Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

Issues & Episodes

An American Working in Mexico [Verified]

agodtomexico.jpg Like most over-forwarded Internet emails this one was too good to be true. Except that this one was, as it turned out, all too true.

We've all gotten the multi-forwarded emails. We get more of them all the time. They all arrive with the same format: headers on top of headers, stacks of email addresses from previous forwards, the ever increasing ">>>>>>'s" characters marching down the left margin, all topped off with the standard "I just knew you'd find this (interesting) (essential) (Important!) (a sign that WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!)." And, on occasion, I do find them interesting [See: Be Very Afraid: Avian Bush Derangement Syndrome Outbreak @ AMERICAN DIGEST ].

Today I got one of these from a woman I know in Laguna Beach entitled "Fw: American working In Mexico " which I reproduce in its entirety below. It was, as I said, so perfect for this time and for this issue that I doubted, immediately, the authenticity of the message. The email told the tale of how an American manages to work legally in Mexico. It read like the perfect 'You've really got to read this!' counter-argument to the the utterly loose and unregulated situation that Mexicans who come to America to work find for themselves. Because it was "perfect," it set off my BS detector.

A quick search of the DEW line for these messages, Free Republic , showed me that the item appeared there on April 21st. But Free Republic is not always to be trusted in these matters, so I checked the blogosphere via Technorati and found that blogs beat out Free Republic by one day, on April 20th .

Still, so what? Neither attested to the truth of the message. And so, before I passed it on via American Digest, I decided to do some digging to see if I could locate the original author, one Mr. Tom O'Malley, and speak with him to see if the message was true.

As it happened I did locate O'Malley and it is true, or, as he says "It certainly was true when I worked in Mexico. I can't speak for current conditions, but things don't change much in that country."

O'Malley was also amazed at how far his letter had gotten around the Internet. "I originally sent it to only 6 friends. Last week, somebody else I knew sent it to me with a line that said, 'You've really got to read this!' I had to tell him that I was the one that wrote it."

Where Mr. O'Malley is, and how I located and spoke with him, I've agreed to withhold. We spoke for over half an hour. O'Malley knows his stuff, knows Mexico, is a fascinating man to speak with on the issue, and is not shy (as you will see) about sharing his knowledge and insights.

Some people, reading his email, may think he is in some way being "anti-Mexican." Nothing could be less true. "The people there," he said during our interview, "are wonderful people. Each and every one of them. They're kind and polite and considerate to a fault. But their situation in Mexico is terrible. And still, they tolerate it. I guess they don't have any choice."

Why is that?

"The government they endure is pretty much fixed in the way it has always done things. Plus it has an ongoing program of intimidation against its own people. Once a year they have a very large parade in Mexico City where the government brings out all the military gear we've sold them and runs it through the streets. Tanks, trucks, artillery. Fighter jets above and machine guns paraded below. It's all designed to remind and intimidate the population."

I asked him if he saw any way that Mexico itself could improve.

"It breaks your heart to see how exploited these people are. Not only in Mexico, but when they come up here for work. Can it be changed? Maybe if we were to make Mexico a 51st state and export our system of laws and somehow reduce the overwhelming level of corruption in that country. If not, it may well be what our Spanish teachers in Mexico told us whenever the subject of The Mexican Revolution came up, 'We need another one, a second Mexican Revolution.' "

I spent five years working in Mexico.

I worked under a tourist visa for three months and could legally renew it for three more months. After that you were working illegally. I was technically illegal for three weeks waiting on the FM3 approval.

During that six months our Mexican and US Attorneys were working to secure a permanent work visa called a FM3. It was in addition to my US passport that I had to show each time I entered and left the country. Barbara's was the same except hers did not permit her to work.

To apply for the FM3 I needed to submit the following notarized originals (not copies) of my:

1. Birth certificates for Barbara and me.

2. Marriage certificate.

3. High school transcripts and proof of graduation.

4. College transcripts for every college I attended and proof of graduation.

5. Two letters of recommendation from supervisors I had worked for at least one year.

6. A letter from The ST. Louis Chief of Police indicating I had no arrest record in the US and no outstanding warrants and was "a citizen in good standing."

7. Finally; I had to write a letter about myself that clearly stated why there was no Mexican citizen with my skills and why my skills were important to Mexico. We called it our "I am the greatest person on earth" letter. It was fun to write.

All of the above were in English that had to be translated into Spanish and be certified as legal translations and our signatures notarized. It produced a folder about 1.5 inches thick with English on the left side and Spanish on the right.

