Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
298 Feeds. Some of the have to be worth reading.

Sippican Cottage: I'm The Only Serial Killer In Massachusetts

I've seen people painstakingly build Web edifices of large handfuls of monomaniac patrons, being counted over and over as they compulsively visit a page and yell stuff in the comments. Then the bloggers get a book deal based on the traffic numbers and no one buys it. It's as if you got every person that stands on a highway overpass and yells at traffic to sign off on your business plan. If I had to rename the Internet right now, "Potemkin" would appear somewhere in its new title.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 31, 2008 10:52 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Una Noche Oscura: Tonight I Shall Be the Only Point of Light In a Vast Sea of Darkness

lightdark.jpgThey call it "Rain City" but sometimes it feels like I'm doing time in Oz, and I don't mean the Emerald City. Exhibit A:

Seattle Turns off the Lights To Fight Global Warming
Cities worldwide flip the switch at the same time on March 29

SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels announced today the city of Seattle will participate in Earth Hour this Saturday, joining dozens of cities across the globe that are encouraging people to turn off the lights and consider the small steps that can reduce climate pollution. On Saturday, March 29, from 8 to 9 p.m., Seattle City Hall will go dark, along with the Seattle Municipal Tower, the Central Library and Seattle Justice Center, except for those areas that must remain illuminated for emergency and public safety reasons.

Well, my little house is going to remain illuminated for public sanity reasons. In fact, I'm going to make sure that for that one little hour tonight, every single bulb in my place is turned full on. Damn the dimmer switches, full speed ahead.

For one hour, it will be dead easy for spiritual search and rescue craft high overhead to spot my house. It'll be that single dot down there in the pool of dark, dark Kool-Aid being slurped by the privileged citizens of this city who never met a nanny-state stipulation they didn't like.

And yes, at times like this, Seattle is like doing time. Last week I talked about it with a native who had been here for 20 years. "Exercise. Brisk exercise and vitamin D3. That's the answer," he told me. Sounds like a prison regime to me, especially when the exercise yard is drenched with slush and rain most hours of most days.

Most mornings you wake up in your house that has become your cell and you look out the window with the last shreds of hope and.... nope, the damp gray canvas has been nailed to the sky again.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 29, 2008 8:13 AM | Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
BMW or Bigassed Prius? We report. You Decide

Style ....

.... or stupidity?

You can choose which model to sink your money into. Will you choose the one that makes the most sense in terms of fuel efficiency, or the one that lets the world know what a really good person you are?

On their trip from London to Geneva (plus 100 urban miles), the BMW pictured above played music and ran air-conditioning while the Prius driver turned off both as he tried to drive very carefully. Nevertheless, the BMW consumed 4.7 liters per 100 km (41.9 mpg) while the Prius has burned 4.9 liters per 100 km in average (40.1 mpg). Subtle BMW gadgets to save fuel seem to be more important than the hybrid core of the Prius as well as its 500 missing pounds. -

BMW 520d: more efficient than Toyota Prius
Choose carefully because you have to remember that, deep down, most people know that:


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 28, 2008 12:14 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Books That Beg to Be Written: Exurban Existentialism


Inspired by a comment HERE.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 27, 2008 1:21 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Framing Truth: The Well Built Essay

sipplogo.jpgJust published: Sippican Cottage - "Reality Intrudes"....

Includes this:

"It's very difficult to glean raw information from the media, even --or especially-- from the sector of it that claims they are solely dispensing raw information. They are presenting a kind of entertainment for partisans. That is not information. But then again, information can be dull. Saying outrageous things and calling it a chaste appraisal is more fun, I suspect, especially for the generator, if not as much for the consumer."

Then this:

"The pumps at the gas station play music. You must be entertained at all times. If life was harder, we would not be able to afford to act as foolishly and frivolously as we do. But it is madness to wish, as I see so many do, that misery could befall everybody so we'd have to be more circumspect and sober in our behavior. Nothing is stopping you from being sober and industrious. Why are you wishing to be forced to be that way?"

And then this:

"It occurred to me viscerally, in a flash today, that in great measure the audience is all up on the stage and the entertainers are sitting in the seats and telling them what to do, to amuse them. What is American Idol, if not that?"

My question is: "Why are you not reading the whole thing? Now."

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 27, 2008 11:10 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Selected Shorts

mcgovern.jpg"Receive my warm greetings, as always, from Washington!"

