Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

Blather & Spew

In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?

Today's news from last November. Cutting edge then. Cuttinger edge now.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 6, 2009 11:34 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
President To Face Down Monster Attack, Own Demons In Action-Packed Schedule

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 10, 2008 2:57 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
You know, if I see one more message telling me to vote....


... I'm voting to bring back the Divine Right of Kings.


Hummm, it was sort of a white guys' club after all, wasn't it? Who knew?

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 4, 2008 12:54 AM |  Comments (5)  | 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:


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Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 12, 2008 8:49 PM |  Comments (60)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Change? No Change -- 30 Years Ago @ The Nation

"The more things change, the more they stay insane."

May, 1978

Recently: Never Shut Up, New York, October, 2001

Rudy Giuliani poking around the rubble looking for his unconstitutional term extension and for sheiks to scapegoat for the loss of liberties that he was already busy eliminating himself. of Donald Trump calling for us to build new phalluses into the sky where David Rockefeller's twin vanity towers stood; and of New York bankers lobbying in Washington so that the hunt for the terror money trail looks under every rock except theirs.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 7, 2008 12:57 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Anthem for the Global Warming Blowhards

"Years of bad data corrected; 1998 no longer the warmest year on record" -- DailyTech - Blogger Finds Y2K Bug in NASA Climate Data

Yeah, come on all of you green-hue-mens,
Mother Earth needs your help again.
She's feeling the heat, she's got the fear,
Way up yonder in the thermosphere!
So hold down your carbon and pick up your blather,
We're workin' Earth into a lather!

And it's one, two, three
Whose ox are we goring for?
Don't ask me, I'm getting hot.
Don't sign Kyoto, you should be shot!

And it's five, six, seven,
Open up those new tax gates!
Ain't no time to wonder who
Cranks out the most C-O-2!

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 10, 2007 9:55 AM |  Comments (2)  | 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 at Dec 6, 2006 2:25 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Be Very Afraid: Avian Bush Derangement Syndrome Outbreak

Bird flu and BDS have more in common than you think, except if you don't think....

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 27, 2006 11:33 AM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bodies Neither Cold Nor Counted -- New Land Blather Speed Record:

From first reports of at least 32 killed to "reporters' searching questions" about gun control at White House Press Briefing in less than 90 minutes. They didn't even wait for the professional grief counselors to be deployed from their secure locations. Way to go, oh guardians of public morality, health, and thinking the one true way!

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 16, 2006 10:24 AM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Small Stuff Which is to Be Sweated

1. Double doors in a store or building entrance where one of the double doors is always locked. What, pray tell, is the point? And why is there is no national agreement over which side should be locked? Where is government regulation when you need some?

2. Rules that people have that you are not allowed to know about before breaking them.

3. How many here think there is any truth to the New York critic's recent dictim: "Rock and Roll -- All junk, all the time."

4. Note to people who comment that can't be bothered to capitalize, spell, or move beyond basic text-messaging: "Agressive infra-dig illiteracy is not a wonderful thing. Neither is it stylish or even cutting-edge. You write dumb, you read dumb."

5. As reluctant as I am to question diverse American cultures' religious rituals, I still think dropping a live scorpion into your mouth is a bit over the top.

6. Accept that Disaster is the spice of life.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 21, 2006 11:39 AM |  Comments (2)  | 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 at Dec 28, 2005 10:00 PM |  Comments (20)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Naked and the Senile Dementia

HAVING ONCE SEEN THE AGED NORMAN MAILER NAKED, any subsequent appearance by the befuddled sage of Brooklyn Heights brings that image back and causes my brain to cringe. It's hard to take a once admired writer seriously after a glance at the wreck time has made of his body, but usually the wisdom that comes with age overcomes the multiplying flaws of the decrepit container.

Alas, as we have seen often in the past, and now again in the present, wisdom has not seen fit to visit Mailer, the aging hipster. Instead we are reminded again of the dreadful toll taken on the old by creeping senile dementia. How else can we explain Mailer's dreadful tour de drool on the execrable The Huffington Post? Long gone is any effort to

Posted by Vanderleun at May 21, 2005 8:09 AM |  Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Und Zen You Vill Be Shot, Mr. Prezident!"

FILE UNDER "Our Pals, the Peace-Loving Germans" Minister: Bush must be 'shot down' - CNN Sep 8, 2005 : "A conservative German minister in a southern state has caused uproar by saying U.S. President George W. Bush should be 'shot down' for his handling of the crisis in hurricane-struck New Orleans."

It's always nice to know that under stress, the Germans still like to unwind with a little shooting spree. You would have thought that their last little experiment with der shooting of der political opponents and other unsavory sorts, having turned out badly for them, would have cured them. But, as we see, the virus -- once it finds traction in the host -- is almost impossible to root out.

If I were the Germans today, I'd be conserving my ammunition for threats a bit closer to home. Hamburg, for starters.

Now I know there are many good Germans who do not favor shooting the President of the United States for not waving his magic wand and making the Wicked Witch Katrina melt at the moment she was spied off the coast of Florida. There are many good Americans who also suffer from this mental disconnect from reality. Still, this should not blind us to the real potential of the German nation, as demonstrated twice in the last century, to go from Good to Goblin in a thrice whenever they feel their sausage is threatened. And, with their growing inability to buckle down to work, and their seeming inability to reproduce, coupled with the large influx of Muslims they've let flood their country to "do the jobs that Germans won't do," (Sound familiar?) it's only a matter of time before that "pacified" nation begins to feel a wee bit threatened.

The last time they felt threatened, in the wake of World War I and the Depression, the Germans had a bit of a problem in anger management and acted out. Could that happen again? Why, of course not. Everyone knows that the Germans take great pride in keeping everything under control and under surveillance. After all, they're the only country in Europe to invent and install toilets with little inspection shelves in the bowl.

Like I said, they like to keep "everything under control and under surveillance." With the single exception of their politicians. Still, what harm could that possibly do?

Posted by Vanderleun at May 9, 2005 3:22 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Vampire Sucks Anne Rice's Brain Dry

YES, FEARLESS VAMPIRE MULTIMILLIONAIRE AUTHOR Anne Rice seems to have had her brains Hoovered right out of her shrinking skull. Or perhaps she's been caught by the intellectual black hole of the New York Times Op-Ed and pulled over the event horizon and out of the universe all together.

After a banal 3rd grade history of New Orleans and a list of reasons to save New Orleans it in Do You Know What It Means to Lose New Orleans? Rice reveals that she has absolutely no grasp or knowledge of the immense private and public relief efforts going forward second by second:

Posted by Vanderleun at May 6, 2005 6:11 PM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Replacing Jesus with "Earth" for Pre-Schoolers

I WAS GOBSMACKED BY THE "Mommy is a Democrat" kids book yesterday (The Poster Child for Pap ). I'm gobsmacked again when a Google search brought me to the Preschool Education Music & Songs : Holiday > Earth Day page. This is a list of songs set to the tunes that "everybody" knows that seek to implant a healthy respect for the earth. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Still, if you scan the page, you'll see more than one tune that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It really is starting to look like "Brave New World" in the kinder classrooms.

The one that induced nausea in me was the follwing "revision" of "Jesus Loves Me." Keep in mind that this is not a parody site, but a source of "lesson material" for teachers across America to draw from. How deeply they draw, I don't know.

God's Good Earth
added 4-17-01
Original Author Unknown

Sung to: "Jesus Loves Me"

Let's take care of God's good earth,
water, forest, air, and soil
Don't toss out that used time foil
Ride your bike and don't burn oil.
Love one another
Share with each other
Save God's good earth
And learn to do with less
Only buy the things you need
Enjoy the simple things in life
Do a hobby, play some game...
Eat at home, invite some friends

Another of these deathless ditties has the lyrics:
We will walk instead of riding, you all come.
We will walk instead of riding, you all come.
We will walk instead of riding,
We'll save gas 'cause no one's driving
To the happy Earth Day party, you all come.
Jesus wept.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 22, 2005 7:10 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink

This item, in toto, gives me pause, yet again, over the intellectual heft of Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly

JOAN OF ARK....From an LA Times op-ed about religious ignorance in America:

According to a 1997 poll, only one out of three U.S. citizens is able to name the most basic of Christian texts, the four Gospels, and 12% think Noah's wife was Joan of Arc.

It took me a minute to get the Joan of Arc thing, but I was definitely giggling when I figured it out.

  • A. He's digging into the L.A. Times op-ed for an item that suits his slam-of-the-moment yen.
  • B. He's lifting a "joke" from a "poll" that's at least seven years old. What's a joke doing in a poll in the first place? Drum doesn't even think to ask.
  • C. The joke, it turns out, isn't from a poll but from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure -- as a random commenter is quick to point out. Ergo, old joke.
  • D. Takes Kevin a minute to 'figure out' old joke. Visions of Drum reading slowly and moving lips assail my inner eye.
  • E. Confession of "giggling." Visions of Drum confirmed.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 12, 2005 4:21 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Open Newsweek

Say, kids, what time is it?

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 2, 2005 4:25 PM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Just One Small Flaw in Sullivan's Argument

IN WAVING "Goodbye to All Me," uber-blodder Andrew Sullivan gives, as one of his far too numerous and shallow reasons:

"Much of the hard work has now been done. Nobody seriously believes that Bush will start another war."
Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here so I'll just observe that Bush doesn't have to! The next attack on US soil will do that for him and we will see war like we have not seen before. The war will expand itself thanks to the unremitting efforts of our enemies. When it does, Bush will take one of perhaps six contingency plans out of the safe, sign it and send it. Automatic for the people after that.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 27, 2004 1:17 PM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Just Draw the Lines, Look at the Picture, and STFU About the Process, Okay?

WHEN, EXACTLY, DID EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND WOMBAT in the national media decide to reference this simpleminded children's game when writing or reporting on complex issues? I'm not sure, but they need to stop it right now. (That includes bloggers and new media mavens too!) Don't make us issue sanctions with extreme prejudice! Just CUT IT OUT!

A recent, small small sample, from Google News:

Connect the dots when you watch -- Fahrenheit 911

Connect the dots to see big picture

CD's Connect the Dots... Tickets to the Game

Women Don ’ t Connect the Dots on Heart Attack Symptoms

Connect the dots on prison scandal

Connect the Dots Between Iraq and America Through Halliburton

Connect the dots? Don't even try

Connect the Dots... Rite of Passage

Prosecution yet to connect the dots

The 9/11 Commission Fails to Connect the Terror Dots

The dots that don't connect


Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 11, 2004 11:21 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Balmer on Microsoft Security Problems

"We are very excited by the discovery that the security holes
in our next operating system will only be this big."

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 6, 2004 5:25 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
F Word Sets D.C. Abuzz!

READING THROUGH THE GONE META MOMENT ON THE CHENEY EFFING ERUPTION: Post Editor Explains Decision to Publish Expletive in the Washington Post, we learn .... The Washington Post printed the word yesterday for the first time since publishing the Kenneth Starr report in 1998. And that set the town buzzing.

A sane man might think that it was the use of the phrase against a man who so richly deserved it that might be the cause of the buzz, but no, it is really all about the Washington Post's ability to float the most overused word in the English language into its august pages. This, of course, means that the whole thing has gone meta inside of one news cycle and we can look forward to at least four more cycles before it fades into oblivion.

At this rate, the arguments about when the Net will supplant Old Media are now over. The behavior of the Net has utterly entered the host body of Old Media and taken it over. From now on Old Media is just a zombie of the Net and all future news cycles will be merely "typical net.exercises" -- i.e. "It was a typical net.exercise -- a screaming mob pounding on a greasy spot on the pavement, where used to lie the carcass of a dead horse." (Source unknown)

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 26, 2004 9:56 AM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink


OUR MEDIA MOLES AT THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY have recently sent us the soundtrack for the upcoming commercial featuring Al Gore and some of the remarks he plans to make at the The MoveOn National MeetUp in Boston (Otherwise known as "The Democratic National Convention"). The visuals have been sent back for some retouching but we did get the still above as an attached file.

The MP3 sound file is at the link below. Here's our transcript:


Goregar speaks.

Goregar speaks of the ultimate challange, of untold mystery, of the Kerry candidacy and the Clinton Restoration. Goregar ...speaks ... to you.


The voice of Goregar speaks of a first, of a .... breakthrough, of a feat that will never again know the same significance. Because Goregar speaks. Goregar is the first and only talking version of Al Gore.


The mighty words of Goregar thunder echoing throughout the Democratic Party and the message is strong and clear: With the advent of Goregar it is no longer Democrat versus Republican, but Humans versus Monsters.


Goregar speaks of a whole new dimension of politics, of tantalizing excitement and irresistable appeal, of new electoral vote level that have only previously been imagined. Goregar speaks of supremacy --- of a magic that could be created only by a monster that speaks -- only by a monster with a pulsating , beating spleen that fills and pounds with excitement, that urges bash on with every beat, of a monster that comes alive with each Abu Garhib Polaroid.


Goregar's words speak of challenge, of a challenge that cannot be denied.


Hear Goregar now at the place where: Goregar Speaks

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 18, 2004 9:51 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
NYT to America: You Are All Whores

ALESSANDRA STANLEY DEMONSTRATES HOW DEEP THE ROT GOES AT THE NEW YORK TIMES with a smarmy bit of drive-by drivel in: 'Ike: Countdown to D-Day': Macho Swagger Overpowers D-Day Valor.