Once they were completed Barbara and I spent about five hours accompanied by a Mexican attorney touring Mexican government office locations and being photographed and fingerprinted at least three times. At each location (and we remember at least four locations) we were instructed on Mexican tax, labor, housing, and criminal law and that we were required to obey their laws or face the consequences.

We could not protest any of the government's actions or we would be committing a felony.

We paid out four thousand dollars in fees and gratuities to complete the process. When this was done we could legally bring in our household goods that were held by US customs in Loredo Texas. This meant we rented furniture in Mexico while awaiting our goods. There were extensive fees involved here that the company paid.

We could not buy a home and were required to rent at very high rates and under contract and compliance with Mexican law.

We were required to get a Mexican drivers license. This was an amazing process. The company arranged for the licensing agency to come to our headquarters location with their photography and finger print equipment and the laminating machine. We showed our US license, were photographed and fingerprinted again and issued the license instantly after paying out a six dollar fee. We did not take a written or driving test and never received instructions on the rules of the road. Our only instruction was never give a policeman your license if stopped and asked. We were instructed to hold it against the inside window away from his grasp. If he got his hands on it you would have to pay ransom to get it back.

We then had to pay and file Mexican income tax annually using the number of our FM3 as our ID number. The company's Mexican accountants did this for us and we just signed what they prepared. It was about twenty legal size pages annually.

The FM 3 was good for three years and renewable for two more after paying more fees.

Leaving the country meant turning in the FM 3 and certifying we were leaving no debts behind and no outstanding legal affairs (warrants, tickets or liens) before our household goods were released to customs.

It was a real adventure and If any of our senators or congressmen went through it once they would have a different attitude toward Mexico.

The Mexican Government uses its vast military and police forces to keep its citizens intimidated and compliant.

They never protest at their White House or government offices but do protest daily in front of the United States Embassy. The US embassy looks like a strongly reinforced fortress and during most protests the Mexican Military surround the block with their men standing shoulder to shoulder in full riot gear to protect the Embassy. These protests are never shown on US or Mexican TV. There is a large public park across the street where they do their protesting. Anything can cause a protest such as proposed law changes in California or Texas.

Please feel free to share this with everyone who thinks we are being hard on illegal immigrants. - - Tom O'Malley

[First published: 2006-05-06 which shows you that the more things change the more they stay insane.]

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 17, 2017 11:51 AM |  Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The World's Most Persecuted Minority: Christians

The most persecuted and victimized people in the world today are Christians in the Middle East. The perpetrators of the widespread destruction of that region's Christian community? Islamists. Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim lays out the grim details.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 14, 2014 2:47 PM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Miracles of Obama: "we need to measure Obamacare's effects against predictions, and this is clearly a significant win for proponents: over 95% of pre-existing conditions have already been cured. "

Why Hasn't Anyone Signed Up For the High-Risk Health Insurance Pools? - Megan McArdle - The Atlantic

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 4, 2011 11:27 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Washington Frees His Slaves


Last Will and Testament of George Washington

Upon the decease of my wife, it is my will and desire, that all the slaves which I hold in my own right shall receive their freedom.

To emancipate them during her life, would tho earnestly wished by me, be attended with such insuperable difficulties, on account of their intermixture by marriages with the dower negroes as to excite the most painful sensations -- if not disagreeable consequences from the latter while both descriptions are in the occupancy of the same proprietor, it not being in my power under the tenure by which the dower Negroes are held to manumit them.

And whereas among those who will receive freedom according to this devise there may be some who from old age, or bodily infirmities and others who on account of their infancy, that will be unable to support themselves, it is my will and desire that all who come under the first and second description shall be comfortably clothed and fed by my heirs while they live and that such of the latter description as have no parents living, or if living are unable, or unwilling to provide for them, shall be bound by the Court until they shall arrive at the age of twenty-five years, and in cases where no record can be produced whereby their ages can be ascertained, the judgment of the Court upon its own view of the subject shall be adequate and final.

The negroes thus bound are (by their masters and mistresses) to be taught to read and write and to be brought up to some useful occupation, agreeably to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, providing for the support of orphans and other poor children -- and I do hereby expressly forbid the sale or transportation out of the said Commonwealth of any slave I may die possessed of, under any pretense, whatsoever -- and I do moreover most positively, and most solemnly enjoin it upon my executors hereafter named, or the survivors of them to see that this clause respecting slaves and every part thereof be religiously fulfilled at the epoch at which it is directed to take place without evasion, neglect or delay after the crops which may then be on the ground are harvested, particularly as it respects the aged and infirm, seeing that a regular and permanent fund be established for their support so long as there are subjects requiring it, not trusting to the uncertain provisions to be made by individuals.