A military strike three weeks ago killed Reyes, No. 2 in command of the FARC, Colombia's most notorious terrorist group. The Reyes hard drive reveals an ardent effort to do business directly with the FARC by Congressman James McGovern (D., Mass.), a leading opponent of the free-trade deal. Mr. McGovern has been working with an American go-between, who has been offering the rebels help in undermining Colombia's elected and popular government. - A FARC Fan's Notes -
[Ed: "Tell me again why traitors like McGovern are in Congress?" "I don't know. Democrat Party affiliation?" ]

Born to Mow:
"The grass was always hay when I came. Each blade a tree in a miniature forest. I'd get out the rusty push mower and meditate over the swish swish swish of the blades. The daylilies would sway like languorous hula dancers in the sea breeze and you'd dance the rigid right-angle minuet of the landscaper beside them. After you cut the grass it looked like a bald man's crew cut. It's all sand anyway." - Sippican Cottage: Three-Quarter Cape

"Poverty just is.
It doesn't become an actual force until the left takes over and begins to magically "create poverty" with bad ideas.... Thus, the first law of wealth is "get off your ass." The second is "get the government off your ass." - One Cosmos: Cosmic Forces and Terrestrial Farces

The greatest passage in history:
"Wil Shipley, a Seattle software developer, uses his iPhone at the Whole Foods fish counter to check websites for updates on which seafood is the most environmentally correct to purchase. He quizzes the staff on where and how a fish was caught. Because he carries the Internet with him, "€œI can be super-picky," he said. -- White People in the News March 25 @ Stuff White People Like
[Ed: "What's that Seattle dude's address. I'm going to find him and bitchslap him stupider with a salmon." "Stupider? Not possible." "I know, I know, but I want to see him run like a girl."]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 25, 2008 10:26 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Cube Hamsters of the World Unite!

First they take away your secretary and assistants and give you voice mail, email, and a Blackberry. Then they take away your office and slap you in a cube about the size of a hamster cage. Then they attach a keystroke recorder to your computer to monitor your "productivity." Then they put you on-call 24/7 and even on vacation. Let's see, what's been left out of your productivity profile? Yes, the ability to get work done while exercising! Fear not. That too has now been overcome.


Meet the workplace Focker called The Walkstation

"The Walkstation is the combination of a fully integrated electric height-adjustable worksurface with an exclusively engineered, low speed commercial grade treadmill. At a maximum speed of 2 mph, the Walkstation lets you walk comfortably, burn calories, feel healthier and more energized... all while accomplishing the work you'd normally do while seated. No sweat!"

There's a constant passion for increasing our work day that's particularly evident here on the web (See Merlin Mann's self-worshipping and obsessive 43 Folders and the thousand of spin-offs from this site), but it all strikes me as so much overkill. Indeed, it strikes me as a serious variation of my favorite quote from Time Bandits

Supreme Being: Dead? No excuse for laying off work.

It's all really an extension of the common fear that "The hurrier I go the behinder I get." And with job cuts likely as we chat ourselves deeper into economic trouble, people are only going to become more obsessed with proving to their Corporate Overlords that they really do have value.

Of couse, the truth is that -- for the vast majority of people working in corporations -- their jobs do not make them nearly as busy as they could be. Much of the work that gets done in offices, the real work, gets done.... Tuesday, after lunch. The rest of the week many, if not most, of our current crop of office workers spend a lot of time padding out their tasks and just goofing off at work. Indeed, the Web itself is the greatest work goof-off invention ever made. Right? Right.

Now get cracking like the little corporate hamster you are!

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 24, 2008 12:24 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Hymn for Good Friday: All Together Now

U2 - One
Beatles - Come Together
Diana Ross - Someday We'll be Together
Mariah Carey - We Belong Together

All brought together as one.

From the resident genius at DJ Earworm

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 21, 2008 7:32 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Obama: A Mustard and Relish Sandwich of a Speech

bologna.jpgWhen I hear a politician say,

"Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy."
am I entirely alone when what I hear echoing in the background is
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal?"

Now I don't know about you, but I much prefer the beginning of Lincoln's speech to the dissembling appropriation of his tone adopted by Obama. Not that it is wrong to echo great men, but it is dubious when you do so for the ends of personal ambition. It becomes more dubious when Lincoln could get his task of binding up the nation's wounds done in about 270 words while Obama's "guilty but with an explanation" plea is pushing 5,000.