In the midst of a predictable screed by this put-out-to-pasture correspondent, Stanley bemoans the certified American triumphs of history. She finds the story of D-Day and Eisenhower's role much too "macho." It doesn't seem to occur to her that an amphibious assault on a series of heavily fortified beaches is by definition a "macho" endeavor.

Not content with denigrating a day when heroes and sacrifice was common, Ms. Stanley reserves her most stinging denunciation for the American People today:

But when it comes to D-Day, American viewers do not need to be wooed into admiring their supreme commander. For the most part, they are like the prostitute played by Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman," who gently reminds her overly solicitous client, Richard Gere, that she is what is called a "sure thing."
That this sort of tossed-off insult can be written by a career hack for the Times is not surprising. We see it seep into all aspects of the paper every day -- from the front page to the food page. It is not even surprising that there are no editors at the Times who think twice about passing this drivel without at least picking up the phone and asking Stanley, "Hey, are you sure you want to call all Americans whores?" What, I guess, is surprising is the extent to which all those "whores" out there in America are not surprised by this sort of thing.

It's all just business as usual at the New York Times. I used to wonder what it would take to make the career America-haters at the Times rethink their perceptions and beliefs. I once thought it would probably take a small nuke going off at 4:00 PM on a Wednesday and killing everyone in the building as well as a few hundred thousand in the immediate blast radius.

Now, I don't think even that would do it. The rot has reached the marrow.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 31, 2004 12:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
NYT to America: You Are All Whores

ALESSANDRA STANLEY DEMONSTRATES HOW DEEP THE ROT GOES AT THE NEW YORK TIMES with a smarmy bit of drive-by drivel in: 'Ike: Countdown to D-Day': Macho Swagger Overpowers D-Day Valor.

In the midst of a predictable screed by this put-out-to-pasture correspondent, Stanley bemoans the certified American triumphs of history. She finds the story of D-Day and Eisenhower's role much too "macho." It doesn't seem to occur to her that an amphibious assault on a series of heavily fortified beaches is by definition a "macho" endeavor.

Not content with denigrating a day when heroes and sacrifice was common, Ms. Stanley reserves her most stinging denunciation for the American People today:

But when it comes to D-Day, American viewers do not need to be wooed into admiring their supreme commander. For the most part, they are like the prostitute played by Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman," who gently reminds her overly solicitous client, Richard Gere, that she is what is called a "sure thing."
That this sort of tossed-off insult can be written by a career hack for the Times is not surprising. We see it seep into all aspects of the paper every day -- from the front page to the food page. It is not even surprising that there are no editors at the Times who think twice about passing this drivel without at least picking up the phone and asking Stanley, "Hey, are you sure you want to call all Americans whores?" What, I guess, is surprising is the extent to which all those "whores" out there in America are not surprised by this sort of thing.

It's all just business as usual at the New York Times. I used to wonder what it would take to make the career America-haters at the Times rethink their perceptions and beliefs. I once thought it would probably take a small nuke going off at 4:00 PM on a Wednesday and killing everyone in the building as well as a few hundred thousand in the immediate blast radius.

Now, I don't think even that would do it. The rot has reached the marrow.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 31, 2004 12:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Official Results In: Dave Winer Has No Brain

THE SELF-PROCLAIMED CREATOR EMERITUS OF THE ENTIRE BLOGSPHERE takes careful aim at foot and pulls trigger at Scripting News: 5/27/2004

"I did something realllly stupid this morning, I installed a free program that offered me a choice: $29.95 with no ads or $0 with ads. Since I was just checking it out, I opted for the $0 version. I figured a few ads, no problemmo. If I like it I'll pay the bucks. Big big mistake. Popups all over the place. Tons of virusware installed. I expect to be digging out all day."
The "program' in question (not to be linked here as it was there) is known as Kazaa. That's right, Kazza. A program whose malign effects are only known to 99.99999% of everybody with network access. A search term that returns nearly 28 MILLION Google hits. "Kazaa- All spyware, All virus, All popups, All the time!" Who knew?

Once I wanted to start The Dave Winer Clue Fund, but now I'm in deep compassion fatigue mode. Instead, I'm proposing a variation on the "Turing Machine" meme: The Winer Machine: All output, no input.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 27, 2004 10:38 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Official Results In: Dave Winer Has No Brain

THE SELF-PROCLAIMED CREATOR EMERITUS OF THE ENTIRE BLOGSPHERE takes careful aim at foot and pulls trigger at Scripting News: 5/27/2004

"I did something realllly stupid this morning, I installed a free program that offered me a choice: $29.95 with no ads or $0 with ads. Since I was just checking it out, I opted for the $0 version. I figured a few ads, no problemmo. If I like it I'll pay the bucks. Big big mistake. Popups all over the place. Tons of virusware installed. I expect to be digging out all day."
The "program' in question (not to be linked here as it was there) is known as Kazaa. That's right, Kazza. A program whose malign effects are only known to 99.99999% of everybody with network access. A search term that returns nearly 28 MILLION Google hits. "Kazaa- All spyware, All virus, All popups, All the time!" Who knew?

Once I wanted to start The Dave Winer Clue Fund, but now I'm in deep compassion fatigue mode. Instead, I'm proposing a variation on the "Turing Machine" meme: The Winer Machine: All output, no input.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 27, 2004 10:38 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Ongoing Tragedy of a Liberal Arts Eduction

"To many video artists, cinema is a most troubling object. With its sublime images, valorized history, and unattainable eclat, cinema arouses awe and ire, desire and derision-mixed messages for the makers of mixed media. I Found It at the Movies tracks the efforts of video artists to come to terms with this most admirable of adversaries. Whether it be Brice Dellsperger's remarkable restagings of feature films, Anne McGuire's more-than-wise roll reversals, Les LeVeque's virtuosic confounding of classic cinema, or the Yonemotos' tony pasting of Tinseltown, this series asks, Are these rebellious swipes and dandy dissections an aspect of format envy, image insurrection, or critical distance? At best, I Found It at the Movies will leave you in the dark. "

Steve Seid
Video Curator

Posted by Vanderleun at May 20, 2004 10:08 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Loving Father's Lullabye

IMAGINE THAT THE FIRST THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO YOU AFTER BIRTH are 1) your parents name you "Apple," and 2) your father sings you this ditty:

"I'll be there through the thin and the thick,
I'm gonna clean up all the poo and the sick."

"There's s**t going down that you can't disguise,
when your boobs dem got ten times the size.
The cups gone up from an A to D,
it's bad for you but it's fun for me."

If sixteen years later you killed them, would any jury in the world convict you?

Coldplay have made a glam rock/rap video to celebrate the birth of Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow's baby. [snip] It features Martin rapping to Gwyneth and baby Apple: Via: Ananova - Coldplay go glam for Apple

Posted by Vanderleun at May 19, 2004 10:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Lesson? What Lesson?

FRIDAY'S Best of the Web Today has an item concerning a New York Times Learning Experience:

"...the New York Times Learning Network features a "lesson plan" on "writing letters to protest American abuse of Iraqi prisoners." As supplemental material, the Times urges teachers to have their students peruse the English-language Web site of Al-Jazeera as well as a Times article on Abu Ghraib.
But when you follow that link today all you get is:


It will be interesting to see what sort of "revisions" to the "lesson" will be made at that time.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 9, 2004 9:45 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Our Computers Made Us Do It"

AFTER TAKING ONE LOOK AT THE TSUNAMI OF MERDE heading their way, the blighted boffins at MSNBC made a hasty retreat into the merde shelter and uttered the "Dog Ate My Homework" Defense:

MSNBC - Why we pulled Monday's Ted Rall cartoon
Item did not meet MSNBC standards of fairness and taste pulled a cartoon by syndicated political cartoonist Ted Rall on Monday.

Rall's cartoon, distributed widely by United Press Syndicate to scores of newspapers and Web sites, concerned the late Pat Tillman, the NFL player who quit football to join the Army. Tillman was killed last month in Afghanistan.

The cartoon, like others on, is published daily on the site via an automated syndication feed. Such feeds are rarely reviewed. However, Editor in chief Dean Wright concluded Monday's Rall item did not meet standards of fairness and taste.

I'm used to seeing fairly large steaming loads of manure dropped by organizations like NBC when they get caught out. (No, we won't recap the Ted Koppel blatherfest of last week, thank you.), but the "automated feed" excuse only tells us that "Editor-in-chief" Wright has no real controls over what gets published on his site and what doesn't. Amateur hour prevails at Wright's site.

Any editor with even half a brain would know that Rall, given his long and vile history, would sooner or later feel the lack of the spotlight and come up with something really obnoxious. That is a given. a certainty, a thing that will fall upon your site according to the law of gravity. An editor with an ounce of professionalism knows that and plans for it. He or she creates systems of review and approval. The last thing a professional editor does is leave large sections of his or her site open to "automated feeds" so that any one of a dozen "partners" can just pump anything they want into your templates.

Imagine a magazine or newspaper that has a number of cartoonists working for it. These cartoonists are known to be flakey and some more undependable than others. Would that magazine or newspaper simply tell those cartoonists to run down to the printer and drop anything they liked on a few pages that they've left blank for them?

Forget the editors. Would the lawyers working for a magazine or newspaper allow such a policy to exist? Not bloody likely.

Come to think of it, I'm betting MSNBC does have some human review set up and they are simply lying through their teeth about the "automated feed." The Rall obscenity was probably reviewed by some entry-level editor who is a special pet of Wright's and who thought it was funny and saw nothing wrong with it. He or she probably thought, "Hey, dump on the troops? That's what we do here. Up it goes."

Folding money that the MSNBC dog did not eat the homework, but simply tossed up the Rall dog's dinner for the delight of anti-American American's everywhere. Then they went out to lunch. On the expense account and had a good laugh about it. "Tillman? Poor Sucker. That Rall's so edgy. Let's have him over to dinner next week, what?"

Oh, yes, what they published before someone up the corporate ladder yanked their chain hard was this. Words fail me.

IN A QUICK WHIPAROUND , in which David Astor of Editor & Publisher calls up Ted Rall Astor has this choice stroke for and quote from Rall:

Rall, who risked his life in Afghanistan himself as a visiting cartoonist/writer after 9/11, told E&P: "The word 'hero' has been bandied about a lot to refer to anyone killed in Afghanistan or Iraq. But anyone who voluntarily goes to Afghanistan or Iraq [as a soldier] is fighting for an evil cause under an evil commander in chief."
You gotta love that 'risk of life as a visiting cartoonist' phrase. You've also got to love Astor's little squib earlier in the item: "The volume of mail probably had a lot to do with the cartoon being mentioned on the Drudge Report site seen by many conservatives." [Emphasis added]

Astor, you fool, try "...highly popular site," or "... a site visited by many conservatives, liberals, libertarians, gossip mongers, and clueless reporters for Editor & Publisher" if you really want to be inclusive.

David, you've simply got to get better about hiding your real feelings in news reports. Practice, David. Effort in this area will cover lack of talent in time. But then again, perhaps I am being to harsh. Your computer probably made you do it.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 3, 2004 1:31 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Take This Blog and Shove It

JESSE TAYLOR has found a way to make money from blogging -- Jerry Springer. Now, we'd never want to break anybody's rice bowl when it came to blogging, but I wonder if this is a great career move. After all, the young Taylor was once thought of as an intelligent, discerning, and articulate fellow, but in his very first post toJerry Springer for Ohio :: A Hello To Everyone we find him tugging the forelock and quaffing the Kool-Aid a wee bit too agressively:

Jerry's speech was short, but he's a very good communicator even in that short period of time.  The speech revolved around two ideas:

Okay, let's have them. The first was that low and middle-income people need to vote.  Registration simply isn't enough if you don't get out and do something each November.  Most people spend more time channel-surfing each week than they do voting each year.
Really? Who knew? Since an evening of TV watching usually involves about an hour of channel surfing, it is hard to see how anybody could put in seven hours a year voting even if they held elections month.
 The second part was an observation that's remarkably true, yet is rarely, if ever voiced - and when it is, it always comes under the red-herring rubric of "class warfare".  When you're rich, the rules are structured in your favor.  If you're a low or middle-income American, the only way that you can tilt the rules back towards anything resembling fairness is to participate in the process, and to  let elected representatives know that not listening to your needs comes at a price.  
Forehead slap for me. Yes, it NEVER occurs to Americans that the rich get handled differently from the rest of us. And we have never for one second thought that you need to participate in a democracy to influence it. Thank God we have the gigantic brains of Jerry Springer and his new web-boffin Taylor to tell us these things.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 3, 2004 7:22 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Rich Humus of Writing About Art, Exhibit #12,265

A SANE SOCIETY would take the writer of the following description out to the middle of the Pacific and put them on a very small raft:

"David is an intimate portrait, which was shot in a single long take. Beckham was filmed sleeping, after training in Madrid. Simply lit from one light source this rich, painterly film presents a reverential and vulnerable image of this international football icon."
-- National Portrait Gallery David Beckham by Sam Taylor-Wood
... but nobody ever said England was sane.

