorate purple, Bush orders Francis Ford Coppola to dump thousands of gallons of substandard Merlot in that desert vastness.

February 6 -In a cynical move to prepare the United States to accept an eternal extension of the Patriot Act, Bush causes the New England Patriots to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in the Super Bowl. As his co-wizard-in-waiting, Karl Rove rubs his hands chortling, "This year the people will think anything with the word 'patriot' in it is a winnah."

February 16 - Reflecting that hockey is not only a native sport of Texas but is boring to boot, Bush calls in some markers and makes the National Hockey League cancel its 2004-2005 season. "Who cares," he mumbles while tossing back his sixth 'Wine in a Can,' "it's just more panty-waist figure skating with clubs."


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 29, 2005 10:52 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Last Week I Cud Knot Spel 'Historian,' Now I Are One."

SWIFTLY REPLACING THE WEEKLY WORLD NEWS as the most hallucinatory magazine on the planet is the New York Times Magazine. Exhibit A is this exchange sans a shred of intellect from What's the Big Idea? wherein the clueless editors of the Times Magazine interview an even less clued Peter Watson, author of the unfortunately titled "Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, From Fire to Freud."

On the other hand, not all big ideas are good ideas. In fact, most big ideas are probably terrible ideas. What do you think is the single worst idea in history?

WATSON: Without question, ethical monotheism. The idea of one true god. The idea that our life and ethical conduct on earth determines how we will go in the next world. This has been responsible for most of the wars and bigotry in history.

But religion has also been responsible for investing countless lives with meaning and inner richness.

I lead a perfectly healthy, satisfactory life without being religious. And I think more people should try it.

Really? Let's review the ancient world of, say, Mesopotamian cosmology before the advent of the concept of monotheism.

In this first known stab at civilization a rapacious slate of rulers hosted, for their own benefit, a whole raft of cheap tin gods coming at you from every direction. A god of the fire, a god of the mud, a god of the liars, a god of the crud. For all we know, a god of the excreta of the nose. Each one was as shiny and worthless as a commemorative quarter from the U.S. Mint. Over and over for all your days these paltry gods hectored you/ each one demanding their little altar, their little ritual, and their little donation, without let up and without number.

The streamlined and stylin' modern version of this sort of theocracy was known, until quite recently, as Tibet, and no matter how colorful the Potala might seem after a serious bong hit in Katmandu, the realities of the modern era have not exactly treated Tibet kindly. In general it is better to have one God and an army on your side than a thousand gods and no army.

Omnitheism was the model for much of the world from prehistoric times until just an inch of time ago. You had to put up with a god running every little aspect of human existence. You had to accept that every single one of those niggling and irritating gods was ready, at any moment and for no real reason other than malice, to destroy


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 28, 2005 10:00 PM | Comments (20)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The New York Times' Christmas Grinch: Pieces of Coal and Dry Salami for the Gray Lady

NO CHRISTMAS (SORRY, "HOLIDAY") SONGS OF CHEER for the New York Times as it rounds out a year of leading its braying band of defeatists and appeasers. Whatever the extended and dysfunctional family and friends of the Times may think, the market this year "thought different."

Watch the numbers. They tell a story:

52 Week
High 41.21
Low 26.50

As one wag pointed out, "Their current stock price is way below Bush's current poling numbers."

As they say, "So long. Thanks for the fish wrap."

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 21, 2005 12:43 PM | Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Central Political Issue of the Day in One Paragraph

"Irrationality on a political level from these quarters has never been a shock. On a personal level, however, the predominant response of the intellectual Left was a mystery. It was as if the thousands of crushed and incinerated men, women, and children—those who threw themselves into a quarter-mile abyss rather than have the flesh seared off their bones as they stood in the wind at glassless walls, the small children who died in terror after watching hysterical fanatics slit the throats of screaming stewardesses, and so on, for there are almost three thousand stories—simply did not exist. How does one explain such an egregious absence of sympathy (much less assertions that "they" deserved it, or that it was a work of art) among endlessly self-proclaiming empathetics whose stock in trade is to milk compassion even from the Rock of Gibraltar? This is a real rather than a rhetorical question, because it is significant of a great division."