And to my mulatto man, William (calling himself William Lee) I give immediate freedom or if he should prefer it (on account of the accidents which have befallen him and which have rendered him incapable of walking or of any active employment) to remain in the situation he now is, it shall be optional in him to do so.

In either case, however, I allow him an annuity of thirty dollars during his natural life which shall be independent of the victuals and clothes he has been accustomed to receive; if he chooses the last alternative, but in full with his freedom, if he prefers the first, and this I give him as a testimony of my sense of his attachment to me and for his faithful services during the Revolutionary War.

Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 5, 2010 11:14 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Clever: The Future of Publishing

This video was prepared by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books. Originally meant solely for a DK sales conference, the video was such a hit internally that it is now being shared externally. Enjoy it (and make sure you watch it up to at least the halfway point, there's a surprise!).

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 18, 2010 12:59 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Brand Extension Blight

One of the many blights on classic American culture that the cult of "brand extension" hath wrought.

A friend that edits a magazine writes, to his personal email list of cranks, loonies, and general malcontents:

To all: For an upcoming article celebrating curmudgeons, we're planning a list of "50 things that aren't as good as they used to be" and we invite your contributions. Thanks a bunch. Creativity counts. Crankiness too. Here are two, to give you an idea: Not as good as they used to be: TV News Anchors -- Buncha movie star pretty boys. Chet Huntley had a dog face, but you could trust him. Traveling Carnivals: They've shut down the freak shows and moved them to FOX.
My just-off-the-top-of-my-head response reads as follows.

OREOS -- This was, without a doubt, America's greatest store bought cookie ever. And it dominated the market. But was that good enough for the sleazoid 90s "marketing" department? No. They wanted more and even more. As a result they have 'New-Coked' this cookie into oblivion with endless variations on the theme. The heresy began with "Double Stuffed" Oreos. This simple-minded d-oh moment came when somebody thought, hey, let's double the stuffing! It did not matter to them that the perfect proportion of white cream stuffing had already been achieved. Nope, this

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 2, 2009 8:03 PM |  Comments (29)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Private Truths Made Public: "New Orleans' Going to Hit Monday. Heh. God's on Our Side."

Eyes in the sky, and "redstateabsentee" is listening.

" Foul Don Fowler Amused by New Orleans Hurricane Former DNC Chairman Don Fowler laughs at New Orleans while talking to Congressman John Spratt (D) of SC. You can't hear Spratt but he chuckles along with."
It's not a surprise that Fowler and Spratt would join with the execrable Michael Moore in "thinking, this Gustav is proof that there is a God in Heaven.'' This is the way these people think -- everything is reduced in a twinkling to whatever political advantage they can possibly squeeze out of it. It is not remarkable at all.

What is remarkable about this brief clip is that the Web now has ears and eyes everywhere. This casual conversation between allies reveling in their mutual cynicism is, within hours of being made with a sense of (false) security, laid bare to the world for approval or censure. It's a Brave New World with more than a soupcon of "1984" stirred in. It's a sword that cuts not just both ways, but in all directions at once. To extend the metaphor one more step: It is the sword of Damocles and it now hovers above us all by the most slender thread. Privacy? That's so 20th century, isn't it?

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 30, 2008 10:56 PM |  Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Miami Columnist Receives Outline of Obama Acceptance Speech
Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 24, 2008 9:25 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Unwilling Icon: Dorothea Lange and Florence Owens Thompson, the "Migrant Mother"

Six Frames in Ten Minutes on a Cold Day in 1936

"Seven hungry children. Father is native Californian. Destitute in pea pickers' camp ... because of failure of the early pea crop. These people had just sold their tires to buy food." -- Field Notes by Dorothea Lange, Nipomo, California, March 1936 on "Migrant Mother"

"You can see a lot just by looking." -- Yogi Berra

1. Photographers to Fauxtographers

Once we were wrapped in a web of words but now, more and more, our web is woven of images. When wrapped in the images of our age -- especially those images backlit by history -- we see what we wish to see or, more insidiously, what we are told we see.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 18, 2008 11:08 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The BS Stops Here

ASKMOM'S TAKING ME UP ON my modest proposal, It's Past Time to Blow Off the "Receipt Check" with a program called Mature Civil Disobedience

We do not owe it to retailers to have our property and persons inspected routinely upon leaving their premises. As I thought more, I realized that receipt checks are simply one of a large number of condescending slights to our dignity, honesty and convenience that I can no longer accept. Beginning today, I will not:

- Consent to property and body searches by retail or other establishments unless and until they call the police in pursuit of theft charges against me.