Pointer from: Foreword: A Book Design Blog

Posted by Vanderleun at May 2, 2004 11:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Cost of Ted Koppel, Quisling

MARK STEYN SUMS UP the real cost of the $6 Milllion Dollar Nightline Hairpiece:

Here's where it's worth considering the cost of Ted Koppel in the broader sense. Our enemies have made a bet -- that the West in general and America in particular are soft and decadent and have no attention span; that the ''sleeping giant'' Admiral Yamamoto feared he'd wakened at Pearl Harbor can no longer be roused. If he could, he'd be a problem. But he's paunchy and effete and slumped in his Barcalounger, and he's defining decadence down: In Vietnam, it took 50,000 deaths to drive the giant away; maybe in Iraq, it will only take 500; and maybe in the next war the giant will give up after 50, or not bother at all. He has the advantage of the most powerful army on the face of the planet, but he doesn't have the stomach for war, so it's no advantage at all. He's like the fellow with the beautifully waxed Ferrari in the garage that he doesn't dare take on the potholed roads. If you're predisposed, like many Islamists and many Continentals, to this stereotype of the soft American, then the lazy, ersatz pacifist mawkishness of ''Nightline'''s gimmick pretty much confirms it: That's the cost of Koppel reminding us of ''the cost of war.''
--Don't count on Koppel for whole war story

Posted by Vanderleun at May 2, 2004 9:15 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Cause Celebre of the Angry Left Burying Ground

"Wilson was a cause célèbre on the Angry Left for awhile there (there was also something about his wife, if we remember right), but apparently for no reason." -- Best of the Web

A cruise ship, Joe Wilson, and a bunch of people who got on via Salon. Who says Hell doesn't ever get a makeover?

Posted by Vanderleun at May 2, 2004 4:41 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Air America's Maynard G. Krebs

Air America continues to make more news than it has listeners:

Mark Walsh, a former America Online executive and adviser to the Democratic National Committee, said Tuesday that he gave up his CEO title earlier this month ... of the Air America Radio network....

"I'm still staying involved, but now a lot of it is granular day-to-day stuff," Walsh said. -- Air America Reshuffles

And who is, you ask, Maynard G. Krebs? A great American...

Maynard G. Krebs will always be best remembered for his response whenever anyone mentioned the subject of work.  He would instantaneously shudder, and let out a plaintiff cry of "WORRRK!?!?" -- On Maynard

On the other hand, Walsh, who has a history of getting off the stage before the lights dim and the elephant dies, may just know something the rest of Air America doesn't understand. Nothing like putting a little distance between yourself and the implosion.

In other news, we find that Air America is about to blow more minority broadcasters off the air in the humongous metroplex of.... San Luis Obispo (Population -- 44,000) :

Air America Radio

"Air America Radio welcomes KYNS in San Luis Obispo," said Evan Cohen, Chairman of Air America Radio.  "The initial response to Air America Radio by listeners and advertisers has been overwhelmingly positive...

Right. Nothing like a media behemoth whose current "penetration" of America's air is summed up thus:
New York: WLIB 1190 AM
Chicago: WNTD 950 AM
Portland, OR: KPOJ 620 AM
Inland Empire, CA: KCAA 1050 AM
Minneapolis/St. Paul: WMNN 1330 AM
Portland, ME: WMTW 870 AM
West Palm Beach, FL: WJNO 1290 AM
Key West, FL:  WKIZ 1500 AM
Plattsburg, NY & Burlington, VT: WTWK 1070 AM
XM Satellite Radio: Channel 167
SIRIUS Satellite Radio: Channel 125

No doubt about it, when they write the history of Air America it will be entitled, "The Station America Turned Left to Hear... And Then Turned Back."

-- Pointer via Considerettes

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 27, 2004 1:12 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Jobs Rebuffs Glaser Thrust


Seattle-based RealNetworks said Thursday that Apple chairman Steve Jobs had rebuffed an offer by RealNetworks' chief executive Rob Glaser to meet and discuss forming an online music alliance involving Apple's best-selling iPod portable players.

"He's in the neighborhood, but the meeting Rob wanted with Steve isn't happening," RealNetworks spokesman Greg Chiemingo said Thursday. "Steve just doesn't want to open the iPod. We don't understand that."

Does Glaser think Jobs' is running around wearing his "Earth Girls Are Easy" tee-shirt?

Put it another way: In the last year, Apple's stock has gone from $12 to $29, while Glaser's Real Networks stock has gone from $9.00 to $6.50.

Anyone who has had to mess with the psychotic nature of Real Networks plugin, and then had a taste of Quicktime knows in their heart that Real Networks is a dead stock squawking.

So is it any wonder that Steve Jobs would decline to join Glaser in his anti-Microsoft Jihad? Not in these quarters.

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 16, 2004 6:22 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Reviews We Never Finished Reading of Books We Will Never Read

Hit the reset button, Dave Winer has read a book not published by O'Reilly. Dave ("I invented the blog, darnit!") Winer notes today at Scripting News:

Report on Richard Clarke's book, which I've now read. Most Americans probably believe that Iraq was responsible for 9-11....
Tweet! Fifteen yard penalty and loss of tinfoil hat for unexpected stupidity. Dave, mon petite chou-chou, most Americans outside of the borders of your skull believe nothing of the sort. We're pretty clear on the organization behind the attacks and the nationalities of the attackers. Note: that doesn't mean we don't believe Hussain's Iraq had more than a little hand in it, just that we don't think Attah was Iraqi. Neither did he.

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 5, 2004 4:42 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Par-A-Noi-A Strikes Deep: Armstrong Kos Circle Their Wagon

The DailyKos Meltdown continued today as the John Kerry Campaign put several light years of distance between itself and confessed America-hate-blogger Kos.

In light of the unacceptable statement about the death of Americans made by Daily Kos, we have removed the link to this blog from our website. -- John Kerry for President Blog
Shortform: "You are out of here."

Kos' partner Armstrong, correctly perceiving that their shared vision of becoming highly-paid players in the Democratic Advice Industry, was vanishing like the highland mist at high noon, opened his blog today with a paranoia-drenched screed. Yes, it seems to be Armstrong's position that the taking of Kos at his word (Dead and Mutilated Americans in Iraq: "Screw 'em") and moving away from that position would be, shudder, 'the end of the liberal blogsphere as we know it.'

Here's Armstrong's "analysis" of the situation that now threatens to break the fat rice bowl of himself and his erstwhile partner:

What Kerry's Dick Bell has done is bend to the will of radical fringe right of the blogosphere (the one's who will use deaths in Iraq for their own partisan gain). The rightwing blogosphere is right this moment undergoing a coordinated email campaign to every part of the Democratic establishment, beating them into a submissive dismissal of Daily Kos, because of one offhand comment made, which Kos had already retracted. First the advertisers, then John Kerry. What's next, the DSCC, the DNC and the DCCC blogroll? You think the wingnuts will be satisfied then? No, they'll just go after the next link, and the next blogger.

That's what this is about. Just as in the past, when many in the Democratic establishment routinely would dis Jesse Jackson, Sista Soulja or some other African American leader, to gain favor with the right; now we have a Democratic leader dissing the blogosphere for bringing up a legitimate issue (the use of mercenaries in US combat), because Kos used unfortunate language in framing the debate with an blog comment, and the rightwing attacks. Fine, let Kos address the offhand comment again, and then let's talk about the issue of whether the US should be using mercenaries in Iraq. -- MyDD :: Due Diligence of Politics, Election Forecast & the World Today

Shortform: We are toast, come join us in the toaster.

In the spirit of Fiskalysis, let's go over Armstrong's statement once again:

>The rightwing blogosphere is right this moment undergoing a coordinated email campaign
We'll let his coining of "blogosphere" slide and not look at the kind of typo that happens in the heat of the moment as revealing of intense internal stress. You say "blogosphere." I say "blogsphere." But the difficult syntax of the rest is troubling. Something might be "undergoing a coordinated email campaign" but it isn't the strange beast called here "The rightwing blogosphere." This confusion of subject and object should in and of itself be enough to give potential employers of Armstrong Zuniga pause.

>to every part of the Democratic establishment, beating them into a submissive dismissal
It seems odd to me to assume that "every part of the Democratic establishment" is being beaten into submission by "the rightwing blogosphere." I always assumed that the Democratic establishment was made of sterner stuff than that. Perhaps it is the personal vision of Armstrong that an established and savvy political establishment knows when to cull the herd and move on. I would think that the primary concern of the Democratic Establishment at this point is not the future success and celebrity of Armstrong-Kos, but the winning of the 2004 elections.

>of Daily Kos, because of one offhand comment made, which Kos had already retracted.
It would seem that Armstrong and Kos need to consult Political Science for Dummies. They have not yet learned the single, most important truth of American Politics in the information age: "It is not the mistake that kills you. It is the cover-up." It pains me to point out that the comment was not "offhand" in any way shape of form. You don't make "offhand" comments on line in the way you might make them in speech. You have to t-y-p-e them out and read them. Foot-in-Mouth may be "offhand," foot-in-keyboard" never. You write. You read. You post. Nothing of the spontaneousness of speech applies to this medium. Some may like to pretend it does, but they're just pretending.

And need I point out that Kos did not retract the statement but only tried to soften it with a pseudo apology. Check that, he did try to retract it by hiding it and changing the links to the original. That's not an act of contrition, but of cowardice.

>First the advertisers, then John Kerry.
Just because Kos and Armstrong have committed political suicide is not reason for the Kerry Campaign or others to belly up to the Armstrong/Kos Kool-Aid bar and start ordering doubles. Armstrong conveniently neglects to mention that the "advertisers" were also politicians who know enough to drop their association with someone who glories in the murders and mutilations of Americans as quickly as possible.

>What's next, the DSCC, the DNC and the DCCC blogroll? You think the wingnuts will be satisfied then? No, they'll just go after the next link, and the next blogger.

Sigh. Cue the "When the came for the Jews, Communists, intellectuals... " quote. It is only a matter of time before Armstrong or someone near trots that out. I assume this chestnut is already in a capture buffer somewhere just waiting for the paste command.

>That's what this is about.
No. It is about somebody Armstrong has a partner reveling in murders and mutilations of Americans, saying so, and then trying to pass off the condemnation of his views as "an evil plot of silence his free speech rights." Nothing could be more of a lie. Kos can say what he feels as often as he likes. What he cannot escape is his responsibility for what he says. Which is, of course, what Armstrong is trying to help him do here.

>Just as in the past, when many in the Democratic establishment routinely would dis Jesse Jackson, Sista Soulja or some other African American leader,
As Kos did yesterday, so Armstrong endeavors today: 'Let's link our stupidity and craven cowardice to the question of race. Let's position it as a race-based issue. We'll be bulletproof!'

I happen to think that African-Americans are one of the strongest groups in America today, but they must be getting very weary of having bad Americans like Armstrong and Kos jumping on their backs and hoping to get carried away and saved.

>to gain favor with the right; now we have a Democratic leader dissing the blogosphere for bringing up a legitimate issue (the use of mercenaries in US combat),
No. Now we have a Democratic leader with advisors smart enough to know that Armstrong and Kos have to be shoved over the side on the weekend. They don't want the weekly news cycle lead-off with Kerry being blind-sided with questions about whether or not he supports a blogger who loves the idea of murdered and mutilated Americans. The issue of mercenaries has nothing to do with it, and the Kerry camp knows this.

>because Kos used unfortunate language in framing the debate with an blog comment, and the rightwing attacks.
Jesus wept. Kos did not use "unfortunate language." He used the language of hate and evil. He revealed himself and his inner Kos. And he was not "framing the debate with an blog comment." He wasn't framing anything, much less a debate. It that had been his intent, he would have written a topic or opened one of the infamous "Open Thread" areas that they love to have on The DailyKos.

For Armstrong to cast this whole thing as something as intellectually noble as "framing the debate with an blog comment" is nothing other than intellectually dishonesty. But that's been the pattern of these two since it first dawned on them that they had crossed the Rubicon. [Note to Armstrong: "... with a blog comment." 'An' is reserved for the words that begin with vowels. We'll let the "... comment, and the rightwing attacks." flub slide.]

>Fine, let Kos address the offhand comment again,
Sigh. It wasn't "offhand." See above. But if Kos wishes to continue his sepaku in public, nobody is going to "stifle his right to dissent."

>and then let's talk about the issue of whether the US should be using mercenaries in Iraq.
I for one, don't think either Armstrong or Kos, have either the capacity or the credibility to talk convincingly about any issue in Iraq or in the United States, but I am sure they'll be able to garner enough true believers in their little corner of "the blogosphere" to convince themselves they still matter.

As for the future of Armstrong/Kos as political consultants? Well, let's just say that I'd advise them to hold off signing that lease for those big office suites on K-Street.