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 20, 2005 3:00 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Pointers That Click


DAVID WARREN LOOKS AT THE MODERN MEANING OF TOLERANCE: "It is one of the "thought-killer" words for the politically correct mind; "tolerance" is to be accepted uncritically as a word for all seasons and reasons, and thought must stop the moment it appears. As ever, we find even postmodernity is not without a history -- it is the carrying forward of a loose idea hatched during the Enlightenment, into the realm of dementia."
MEANWHILE THE MANOLO FINDS one style of female life that cannot be tolerated.
TOLERANCE AT WORK. A restroom available to men and women. And very tiny crippled people.

DAVE SIFRY ANNOUNCES yet more "cool" features destined to make Technorati even more undependable than it already is. Robert Scoble plugs in the term "Microsoft" and finds no mention of it in the blogosphere. Sifry responds that this a mere "glitch." Right. Next.

THINKING OF WORKING FOR GOOGLE? THINK TWICE: "Every month, aspiring workers deluge the popular Mountain View search engine with up to 150,000 resumes, equivalent to a stack of paper at least 50 feet high."

HOMELESS HOMES -- or --Intellectual Insanity in Architects.

BILL GATES. He's rich, but is he smart? Ole doesn't think so.

"I happen to think Bill Gates is incredibly overrated as a smart guy. He is a lousy presenter, and really smart guys give good, focused presentations that make you realize they are really smart. Steve Jobs would be an example. Kip Thorne - now he's a smart guy. Or how about Richard Feynman; in addition to being interesting, he exuded intelligence and deep understanding. Bill Gates may be a great businessman, but he is not a great technologist. And he is not a really smart guy. Sorry."

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 20, 2005 12:59 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Intellectual Insanity in American Life

THE ALWAYS ASTUTE NEO @ neo-neocon has just published her reflections on the political ramblings of that old war horse "intellectual" Harold Bloom. He comes out of the experience looking rode hard and put away wet.

The essence of Bloom's attack on George Bush is that the President is... wait for it... stupid and doesn't read books. There's a fresh assertion from a clod sharp and tenured academic mind. It doesn't take Neo many words to dissolve Bloom's clod into thin mud since Bloom ignores the facts about Bush's real reading habits before bloviating. As usual no fact ever penetrates Bush hate for reasons explained below. I won't comment upon Bloom's assertion about Bush's intelligence and reading habits. That's done ably by Neo. What struck me is a remark Neo highlighted :

"Bloom doesn't think much of Americans, either:

"All of this is extraordinarily blatant, yet the American people seem benumbed, unable to read, think, or remember, and thus fit subjects for a president who shares their limitations."

The assertion that "the people" are dolts for electing a dolt is heard more and more often from those who consider themselves as the only class fit to vote, fit to win, and fit to rule; the American "intellectuals." Or, as was once said with aplomb in Blazing Saddles, "You know. Assholes."

Now that the vast majority of what passes for intellectuals in America live in a reality distortion field as substantial as that great gas giant Jupiter, there's no escaping its pull. Over the decades "Professional American Intellectuals" (PAIs) have managed to so secure their sinecures in Academe and the Media that they are impervious to any shock that shake them out of their delusion short of a thermonuclear explosion. And for many that wouldn't do it either -- unless they happened to be in the city at the time. We've already established that the destruction of 911 was not enough to penetrate their shields.

Existence within this reality distortion field is similar to, and overlaps, the effect that sudden wealth has had on young entrepreneurs in our time. It's not a new phenomenon, but the endless fast and immense wealth for little effort that our fat system throws off allows it to happen with greater rapidity and intensity today. I think of it as "The Bubble."

When a person gets a very large hit from the money machine these days -- hundreds of millions or perhaps billions -- he receives a kind of life security much like academic tenure, and exceeded only by a job at the Post Office. Then a slow but almost inescapable change begins to take place.

The ability to command any material object or mortal pleasure becomes a soul-warping force stronger than the inability to command any material object or mortal pleasure. Slowly at first, but with ever increasing speed, the individual is sucked away from all those who knew him or her as a normal human. Decent friends become distant to avoid being seen as spongers even though money and favors are dispensed with the best will in the world. Real hustlers, spongers, and perveyors of blandishments come into the Bubble Boy's realm on wings of subtle but unremitting flattery.

In time, most of the old friends have either melted away, walked away, or been driven out by the hordes on the con. The afflicted is left surrounded by people who assure him they are his friends because real friends always stand by a pal --- as long as the gravy train rolls. Since he no longer has any real yardstick against which to measure his drift from normality, the drift continues until he is surrounded only by sycophants of all sizes and shapes. He is then in The Bubble and will stay there until death, tragedy, or the end of the money.