It is even less appealing when, to make your case, you have to go on and on about the original sin of America -- still not paid off, dammit! And then haul in your grandmother muttering racial epithets, and close with a poignant anecdote about a beleaguered young girl struggling with a mother who has our time's favorite poignant disease -- cancer. No speech it seems is complete without the appearance of a cancer sufferer, unless it is a cancer survivor.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 18, 2008 6:47 PM | Comments (17)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Thanks of a Grateful Nation Go Out to Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright

wrightj.jpg"Just when you think you're out... they pull you back in."

Whether you tuned in to television, radio, or the internet in the last few days it was impossible to avoid the sight and sound of Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright.

Much has been said about Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, but what has not been fully voiced is the gratitude felt by many Americans freshly exposed to his oratory.

So, in my role as a voice for the voiceless, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright for his selfless service to the country.

Seldom in my memory has one man with one single, unwavering, and forceful train of thought done for America what Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright has done.

Almost alone in the 21st century Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright has brought back to life and given voice and face to something most of use believed was lost with the 20th century -- the stone cold stereotype of the angry, bitter, racist and crazy African-American.

So thank you, Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright....


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 15, 2008 11:14 AM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Pitch *


It's late in the winter of 2005. Hillary and Obama are having lunch in the Senate Dining Room, brainstorming campaign ideas to pitch to the Democratic National Committee.

Obama: Why don't they have salsa on the table?

Hillary: What do you need salsa for?

Obama: Salsa is now the number one condiment in America.

Hillary: You know why? Because people like to say "salsa." "Excuse me, do you have salsa?" "We need more salsa." "Where is the salsa? No salsa?"

Obama: You know it must be impossible for a Spanish person to order seltzer and not get salsa. (Angry) "I wanted seltzer, not salsa."

Hillary: "Don't you know the difference between seltzer and salsa?? You have the seltzer after the salsa!"

Obama: (Just throwing it out there): This should be the campaign.

Hillary: What?

Obama: This. Just arguing. Arguing about nothing.

Hillary (Dismissing): Yeah, right.

Obama: No I'm serious. That sounds like a good idea.

Hillary: Just arguing? What's the campaign about?

Obama: It's about nothing.

Hillary: No real policies?

Obama: No, forget the policies.

Hillary: You've got to have policies.

Obama: Who says you gotta have policies? Remember when we were voting for... for that Senate resolution that proclaimed 'making good people feel good is a good thing' that time? That could be a whole presidential campaign.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 13, 2008 11:11 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink


At tent revivals they often pass the basket around exhorting the faithful to "Dig deep brothers for the good work!"

In this spirit the Obama Online store is now offering up a chunk of iconic propaganda by propaganda-ironist Shepard Fairey. Fairey got his start with stylized tagging and riffing off of Andre the Giant. He'd whack off a few of these images and then go out and stick them up on things. An "artist" with a message, you see.


Profound and edgy, right? With the added advantages of being inept and ugly. Of course, it was far too complicated for Fairey's street audience. It had too much information. There were too many words. There were too many fonts. There was too much bad drawing evident. Fairey needed instead one simple idea for the simple post-literate minds of his point-and-click generation. He needed an idea that looked tough and profound but, deep down, was comfortably shallow. He tripped over it with his global chunk of graffiti, Obey:


If you've seen this once, you've seen it a thousand times, and didn't even need to see it at all. There's a lot of the usual air-headed post-modern and passe pop-culture subtext lurking in this blight on our culture, but you have to have the taste of a true troglodyte to care. And trogs are what he had. Working diligently within the trog world, his dedication at sticking this chunk of gunk up on whatever blank and wretched bit of urban blight could be had gave Fairey a bit of a following. Which of course is all one needs to be an artist in today's slack society. Not talent, not ability, not skill, just dedication to blunt repetition is enough. Do something ugly once and nobody will care. Make your ugly thing universal and you'll get, as Fairey intuited, a posse that's grown fond of your particular flavor of grunge.

In concert with the other scant souls of the Skateboard Skool of Skribble, Fairey then went on to diminish his small gifts by aping the worst aspects of Socialist Realism (Drawing heavily on Soviet postage stamps and posters since they were easier to imitate than the paintings -- which required, you know, actual skill.). Like the other protected kids of his generation he was careful to lard his "art" with that ironic edge that the artists of slight talent of our age all employ to the point of entropy. This dull edge has two advantages for artists of small ability. First, it hides the fact that you can't draw. Second is discloses to all and sundry that you are part of the conformist cool set. It is the edge that says "Isn't it fun to play with fascism when you live in a country that keeps you forever safe from it?" It's a kind of Code Pink SteamPunk.