She also has a few choice things to say about bagging it after your dog and stealing handicap parking spaces. Any other items we might want to pursue in our war against the New American Buttinsky Party?

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 21, 2006 9:40 AM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why I'm Not Running a Business

TODAY'S "CAN'T LOSE" CONCEPT consists of a simple but elegant label to be sewn inside all mink coats that says: "Made from Free-Range Minks Who Died A Natural Death at an Advanced Age in Their Sleep."

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 21, 2006 11:34 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Goodbye to the Dans: On Fat Ladies and Singing

I'VE PACKED UP MY SHARE OF OFFICES and had the good-bye cake and gone out for the adios dinner. Once I was even asked to give a speech and I did. But I certainly wish I'd been able to crib this howler from Tom Shales' "Bring out the crying towels" hummer in the Washington Post on the Last Day of Dan Rather:

"First of all, from where I sit, I am leaving on a high note," Rather says, "and a higher note than I deserve and certainly a higher note than I ever thought possible when I walked into this job. " -- Dan Rather, Leaving By the High Road

That is, no matter how you feel about Rather, a soundbite of sheer genius. It elevates that moment into song, it brings to mind so many magical moments from Broadway musicals from "If I Loved You" to "Memories" to "Brigadoon."

I know many are spending these last fading moments of the Rather Regency either preening over their hand in the fall, or lambasting Dan for continuing to insist -- "past all reason" -- that mistakes were made but the mistakes were true.

This is uncharitable and lacks insight.

Uncharitable because it is foolish to insist Dan stand up, wave his bloody shirt, and proclaim: "ALL RIGHT! THEY WERE PHONY. I KNOW IT, YOU KNOW IT, WE ALL KNOW IT, BUT SO WHAT? THAT SMARMY SQUIB IS STILL PRESIDENT SO WHAT HARM DID IT DO? HAPPY NOW? HAPPY NOW, KENNETH!?"

Gentles, the man is simply not going to cop a plea and confess on this one. Not now and not in his forthcoming autobiography "Shoot Low, Boys. They're Riding Blogs." It cannot be done. It would be the final treason to the class he has spent his whole life clawing his way into. They would not forgive him. Gone would be the easy invites to Davos, gone would be the hope of redemption found in a Nixonian decade of good works or, even better, a Democratic Restoration and a turn as Hillary's Press Secretary. All that would be gone with the winds of admission. Do not expect this, this final humiliation, from this man. It is simply not in him, and, more to the point, it is not in his best interests.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 9, 2005 7:43 AM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Government So Gigantic Even the Communists Are Concerned

IF EVER A COUNTRY CRIED OUT FOR A RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY: "China now has 46 million government bureaucrats, new statistics revealed yesterday, a number almost as great as the entire population of England.

"While the country is used to outdoing the rest of the world for sheer numbers, the explosion in officialdom is alarming its ruling Communist Party." -- China's bloated army of 46m bureaucrats worries ruling elite

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 9, 2005 7:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Prescription Bribe and the Rule of Rising Spam

Every election is, at some level, an exercise in bribing various elements of the electorate. One of the big bribes both parties are handing out this year involves cheaper prescription drugs. This plays mainly to the elderly and is an important bribe since the elderly tend to vote in large numbers and tend to vote their interests. One of those interests, if not the main one, is to be able to get drugs cheaper. The Bush contingent has a plan and a program and elements of that program in place. The Kerry contingent has a plan for everything and a program for nothing since most of the details of its plans are effectively "secret."

The electorate in need of cheaper drugs already has both a plan and a program in place to save it money. The elements of this plan are "Canada," "Mexico," and "UPS/FedEx." Bush says he opposes this plan because he does not believe it is "safe." Kerry opposes Bush and promises lower taxes all around and a National Health Plan that, it would seem, will be achieved through a replication of Christ's miracle of the loaves and fishes.

Pharmaceutical companies look at the Bush plan and worry about it. They look at the Kerry Plan and start to refurbish their offices in the Bahamas and study

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 11, 2004 8:51 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Tragedy of Omlet, Prince of Massachusetts, Redux

J M Hanes, in the comments to our Shakespearean homage -- The Tragedy of Omlet, Prince of Massachusetts picks up our sorry tale of woe, our slo-mo tragedy, with the ever popular Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, aka Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy

Scene I


THE KING: And can you, by no drift of circumstance,
Get from Omlet why he puts on this confusion,
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?

