Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

Analog World

Ain't That America

I don't know about you, but this Sunday I woke up to find I still had my party hat on. I'm off to Church to say thanks in a more formal way. You might go too. Or just say a prayer of thanks and gratitude in place now that you don't have to shelter in place.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 13, 2016 7:25 AM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Wedding Vows

           ....Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.

             --- Shakespeare -- Sonnet 116.

THE FIRST TIME I WAS MARRIED I was married to over 200 naked people. We weren't quite buck naked. The men had crudely made laurel wreathes on their heads, sometimes just a wad of weeds, while the women had wreathes of flowers around their brows and, for those old enough to have any, small bouquets of blossoms lodged in their pubic hair. All the men had large clubs and all the women large breasts. It was the butt end of the 60s and people in my set tended to have that kind of equipment. What children there were tended to be either infants or toddlers, all still nursing at will.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 26, 2012 1:46 AM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Fear of Fritterware: The Nightmare Before Christmas

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

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

It got worse.

This Christmas puppy came loaded with Fritterware. It had Openfly OS, BrokenWindows Version 6.66, HomelessOffice 2004, Internet Destroyer, Fretscape, iEverthingEverywhere and Pong. The Paperclip was back as the host of my new computer's "interactive" training program aptly named RageMaker. When I opened the box in my nightmare my first impulse was to rip open all my other presents in hopes that someone had given me a gun so I could just shoot myself.

Nothing is worse than a fully loaded new computer, and I've been using them for nearly 20 years. Setting up a new computer is like getting ready to French Kiss an elephant; you know it will be a new experience, but you know it won't taste like Veal Cordon Bleu.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 22, 2009 2:45 AM |  Comments (38)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What A Real Man Looks Like

Click to enlarge

In a land where neuters, unicorn riders, and moonwalking molesters are deified and canonized, we can forget that there are real men still walking the American earth. Here's one. Do you think she was glad to see him?

"A construction worker, suspended from a crane, rescued a woman who fell into the Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines Tuesday. A man who also fell into the water died." -- Photo Journal

And then, for the man reaching out his hand, Jason Oglesbee, and the others involved in the rescue, it was back to work on Wednesday, "We have a bridge to build here," the supervisor said as his men went about their business. -- Des Moines Register

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 2, 2009 10:38 AM |  Comments (17)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Twitter/Iran Hack

Attention twitter users. Overwhelmed with material via #iranelections, which currently flows at well over 15,000 tweets per hour. Want tweets from twitter accounts near the epicenter of demonstrations in Iran? Enter the following string in search box @ twitter: near:Tehran within:15mi

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 15, 2009 1:14 PM |  Comments (17)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Daily Kossington Post" Arrives at Your Cybernewstand

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 11, 2007 4:40 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Edwards Raises Hard "Coulter Cash"

Following Ann Coulter's saying of one of those things you "can't say in America," the Edwards campaign is looking to cash in, "I say we fight. Help us raise $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" this week to show every would-be Republican mouthpiece that their bigoted attacks will not intimidate this campaign."

And why would "every would-be Republican mouthpiece" seek to intimidate the Edwards Campaign? "John was singled out for a personal

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 2, 2006 10:19 AM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Things to do in Seattle when you're bored

IT'S BONE-NUMBINGLY COLD AS YOU STROLL INTO the local Cuban espresso bar and note that the evening's entertainment is by a nordic looking "Seattle Songwriter with German-Brazilian Roots."

Remark to the owner who is clearly well past 30, "Does that mean he's one of The Boys from Brazil ?"

Blank stare.

Whip out your pen, take a flyer and sketch a small bar mustache on the lip of the man in the photo. Even though his head is shaved, the resemblance is striking. "There."

Hostile stare and much clattering of cups ensues.

Watch carefully to make sure that nothing foreign makes in into your cappuccino.

Saunter from there down to the Queen Anne independent book store with a sprawling table display of the collected works of Noam Chomsky and several shelves of books best thought of as the "Bush Lies," "Bush Lies Again," "Son of Bush Lies," "George Bush Is a Dum and Dummer Fascist Pig," and "Bush Should Just Shut Up and Die Right Now or I'm Going to Hold My Breath and Stamp My Foot" collection.

Study these offerings for a bit and then glance about and ask the woman at the register, "Do you have any copies of the new best-seller, 'Women Who Make the World Worse?' "

Long pause and face setting into stone. "I'll look." Much tapping of keys ensues. "No."

