Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
2007 Predictions: Oh, the Humanity!


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 31, 2006 1:02 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Creche by the Side of the Road

[Republished from December, 2003 ]

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.

--Eliot, Journey of the Magi

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

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

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

For hours the lights surround you as if they have no end. But they do end. In time, the valley narrows and you come to the stark edge of the lights. Then you drive into a dark section of highway known as the Grapevine.

The Grapevine snakes up over the mountains that ring the Los Angeles Basin to swirl down the far side into the endless flatland of the Great Central Valley. From entrance to exit is about 50 miles.

So steep is the ascent to the top of the Grapevine that the summit makes its own weather. Comfortable valley nights can turn into snow


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 23, 2006 1:24 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Frequently Answered Questions ®

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.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 22, 2006 3:42 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"My Special Wish for You"

Zawahiri's Christmas Message. Translated with amazing subtitles from Scrappleface.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 20, 2006 12:31 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Patience Please: An American Empire Takes Time
"It is not the weapons per se that cause fear, but the nature of the government that possesses them." -- Victor Davis Hanson

One of the mildly exasperating things about the plethora of news media available now is having to wade through a much more extensive swamp of fetid posturing and vain prognostications on a daily basis. The "stalemate of this" in "the quagmire of that" consumes these impostors. The disaster of beginning weakly and the hubris of winning resoundingly confounds their timorous timetables. The warnings not to be too weak in struggle nor too overbearing in victory erupt from their mouths like gouts of steam from a Yellowstone blowhole ringed round with slack-jawed credulous groundlings. The endless whines about the least loss of innocence in the inadvertent slaughter of an innocent slink out of their yawps as dependably as hamsters multiplying in a cage of some kindergarten.

The war must be won in a week! If not, abject failure and the military must go to its room.

The peace must be won in a day! If not, rioters will strip the country bare and another Vietnam will spring up from the desert sands like the ghost of Christmas past.

We must pacify a foreign country and make them love us in a month, or, well, we're just not good enough or smart enough or nice enough.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 20, 2006 11:55 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The World We Live In Today:

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 19, 2006 5:08 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Smarm Also Rises

One of the small, but continuing pleasures of being out of Manhattan is that one no longer risks reading the emissions of the ever-smarmy Joe Conason in those defenseless moments when, having devoured most of a New York Observer, you are still stuck between subway stations, and are forced to choose between reading Conason and watching the rider across from you drool onto the floor. And that is a close run thing, I'm here to tell you.

Still, the persistence of this scribbler on the Net means that you will, sooner or later, have a lapse into intellectual masochism and dial the doofus up. Earlier today, since much of the news seemed to be


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 11, 2006 4:02 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Camo Testing in Urban Environments


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 10, 2006 9:28 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Litvinenko's Way

You begin as a Russian. You become a member of the KGB. Then you're a Russian Spy. Then you're a Russian spy in London saying bad things about the Kremlin.

Journalist Anna Politkovskaya, is in Moscow. She's also saying bad things about the Kremlin. In October she is shot to death in her apartment building in Moscow. You start to investigate her killing.

One November evening, you meet two Russians in a London hotel. One is a KGB agent. Later you go out to eat at a London Sushi bar with an Italian academic where it is said you receive documents naming Ms Politkovskaya's killers. Then you become very sick. Then you get even sicker. Then you die.

It is determined that you died of poisoning by radioactive polonium 210. Lots of things and people that have had something to do with you or with your killers start to emit radiation.

But before you die you convert to Islam.

As a newly minted Muslim on your death bed you ask for your funeral to be a full Muslim ceremony at the Regent's Park Mosque in London.

Today's the day, but when you show up in your coffin, the authorities say no dice. You are still too radioactive for Islam and the general public. Instead, there's a small ceremony in the mosque while you're body remains outside. After that, you are taken to a secret burial site and interred. Your coffin is air-tight and radiation proof.

It is all very, very Russian. Isn't it?

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 7, 2006 8:41 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bette Midler cops to wearing Britney's Underwear. And more.

"I'm wearing underwear, a lot of underwear. In fact I'm wearing all the underwear that those girls are not wearing - at least two bras and several pairs of panties." (Irish Examiner) Tomorrow, Midler is scheduled to receive the thanks of a tired and grateful nation.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 7, 2006 5:24 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
In Seattle, Global Warming is on Hold


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 7, 2006 12:38 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Phone Quotes

"We're going to party like it's 1969!"

"There's 79 recommendations in the Baker Report. It's like the Howard Johnsons' of Crap."

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 6, 2006 2:25 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
There's a Lot to Loathe in the Baker Report

But this conjoined pair of 'Recommendations' floats right to the top of the Surrender cesspool.

RECOMMENDATION 31: Amnesty. Amnesty proposals must be far-reaching. Any successful effort at national reconciliation must involve those in the government finding ways and means to reconcile with former bitter enemies.

RECOMMENDATION 37: Iraqi amnesty proposals must not be undercut in Washington by either the executive or the legislative branch.

It would seem that to the cardboard cut-outs that fashioned this chunk of crap that the criminals who have been building bombs and shooting our soldiers must, for "the sake of the children," "world peace," or the end of Israel, or some such, be let to just walk away. What's more, Baker expects everyone to agree to this going in. No override from the executive or the legislature.

Let's just suppose we, at some time in the far distant future, really do get out of Iraq. In the process, some group of criminals takes aim at a departing brigade and slaughters them by fair means or foul?

I guess that would be, from Baker's perspective, just dumb luck filed under "Shit happens."

That's the problem with all these pabulum reports and swatches of smarm oozing out of our "corridors of power" these days. There is simply no will to put some power in the proposals. Cardboard souls in empty skulls just wishing and hoping that somehow the party years will return and the American Happy World will roll along. As well it might.

For today. For, maybe, tomorrow.

But we all know, deep down, we're just waiting for the day of the bomb.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 6, 2006 1:06 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
In the Musee des Beaux Arts


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 4, 2006 6:42 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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