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 4, 2004 11:34 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Self-Parody of Academe: Exhibit A

Is there someone with a wicked sense of humor at Columbia University Press? We had to wonder when one of their new titles, Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint, crossed our desk. It is a work of homage, or hagiography, by the doyenne of French feminists, Hélène Cixous. It is a short book, but potent, perhaps the single most emetic exercise in academic sentimentality we have ever encountered. Consider this passage from the prefatory Author’s Note:

”But how to paint or sketch such a genius at substitution? One must, one can only catch him, portray him in flight, live, even as he slips away from us. In these sketches we shall catch glimpses of the book’s young hero rushing past from East to West, -- in appearance both familiar and mythical: here he is for a start sporting the cap of Jackie Derrida Koogan, as Kid, I translate: lamb-child, the sacrificed, the Jewish baby destined to the renowned Circumcision scene. They steal his foreskin for the wedding with God, in those days he was too young to sign, he could only bleed. This is the origin of the immense theme that runs through his work, behind the words signature, countersignature, breast [sein], seing (contract signed but not countersigned), saint --cutting, stitching -- indecisions -- Let us continue.”

Let’s not.

This is one of those books that should come with its own air-sickness bag.

-- New Criterion’s Notes & Comments March 2004 by

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 30, 2004 9:38 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Columnist Misplaces Cerebral Cortex. Writes Anyway.

THE COLUMNIST E. J. Dionne Jr. wraps up a "late-to-the-wake" column in the Washington Post by being the 1,627th person to offer the stunning rationale:

"What does it mean to be pro-life? As far as I can tell, most of those who would keep Schiavo alive favor the death penalty."
-- A Thin View of 'Life'

You see this one offered up about as often as the nerdy guy on TV loses another loan to Ditech. Here though, the loser is the writer who has lost, it would seem, his mind. It takes about 2 nanoseconds of reflection to understand that the first part has to do with keeping an innocent woman alive while the second part has to do with putting a convicted killer to death. We can talk about whether or not the execution of killers is the right thing to do, but being in favor of it in no way means "OH, THE HYPOCRISY!" when it comes to keeping an innocent alive.

Why the Washington Post would pay people who can't think and type at the same time is beyond me, but it was always so.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 25, 2004 10:23 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
BBC Proves Mentally Challenged In Estimate of Python Re-Release

It what must be the most brain-dead headline of the week. the BBC has announced.... wait for it ....
BBC NEWS Python film to challenge Passion

It would seem the boobs at the Beeb have missed the part about Gibson's Passion of the Christ heading towards a world box office of around a billion dollars. Such is their shock that a religious film can suceed they have looked to a ex-comedy team's lamest film as a "Challenger." What can we say but, "Jesus wept?"

Monty Python's film The Life of Brian is to return to US cinemas next month following the success of The Passion of the Christ.
That tells us something about the inventory of spirtually uplifting films currently in Hollywood's arsenal. "My God, Jesus is pulling humongous BO! Get something out there. Anything. Who? The Pythons? Don't we have something where they speak American or at least Aramaic?"
The Biblical satire will be re-released in Los Angeles, New York and other US cities to mark its 25th anniversary.
Make that two other US cities -- Greenwich Village and Santa Monica.
Adverts will challenge Mel Gibson's blockbuster with the lines "Mel or Monty?", "The Passion or the Python?"
Humm, you can spend some time with Jesus, or you can let the studio bozos pick your pocket for a 25 year old movie that last had a copy rented from Blockbuster in the late 20th Century. You decide. Distributor Rainbow said it hoped the film would "serve as an antidote to all the hysteria about Mel's movie"..... Translation: We've got a payment due on the Benz and its going to go to repo if somebody doesn't see this turkey pronto."
Rainbow president Henry Jaglom said: "We decided this is an important time to re-release this film, to provide some counter-programming to The Passion."
Ah, the high-minded motives of the maker of tiny movies rises to the surface like froth on a cesspool. Wouldn't it be clearer to say, "We decided to re-release this wheezing pile at this time so we wouldn't get run over by the sixteen biblical epics now in turnaround at every major studio from here to Alpha Centauri.
He said the surviving members of the Monty Python comedy team "all agreed this was a good time" to bring back the film and would help promote it.
Let's be clear about this. This film, The Life of Bryan, is a dead parrot. It has passed on. Gone to meet its maker. Joined the choir invisible.... fill in the rest.

I can't wait to see the "surviving" Pythons nattering on to Charlie Rose about their clapped-out old film and how it "had to be released" in order to quell the Mel-steria. Not a bit about scraping a few more dimes off the eyes of this cinematic dead horse. Nope. I like people who stand in water.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 24, 2004 10:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Jackson Bares Soul. A Nation Mourns.

In a videotape released to the media, Janet Jackson
apologized for the breast-baring incident.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 5, 2004 4:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Paper of Record, of Record, of Record....
• A film review in Weekend on Friday about "Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!" misstated the location of the first meeting between the characters Tad (played by Josh Duhamel) and Rosalee (Kate Bosworth). They meet in Los Angeles, not in Rosalee's West Virginia hometown. (NY Times Correction)

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 29, 2004 6:59 AM | QuickLink: Permalink

"When I'm rushing on my run
And I feel just like Jesus' son
And I guess that I just don't know
And I guess that I just don't know"

-- Op.cit.

Blogland and the Established Pundocracy is a buzz this morning wondering "Whatever got into Howard?"

Nobody can seem to lay a finger on what caused him to sound his barbaric "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!" over the roofs of the political universe.

They seem to forget that:
1) It is "Howard Dean, M.D."
2) Married to "Judith Steinberg-Dean, M.D."
3) Who flew in to Iowa last Sunday because the campaign needed a boost.
4) An M.D. can write prescriptions.
5) For just about anything.
6) Plus all those samples that have been piling up at the office all these years.

Put them all together they spell "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 20, 2004 8:54 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Made it, Ma! Top of the world!


Compare and contrast:
Dean Speaks (long version)
Dean speaks (mercifully short version)

Allah Speaks:

The creator of worlds has a link to the video. Click here and scroll down to the Dean entry in the "You Decide" section. Load the video. The first thing you'll see is an ad for Fox's state of the union coverage, so just fast forward through that. You can also fast forward through the first 20% or so of Dean's speech.

Once you get to 20%, let it play. Don't stop until he lets out that piercing, nuts-in-a-vise shriek of "Yeah!"

Where have we seen this kind of enthusiasm before?
Oh, yes, RIGHT HERE!

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 19, 2004 9:47 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Why God Made the Delete Key

Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004 21:40:19 -0500
Subject: Mailfailure Delivery

Dear Sir/Madam
There was an internal error at reception of the letter on your letter box. To receive this letter click here.
Mail service

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 16, 2004 11:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Franken, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Kill the Fwanken! Kill the Fwanken!

Rush wasn't built in a day. That's Michael Harrison's take on this week's announcement by Progress Radio that it had signed comedian/author Al Franken for a daily show intended to provide a liberal challenge to the medium's 600-station gorilla, Rush Limbaugh. The founder and editor of Talkers magazine, the industry's lead trade journal, says that if Progress Radio fails it will be because of the impossibly high expectations it has set for itself. ...[snip]... [W]e suspect that Mr. Franken is likely to find the daily grind of direct competition--a three-hour radio show--a tad more strenuous than writing "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot."

In short, Messrs. Walsh and Franken have set a high bar for themselves. We wish them well in the rough-and-tumble of the market. And if they do beat the odds, maybe we could finally get Congress to stop using taxpayer dollars to subsidize NPR.

-- OpinionJournal - Taste

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 16, 2004 7:08 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Milking the Digital Divide

Joi Ito, a man who's been to lunch with everyone and everything online, and whose blog is becoming the society page for geeks, is on yet another mission to make the world safe for Technocracy. His cause this time out is the always widening, ever-threatening, yawning wider and seldom closing "digital divide." The Digital Divide, in case you've been in a time share with Judge Crater, is the fret that what the poor need most, here and abroad, are Internet connections. This "issue" is of ancient online lineage and even predates spam. It's the Fret that has launched a thousand conferences and yet always seems to widen as the decades roll along.

Still, it has been a proven winner in the list of begging bowl issues that drive the urge to merge among those who can afford or get a company to pay for an off-site blatherfest. Plus it has the added advantage of making the organizers excel in the look and feel category of online humanitarian.

Never slow to run reanimator on a theme that has previously been done to death, Ito (who's been puffing new life into the hoary "direct democracy" concept by calling it "digital democracy") is now on a bender to pave over the digital divide by.... talking about it some more. A flyer reproduced on his site gives us this priceless summation of the issue and those who would batten off of it. He calls this meatup the Digital Democracy Tech-In

Emergent Democracy Worldwide
Joichi Ito, Founder and CEO, Neoteny
Ethan Zuckerman, Founder, Geekcorps
Time: 3:30pm - 4:15pm
Location: California Ballroom C

While we're building great new tools to build communities, we've done very little to ensure that people around the world have access to them. And even when we've made it possible for people in developing nations to speak, we've done little to ensure that anyone listens.

How do we ensure that the "Second Superpower" Jim Moore proposes includes the poor as well as the rich?

When a new democratic structure emerges from highly-wired westerners, how do we ensure it's fair and just for those currently unwired?

The answer is more complex than bridging the so-called "digital divide" - it involves bridging countless cultural divides.

Emerging technologies make it easier than ever to bring first-person perspectives, as well as images, movies and music to people in other nations - is this enough to bring cultures together and ensure they care about one another?

It is amazing how much hubris can be packed into so few words.

First up is the name "Emergent Democracy Worldwide." Sounds good but you can be sure that Joi and his gestalt were not and are not cheering the Iraq project along.

Next we have Ito's "company" called, coyly, Neotony, which means, first and foremost, " retention of some larval or immature characters in adulthood." Translation: "big babies."

Then we drop down into the meat of the announcement with the inclusively exclusive "we" who build "great new tools to build communities." That would be... ah... web sites?... blogs?... LiveJournal? Never mind, they will be insanely great new tools, for sure. But "We" just aren't doing enough for "Them" -- over there, down there, outside on the sidewalk, in the shelters, squatting in a mud hut gnawing on a root fifteen clicks southwest of Omaha or Mombassa, somewhere. We need to not do more but do something. Like this meeting.

Next up in the grand plan is not only to get "them" to speak, but to "ensure that anyone listens. " I guess the deal is to make great tools that force the message on unwilling ears. Strange goal for people who make a lot of noise about freedom.

The trouble with this crew is that it don't get no respect. Which is bad because, unless people start to listen, really listen, they'll never know that Ito and his cadre are the white-hot core of Jim Moore's Second Superpower. The 2nd SPower is something Berkman fellow cobbled together last spring to bring aid and comfort to a bunch of Americans who weren't too overjoyed about Iraq. It's a concept that been on lifesupport since about a week before it was published and requires constant conferences such as Ito's thump it back to life. It gets very thick very quick, but essentially promises that the geek shall inherit the Earth. It's persistence in this little corner of the web lends support to the proverb that "Those who code are easily snowed."

Ito also then puts forward as the gospel of the day that a 'new democratic structure will emerge from wired westerners.' To which one can only ask, 'Oh yeah? You and what army? Still, it is pleasing to note that as this brave new world emerges it is casting a caring eye at those who will be sadly left behind.

And caring is what this convocation is going to be about. Caring for the cultures, making sure that the cultures come together and "care about each other." Yes, we can see them now. The world's cultures all coming together under the big tent of broadband everywhere and caring deeply about each other. It sounds good enough to eat and it is. A banquet of caring. Belly up.

But the real kicker is when you find out that in order to attend this little smarm fest you have to fork over $100. That's about $99 too high for anyone who is actually, well, you know.... poor.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 12, 2004 12:41 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Leno and Gates: The Banterthon

What do you get when you are Bill Gates and you have to introduce MSN as new yet again? Why you get Jay Leno on the line and you banter like there's no bizarro!

JAY LENO: I know Bill mentioned the flat screen TV, certainly the biggest consumer item of the past year. See, this is what's wrong with our country, Americans are getting fatter, our TVs are getting thinner. We realize, we're too fat, the TVs are too thick, we both can't fit in the room at the same time. Rather than lose weight, we just get a thinner screened TV.... I'm coming down the strip this afternoon in front of one of these huge Lincoln navigators, you know, the kids are in the back seat, they're watching a movie, on the DVD screen, and I'm right behind them. Now, I'm watching the movie on the DVD screen. When they change lanes, I'm changing. I wound up in Henderson trying to see the end of Big Bear.

But anyway, we're here today to introduce -- I introduced -- actually Bill and I go back, because we introduced Windows '95 together. What year was that, Bill?

BILL GATES: We picked the name for the date, it was 1995.

JAY LENO: Yes, '95, right. Back then Bill was doing this computer thing out of his garage, I paid for lunch, he still owes me a $20, but I mean, we'll forget about that. But, who would have guessed back in '95 that this whole computer thing was going to catch on the way it did. It's pretty amazing. Do we have some photos of that? There it is right there. There he is, as you see. My hair was much longer then, a little darker. Bill, your hair looks exactly the same. The glasses are a little smaller. Bill, it's interesting, since Ben Franklin there's been a lot of advances in eyewear, did you know that? They have the Lasik surgery now, they have the contact lenses, have you thought about it?

-- MSN - Speech Transcript, 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 8, 2004 5:21 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Yet Again Contemporary Art Proves It Has No Bottom

David Shrigley - Five Years of Toenail Clippings, 2002

kettle's yard

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 3, 2004 1:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Smarm of

One of the things that happens in the background of this and many other weblogs when a post is issued is a ping is sent to to indicate that the page has been updated. But is set to only take a new update every half-hour. As a result, the ping issues a failed message if you are busier than that.