"Can you order it?"


"How about any books by Anne Coulter?"

"You're new to Seattle, aren't you?"

Time for a haircut so you amble down to the new, improved Counterbalance Barber Shop where Christine, a pretty, slim and vibrant soul with two lazy dogs rules her realm.

An older man is in the chair. You fall into a very neutral conversation concerning the absence of compelling candidates in either party and how uncivil our politics has become.

Agreement all around.

You remark that the Democrats have to get beyond "Bush Derangement Syndrome" and offer up some policies that make people feel better rather than angry. Again much agreement all around.

Fifteen seconds later, the man in the chair offers up the insight that George Bush is an utter idiot. You observe that utter idiots seldom beat all opponents in state and national elections time after time and that, in the first place, the Constitution does not specify an IQ level in order to become President.

"You obviously don't know about the secret brain trust from Texas and Halliburton that has been manipulating elections and stealing them for George Bush, do you?" he asks.

You admit that you have missed that, and could never quite make out the men on the Grassy Knoll in Dallas either.

Christine suggests we discuss why you should never let a barber younger than 55 near you with a straight razor and fingers her leather strop. She's much younger than 55. Agreement all around.

Haircut done you walk down the hill towards home and, in passing, note that the marble fountain across the street has sheathed itself in gleaming shards of ice that scintillate in the clear late afternoon light. It is is very beautiful but it also reminds you that it is very, very cold in Seattle. So cold that the rumors of global warming seem as distant as the moon. Mysteriously and suspiciously cold.

You decide to blame that idiot George Bush for controlling the weather yet again. "Katrina-gate," you think. "When will we learn the secret truth about the flooded knolls of Katrina-gate?"

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 18, 2006 8:03 AM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Judge Roy Bean and Judge Crater Speak on Alito from Purgatory

Judges Bean, Crater, and Alito: "Revenge is a meal we eat cold."

"WELL, NOW, ME AND MY PAL JUDGE CRATER has been watching these damn fools in Washington blatherin' away and disrespectin' this here Judge Alito. We get it beamed in on CSPAN, it bein' the only two dmaned channels you get here in Purgatory. After all it is Purgatory.

So we wuz havin' ourselves a pull on the jug and a chaw and we got to agreeing that that thar The Economist magazine done got it half-right in The brainbox and the blowhards .

"Then me and Judge Crater gets to speculatin' on what we might be feelin' after a few days of having those sidewinders on the committee insinuatin' and insultin' and making our wimmenfolk to cry.

"Now me, bein' used to bein' the Law West O' the Pecos before I shuffled off that thar mortal coil, woulda just taken that Feinstein and that Kennedy out to the barn and strung 'em up in an old-fashioned necktie party, but Crater sez I'm just a mummified reprobate who don't have no more sense than a gnat's woody."

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 13, 2006 12:31 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hey Kids, Now It's Mexico for All Your Coke and Heroin Needs

PARTY TIME SOUTH OF THE BORDER. In yet another in a long line of DNA-deficient decisions, Mexico has decided to make itself even more attractive to junkies. Mexican Drug Bill Worries Police

"CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Police and business owners from Mexico's beaches to border cities say they are worried a measure passed by Mexico's Congress that decriminalizes possession of cocaine, heroin and other drugs could attract droves of tourists solely looking to get high. Mexican and U.S. government officials insist that the bill eliminates legal hurdles to prosecuting drug crimes large and small. But it also lays out specific amounts of drugs including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and Ecstasy that can be legally possessed for personal use."

What a country!

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 1, 2006 10:11 AM |  Comments (3)  | 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 at Dec 17, 2005 10:06 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Vito's Place

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 13, 2005 4:01 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Free Prayers at the Beach

ACROSS FROM MAIN BEACH IN LAGUNA BEACH is a coffee shop with outdoor tables. They are the best places in town to have coffee in the afternoon. Lots of people think so and come to the shop for coffee and stake out their tables.

One man and his mission are there daily. His is the table with the sign "Bible Answer Stand, How May I Pray for You?" I think about that question and decide to ask him for a SpeedPrayer.

"Okay," he says, "I can do that. What do you need?"