ROSENCRANTZ: He does confess he feels himself distracted;
But from what cause he will by no means speak.

GUILDENSTERN: Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,
But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof,
When we would bring him on to some confession.

THE KING: Yet may true stated what you have observed,
Unwrinkle the body politic in parts.

Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 19, 2004 11:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Another Proud, DAMNED Proud Moment for the Press

Letter to the Editor

AH YES, THE POWER OF THE PRESS. NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET: Ex-Miami Official Kills Self at Paper's Office

A former Miami city commissioner shot himself to death Wednesday inside the lobby of the Miami Herald newspaper, one day before a rival publication was set to publish a lengthy report detailing allegations of corruption, drug use and liaisons with male prostitutes.
The Herald was quick to

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 28, 2004 1:36 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
DaVinci's Gia Principle
So that we might say that the earth has a spirit of growth; that its flesh is the soil, its bones the arrangement and connection of the rocks of which the mountains are composed, its cartilage the tufa, and its blood the springs of water. The pool of blood which lies round the heart is the ocean, and its breathing, and the increase and decrease of the blood in the pulses, is represented in the earth by the flow and ebb of the sea; and the heat of the spirit of the world is the fire which pervades the earth, and the seat of the vegetative soul is in the fires, which in many parts of the earth find vent in baths and mines of sulphur, and in volcanoes, as at Mount Aetna in Sicily, and in many other places.
-- The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci
Posted by Vanderleun at May 31, 2004 1:00 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
DaVinci's Gia Principle
So that we might say that the earth has a spirit of growth; that its flesh is the soil, its bones the arrangement and connection of the rocks of which the mountains are composed, its cartilage the tufa, and its blood the springs of water. The pool of blood which lies round the heart is the ocean, and its breathing, and the increase and decrease of the blood in the pulses, is represented in the earth by the flow and ebb of the sea; and the heat of the spirit of the world is the fire which pervades the earth, and the seat of the vegetative soul is in the fires, which in many parts of the earth find vent in baths and mines of sulphur, and in volcanoes, as at Mount Aetna in Sicily, and in many other places.
-- The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci
Posted by Vanderleun at May 31, 2004 1:00 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
MovableType Announces Revolutionary Pricing Scheme

Six Apart announces more changes to Movable Type license

With the release of Movable Type 3.0014d, users will pay as they blog on a per-word basis (billing will be handled through the increasingly versatile TypeKey service). As a result, the license no longer penalizes those users who choose to maintain multiple blogs or host blogs with multiple authors. Instead, all users pay equally based on how much they use Movable Type.

Of course, we recognize that not all words are created equally. Therefore, the new pricing structure breaks down as follows:


  • Prepositions, conjunctions, articles (definite and indefinite), interjections: 1¢ per word

  • Pronouns: 2¢ per word

  • Nouns (common): 4¢ per word

  • Nouns (proper): 6¢ per word

  • Verbs (passive): 5¢ per word

  • Verbs (action): 7¢ per word

  • Adjectives and adverbs: 8¢ per word

  • Proper nouns comprising names of other blogging software (i.e. "WordPress" or "Expression Engine"): 30¢ per word

  • Gerunds: TBA
  • Naturally, punctuation and HTML markup will remain absolutely free. Furthermore, hyphenated words will count as a single word for billing purposes (if the hyphenated form is the preferred usage according to the Oxford English Dictionary).

    First noted by: Apropos of Something

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 31, 2004 9:36 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    MovableType Announces Revolutionary Pricing Scheme

    Six Apart announces more changes to Movable Type license

    With the release of Movable Type 3.0014d, users will pay as they blog on a per-word basis (billing will be handled through the increasingly versatile TypeKey service). As a result, the license no longer penalizes those users who choose to maintain multiple blogs or host blogs with multiple authors. Instead, all users pay equally based on how much they use Movable Type.

    Of course, we recognize that not all words are created equally. Therefore, the new pricing structure breaks down as follows:


  • Prepositions, conjunctions, articles (definite and indefinite), interjections: 1¢ per word

  • Pronouns: 2¢ per word

  • Nouns (common): 4¢ per word

  • Nouns (proper): 6¢ per word

  • Verbs (passive): 5¢ per word

  • Verbs (action): 7¢ per word

  • Adjectives and adverbs: 8¢ per word

  • Proper nouns comprising names of other blogging software (i.e. "WordPress" or "Expression Engine"): 30¢ per word

  • Gerunds: TBA
  • Naturally, punctuation and HTML markup will remain absolutely free. Furthermore, hyphenated words will count as a single word for billing purposes (if the hyphenated form is the preferred usage according to the Oxford English Dictionary).