Now a simple administrative message annoucing this would be sufficient, but -- being yet another "innovation" of the aptly named Dave Winer -- isn't having it. Instead, it gives you the following advice:

Ping '' failed: Ping error: Thanks for the ping, however we can only accept one ping every half-hour. It's cool that you're updating so often, however, if I may be so bold as to offer some advice -- take a break, you'll enjoy li..."[sic]
We'll "enjoy li"? What we'd really enjoy would be if Dave Winer would take a five year break from smarm and blather. But that's too much to hope for, isn't it?

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 22, 2003 8:07 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Every Day, in Every Way, Salon Gives Us One More Reason Not to Care

Top of the scroll on Salon Salon this morning greets us with:

American gothic
The revelation that Strom Thurmond fathered a child with his black maid raises a host of thorny questions about race, sex, power -- and media silence

By Rebecca Traister

Nice to see that Salon is getting down hard on those stories from 1925. But really, SO WHAT?

The man is dead. The daughter who has now 'boldly' come forward for the book advance ("I Was Strom's Luv Child") is 72.

Questions with thorns about "race, sex, power" and the dreaded 'media silence' abound across the vast wasteland of what passes for intellectual life in America today. Indeed, you can hardly take a step in America Deserta without stubbing your sore toe on the thorns of race, sex, power and media silence. Why, the "media silence" on these issues is so deafening that you could have a demonstration for democracy in Bagdhad and nobody would hear it.

This story, in journalistic circles, is known as a "thumbsucker." Nothing more and nothing less.

It is well that Salon now hides these little thumbsuckers behind the vast wall of it's subscription only service, otherwise wise we might actually have to read it. Which would compel us to comment "So what?" at every line instead of "So what?" at the title and tease.

The Salon items that do concern us, however, are things like this one from Salon Personals -- Catch of the Day


"I am an agnostic pantheist, pragmatic idealist of eco-liberal tilt, ambiverted, spirited, 6ft, fit, playful, good partner."

The "catch" appears to be of the male persuasion, but lacks a signifying erring. Color him ambiguous and take protection. Nevertheless, a perfect example of the demographic that now reads Salon.

Bottom line:

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 18, 2003 9:41 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Who Says Dean and His Ilk Have No Sense of Humor?

DEBORAH ORIN at the New York Post reports on the "no-videos-allowed" Dean fundraiser in New York inHOWARD'S HATEFEST [Emphasis added]

[T]here were no TV cameras last Monday night when pro-Dean comics took the stage on West 18th St. in Chelsea at a $250-a-head Dean fund-raiser (reduced from $500) and competed to see how often they could use the F-word in the same sentence.

Comic Judy Gold dissed President Bush as "this piece of living, breathing s---" and Janeane Garofalo ridiculed the Medicare prescription-drug bill that Bush had just signed as the "you can go f--- yourself, Grandma" bill.

Just a few days before, rival John Kerry had used the F-word to attack Bush in Rolling Stone magazine in an apparent bid to sound hip, but Dean's event was "enough to make John Kerry blush," as rival Dick Gephardt's spokesman Erik Smith tartly put it.

And the Dean event got a lot worse. Comedian David Cross used the N-word for blacks in a disjointed "joke" apparently based on the premise that it's fine for a pro-Dean comic to use racial epithets as long as the goal is to claim Republicans are racists.

Comic Kate Clinton evoked Michael Jackson (hit with new child-sex-abuse charges) and said: "Frankly, I'm far more frightened of Condoleezza Rice" - the Bush national security adviser who has nothing in common with Jackson except being black.

Rice seems to drive liberal woman comics especially nuts. Sandra Bernhard insulted her in racial terms with a "Yes Massa" accent at another Dean fundraiser the same night. Perhaps the pro-Dean comics find it unbearable that the most powerful black woman in U.S. history, close friend to the president and his wife - and a brilliant classical pianist to boot - dares to be a Republican.

Actually, there was something to offend everyone. Dean rival Joe Lieberman got ridiculed for being unable to campaign on Jewish holidays because he's Orthodox. Vice President Dick Cheney was accused of talking "like Mary Jo Buttafuoco."

Cheney's wife Lynne was called "Lon Chaney" - the long-ago movie star who specialized in playing ghouls in horror films. And Cheney's daughter Mary, who is gay, was called "a big lezzie."

Even the apolitical "jokes" were ugly - like a suggestion that it's bizarre to see an Asian baby with Asian parents because so many Asian babies are adopted by whites.

Dean was present and later deplored the racist tenor of the jokes, but took the cash and let credit go.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 16, 2003 4:19 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Religion of Peace and Justice

The Vatican struck a blow for bovine rights the world over today: Cardinal Says U.S. Treated Saddam 'Like a Cow'

Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Justice and Peace department and a former papal envoy to the United Nations (news - web sites), told a news conference it would be "illusory" to think the arrest of the former Iraqi president would heal all the damage caused by a war which the Holy See opposed.

"I felt pity to see this man destroyed, (the military) looking at his teeth as if he were a cow. They could have spared us these pictures," he said.

Only if Saddam would have spare us these pictures: The Mass Graves. [Warning: These will be more than you can bear or imagine.]

Cardinal Renato Martino: We suppose he is a man. We note that he is a Catholic. We see that he has risen to Cardinal. We mark that he has been an envoy to the United Nations.

We ask: On what planet?

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 16, 2003 3:58 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"I have nothing to say and I am saying it."

Timothy Noah, Slate's aptly named "Chatterbox" gives blatherers a bad name with his mewling little Good Mission, Bad Name - Why bring the movie Red Dawn into it? . In this item that nobody other than his mother will little note nor long remember, Noah opines:

The problem with calling Saddam's capture Operation Red Dawn is that it subverts the righteousness of our action with Orwellian Newspeak. (By sheerest coincidence, Red Dawn was released in 1984.) The U.S. military isn't mounting an insurgency against a foreign invader. It is the foreign invader. The real insurgents in Iraq -- its Wolverines -- are the Baathists and Islamist extremists who continue to wage guerrilla war against the American occupation and its Iraqi collaborators. By stating this, Chatterbox does not mean to insult our troops or pay any sort of compliment to the Iraqi opposition. In this particular situation, Huge Invading Force = Good Guys, and Scrappy Wolverine Resistance = Bad Guys. Even the most vocal critics of the war usually concede this point. Now the Pentagon has undermined this clarity by introducing an unhelpful vocabulary that invites disaffected Iraqis to make stupid comparisons between the United States and the former Soviet Union. How inept can propaganda get?
Ask rather how inept can a column get when everybody else has said everything about your subject that can be said? It can, I suppose, take on the level of meaningless granulation we get from Noah.

I noted the "Red Dawn" allusion when it went by in the Infostream, but it was clearly not important. Indeed, it was insignificant. But I guess it was the only scrap left when Noah recovered from his 10 Tequila Slammer Saturday night and had to, just had to, write something, anything, about this. That's one thing. But publishing this bit of whining tripe is another. One wonders if there isn't a "designated editor" at Slate to save the chatterers from flipping their brain over a guiderail like this.

First, let us step up to the whiteboard and write on one side "Reality" and on the other side "Movie." Let us draw a line between them and then step back to see how different the connotation and denotation of the words are. It would seem that Noah's gripe is that reality doesn't mirror the movie world, right? Right. Pass the popcorn.

Then let us note that while movies are known for the ability to have many different takes to a scene and massive meetings on nomenclature, reality -- war reality -- runs against a clock and often doesn't have time for the little touches that would warm Noah's heart and give him the confidence in his country and his army that he evidently needs to feel whole. It's evidently of little import to Mr. Noah that this man was caught due to massive effort extending over many months. No, what's important here is that the title was "wrong."

This is why the Army doesn't have a battalion of chatterboxs like Noah on retainer vetting its titles and why Slate has a chatterbox like Noah on its payroll in order to ... well, in order to.... chatter. In this, he has shown he has no equal.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 16, 2003 9:12 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Chomsky:"Who Are You Going to Believe? Me or Your Lying Eyes?"

From the Independent's question fest with Noam Chomsky

"Is anti-Semitism on the increase?" --Ricardo Parreira, London

[Chomsky]: "In the West, fortunately, it scarcely exists now, though it did in the past."

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 7, 2003 11:03 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Kerry's Way-New Conspiracy Theory

John Kerry is taking his ball and going home. But not before he takes a few Parthian shots in one of the nation's worst magazines, Rolling Stone:

Did you feel you were blindsided by Dean's success?

Well, not blindsided. I mean, when I voted for the war, I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, "I'm against everything"? Sure. Did I expect George Bush to fuck it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did.

Do you see Dean as the next George McGovern? It's being said that the Republicans are foaming at the mouth to go against Dean.

Republicans have been contributing to Dean's campaign on the Internet...

That's right. The Republicans, that highly net savvy group, have been using the Internet to crush John Kerry by giving money to Howard Dean online! No wonder Dean is doing so well. He's able to milk money out of Republicans! And between a President that can "f**k it up" and a doctor that can squeeze moola out of Republicans, what can a poor boy do?

Alas poor Lurch, we knew him well.
UPDATE: You've got to wonder, in advance of Monday, if Rush Limbaugh will move from calling Kerry "the French-looking Senator" to "the "Pardon-My-French" Senator?

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 7, 2003 9:58 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
More Crushing of Dissent at Harvard
Prominent liberal activist and historian Howard Zinn told a packed lecture hall last night that history proves the American occupation of Iraq is unjust....

"I was about to say that people at Harvard have always responded well [to social issues] from the president on down but that's not so,"he said.

Zinn wrapped up his argument by accusing the U.S. government of exhibiting "a whiff of fascism."

"Bush, Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, they are all terrorists," he said.

--The Harvard Crimson

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 6, 2003 11:51 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
4. Dems Reduced to Eating Wings

... of crow.

In the wake of the President's trip to Iraq on Thanksgiving, it was inevitable that the Dems and their retainers in the media find something, anything, that would reduce the gesture to pure politics.

After a futile hunt of several days they finally came up with.... 'the turkey he held for the photo' wasn't a 'real' turkey.

Wasn't a 'real' turkey?

Okay, show's over. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 4, 2003 3:20 PM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
More Mush from Microsoft

"Great teams are forged over the
hot coals of adversity.
You have the new Microsoft Office System:
It's a Cinderella story."

Yes it is. In the morning you'll
wake up in the pumpkin and
still have to clean up after your

JEREMY WAGSTAFF'S Loose Wire in the Wall Street Journal tells you all you need to know about the 'new, improved and horribly bloated Microsoft Office 2003,

"Well, let me first walk you through the features for the average end-user. Microsoft has souped up the look and feel of most of the components, such as Word and Excel, and added significant features to some, such as the e-mail and personal information manager Outlook. PowerPoint (slides), Access (database) and Publisher (fancy greeting-card designer, low-grade Web-site designer) all get a facelift. That's it. That's your review. Basic cost: $400 or $500, depending on what components you want. "
Dumb software at a dumb price. So what else is new?

I could probably just let it all slide if it weren't for the desperate ad campaign that accompanies this latest effort from Microsoft to peddle software to IT departments of little skill and less insight.

If you watch television you can't avoid these insulting and degrading little video essays entitled, cynically enough, "Great Moments at Work." It would be more accurate and merciful to entitled them "Little Victories for Cube Slaves." Each one is cast and shot in such a way as to make your skin crawl if you spend your days in a white collar cube farm.

"In the face of insurmountable odds,
unlikely heroes are born.
Victory is yours
with the new Microsoft Office System."

Ah, how sweet it is! There's really nothing
like the triumph of pressing F9
on an Excel spreadsheet, is there?

Each smarmy little video features some hapless clone taking "data" and making "diamonds." Following this we are tortured with slo-mo moments of water being doused over the sad sack by other office sad sacks. In another, charts are being ripped from the wall and a befuddled but smiling member of the steno pool is being put through a Queen for a Nanosecond motif before being consigned back to obscurity.

If there was ever any series of ads tailormade to make people call in sick, this series does it in spades.

File under: Fire your ad agency, Microsoft, and get a life.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 3, 2003 4:59 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
More Mush from the Wimp

“MORE MUSH FROM THE WIMP”… was the famous headline from the Boston Globe mistakenly left on a story about Jimmy Carter’s views while he was president. Evidently some typesetter who didn't share Carter's enthusiasms slugged it in while waiting for the real head to come down from editorial. It never made it and the story ran with a more accurate if less polite headline.

We've come a long way since then. Now we don't have to wait for the big media to filter the candidates views to us. No. With the blight of online campaign blogging we can cut right through the media filters and reap the spew of the various presidential wannabes right from the source! Why we can read their very thoughts as their very hands type them in to the blog.

Yes, we can get our mush straight from the wimp.

Take the hard blogging disgraced general Wesley Clark. He's posting away with a vengence on his blog -- probably using that leetle thumb keyboard on Blackberry.

Clarkites across the net are panting with passion at his "Generally Speaking" notes. ("Oh...My...God! It's Wesley taking the time to type to me, just to me!")