So it is with the PAI "Professional American Intellectual." Indeed, many of them have wheedled their way into The Bubble of the Suddenly Wealthy since he always needs affirmation and they always need a grant. One of the first thing a PAI learns in school is how to mirror money. And money loves to be mirrored as much as the witch in "Sleeping Beauty." PAIs proliferate next to and within effortless money and the vast dark towers of American philanthropy. As Exhibits A to D I give you Senator and Mrs. Heinz-Kerry, the Hollywood Clintons, the George Soros Brigade, and the Huffington Huff of 2004 if you can bear to recall their antics. There are others and they are legion. This is, as I said, a fat country. We can afford a lot of them. We even let them jet about the nation to instruct us on how to live and think and believe and be. All the old snake oil of "the betters" who always know better and love to butt in to people's lives. Sometimes, since they are parasites on the body politic, we even allow them to run for office.

Looking at these intersecting bubble palaces wafting about America today, one can only feel irritated and saddened the inhabitants are compelled, en masse it seems, to move from hating Bush to hating The People as well. When this happens the murmured subtext is always thus: Oh, pity and fear the poor " Little People" who did not go to the right schools, read the right books, wear the right clothes, summer in the right places, speak the right French phrases, and have all the right friends. At parties, summer houses, and lunches in New York City for over 30 years I heard this nattering as a constant theme. I am ashamed now to say that I nattered right along with the rest. After all, once you've got a seat at the round table you've gotta walk the walk and talk the talk. That person standing behind your chair isn't the waiter and can't wait to sit down.

The darker level below the whispered subtext is that if "The Little People" cannot be trusted to vote correctly, than perhaps the running of America cannot be left to such losers. Yes, perhaps it would be best not for America, but for "the future of the planet" if only the PAIs and all their pals had the vote and had their way, now and forever, Bubble without end, always. This oozing attitude of self-righteous smarm harks back to that time when only the racial and intellectual and financial American elite had the vote; that four-score and seven year period before the Civil War.

Within The Bubble of the PAIs the standard issue view that Bush is stupid is, of course, neither new nor illuminating. It has been the First Commandment of "Real and Really Smart Citizens" of the US since well before the election of 2000. It reads, "Thou shalt always believe and constantly assert that George W. Bush is dumb."

Within the Bubble the questioning of these secular commandments is not permitted. Other ages called it heresy and burned the offenders at the stake. This Brave New Bubble calls it politically incorrect, and casts any heretics into the outer darkness of the vast prehistoric wastes between the Upper West Side, Georgetown, San Francisco and Beverly Hills. The question of how this man, or any man, becomes President (the most arduous job interview in history) without being intelligent cannot even be thought, much less asked. It can't be asked since the answer is "He can't. He has to be smart." That single admission brings down the whole house of cards they have now piled up halfway to their empty but highly evolved heaven.

Bloom and the millions with him in The Bubble have now entered so deeply into their distortion field they cannot extricate themselves. To admit to even a smidgen of the truth is to admit that their entire shared "reality" is a mass delusion, an intellectual insanity of their crowd, the Smart Set. But still there has to be some explanation of how an "obvious moron" can become President. Twice. More and more that reason is now being given as "The People are stupid."

This is shameful on the face of it. Worse, this is from a party and an intellectual tradition that gave us such native geniuses as Wood Guthrie for whom this land was made for you and me, and Carl Sandberg for whom "The People, Yes," and the towering poet Frost for whom:

Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

American intellectuals, with few exceptions, have never managed to match the majesty, the faith, and the vision of our songwriters and our poets; all of whom knew that the true soul and destiny of these states was never to be found in the elitist enclaves or the petrified forests of academe, but always out there in "the land vaguely realizing westward" among "The People."

The unreasoning anger at Bush has now begun to spread out like a pool of unrestrained bile into a widening anger at "The People." It will only intensify since one of the chief ways of identifying those who are suffering from a state of severe and unremitting high anxiety is through their expressions of irrational anger which quickly escalate into spuming and sputtering rage.