    First noted by: Apropos of Something

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 31, 2004 9:36 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Why Blogs and Advertising Miss Each Other's Boat

    JOHN BATTELLE'S INSIGHTFUL ARTICLE Toward the Endemic: What's missing in PPC/Behavioral/Contextual Ad Nets has a lot to say about why advertisers and blogs just don't understand each other.

    Something is lost when advertisers don't buy based on the publication. I'm not arguing that buying based on context or content isn't valuable, it certainly is. But in the long run, not considering the publisher's role devalues both the publication *and* the advertiser in the minds of the publishers' audience.

    So what, you might be saying. Most major publications utilize both network-based and more traditional "display" advertising - look at the NYT or CNET or CBS Marketwatch. True enough - Martin mentioned yesterday that his "display" advertising at is up dramatically and starting to show real traction. (And, by they way, the NYT is steering clear of AdSense image, for obvious reasons....) But the real problem is with smaller sites, sites that can't afford to be understood or purchased any other way but through a network. Sites where there is simply too much transactional friction to make the advertising purchase worthwhile. Sites like....blogs, for example.

    Advertisers can't grok all the blogs which might be potential fits for their marketing dollar. Besides the tedium of finding and evaluating them, blogs have no standardized marketing or advertising practices, so working with each is a handrolled labor of love.

    Essential reading if you'd like to find a way to have an enduring relationship with advertising. Still, it led me to wonder if we are going to see it anytime soon without the creation of a whole new kind of salesman. As I remarked in the comments to this article:
    I found this to be a valuable article with a number of insightful points. At the same time, the push towards "conversational" advertising leads me to wonder who there will be to bell the cat.

    In my experience, ads appear in magazines not merely because there is a mystical conversation going on between the reader and the magazine, but because there has been a real converstation between an ad salesman for that magazine and a media buyer. And not just a conversation, but a relationship that has been built up from many meetings and conversations.

    To whip out and old chainsaw, you can have the best product and the best ideas in the world but nothing happens until someone sells something. Who are going to be the salesmen for these micro-accounts? Good media salesmen can make well into the six figures every year. Who is going to actually do the legwork and make the phone calls and send the emails and present the numbers and demographics to make microadvertising work? Where's the living to be made?

    It seems to me that if you can solve that you can solve the other. Perhaps it is some sort of media-buyer to media-placer situation that has to evolve. One person with the ability to place ads across a spectrum of small outlets with a "conversational" understanding of all of them and has gained the trust of a media-buyer to do this effectively. A kind of ubersalesman who has put together a big sheaf of like minded blogs/minipublications and sells the package. It seems to me that that sort of scaling is required.

    Perhaps what we need is a new class of salesman: The BlogRep.

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 29, 2004 7:45 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Why Blogs and Advertising Miss Each Other's Boat

    JOHN BATTELLE'S INSIGHTFUL ARTICLE Toward the Endemic: What's missing in PPC/Behavioral/Contextual Ad Nets has a lot to say about why advertisers and blogs just don't understand each other.

    Something is lost when advertisers don't buy based on the publication. I'm not arguing that buying based on context or content isn't valuable, it certainly is. But in the long run, not considering the publisher's role devalues both the publication *and* the advertiser in the minds of the publishers' audience.

    So what, you might be saying. Most major publications utilize both network-based and more traditional "display" advertising - look at the NYT or CNET or CBS Marketwatch. True enough - Martin mentioned yesterday that his "display" advertising at is up dramatically and starting to show real traction. (And, by they way, the NYT is steering clear of AdSense image, for obvious reasons....) But the real problem is with smaller sites, sites that can't afford to be understood or purchased any other way but through a network. Sites where there is simply too much transactional friction to make the advertising purchase worthwhile. Sites like....blogs, for example.

    Advertisers can't grok all the blogs which might be potential fits for their marketing dollar. Besides the tedium of finding and evaluating them, blogs have no standardized marketing or advertising practices, so working with each is a handrolled labor of love.

    Essential reading if you'd like to find a way to have an enduring relationship with advertising. Still, it led me to wonder if we are going to see it anytime soon without the creation of a whole new kind of salesman. As I remarked in the comments to this article:
    I found this to be a valuable article with a number of insightful points. At the same time, the push towards "conversational" advertising leads me to wonder who there will be to bell the cat.

    In my experience, ads appear in magazines not merely because there is a mystical conversation going on between the reader and the magazine, but because there has been a real converstation between an ad salesman for that magazine and a media buyer. And not just a conversation, but a relationship that has been built up from many meetings and conversations.