"I'd like you pray that, soon, I get a call from God. I'm waiting by the phone but he doesn't call and he doesn't write. If you get through, tell him it is okay to call collect.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 10, 2005 5:14 PM |  Comments (9)  | 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 at Mar 19, 2005 8:11 AM |  Comments (1)  | 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 at Mar 16, 2005 4:39 PM |  Comments (3)  | 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 at Mar 13, 2005 2:07 PM |  Comments (11)  | 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 at Mar 10, 2005 8:11 AM |  Comments (4)  | 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 at Mar 9, 2005 9:17 AM |  Comments (4)  | 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 at Mar 8, 2005 9:57 AM |  Comments (6)  | 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 at Mar 2, 2005 8:36 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Tire Education

WITH THE INCREASING SHRINKAGE OF ACADEMIA INTO ARMED HAMLETS OF PAP and circumstantial evidence, and with the coming removal of Harvard's President Summers to a Red Guard-style re-education camp, it makes Top of the World's suggestion, Send Your Kids to Trucking School, seem not just reasonable, but smart:

Some parents in my home town start to worry about college admissions when their kids turn 11.

For years, I've thought it makes more economic sense to send your kids to trucking school when they turn 18. It takes a few weeks. Then co-sign for a Peterbilt tractor. It's all a matter of opportunity cost.

The tads can start earning right away. So if college costs $50K a year, the college-bound will cost $200K in four years (and it often takes longer). Meanwhile, the truckers will be earning, say $50K a year. At the end of four years, your trucker kids will be $400K ahead. And at the end of four years, most college kids will either be (a) going into occupations with mediocre pay, like teaching; (b) going to graduate school; or (c) going into rehab.

He amplifies this at his page, but more and more I think the basic concept is sound. True, his daughters point out that it would take you away from home to much, but so what? If that's a problem, air-conditioning repair in the sunbelt would keep your kids in high clover all their working lives. Or, if that's too airy a task, fall back on the old standby, plumbing.

Last month, a faucet in my yard began leaking at high speed from behind the shut-off valve. Water flowing everywhere including down under the foundation. It was seven in the evening when I discovered this and there was no recourse but to call a plumber up from town. First plumber, out on a job. Second plumber, on a job with another stacked up but could come by at around midnight. Third

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 22, 2005 12:01 AM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
It's A Smaller World After All... It's a Smaller, Smaller....

James Lileks mentions in passing in today's Bleat

Got a call from Gerald, too: small world. You read a guy’s blog, you find his work in a Time magazine you have in your personal archives, you talk to him in California while you’re sitting in a Hilton ballroom, with the rest of the nation listening in as they shave in Hawaii or yawn in Maine. Cool world.
But he doesn't know the half of it.

Here's the back story and the finish, as seen from the other end of the cell connection in California.

This afternoon, done with some business in Los Angeles (A city that I was born in but rarely find myself in), I decide to spend some time checking out the Heritage Book Store on Melrose in the trendy-deco section of Los Angeles. I'm at this store in this district at this time because an artisan who is making a hand-bound notebook for me in Portland told me about it this morning on the phone. (That's another tale for another time.)

At any rate, her chance recommendation is the only reason I'm at the store. And it is an amazing store. Talked with a member of the staff named James about their stunning collection of first editions, got shown into the locked room where the very special first editions are kept. Talked publishing past and future, authors we knew, etc. Then I left.

I was due to meet a man whose extremely astute and funny satirical novel I published back in the 80s and whom I have not seen since. He's a novelist and filmmaker in Santa Monica and we've arranged to meet at 5 at the Casa del Mar on the beach.

Since I have time, I decide to take the slow surface route down Santa Monica Boulevard. It is, as things often are in LA, very slow. No problem, I've got time.

So there I am on a street I'm never on in a town I'm seldom in and sort of stuck in traffic. I turn on the radio and hit scan and bring in a station that I can't receive in Laguna Beach just in time to hear Hugh Hewitt say he's passing the mike to "The Northern Alliance."

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 10, 2005 10:09 PM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
There's More in 2.5 Billion Pixels Than Meets the Eye

Yesterday's AMERICAN DIGEST item "Find License Plate HN-HG-41" has clearly found readers with way too much time on their hands and access to extemely powerful computers.