It might well be a case of "Those whom the Gods would destroy, they first make intellectually insane." In a way, it is probably good that those PAIs among us remain in The Bubble. We have enough psychotics loose on our streets already. It's winter in America and all the heating grates on our city sidewalks are already taken.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2005 10:55 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Spambox Poesy

IN THE KEY OF "You can't make anything foolproof because fools are so creative" comes this selection of subject lines from my Spam catcher. You've probably seen something like these subject lines in your own Spam Filter, but did you ever notice how, taken together, they make a kind of poetry that almost makes sense. It's like what might happen if Maya Angelou shared her crack pipe with e.e. cummings and opened her commodious capture buffer.

Here's a brief example of how to make Spam subject lines add up to a poem even Teresa Heinz Kerry would have been proud to have written after two bottles of Pinot Noir. All I'm doing is cutting a pasting and putting in a little punctuation. I call this soupcon of poesy,

"Not read of Genius"

Her lose the collate,
Or ask on provocative.
He start or latchkey,
Or lumber downriver the bitwise.

Ice try scurry.
Angelo try crotch.
Clarinet try remediable accretion again.
Subliminal may Edwin, may sooth.

Now some may believe that the origin of this poesy is a 'bot, but I demure. It seems to me that someone is coming up with these gems. Someone who once was a writer for either captions on porn thumbnail sites or foreign policy papers churned out by the Democrats. Either way, he's come up in the world.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2005 10:53 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Not-So-Silent Night


If this was next door to you, the owner would have to stake you to Christmas in Vienna or risk having you burn his place to the ground and salt the earth.

Still, it is the most amazing Citizen Christmas Display yet achieved by the greatest nation of party throwers in history.

Watch the whole thing. The crescendo is worth waiting for. I guess next year all they can do to top it is to blow the whole house off the face of the Earth.

[Poiinter via The Wrightwing ]

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 17, 2005 3:27 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bubble? What Housing Bubble?

THOSE PEOPLE EAGER TO DROWN THEMSELVES IN DEBT to be a "home owner" in the current housing market need to look at anotherf**** for the lowdown on their new and continuing servitude.

Chilling tales and ripping yarns from someone on the inside of the lending industry about how fools got into and how some may get out of their engulfing tsunami of debt.

Fascinating insights. Just keep scrolling.

Another page covering the coming Tulipmania correction in real estate stupidity ("Ramifications Of Speculative Euphoria Materialize") is The Housing Bubble

No doubt about it, as ARMs adjust and appreciation slows or reverses, marriages for second incomes or big check books will increase. Along with amateur bank robberies.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 17, 2005 10:06 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Speaking of BDS

ON A CRISP AUTUMN AFTERNOON last month in New York City, I went deep into the East Village to DL Cerney , a men's shop that I favor. It's a small shop right next door to the ancient and honored McSorley's Old Ale House Bar . The line of clothes it offers can be found nowhere else in the world so I always make time to shop there when I'm in New York.

On the afternoon that I went, there was only a woman minding the store and I was the only customer. She was a handsome woman with a sharp mind and attractive personality. We got to talking about New York "Then" and New York "Now," and the clothes, and other things. At one point she asked me, "Who's your favorite contemporary author?"

I paused for a moment and then said, "Victor Davis Hanson."

Her eyes widened in shock. She turned quickly and scanned the shop and the East Village street visible through the window.

"Victor Davis Hanson? I adore him. He's so brilliant and so prolific. You.... you must be one of us. It's so lonely for us here in New York City these days. Especially if you are an artist living in the Village like I am. It's horrible watching one friend after another become infected with Bush Derangement Syndrome."

"Do you think BDS is always terminal?" I asked.

"Still too soon to tell, but the smart money is betting that way."

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2005 11:14 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Toolbar Times

--Or --
"Everything I need to know I learn from my toolbar"


SOMETIME AFTER THE NICHOLAS BERG BEHEADING was shelved to make room for the new major media show called TAAGAS ATTUYBE! ( "Torture All Abu Ghraib Apprentices/Survivors All the Time Until Your Brain Explodes" ), disgust with traditional media reached tsunamic proportions across the Internet, as well as in the population at large. On the Internet this revulsion was expressed by a plethora of commentary, fact-checking, and pointers. Still, it all has a "been there, done that, have the T-shirt" feeling to it. And it masks what the continuing failure of the major media are doing to themselves, every day in every way, as -- following their benighted blisss -- they become worse and worse.