    To whip out and old chainsaw, you can have the best product and the best ideas in the world but nothing happens until someone sells something. Who are going to be the salesmen for these micro-accounts? Good media salesmen can make well into the six figures every year. Who is going to actually do the legwork and make the phone calls and send the emails and present the numbers and demographics to make microadvertising work? Where's the living to be made?

    It seems to me that if you can solve that you can solve the other. Perhaps it is some sort of media-buyer to media-placer situation that has to evolve. One person with the ability to place ads across a spectrum of small outlets with a "conversational" understanding of all of them and has gained the trust of a media-buyer to do this effectively. A kind of ubersalesman who has put together a big sheaf of like minded blogs/minipublications and sells the package. It seems to me that that sort of scaling is required.

    Perhaps what we need is a new class of salesman: The BlogRep.

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 29, 2004 7:45 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    No More Letters to the Editor

    [TODAY'S FUROR OVER THE AWFUL LA TIMES LOVE TYRST WITH NORTH KOREA -- N. Korea, Without the Rancor -- is neither surprising or unexpected. What is somewhat upsetting is that the blogosphere seems to be stuck in an outmoded model of complaint. Even the sage Hugh Hewitt falls back on an exhaustive list of Korean-American organizations to contact while canceling the subscription to the Times you gave up long ago.

    Well, let me tell you that venting spleen into a phone or canceling a sub JUST DOESN'T CUT IT when it comes to getting the editorial attention of the LA Times. They DON'T CARE. They have NEVER CARED. They won't CARE IN THE FUTURE. They will all still receive their checks and benefits no matter how many times you write, call or cancel. Why? Because your opinion and your subscription DOESN'T REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

    What makes a difference to these papers is one thing, and one thing only, THEIR ADVERTISING REVENUE. To get their attention you've got to cost them ad dollars, you've got to get advertisers to cancel their ad orders. I know full well that circulation at the LA Times is sliding down, but that's a slow attrition. A hundred or thousand subscribers bowing out over a single bad story doesn't make an impression. One advertiser yanking $50,000 worth of ads causes meetings.

    If you want to be effective this time, it would be a good thing to put a BlogSquad on the case of going over the last month's worth of LA Times and pulling out every ad that speaks to or is owned by Korean-Americans. I would, but I cancelled my subscription years ago.

    Here's an item from my back pages of May 2004 that spells it out in more detail.]

    Quit Being a Chump and Start Being Effective: Here's How to Make Your Views Matter to the Mass Media

    EDITORS LOVE IT when you write outraged letters to them, but not for the reasons you might think.

    Editors love your outraged letters because it tells they you're reading them. They love your letters, even when you scold them, because it shows you care.

    Editors love printing your letter that takes them to task because it shows they are pleased to balance a large chunk of airtime or copy with a few seconds or inches of dissent.

    But the dirty little secret beneath the editors' love for your outraged letter is that means, almost all of the time, that you didn't send that letter to one of the editors' advertisers.

    Editors hate it when people write to the advertisers. If enough people write, editors have to have a conversation with their advertising director. Not that anything will come of it, but they hate the casual watercooler conversation that begins, "We're getting some heat from Nike about that dingbat Robert Scheer, can't you get him to..."

    "Now, now, you know there's a wall between news and advertising."

    "Sure, but I just want you to know that Nike is..."

    If you don't think conversations like that happen, you just don't know the "media business."

    If enough letters get written not to editors but to advertisers, the editor then gets to have a conversation he really hates -- a conversation with the publisher.

    "When the advertisers get nervous, the publisher gets nervous."

    The publisher of a newspaper, or director of a radio or television network, looks at the business of the operation. He is responsible to the owners or the stockholders. The owners or stockholders care first and foremost about the health of the business. When the advertisers get nervous, the publisher gets nervous.

    That's why if you want to make your feelings felt about the way the news is handled by an element of the mass media you are wasting energy, cycles and stamps writing to the editor or producers. They just enjoy it and use it to further their agendas.

    If you want to have an effect larger than a letter of complaint, put your energy on the akido point of today's media, advertising.

    There is no newspaper in the land that can survive without advertising. Their entire business model is built on the revenue from advertisers. Whether or not you buy a copy or cancel a subscription means less than nothing to them -- even when it happens in the thousands -- unless it annoys or chills their advertisers.