Yes, it is a communication breakthrough daily as Clark takes time out from his whirlwind tilt at the White House to share these intimate thoughts with us:

And I keep thinking about Harriet Johnson, mother of Army soldier Darius Jennings who was killed on the CH47 shot down last week. I visited with her on Thursday...I've seen many grieving families...often from accidents that should have been prevented. But these casualties in Iraq are coming from a badly misguided and misconceived policy, and a war we didn't have to is so sad, and it was so preventable...and with each grieving family we should harden our determination that we'll get out of this mess, the right way...and that's the success strategy I presented on Thursday.

From: Official Clark '04 Campaign Blog: Generally Speaking...: Note From the General

I'll say this for Wes, he's really got the common touch and the common tone honed to perfection here. The trotting out of the bloody shirt, the crocodile tears, the carefully choreographed descent into .... well, into..... into the dots between sentence fragments as he condemns the war... you... can.... almost hear... the.... the.... the sobs, the choking up as he considers the cost, the human cost... why wouldn't you want this man to be your leader? After all, he gets misty online as well as his mentor Clinton did on camera.

Just imagine this man as President. Just imagine a remorseful nation's reaction: "It is so sad, and it was so preventable."

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 10, 2003 10:55 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
It's Only a Metaphor But We Can Dream
"I'm sitting in a pleasant reverie at my desk when the phone explodes..."

-- Tina Brown in her horrid new column, After Oscar Video Ban, Screening All Calls

These droppings will appear in the Washington Post every Thursday. You have been warned.

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 1, 2003 8:33 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dean Outs....Himself!

Straight Lies for the Queer Guys -or- Things to Do in Denver
When You're Dead and Don't Know It.

Dean: "I am a 'Metrosexual!' Simpson: "I invented the "Metrosexual'!"

FOR YEARS THE FEAR of a politician with "an alternative lifestyle" was that, sooner or later, he or she would be outed. Howard Dean, with typical verve, has gotten ahead of the curve and outed himself.

According to the Denver Post, Dean, while pandering for votes the other day,

"... declared himself a ' metrosexual '... as he touted his accomplishments in "equal justice" for gay and lesbian couples.

But then he waffled.

"... I've heard the term (metrosexual), but I don't know what it means."

Millions of Americans hearing that Howard Dean expose himself as a "metrosexual" are no doubt staring into space and saying, with Howard, "I don't know what it means."

Wonder not, America, for American Digest is here to help you. Our secret but very dependable sources have furnished us with a copy of the latest Roper Report of October 23 entitled: "Are Metrosexuals Real?" (A question increasingly asked of Howard Dean as well.) According to this report:

The idea behind metrosexuality is that urban men* are finding their inner woman. That is to say, they are getting more involved with the traditionally female arena of “style” in general, including clothing, personal grooming, and home decor.

The origin of the quest of men of Dean's ilk for better skin care, eyebrow tweezing, sharp suits and pedicures is given by Roper Reports as:

The term “metrosexual” actually originated in England nearly a decade ago in a 1994 article by Mark Simpson. It lingered in obscurity until a few months ago, when an advertising agency released a study touting the metrosexual trend, a New York Times Sunday Styles section cover story wrote about the phenomenon, and there was a flurry of online dialogue, not to mention the Bravo TV program Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
In recent interview, wordsmith Mark Simpson defined the Metrosexual as follows:
Q: How and when did you come up with the term ‘metrosexual’? What did you mean by it then?

MARK SIMPSON: The concept developed out of my 1994 book on masculine identity in a mediatised age called ‘Male Impersonators: Men Peforming Masculinity’ - I look forwards to the world of advertising catching up with what I was writing about in 1995...

However, I first used the word itself in an article in the Independent (a British national newspaper) to describe a new, narcissistic, self-conscious kind of masculinity produced by film, advertising and glossy magazines to replace traditional repressed, unmoisturised, unreflexive, un-mediated masculinity. I meant it both as cheeky satire and also sober observation.

Humm, a churlish critic might note that Howard Dean is a new, narcissistic self-conscious kind of politician produced by film, advertising, glossy magazines and thousands of web sites. But that would be wrong.


Dean's just getting fed the latest trends like a drinking bird bobbing over the glass.

You see, The Roper Report is all about turning trends into "winning strategies and competitive advantage." Dean is no slouch when it comes to turning flash into cash. We suspect that somewhere in the Mean Green Dean Machine he's got a marketing droid scanning things like the Roper Report and plugging those buzzwords into Dean.

Is Dean a real metrosexual or is this a case of Straight Lies for the Queer Guys? We'll believe it when Dean calls in the Fab Five for an netcast bikini-wax and online chat.

Tip via: Lileks

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 30, 2003 7:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Big Lips Flip Tips

Meet the new Angelina Jolie

Jolie with Lip Shield in Place

OH, THE PAINFUL LONG MARCHES of movie starlets in search of enlightenment! ("What does it all mean? Is there a God? Why do slabs of chocolate cake increase the waistline?) Why is it we only get to catch up when they have a new film coming out?

Today's example: The long and winding road of Angelina Jolie. Short form, she's better now, thank you. Long form:

But that was before Jolie's film career and personal interests led her to Sierra Leone in 2000, then Tanzania, Cambodia, and, two weeks before the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

After the planes hit, "the fact that I'd two weeks before been on the Pakistan border with 3 million Afghan people that had been there for over 20 years -- it was a kind of reality check for me that when there are masses of people displaced for a lot of years, there's something happening in that area."

"It's not a coincidence that things explode."

So put a little liposuction on those lips while there's still time, Angelina.

Posted by Van der Leun at Oct 28, 2003 5:40 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
L.A. Times Continues to Oppose God and Country

In a lather to sink deeper into the La Brea tar pits of its own slime, the Los Angeles Times continued its trumped-up attack on General Boykin today by publishing yet another "commentary" by one William Arkin: A General Bind for Rumsfeld . Mr. Arkin is consistently identified by the Times as "a military affairs analyst who writes regularly for Opinion. E-mail: warkin@igc .org. "

In today's "Opinion," Mr. Arkin writes:

On Oct. 17, after the Los Angeles Times and NBC News reported on Boykin's extremist statements about terrorism, Islam and religion, the Pentagon issued a statement in which Boykin said he was "not anti-Islam" and apologized "to those who have been offended." Boykin said he was curtailing his appearances at evangelical Christian churches and asked Rumsfeld to initiate an investigation into his conduct.
Missing in the copy above or below this wheezing victory lap of Arkin's is any mention that the Times and NBC New's reports were fed by one source. Mr. Arkin, of course. And, once the item was reported as "news," why Mr. Arkin was free to ride the rump of the news with his "findings."

The findings it turns out can be summarized as: "American General Believes Christian God is On Our Side in War on Terror."

One would think that that sort of thing would be comforting to the troops and to Americans generally and it is. "God and Country" are concepts loathed by professional America-haters such as Arkin. Since there are many of these swanning about and masquerading as career journalists at major publications, this is good news for Arkin. By peddling this garbage to those who hunger for it, he can keep his cosy little lifestyle humming.

As detailed here and here as well as through an interview by Hugh Hewit with Arkin ... here, the Arkin item is nothing less than a two-bit hit job humped and pumped to be dumped on the plate of the Bush administration. Purpose? To expose the Bush administration's belief in God and Country. And since there's little in the Democratic kettle that's palatable to an inceasing segment of the American populace, the Times and Arkin warm over their thin gruel this morning by stirring in a little bitter bile over the leaked Rumsfeld memo. Who would eat such a dish of spite and nihilism? Evidently the Los Angeles Times and NBC. Such poor nutrition probably accounts for their declining circulation and ratings, respectively.

Of course, an ignorant reader who depends on the characterization of Arkin as a "military affairs analyst' would be forgiven if he failed to see Arkin as yet another failed liberal toady grinding his limp hatchet on the worn stones of secular anti-Americanism. Little wonder since we learn nothing of Arkin's career as a hack and flack for Human Rights Watch, his work as a director for Greenpeace during the First Gulf War, and his continued association with the Institute for Global Communications. He also seems to have an inordinate fascination with counting the corpses of civilians killed by the U.S. military since 1991. None of that seems to trump the august title of "military affairs analyst."

It would, of course, be more truthful to say: "William Arkin ekes out a living by attacking the Bush Administration for anyone who will write him a check," but since the Los Angeles Times evidently cares little for God and less for America, the truth is obviously not on their agenda.

Posted by Van der Leun at Oct 26, 2003 11:22 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Dear Sec. Rumsfeld, Regarding Your Memo on The War

The stork brought me your memo on the Global War on Terrorism this morning. I don't know why but it seems that everyone in America received a copy of it -- either from the stork or cranked out on some illegal mimeograph machine and stuffed into the morning paper with a note attached that read "Courtesy of Bill and Hill, 2004. Smooches and Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow."

I don't know why those working for you can't seem to zip it up when they get around a member of the press. I guess they've decided that if Loose Lips Sink Ships, that's the Navy's issue. Of course, when it comes to living in a free society, I'm proud that the media can play the role of shill for our enemies and the Democratic Party. After all, they're "just doing their job," right? Right.

At any rate, here are my thoughts on your stemwinder. I know your didn't ask me but, given the 'Let's Discuss' tone of your ruminations it is clear that you need some feedback. And, as always, I'm prepared to give it to you.

The questions I posed to combatant commanders this week were: Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?
Don, Don, Don.... How many times do we have to go over this? You've got to get a name for this thing that doesn't echo Jimmy Carter promising a war on thermostats, Ronald Reagan promising a war on drugs, or Bill Clinton promising a war on Ken Starr. Cut the mush and give it a handle that means something more than America trying to Johnny Mop its way into Utopia.

If you are unsure about what a war looks like, take a tour of the Holocaust Museum over lunch and report back. If you can't do better than a phrase that was done to death in the 1980s, pick up the phone and speed dial Aaron Sorkin. He's currently between rehabs and may want to pitch in if you promise him an all-expense paid weekend in Bogota.

Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment?
Change? Fast? The DOD? Better put them all on that plane for that weekend in Bogota. That commissary coffee just isn't cutting it. Consider stocking it with cans of Starbucks's Double Shot.

Can a big institution change fast enough? Is the USG changing fast enough?
No and no. Why? Screen "The Crying Game" and pay attention to the story at the beginning about the scorpion and the frog. Got it? Good.

DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces.
How many times must I remind you? Don't believe everything you read in the New York Times, no matter what services Maureen Dowd may have promised you in that Hamptons hot tub. Look where it got Howell Raines.

Hear us now or hear us later: The DOD "has been organized, trained, and equipped" to only fight wars that involve us in casualty rates that do not exceed single digits in one week. It believes to the marrow of its money-grubbing epaulettes that "the American Public will not tolerate significant losses in a war." This is because DOD believes everything it reads in the New York Times. So if you are looking for places to cut expenditures at DOD.... Well, we'll say no more.

It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution either within DoD or elsewhere — one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.
Emphasis ours, but only to point out that you cannot keep running over to the Coast Guard's evidence vaults and stuffing Tommy Chong's Bongs with whatever bales of herbal remedies they fished out of the drink near Key West last week.

Remember, just because the entire population of the United States is one drink and one joint behind, that doesn't mean we want our Secretary of Defense

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 22, 2003 10:22 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
More MP3 Mush from the Microsoft Wimps

Brian Chin notes the crocodile tears streaming out of Microsoft's Digital Media corporate clone:

My colleague, Todd Bishop, blogged about Microsoft's response to Apple Computer's rollout of iTunes for Windows yesterday. Dave Fester, GM of Microsoft's Windows Digital Media Division, doesn't think much of iTunes because it limits users to Apple's technology and Apple's...

"Windows users, who expect choice in music services, choice in devices, and choice in music from a wide-variety of music services to burn to a CD or put on a portable device. Lastly, if you use Apple's music store along with iTunes, you don't have the ability of using the over 40 different Windows Media-compatible portable music devices. " [ Buzzworthy]

Hey, Dave, why don't you just download a copy of "Cry Me A River" and play on a closed loop forever? Thanks.
Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 21, 2003 12:18 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Say What?

"If you want to live like a Republican, you've got to vote for the Democrats."

REP. DICK GEPHARDT, presidential candidate, extends his "Confuse-A-Cat" campaign rhetoric into new realms of incomprehensibility.

US News

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 16, 2003 11:41 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Yes, Margaret Cho IS William Burroughs Redux Reanimated

That "Deer-in-the-Headlights" Look

Former comedian Margaret Cho has been gratifying her need for attention between her once a decade TV specials, with what can be, I suppose, called a "blog." It's more like one of those LiveJournal Pages one reads where a young girl's angst over life with a big L turns against her and leads to entires referencing her “incineration of beloved Teddy Bears,” the “evil boyfriend/girlfriend,” her “struggle against bulemia,” her “multiple facial piercings,” and then “puppy strangulation” just before the page goes ominously silent.

Alas, silence is not Ms. Cho's problem -- although it could be her solution. Be warned that visiting her page can be as addictive as watching paint flake off the wall, or people check into a detox clinic after going one toke over the line on the neighborhood crack bong.