Odd details not limited to license plates discovered in the image have been hitting all day, but the one that really gave me pause was this one:

[Click to enlarge at your own risk]
Litigation for pain and suffering may be lodged with Mr. Tom Parker of Ithaca, New York.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 1, 2005 10:27 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Not-So-Pretty EBay Penny

Out of pocket a penny? The market will take a pound of flesh:

EBay, one of the world's largest e-commerce companies, also came in one penny under Wall Street's expectations for the fourth quarter, with a profit of $205.4 million, or 30 cents a share. That compares with $142.5 million (21 cents) in the same period of 2003. -- EBay Shares Plunge
In this case it was about $19 billion worth of flesh as the pump-and-dump specialists on Wall Street dumped off that much in market capitalization. Reasons were many and excuses more if you listened to the word and the rumors coming out of the online giant, but it may well be that, at last, the endlessly complicated EBay home page has hit the limit of what buyers and sellers can comprehend.

Oh, yes, raising prices up to 50% on all your customers doesn't help matters either.

[Matin Tobias has the gruesome details of this fleecing at Deep Green Crystals: E-Bay drops a bombshell!]

This is the kind of monopolistic move that sets both buyers and sellers against you, but then it has been many a year since EBay management cared about that, hasn't it? Whitman's EBay has always been, like the CEO herself, as ethically sketchy as the unbundled software it sells. No reason to straighten out now. Unless, of course, an awakened Justice Department decides to get all Microsoft on them. [Right. Sure. And the latest of Porcine aviation is? -- Ed.]

If you don't believe it, ask yourself how unclued a company has to be to help cheat the Girl Scouts. [HT/ Om Malik]

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 22, 2005 10:35 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How to Tell If the Internet is Supplanting Legacy Media in Your Life

For one week, keep careful track on a 3x5 card of how many times the following things happen:

1) Times you say "You effing idiot!" to your television and punch at the remote while asking your spouse, "Okay, I get that Alan Colmes is Laurel but does that mean...?"

2) Times you say "You effing idiot!" when reading the Op-Ed page in your newspaper, roll it up and hit the dog.

3) Times you say "You effing idiot!" to your car radio, hit scan and settle on Dr. Laura.

4) Times you say "You effing idiot!" while scanning cover lines of magazines at the news stand, and take the change out of the blind newsie's cup as a "fine."

5) Times you say "You effing idiot!" during the final 5 minutes of the 40 minute infomercial before the $9.00 movie starts at your local multiplex and set a fire in the men's room's paper towel bin.

6) Times you say "You effing idiot!" when passing a person sporting a blue wrist band on the street in such a way that you have to explain yourself to the officer with the camera crew from COPS standing behind him.

7) Times you say "You effing idiot!" to monitor, hit the comment button and log-in under

If, at the end of the week, the number of "7" is greater than the total of items 1 through 6, you have left legacy media behind. Congratulations.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 21, 2005 7:39 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bush Administration Plan for New Western Whitehouse Draws Criticism from Environmental Groups

Sierra Club: "Okay, this means war."

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 11, 2005 8:43 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Here's to the Crazy Ones: Verbatim from

Think different.

 Here's to the crazy ones.
   The misfits.
    The rebels.
     The troublemakers.
      The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.

They're not fond of rules.
   And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
  disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can't do is ignore them.
    Because they change things.

They invent.    They imagine.     They heal.

 They explore.     They create.    They inspire.
      They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that's never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones,
    we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think
    they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 11, 2005 4:15 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ambitious Home Workshops of the Past

I'D LIKE TO SEE Norm's Yankee Workshop whip out something like this:

From Popular Science on Flickr!

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 10, 2005 12:33 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Organizing Complex Projects

A great use of Flickr to demonstrate concepts:Getting Things Done with Index Cards - a photoset on Flickr: "No batteries, no text files. This is how I do it."

I think this is how I'm going to do it from now on as well. The problem with large complex projects organized on computers is that, as I am finding, to file it is to forget it. It also cuts down on the need to see the big picture. Computers may facilitate multi-tasking, but they inhibit omni-tasking.

Indeed, I recall a long profile of the writer John McPhee that described a similar system he used to produce those books where each paragraph would seem like a perfect gem.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 6, 2005 7:32 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Sharon's Condition: Updates from the Hebrew

CAN BE FOUND @ Mere Rhetoric

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 4, 2005 10:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Fear of Fritterware: The Nightmare Before Christmas

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

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

It got worse.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 23, 2004 8:35 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Countdown to a Dysfunctional Christmas



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

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

But I'd be lying.

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

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

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

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

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 14, 2004 10:08 AM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Contributors Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the past two years Lynch has also contributed to

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

Lynch can be reached at

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

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 13, 2004 7:01 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
My Recovery Continues

Many thanks for the letters and expressions of concern about my well-being after last month's unfortunate incident: American Digest: Blogger's Head Explodes

To update you all, my recovery is almost complete even though the recent elections and the sad state of the Democratic Party has complicated matters considerably.