There's another quieter way, in which users are, day-by-day, having their say about the sealed fate of the moral and ethically compromised major media, the evolution of The Toolbar Times. To paraphrase John Gilmore, "Users are seeing the work of traditional news media as system damage and routing around it." Like Scoop Nisker, we'd don't like the news so we're going out and making some of our own.

Somewhere someone is updating a graph. The graph has two lines. The first line depicts traditional media (a combination of audience numbers for television and radio news and the circulation of


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2005 11:22 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
PABS (Paranoid About Bush): The New Deranged Liberal Syndrome

BDS, OR "BUSH DERANGEMENT SYNDROME," has been an identifiable mental disease of the out-of-power political classes for quite some time. Like some heartbreaking psoriasis of the soul, BDS kills and cripples thousands of our fellow Americans' minds daily. Lately, however, the Tinfoil Hat set has added another style of dementia to its inventory-- PABS, or "Paranoia About Bush Syndrome."

Exhibit A is the woeful tale of "Emma" (Not her real name for reasons that will become clear). Emma's tale is the kicker for a popular story out of this weekend's Guardian, The Tickle Inside. The ostensible purpose of this article is that the writer sets out with a photographer to find out why people smile to themselves spontaneously on the street. In short, the writer sets out to find the source of those little moment's of private joy.

Fair enough and fitting the season and all that. Of course, under the Guardian's iron editorial axiom of "All our writers must find new and unexpected ways of slamming George Bush at least once a day." it doesn't take long for the joy seeking writer to drop in a steaming hunk of Bushosis that breaks new ground in intellectual insanity. The method to the story is to catch somebody smiling, snap their photograph, and then interview them. Here's the kicker, oozing textbook paranoia from every pore:

She's American. I'll call her Emma. Today's the day, the papers are reporting, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, is to be arrested for his part in disclosing the identity of the CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Emma is laughing to herself because she's no fan of the Bush administration. I compliment her on laughing about politics rather than something more solipsistic. She thanks me and says goodbye.

Half an hour later, Emma has a panic attack. She rushes frantically around Liverpool Street trying to find us. Finally she gets hold of us on the phone via the Guardian.

"You can't use my photograph!" she yells.

"Why not?" I ask.

"Because if the White House reads what I've said to you, they might punish me with an IRS [the US tax agency] audit."

There is a silence.

"Are you connected to the White House or politics?" I ask.

"No," she says, "I'm involved in the film business."

"Then you'll be fine," I say.

"I'm serious," she says. "They're vicious. I heard they audited Sean Penn as a punishment after he went on a peace mission to Iraq before the war."

"But surely," I say, "they aren't going to go to all that effort of tracking you down to punish you just because you laughed to yourself about Lewis Libby?"

"They might," she says.

"We'll give you a false name," I say.

"They'll see my photograph," she says.

Emma emotionally extorts a promise not to use her photograph and to have her name changed. All for naught since I have it on good authority from a highly placed source deep within the top secret Karl Rove Concentration Camp Commandos that last night black helicopters lowered a strike team onto the roof of the Guardian. After disabling the Guardian's Guard by reading them a 2500 word Lewis Lapham Harper's Editorial, they obtained the photographer's full prints from the session and are , at this moment, hauling Emma off to a torture cell equipped with the woodchipper from "Fargo," and hidden deep beneath the Lincoln Memorial.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 15, 2005 5:57 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
InfoBahnside Attractions


"Ordinary laces are jammed up in a matrix of friction. We moved lacing to the surface of the shoe and eliminated the friction. Now your lacing is free to flow through your shoe."

And when the lacing is in the flowing within the shoes, all is of the best in Manolo World!.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 15, 2005 9:37 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Vito's Place

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 13, 2005 4:01 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 9, 2005 10:17 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Neo Blogger Name Change

Pay no attention to the name behind the apple

ONE OF THE THINGS that escaped my report on the Pajamas OS Media convocation in New York a fortnight ago was that we decided, en masse and by acclamation, to change a blogger's name. For untold ages now, she has been known to the blogsphere as neo-neocon, but as we ascend upwards into the rarified realms of blogger celebrity this will no longer do.

Henceforth, it is a Law of the Blogsphere that neo-neocon will be called, simply, "Neo."

This adds instantly to the celebrity nature of blogging since we now have one of our own to rank with Cher and Bono.

And so it goes.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 1, 2005 12:11 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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