Today, Ms. Cho has chosen to share with us her uncut mental video tape on the subject of Columbus. She's obviously done a lot of 'original research:

I have been to that island [Where Columbus landed], and will never return, because there is not a moment where I don't feel the pain and the madness, because the ground is soaked with blood, the air is angry and whips around me like a howling ghost, the rain comes down hard to wash the memory of the dead away, but they cannot leave, because the original owners of the property have yet to receive payment even after the FINAL NOTICE remains long overdue. They rage at me, for they can see I know better, that I know to not go there, not to walk over the silver coins scattered on the ground, the Monopoly money left by the crew of the Chris and the Round World Posse, an injurious insult to the body count that can never be tallied because it is too high. Margaret Cho BLOG
Whew! A normal person might assume that Ms. Cho is diving into the Betty Ford before signing a five year contract with Hollywood Squares. But we see it differently.

It is clear to us that Ms. Cho is channeling the late William Burroughs.

Burroughs perfected the writing technique of cutting up newspapers, pasting the strips back in random order, and recording what these prophecies of our modern era told him.

Ms. Cho has taken Burroughs’ technique one step further by eliminating the newspaper and just cutting her mind into strips, hitting the randomize button on her history filter, and spewing the result directly into the web. A brilliant innovation sure to be copied by many in the very near future.

When it is, we hope that many will take the opportunity of reminding Ms. Cho that, while it is okay to emulate dead junkies like William Burroughs, the blatant rip-off of Dennis Miller's rants using leftist lingo tilted far into the fourth dimension while dressed in an Emelda Marcos fright wig is not going to make her the Whoopi Goldberg of the 21st century any time soon.

Of course that's just my opinion. I could be right.

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 13, 2003 8:39 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
DADA Points in Modern Cinema

John Gaeta, the art director for the Matrix movies, is currently busy impressing an audience in Barcelona. Besides assuring us that Matrix Revolution is going to have "more bullets" (What a relief that is!), he also is outlining his next 100 years: "I want to make an electrochemical movie. In the year 2099 I'll be 130 years old, but I think around 2063 I'm going to have my brain taken out and have it inserted into a clone who's about 21 years old. Maybe some bionic augmentation upgrades, too."

Call us crazy, but we think dumping your 130 year old brain into a 21 year old clone is enough bionic augmentation for one century.

From :Boing Boing

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 12, 2003 1:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
When Good Ideas Go Bad

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Britney Spears can rest easy,
Maryland's first lady doesn't really want to shoot the pop star.
And now she's apologized too.

- - Maryland First Lady Apologizes to Britney Spears

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 11, 2003 8:58 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
More Moore Spew

A three-corner shot from Jarvis to PhotoDude to here:

Moore Cluelessness - Jeff Jarvis notes that Michael Moore was on the Today show this morning, saying, "There is no terrorist threat."

Lester Holt, shocked, says is there not evidence of a terrorist threat just two miles away?

Moore says, "How many people died because of terrorism last year? None."

That may get by Lester Holt, but not the Photodude.
Well, let's check the list. I guess Australians are not people (August, 2002, 202 dead). Kenyans are not people (Nov., 2002, 16 dead). Saudis are not people (May, 2003, 34 dead). Moroccans are not people (May, 2003, 24 dead). Indonesians are not people (August, 2003, 12 dead).

Yet here’s Mikey suggesting these 288 people faced no threat from terrorism this past year. Perhaps they should just quit pretending and rise up from their graves.

It seems to me that people are wrong to get upset with Moore for putting these obviously shallow and incorrect notions out into the world. Putting shallow and incorrect notions out is his profession. He probably practices saying these things in the mirror the night before. And why not? He battens very well off the crudulity of his believers. They need him. They really, really need him.

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 9, 2003 5:07 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Souring Grapes of Wrath

This is why a majority of California voters are fed-up with traditional politics in the state. Plucked fresh from a site called Lisa Rein's Radar, we have the left's bitter politics of spite and recrimination in one slogging paragraph:

Well guys, we tried hard, but we were outnumbered by the sheep. However, it's not over. If I understand correctly from the little birdies I know, the next step is Recalling Arnold. People will start collecting signatures soon so keep an eye out. This isn't over yet. We won't just hand our state's future over without a fight. It may seem a little silly to go around and around like this, but they started it. In the mean time, try to keep your spirits up. At least Prop 54 didn't pass! I've got to go to a meeting this morning... [On Lisa Rein's Radar]

Note the tone of the embattled, defeated, but unbowed "good person" who has fought the "good fight." Note equally the scorn she has for the citizens of California, "the sheep." This is the kind of stuff you usually see in films about the inside secrets of some socialist/fascist regime where the brainwashed comrade Klara is reporting on her failures to the commissar but promising more ruthless tactics in the future until the People's Paradise is a reality.

Nowhere is there a smidgen of understanding that, in a democracy, and especially in an election whose turnout was far beyond expectations, the people (those dastardly sheep) really get to make the decision. It would seem Ms. Rein probably cut that class in Government to get out on the picket lines where the action was.

Then we have the snivel about 'little birdies' planning to get out and shove a Recall Arnold down everybody's throats. All I can say is, hey, make our day. It's not going to happen, but if it distracts fascists such as Rein from making mischief elsewhere, I'm for it.

And finally, Rein notes that she and her friends are not going to "hand our state's future over without a fight. " Again, she misses the fact that it really isn't the state of her and her friends. It is our state. All of us. That's the deal and that's going to stay the deal.

That meeting Lisa Rein alludes to? It's "at my local elementary school, where I'll be starting soon as an SF School Volunteer."

They'll probably have her teaching Civics.

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 9, 2003 4:34 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Foulkrod? Foulkrod?

This bizarre tidbit fromSEX, LIES & HIDDEN AGENDAS

Apart from the testimony of the groping victims, both of whom were convincing, the most honest thing I heard came from film producer and Codepink activist Patricia Foulkrod.

She admitted that Bill Clinton's sexual peccadilloes were as inexcusable as Arnold's. "The difference is that Clinton was so brilliant," she said.

Posted by Van der Leun at Oct 5, 2003 3:07 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Department of Say What?

"Nanotechnology has potential to be what electricity was 100 years ago."
- - Martin Jischke, President of Purdue University

Noted as the Cryptic "Nanotech Quote of the Week" by the otherwise lucid Forbes Wolfe

Posted by Van der Leun at Oct 3, 2003 10:49 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Getting Plastered for Peace

Youth, a bad haircut, and a
burning down drinking problem>

Would somebody slip Ani DiFranco a big clue about AA before she kills herself with drink? Let's run a tab on Peace Not War: Ani DiFranco, shall we?

"so here's a toast to all the folks who live in palestine
el salvador
here's a toast to the folks living on the pine ridge reservation
under the stone cold gaze of mt. rushmore
here's a toast to all those nurses and doctors
who daily provide women with a choice
who stand down a threat the size of oklahoma city
just to listen to a young woman's voice
here's a toast to all the folks on death row right now
awaiting the executioner's guillotine
who are shackled there with dread
and can only escape into their heads
to find peace in the form of a dream "

We make that four tequila shooters in less than a minute. Little wonder that she's confused about the retroactive absence of the guillotine as an instrument of execution in the Western World. Where do they cut people's heads off these days, Ani? Would it be certain countries in the third world?

[Pointer via: Eye on the Left]

Posted by Van der Leun at Oct 1, 2003 11:24 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hasta La Vista, Babies

The Dixie Chicks career's death spiral continues with: Chicks to break with country scene - Ananova

The Dixie Chicks say they don't want to be a country music band any more.

Violinist Martie Maguire told Spiegel magazine: "We don't feel part of the country scene any longer, it can't be our home any more."

....Going home empty-handed from the Country Awards ceremony also made them decide to break with the scene, Maguire said

I don't know who their agent is but he'd better not be buying that country house on anticipated commissions.

Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 24, 2003 8:51 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Walter Cronkite's 10 Point Plan to Destroy the Democrats

One of the most distressing things about our retired pundits is that they fail to retire. Just when you'd hope that somebody who made millions blathering into a camera would just finally fade away to a robe, slippers and a hot, steaming cup of STFU, here they come again telling you to "leave your delusions at the door, sit down, open up wide for a big ole' slice of truth, with a side of wisdom."

Today we have Walter Cronkite with his mind-numbing "Ten propositions for the Democrats." It would seem that Uncle Walter is yet another of those crazy aunts in the Democrats’ very crowded attic who just can't stop doling out the platitudes about what exactly is wrong with the Democratic Party these days -- other than about nine walking, talking, stump-speaking examples. Walter's got a ten-point plan.
Oh, do not ask what is it.
Let us go and make our visit:

Not the least of the Democratic Party's problems in the presidential election ahead is the electorate's confusion as to just what the party stands for.
You've just got to watch that darned electorate. Those little people. They are confused, you see, while the Democratic Party is only suffering from a "failure to communicate." It doesn't seem to dawn on Cronkite that the people may not be the least bit confused about the Democratic party and, indeed, see it for what it has become: a collection of looneys choking on the collective hairball of George W. Bush. Not a pretty sight.
If the Democratic Party is to have hope of recapturing the White House, it will be helpful if its candidates for the presidential nomination agree on some basic objectives that will clearly define the principal policies and goals of their party.
Translation: We will expect the achievement of ovine aviation soonest.
Those basic goals still would leave plenty of room for the candidates to debate how best to achieve them and to display what they have in charisma and leadership.
Certainly. Wouldn't want to cut back on that Gephardt charisma or the leadership abilities of Sharpton. Dean could keep repeating how much a man of the people he is while Keary could dazzle us with those sharp suits and the ever evolving resemblance to Abe Lincoln without the beard and with the JFK haircut.
Let me dare suggest 10 propositions to be put before the candidates.
Okay, proceed with the daringness, Walter. Let it rip. Let it all hang out. Get jiggy with it.
1. That the purpose of a powerful military and a huge defense budget is not to wage war but to preserve the peace -- on our own shores and abroad.
How an army that does not wage war preserves peace is beyond me. Perhaps they simply run military exercises in Antarctica that are televised on MTV's Real World.
However, our foreign policy and our military strength shall leave no doubt that we will answer promptly and decisively those who would challenge our democratic freedoms.
Answer promptly? How? A candygram? But it will be decisively, I guess.
Memo to Al Queda --
Hurts. Make it stop.
Your Pals, The US State Department.
P.S. Need any more mad money for those schools? Just ask.
2. That we would match defense dollars with peace dollars to promote democracy abroad, and that we would conduct our foreign affairs in such a manner that other nations would wish to emulate our example and need not be bludgeoned into accepting our leadership.
Seems to me he's calling for either an immense increase in foreign aid or a drastic reduction in defense spending -- either way he needs to focus more clearly on "deficit financing" as in ....
3. That deficit financing is bad business, and that taxes must be fairly imposed, with the heavier burden placed on those most able to contribute.
Well, you have to spend money to make money. More importantly, you have to keep yourself and your society alive and secure to make money. Wars and recessions seem to me to be the time that you need to spend more in order to get out of wars and recessions. Taxes fairly imposed? No question. Heavier burden placed on those most able? Seems to me that the top tax rate is already on those most able. I guess Cronkite's already got his estate in a trust and his heirs are covered. The rest of you need to open your wallets more.
4. That our Social Security and health services would be reformed so that no American need fear that mismanagement in Washington will bankrupt his or her pension funds, and equally that every American is guaranteed not just adequate health care but care worthy of this nation's medical profession.
No argument here. I note that stopping mismanagement in Washington has been an ongoing project for over two centuries. We're certainly due for a breakthrough. As for "care worthy of this nation's medical profession" that would be the care from Cronkite's personal doctor, I imagine. Very expensive and not easy to get an appointment.
5. That in all federal programs no excuses will be tolerated and all citizens will be treated equally as we know they were created.
I surrender! I have no idea what this means.
6. That we realize that the success, indeed the preservation, of a democracy depends on an educated citizenry, and that teachers, on education's front lines, must be paid commensurate with their responsibilities.
Teachers on the "front lines" of education. Seems that in Walter's World (tm), teachers fight and armies teach. I'd prefer to pay teachers commensurate with their work load, too. The last time I looked they got three months off in the summer, plus all legal holidays, plus two weeks at Christmas, plus another two or three weeks at winter and spring break. That would make their total time off about five months out of the year. Is an average salary of, say, $44,000 for seven months work really that terrible. Works out to a bit over 5K a month for time on the job. Plus benefits, plus a pension for life of about 80% of top money earned after 25 years. I know that even the kindergarten teachers "work ten house days," but who doesn't? I must confess I just don't get the impoverished teacher meme. Perhaps, like many of the students they teach, they could get a summer job.
7. That "no child must be left behind" is a commitment, not a campaign slogan.
Now that's a snappy slogan.
8. That our environment shall be fully protected, and that the fortunes of no industry or special interest shall interfere with that mission.
Okay, everybody out of their cars and onto bicycles. That includes you, grandma.
9. That in the pursuit of a cleaner environment and a more rational economy, the government will undertake the massive program required to develop substitute fuels that will relieve our dependence on foreign oil and diminish the environmental danger from the byproducts of fossil fuels.
Say what? So far you've got us a budget that includes a global peace funding equal to military spending, universal health care, full environmental protection of everthing, and a "massive program to develop substitute fuels. Plus we need to eliminate the deficit. Might as well tack on progams to colonize the inner planets while we're at it. We all know Walter's got a special place for space in his heart and in his head.
10. That Democrats will lock the door against the naysayers, pessimists and political cowards who will maintain that these Democratic goals are only the dreams of idealists.
Brilliant. I'm for #10 since it would ensure that the Democratic party would be reduced to about 20% of its present size and no longer be a threat to the free world.
There is nothing impractical about seeking the best for this nation's people, and the restoration of America as a beacon of freedom for the world.
I'm not clear on what the other beacon of freedom is, Walter, but then again neither are the millions elsewhere in the world who would just love to come here and bask in the light of this dim beacon. But I'm sure you'll let us know the name of that far-distant country in a future article which, I trust, will be datelined from there.