In physical terms I have been rebuilt from the ground up and am in better shape than I have been in months. Here's a recent photo and I think you will all agree it is an improvement:


On the internal front, things are not as well advanced. It seems that in replacing my motherboard and controlling OS, the boffins at JPL were running a little short of parts and hence had to make do with stripping the essentials from a Roomba:

This has resulted in a painful bumping into ideological corners during the last week since the election. Symptoms also include an increased build up in pressure within my new head. The chances of a new explosion are therefore increased.

Hence, under orders from my doctors and the head of the Replicant Bureau at JPL, I have been placed on a one-week news and politics fast. As you can see below, I have already had the "small slip."

So, in order to preserve my new head and return to full functionality, I will be staying away from the News and from Politics for at least a week. Longer if necessary.

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 9, 2004 10:44 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink


Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 17, 2004 3:09 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Closed-Source Beer

One of the oldest and most beloved beverages,is going closed source in this new method of brewing.

The yeast fuses itself to the surface and feeds the wort at an increased rate, meaning the fermentation process takes only a few hours.

Any normal brewer's yeast can be used in his process but the lifespan of the yeast is much longer than in traditional processing, where yeast degenerates after three brews and starts to affect the quality of the beer, says Heiliger.

"We tested it and after a year the yeast was still good. The beer still tasted fine. We wouldn't normally keep the same yeast for that period of time but it shows that you can do without cleaning for, say, six months," he says.

"My system is closed so once you put the yeast in, it stays there. You do not need to touch it. The more you touch the yeast, the greater risk of getting an infection which is deadly in a brewery."

Heiliger says that his device takes up about 30 square meters, whereas traditional systems can be up to 300 square meters in size.

Look for that new microbrew, Basement Beer.

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 15, 2004 4:39 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Pleasures of Democracy


Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 11, 2004 3:30 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Site Notes

AFTER NINE DAYS on the road up Highway 1 and Highway 101, I've arrived in Seattle. They say the most ancient Chinese curse is "May you live in interesting times." A footnote to that would be, "May you live in an interesting city."

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 11, 2004 1:48 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Redneck's OnStar: Locked Out of Your Car? Try This

My father-in-law, Bob, forwards this hint with the message, "We've got to try this sometime." Okay, but he goes first.

This only applies to cars that can be unlocked by that remote button on your key ring. Should you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are home, and you don't have "OnStar," here's your answer to the problem!

If someone has access to the spare remote at your home, call them on your cell phone (or borrow one from someone if the cell phone is locked in the car too!)

Hold your (or anyone's) cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the other person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the phone.

Your car will unlock. and it works. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object. You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk, or have the "horn" signal go off, or whatever!)

UPDATE: Department of "If it seems too good to be true it was forwarded email." An alert reader in the comments points out that Snopes has already debunked this with an entry that gives you all you need to know about automobile unlocking systems. Excerpt:
"Relaying remote entry system signals via telephone might work if the signals were sound-based, but they're not. An RKE system transmits an encrypted data stream to a receiver inside the automobile via an RF (radio frequency) signal, a signal that can't be effectively relayed via cell phone.... We don't know whether whoever created this message was deliberately joking or earnestly mistaken, but the vision of stranded motorists vainly holding cell phones up to their cars in the hopes of unlocking them is an amusing one.
I certainly hope my father-in-law didn't talk my mother-in-law into trying this.

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 31, 2004 9:03 PM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
An Award We Covet

AND THE WORSE SENTENCE OF 2004 IS.... "She resolved to end the love affair with Ramon tonight . . . summarily, like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail . . . though the term "love affair" now struck her as a ridiculous euphemism . . . not unlike "sand vein," which is after all an intestine, not a vein . . . and that tarry substance inside certainly isn't sand . . . and that brought her back to Ramon."

Dave Zobel Manhattan Beach, CA
-- Bulwar Lytton 2004 Results

Damn. I thought I was a slam-dunk with: "And yes, we're going to be getting even greater levels of putrid pablum spewed about by the media as the preening pundits of puce prevarication strut and fret their hours behind the teleprompter."
-- Jumping the Gun

Oh well, there's always next year.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 25, 2004 9:03 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Letters We Had to Finish Reading

FROM :Banterist
TO: The Person Who Found My Camera

Dear Sir/Madam:
First of all, I'd like to congratulate you on the acquisition of a Casio Exilim S20 compact digital camera. No doubt it was an exciting find after your fine meal at Houston's on Park, where delicious spinach dip is the signature item.