As you can see, Fairey's politics are, like his art, the usual foam of limp and simple-minded "America-Bad-One-Worldism" frothing atop a steaming latte of the liberal bromides of the age. In this he's just another artist self-hypnotized by a limited vision of the world. It is a vision informed only by a bottomless ignorance of history. If there were any evidence of depth to his art one might suspect it had true socialist anchors, but I suspect that Fairey has no immersion at all in that philosophy, and that the names of Proudhon, Saint-Simon, and even Debs are ciphers to him. Obama may well be all he knows. History, after all, is hard. If there's any real political pith to him it is more likely born of the MTV-Rock-the-Vote movement; an air-guitar socialism.

Art schools, like Fairey's own Rhode Island School of Design, pour out these hapless, uneducated graduates versed only in assimilationism year after year. After all, they never promised the parents of these half-talented kids a Monet, a Rubens, a Picasso... not even a Duchamp. Artists of talent and uncolonized minds such as R. Crumb do not come out of these art schools, only assimilationist parrots.

Like the other degreed drabs of his generation, Fairey is a one-trick pony. Lately, however, his trick has caused his pony to be pranced about the center ring of the Obama traveling circus and revival meeting. I've written about Fairey and his Sardonic-Socialist-Realism before in Obama: A Progressive for Progress! Now with Liberal Substance!

At the time, Fairey's folly seemed like a one shot deal. But to a generation historically ignorant of the inner meaning of Soviet Socialist Realism, Fairey's flavor of New Socialist Realism was tasty. It gave him a chip in the Obama game. And with his elevation to Chief-Propagandist-in-Waiting among the Obamaites it would seem that Fairey is on-track to bigger and better things at last.

Just as the Russian Socialist Realists had their Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, Fairey has found his own Big Brother. The result is that for a mere $70 you too can have an Obamicon for your wall, your office, or wherever the worship of Obama wants to happen. YES YOU CAN!

Fairey's done his iconic Obama hovering over the word "PROGRESS." Then he put his inconsiderable shoulder to the wheel again and forged an Obama hovering over the word "HOPE." Today he completes the Obama Trinity with an Obama hovering over the word "CHANGE."


"I wanted to make an art piece of Barack Obama because I thought an iconic portrait of him could symbolize and amplify the importance of his mission." -- "CHANGE" by artist Shepard Fairey

I love "the artist's statement" thing that artists these days feel they have to do. Don't you? There's nothing beats an artist just spelling it out in case his talent wasn't large enough for you to get it just by looking. It's good to know the portrait is "iconic," because if there's one thing Obama is short on lately it's deification.

That's not to say Fairey is all idealism here. He's always been a hustler with an eye to the main chance. Nothing like hitching your palette to a man with a mission, is there? And, to be fair, Fairey's socialist symbolism does symbolize and amplify. Indeed, should Obama be elected I am certain that Fairey has already dreamed of being called to some future White House to do the official portrait of President Obama.

But he doesn't have to go. I've done his work for him. In the spirit of all of Fairey's work I've just made the one essential change that will sum up the achievement and the mission. Fairey can relax. He began with nothing to say and he said it. Now there is only the repeating, and repeating, and repeating:


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 12, 2008 8:49 PM | Comments (60)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Spitzer's Wife Silda Joins Democrat Pissed-Off Wives Club, Plans Senate Bid

Dead man walking.

They shouted at him, as the Spitzers split from the press conference, "Governor, will you resign? Will you resign?" Silly journalists. Any sharp pundit would have gotten up in Mrs. Spitzer's face and asked, "Does this mean you are going to run for the U.S. Senate?" I'm looking for Oprah to do that job when she has the Spitzers on to talk about "the healing process."


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 10, 2008 3:18 PM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Signs of Spring in Queen Anne, Seattle

Free Hope Zone

Free Fire Zone

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 9, 2008 12:57 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
American Digest Daybook #217



Posted by Vanderleun Mar 8, 2008 8:35 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Speed - Mach 3.5 Altitude - 80,000 Feet Over Enemy Territory


This morning at Maggies Farm, one of the most fascinating and inspiring articles in a long time.