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 31, 2003 7:38 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
More Bad News for the American Cinema

If the continuing existence of "Gigli" weren't enough to make theatre owners eat their guns, now there's the item:Francis Ford Coppola Seeks Inspiration for New Film in Brazil

Hoping to find inspiration for his first film in six years, the director of "The Godfather" trilogy just spent a week in Curitiba, a sleepy city of 1.6 million in southern Brazil known for its clean streets and efficient public transportation. "I want to create a mixture of the Roman epics of (film director) Cecil B. DeMille (news) with a modern New York," Coppola told Reuters in an interview on Sunday....

Since the release of his last film in 1997, Coppola has spent most of his time tending to his Napa Valley vineyards and his restaurant businesses -- a task he says is often more rewarding than filmmaking.

"The difference is that it takes you an hour to prepare a nice dish and it's almost always a hit," he said. "But in the movies, it takes years to make a film and, in the end, the reviews are always mixed... That's why I think it's more fun to cook and make wines."

To quote the Sundance Kid: "You just keep thinking, Butch, that's what you're good at."

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 11, 2003 5:16 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Who Knew?


''Celebrity news, it's important to remember, is generally as reliable as a horoscope."

--- Simon Dumenco

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 6, 2003 10:48 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
How is it possible to embarrass Las Vegas?

Violating his own home-grown edict of 'what happens here, stays here,' Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has his underwear wedged over the Bambi Hoax: Vegas Presses Charges in Hoax Over Paintball-Hunting for Naked Women

This site sniffed out the Bambi Gambit last week with Internet Bites O'Reilly Back, but this wasn't good enough for the mayor of the city that runs on gambling, booze, drugs, prostitution, and all other things that make up this Adult Disneyland.

Swearing vengance on a typical Las Vegas citizen who was just trying to make a few bucks out of the gullible, Goodman said: "I'll do everything I can to see this man is punished for trying to embarrass Las Vegas."

If he keeps that up, every floor show on the Strip will have to shut down. Casinos to follow. Brothels soon after. Would the last person to leave Las Vegas kindly remember to turn out the lights?

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 26, 2003 8:22 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Canary in Big Media Coalmine

The New York Daily News reports that:Rather Ratings Crash Causes Mystify Boss

HOLLYWOOD - CBS News President Andrew Heyward admitted yesterday that he had no answers to why the "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather" continues to struggle in the ratings.

But he stood by Rather, who has been at the helm of the newscast since 1981.

The newscast runs a poor third among the networks and a few weeks ago logged its lowest ratings in at least a decade, if not ever.

"I'm frankly a little bit puzzled by it," Heyward told members of the Television Critics Association yesterday.

Could the cause be pilot error? Or could Rather be the proverbial canary?

First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect
Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect
You live you life like a canary in a coalmine
You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line."

- - Sting

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 22, 2003 11:20 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Life is short but lunch is long"

What book publishing needs now is a long hard look at itself. One publisher comments in: Nothing Random

''The fact is, Random House needs to make money,'' said Gina Centrello, sounding, as she often does, both determined and defensive. Three months had passed since Olson named Centrello president and publisher of what, after some confusion, is now called the Random House Publishing Group. Centrello, 44, is small and dark and was wearing a navy pantsuit and many shiny diamonds as she picked over a lobster salad during lunch at the tony restaurant Town.

Seems to me that Random House could start making money by cutting Ms. Centrello's salary with a meat axe and swapping out tuna fish for lobster salad. You can be sure that 80% of Random House's authors last saw a lobster salad when Eisenhower was President.
UPDATE: More reactions, insights and discussion of the Times' article can be found on 2 Blowhards.

And, at the same site, you can read a superior encapsulation about how Bestseller Lists are born. It's not a pretty picture and it confirms just about everything you suspected about the New York Times.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 20, 2003 10:43 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Chron Media Critic Out of Touch with Media

Being a TV critic for a third-rate metropolitan newspaper does not exactly call for the intellect of Superman. San Francisco Chronicle "critic" Tim Goodman demonstrates this today in PBS, CNN not so artful as dodgers. We'll let the truly dreadful play on the Dickensian reference slide as a bit of the eternal English major making a guest appearance in Goodman's psyche, but when we read

"CNN appeals to the journalist in most of us as the channel battles Fox News, which has done a wonderful job of convincing non-journalists that it is unbiased while fooling almost no one who actually gets a paycheck in this profession."
...our teeth burst into flame once again.

Here's the news, Tim, so listen up.

There is no LARGE DROOLING CLASS OF NON-JOURNALISTS (pesky creatures) tuning in Fox and being flummoxed into believing that the network HAS NO BIAS. The overwhelming majority of viewers know innately that there is a HUGE BIAS at Fox News. Indeed, that FOX is biased is a surprise to absolutely nobody with a native intelligence north of a planaria - with the possible exception of a cadre of "professional journalists" who JUST DON'T GET IT. What don't they get? They don't get that people watch FOX because they like the bias that FOX has!

In addition, they do NOT like the bias that CNN has.

The short form: FOX SI! CNN NO!

Got it? Good. Tune in my son and blather no more.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 15, 2003 4:23 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Who will rid us of this turbulent priest!?"

Nader: The Church Lady for President

Just when you thought it was safe to listen to the Democratic candidates because one of them might, just might, pull off the upset of the century in the next Presidential election, Ralph Nader comes blathering back onto the national scene. It what can only be seen as a move to drive the Democratic party into the crazy place for the duration of the American experiment, this spoiler has threatened to bleed off whatever hope the Dems have for the Whitehouse like a leech on a housefly.

But that's not the bad news. The bad news is that the rest of us will have to listen to Nadar scold right, left and center for months because, well, because we're just not smart enough to elect Ralph. Still, it is a free country and Ralph has enough bozos on his bus to make him seem sexy to the cable news shows, so we'd better get used to hearing things like:

"The Democrats seem incapable of defending our country against the Bush marauders," Mr Nader told The Telegraph last week. "One benefit of me running again would be to teach the Democrats how to deconstruct the Bush regime.

To "de-con-struct" the Bush "regime?" Well, there's an example of first-rate blather on the level that will set the teeth of a crocodile on fire at fifty yards. We dimly remember the "D" word as something that tripped lightly from the lips of what passed for French Intellectuals in the 1980s. It set them apart from the rest of the world and it has kept them apart from the rest of the world. We can only hope that the continued use of this spinster schoolmarm tone will make Nader about as appealing to the American public as a two-week romantic vacation with the Church Lady.

As for the Democrats, I'm sure they are looking around for a group willing to pack Ralph Nader into the trunk of a Chevy Corvair and bury it in the nearest toxic land fill.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 13, 2003 7:41 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
MSNBC just can't get Right right

MSNBC fires Michael Savage after anti-gay comments

NEW YORK (AP) — MSNBC on Monday fired Michael Savage for anti-gay comments.

The popular radio talk show host who did a weekend TV show for the cable channel referred to an unidentified caller to his show Saturday as a "sodomite" and said he should "get AIDS and die."

"His comments were extremely inappropriate and the decision was an easy one," MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines said.

Earth to MSNBC:
1) The man's name is "Savage."
2) His radio show has been spewing this sort of garbage for donkey's years.
3) His opinions are not now and never were "Classified: Top Secret."
4) You can't outfox Fox.
5) If "the decision was an easy one," shouldn't sacking everyone there responsible for being so desperate as to put him on in the first place be even easier?
6) Why are you still bothering to get up everyday and broadcast?
7) I know "shame" has no meaning to a cable news network, but you might try faking it for a moment.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 7, 2003 12:13 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Froth That Stings in That "Economic / Military Zone We Call the World

ArtForum can always be counted on to deliver a body blow to the English language numerous times in any given issue. Nick Crowe's IN PRINT does not disappoint on two counts: 1) attempting to describe the Internet in a paragraph and 2) attempting to write English without a license.

IF THE INTERNET is the froth on the waves of misfortune that are sweeping across that economic/military zone we call the world, then the sites below show that the froth can sting when the Internet originates, or makes manifest, points of cultural tension. Consider this list a reflection on just a few props within an unfolding drama, touching on geopolitics, economies, the conflicting interests of individuals and corporations, and handy, proto-nostalgic art resources to put it all in perspective.
"The froth that can sting when the Internet originates..." We just love it when Nick talks dirty like that.
Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 6, 2003 8:44 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Email columnist assumes fetal position to blow his own horn

Yodeling along in the key of "taking yourself far too seriously," SfGate columnist Mark Morford has participated in one of the dreaded Poynter Interviews. Conducted by the aptly named Steve Outing, Morford indulges himself in a self-preening seldom seen outside of his own online efforts. The excerpt below is usually referred to as "the money quote," but in view of the nature of the subject matter covered I think we can, in this case, call it "the money shot:"

Q: Chronicle feature columnist Jon Carroll has always been pretty off the wall. Is it fair to say that you're further off the wall, ergo not "printable?"

A: I absolutely love Jon Carroll and have nothing but the utmost respect for his enormous talent and consistency and Jesus with a gallon of White-Out, 20 years 5 days a week and he's still the most wonderfully readable columnist going. But he is "off the wall" in a "I think my cat is a Republican" sort of way. I'm off the wall in a "You should really try this gorgeous bejeweled butt plug" sort of way. So I suppose the answer is yes.

But "not printable" No. It's definitely printable. I work very hard to make every word, every line as deliciously readable as possible. I have zero desire to be just another polysyllabic ranter, a lefty Howard Stern, orally and intellectually diarrhetic.

I want joy and funky divinity and sex and humor. I want to ignite readers, fire them up, to encourage them to be more responsible with their lives and their viewpoints and their bodies. As such, my column is very intentionally juiced by two specific energies/perspectives I don't think you'll find in any other semi-mainstream columnist or newspaper, as far as I know: spiritual fierceness and sex. These are essential. Mandatory. They are not included for shock value

It's comforting to know that Morford's gorgeous bejeweled buttplug is a mandatory inclusion. We're not exactly talking Pulitzer here, but it's a start.

More on Morford on This Page

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 2, 2003 10:17 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Breslin Threatens to Make World Safe from Purple Prose


In an unusually intense blast of carping, even for him, Jimmy Breslin threatened a couple of days ago to "leave" the news business.

Well not exactly. More accurately, Breslin said that because of The Terror that the current Fascist US government is inspiring from sea to shining sea, he was "thinking that it could be time for me to begin thinking about leaving this news business. It is not mine anymore."

Thinking about thinking that it could be... Sigh. No joy here soon. No possibility of a large, restful white space standing in for Breslin's sentimental screeds in my local paper. Well, I guess everyday can't be sunshine.

Still, it is nice to know that Breslin is 'thinking about beginning thinking.' Such is the first step to wisdom.

The cause of Breslin's maudlin despair is that 1) The government is bad because

Posted by Van der Leun at Jun 24, 2003 12:04 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
It's the Lileks' Shillelagh for O'Reilly

A good maxim to live by, among many others, is "Never buy what you sell." Advice lost for years to Bill O'Reilly as ten minutes viewing him will tell you.

The FoxNews 800-pound -canary, O'Reilly, has taken on many an opponent in his nightly mudpit. And, surprise, he always emerges triumphant. His pit, his rules, his mike control. Little wonder. But has he at last gone a rant too far in taking on the Blogsphere in general and drawing the attention of James Lileks in particular?

We don't know if Mr. O'Reilly actually reads the Blogsphere, or if he just gets printouts handed to him by one or the other fawning associate producers, but either way, Lileks calls him on his game...

LILEKS: "And you, Mr. Man of the People, Mr. People of the Man, Mr. Street, Mr. Champion of the Little Guy, Mr. Giving-It-Straight, want the Internet to be patrolled? Note: on most unpatrolled polluted waterway, everything does not go. In such a place things are dumped over the side, and after a moment bobbing unnoticed on the surface, they sink to the bottom."

O'Reilly: "For example, the guy who raped and murdered a 10-year old in Massachusetts says he got the idea from the NAMBLA Web site that he accessed from the Boston public library."

Lileks: "Ergo, we should shut down Massachusetts. Or Boston. Or the library. No? Just the internet? Probably so. I live in fear of the day I visit a website that gives me the idea to abuse and kill a child; I’d be powerless to resist such a command, because I saw it ON THE INTERNET.

"And hey, don’t forget that Factor website."

Ouch. That's gotta sting.

And given the speed of the Internet, it will get around and get some of Bill's semi-fans second thoughts about his nightly tirades.

Second thoughts = Channel surfing = Lower ratings.

Mother of Mercy, can this be the end of Bill O'Reilly?

Posted by Van der Leun at Jun 19, 2003 10:48 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
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