As you may have noticed, the Casio Exilim is a 2.0 Megapixel beauty with a 4X digital zoom. At under a half-inch thick, it's the perfect camera to put in your pocket and lose while dining out.

No doubt, you're wondering why the memory card contains 17 close-ups of a cat's ass....

Don't just sit there and not know for the rest of your life, click and go!

Tip: Miller's Time

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 21, 2004 6:17 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"One Atom to Beam Up"

SciScoop || Quantum Teleportation Of Matter Demonstrated

Now the quantum-research branch of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced the first quantum teleportation of ordinary matter - the atoms from which you and I are made. Their teleportation gizmo is not the Star Trek style transporter quite yet. Instead of making an atom itself vanish and reappear far away at another place, the latest NIST experiment transfered the quantum properties of an atom instantaneously to another atom that was already far away. The far-away atom didn't become a "twin" of the original test atom; it effectively became the original atom itself, without having to be moved through space. A subtle distinction, but an important one in a breakthrough experiment on ordinary matter like that all around and within us.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 22, 2004 8:42 AM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Senior Elder of the Maasai

ROBERT FULGHUM on growing old as a Maasai:

When I became feeble and infirm, my extended family and the tribe would be honored to care for me. And when I died, they would wrap me in my finest red blanket, carry me some distance from the kraal, and simply leave me to be eaten by wild animals. No fuss, no bother, no problem. The Maasai Way.

We 21st century Americans consider the Maasai primitive savages.

We think it so much more civilized to be warehoused in an extended care facility playing bingo, watching game shows, living in pajamas and old bathrobes, eating diet food, and being taken for rides in a bus.

No invitations to sit on the front row at the dance of the young maidens.

Not even an ostrich feather headdress or a cup of hot blood.

As final stages of life go, the Maasai are way ahead of the Hindus or us.

I'm thinking of applying for Senior Elder status in the Maasai.
But, alas, I note that I would have to kill a lion first to prove my worthiness.

There's always some fine print.

And if I got caught with lurking around the zoo with a spear .. ..

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 9, 2004 4:47 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Lileks, He Posts for Me
Speaking of which: if nothing else, this entire affair has made me heartily sick of the very act of reading the Internet. Pardon my language, but I am simply goddamn sick of opinions, period. Right or wrong, well-reasoned or poorly expressed, snarky or solemn, I am tired of the lot of them, my own included. I'm tired of reading blogs and bulletin boards and noting that it's OK to joke about one dead person, perfectly fine to kick the Pope when he's about to give up the ghost, but a breach of human decency to be less than reverential about the passing of a comic who specialized in dope humor. That sort of thing is expected on the internet, but what makes me weary is the blogligation to have an opinion about it and bang it out so the whole world knows I stand four-square against bashing near-dead Popes. -- LILEKS (James) :: The Bleat

He's right. I'm off for the weekend and maybe beyond. It's a great universe out there. See you in a few days.

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 1, 2004 3:13 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Highest Paid Blogger on Earth -- Per Word

Kaus: Blogging @ $200/$100/$50/$5/$2.50/$.25 per word?

"Don't be jealous of the glamorous "blogger" lifestyle! It's not all AARP glitz. Behind the facade is a lot of napping."
-- Blogging--It's Not All Glamour! Mickey Kaus

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH SALARIED BLOGGER Mickey Kaus of Kausfiles @ Slate/Washington Post is being paid, but on a per-word basis it has got to be sweeeeeet. Here's his total output for Tuesday, March 29: "Jesse Jackson, pro-tubist."

Gives a whole new meaning to the line from A Thousand Clowns: "Get rich, sleep til noon, screw 'em all."

Don't get me wrong. I like Mickey Kaus, but I'd love his job.

UPDATE: Kaus is back today with an earth-shattering 190 word (Whew!) item on a lunch given in Hollywood yesterday by the AARP for various aging Hollywood types. The point seems to be that the LAT (still) doesn't have the gossip column he told them to get last month. More on this Kausian Quest as it grinds on. But it does bring his two-day Blogging Average up to 97 words per day.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 30, 2004 10:08 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Commenting back on but moderated. This means it can take a while to show up.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 6, 2003 9:21 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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