"After several agonizingly long seconds, we made the turn and blasted toward the Mediterranean. 'You might want to pull it back,' Walter suggested. It was then that I noticed I still had the throttles full forward. The plane was flying a mile every 1.6 seconds, well above our Mach 3.2 limit. It was the fastest we would ever fly." - Major Brian Shul: "I loved that jet"
I'd tell you to "read the whole thing," but you won't be able to stop yourself.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 8, 2008 8:24 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Tank That Cries Out to Be Blown Up!

From Shape, a firm that manufactures Inflatable Military Decoys and Camouflage Dummy Targets

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 7, 2008 4:50 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Red State vs Blue State is So 20th Century

Our new great demographic divide is Walmart State vs Starbucks State.


These are maps derived from data on the respective locations and density of these two contemporary monoliths of applied capitalism.

Source: The aptly named Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science where they also deal in the cold, hard data of scatterplots.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 7, 2008 4:35 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Students Protest! Demanding More Discipline!

What do we want? No violence! When do we want it? NOW!

How bad is it in the nation's schools? It is this bad:

Totem Middle School students protest lax rules

Everett WA:Totem Middle Schoolers call discipline weak, unfair. About 200 students walked out of classes on Wednesday, saying they often feel unsafe and want harsher penalties for drugs and fighting.

Tap... Tap.... Tap.... Tap.... sigh...

OK. Let's review.

After decades of "improvement" ... after decades of pumping more and more money into "fixing" the schools ... after decades of giving the Teachers Unions pretty much anything their little hearts desire ... after decades of catering to the least little desire for self-esteem... after decades of requiring less and less actual achievement ... after


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 7, 2008 3:09 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Obama is "Calling Me Dude!"

It is war on YouTube, war! He's one lobbed right into the heart of the Obama videos. Check it out, dude.


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 7, 2008 9:57 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Michelle Obama - A hand full of gimme and a mouth full of much obliged

beggingvasec.jpgThese men up north honey sure do make me tired
These men up north they surely do make me tired
They've got a mouth full of gimme, and a handful of much obliged

-- Ella Fitzgerald | Gulf Coast Blues

After hearing Michelle Obama's stump speech four times, New Yorker writer Lauren Collins offers this pearl:

"You're looking at a young couple that's just a few years out of debt," Obama said. "See, because, we went to those good schools, and we didn't have trust funds. I'm still waiting for Barack's trust fund. Especially after I heard that Dick Cheney was s'posed to be a relative or something. Give us something here!" -- Michelle Obama: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

"Give. Us. Something. Here!" -- The core Obama campaign slogan.

Can we get us something from the government? Yes we can!

Can we get us more from the government than we've gotten already? Yes we can!

Can we get us more of the same service that's given the country the USPS, the Social Security System, Medicare, and a tax code so complex it needs a semi-truck just to move it around town? Yes we can!


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 5, 2008 8:54 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
American Digest Daybook #216



Posted by Vanderleun Mar 4, 2008 5:29 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Bookmark "Where's My &*%&! Cellphone?" Now!


This may be the single most humane page on the Internet. It will relieve billions of humans of millions of hours of stress and fret. It answers one of the most critical and often uttered questions of the day, the week, the month. To wit:

Where's My Cell Phone - Find Your Misplaced Cell Phone Fast!

Does it work? I can only say, "In the bedroom, in the closet, in the clothes hamper, halfway down, in the left front pocket of my jeans."

Bookmark this now and don't say I never do anything for you. I just did.

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 4, 2008 9:45 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Outslicking Slick Willie

Ah, the massed chants praising the leader rising in the background. The glazed eyes. The metronomic nodding. The sprinkling in of 3rd tier celebrities with ordinary people. The ritual gestures. The awestruck worship. The slickness. The repeating slogans. The slowly gathering masses.

When's the last time we saw this kind of popular delusion take hold of crowds?

And people like Ann Althouse are concerned with imagined letters in the night?

[HT: neo-neocon "A cult is born: they believe in him"]

Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2008 9:38 AM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ann Althouse's Reality Distortion Field

Something, according to Ann Althouse, is hidden in this commercial. I'm not going to tell you what it is. You've got to see it. Can you see it? Ann Althouse did ... but only after one of her commenters told her to look for it.... Oh, wait, she didn't really see it, but she presumed it was there and wrote a carefully parsed and quotation-marked post about it.

(That post is HERE ... but no peeking. First play the Hillary's On the Phone commercial... once, twice, three times and see if you can spot it.) Answer after the jump....


Posted by Vanderleun Mar 1, 2008 7:51 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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