    Today, the mass media is still struggling back from the severe ad slump generated by the dotcom implosion, 9/11, and the resulting recession. For the first time in a number of years, the forecast is looking good for advertising across the board. But it is still shaky and advertisers -- through the advertising agencies -- still make critical decisions on where billions of dollars in paid advertising will flow.

    In the main, this money follows demographics and circulation/ratings, but not always. Since many publications and shows have similar demographics and equivalent circulations, many shows compete for the same advertising dollar. And any little thing can cause those dollars to move.

    While editors and producers tend to live within a carefully circumscribed bubble of like-minded folk within their newsrooms, publishers and media advertising salespeople have to confront the business edge daily. If the corporate client of one of the advertising agencies that is currently buying space or time from the media outlet in question is unhappy, the business end of that media operation feels it very quickly.

    "In the great mass media food chain, the advertiser is the big supermarket at the top and he reserves the right to refuse service to anybody for any reason."

    That's because the advertising agency that creates the corporate client's advertising and places it in a program of media buys is subject, at any moment, to be fired by that corporation if the corporation doesn't think the advertising is "effective." Read the advertising trade publications and you'll find that the biggest news beat is always who has fired what agency over what issue and who is going to what agency as a result.

    In the great mass media food chain, the advertiser is the big supermarket at the top and he reserves the right to refuse service to anybody for any reason. He is very sensitive and very touchy and very cranky. Nobody below him on the chain likes to make him the least bit upset.

    That's why, if you don't like the agenda of a media organization, you need to upset the advertiser. If that happens enough, you'll see some changes made.

    "How can you write to an advertiser if you see something you don't like in a major media outlet? It is simplicity itself especially for national media."

    So if you see a story or a trend that you don't like as an individual, it is your right and your duty to complain to the people who make it possible, the advertisers. You'll recall a number of times in the past couple of decades when the media have run stories on this or that consumer boycott or letter writing campaign aimed at this or that bit of corporate behavior or advertising campaign. You'll find some follow up stories on how effective this tactic proved to be, but few. You'll not find still fewer stories praising this tactic unless it advanced "victims' rights." That's understandable since this tactic threatens to break the rice bowl of the media reporting the story. It's not that they consciously slant it, but that they don't see the need to emphasize stories about a tactic that, carried far enough, could threaten the mortgage payments of the editors and reporters in the newsroom.

    And make no mistake, carried far enough that's just what complaining to advertisers can do.

    How can you write to an advertiser if you see something you don't like in a major media outlet? It is simplicity itself especially for national media.

    First you note which advertiser is closest to the offending newspaper, magazine, radio, or television story. Position is something that is a factor in an advertising buy and it often indicates that a specific advertiser has chosen that slot because something has convinced him that his ad will be most effective there. This isn't always the case, but it will narrow down the target.

    The next step is to determine the corporation behind the ad. In the case of national brand names, this is not all that difficult, but in the case of conglomerates it might take a little more digging. In either case, it is merely a matter of following your Goggle.

    "All companies have an internal metric by which they measure customer displeasure."

    All public corporations are listed on the major stock exchanges. All listings have links to the corporation's home page. Each corporate home page has the name and address of the CEO of that corporation. Sometimes there's even an email address for the CEO. This person is the one to whom you will address your complaint. You can send an email or a real letter as you prefer, but know that a real letter is given more weight in the company simply because it took you more trouble. In either case, all companies have an internal metric by which they measure customer displeasure. One letter may factor to 10 or 100 or 1000 displeased customers. It all depends, but in any case one letter has a lot more weight to a company than it does to a newsroom. In a newsroom, you letter is just another bit of entertainment. In a company, it is cause for alarm.

    I hasten to add that the chances your letter will actually be seen or read by the CEO of Disney, Nike, General Motors, etc. is slim to none, but that's not the point. If enough letters on a subject are received by a corporation what the CEO will see is a number on a report. If that number is large enough, the CEO will ask what is going on with the advertising buys at this or that media outlet. He will expect an answer. If it is an answer that threatens enough of the company's revenue stream, the advertising will be pulled and the advertising agency either fired or put on notice. This will have a chilling effect felt all the way down the media food chain. If the chill becomes deep enough, it will cause frostbite and the loss of toes in the newsroom.

    "You could write hundreds of letters about [Robert Scheers] quisling screeds to the editor and they would just join the tens of thousands of others in the circular file."

    To see what this form of letter-writing can do, imagine for a moment the situation of Los Angeles Times columnist Robert Scheer. While Scheer's talents may be meager, his bias large and transparent, and his anti-Americanism a career path of long standing, his position as a pet of the left at the Los Angeles Times seems unassailable. They would have to be graphic video tapes of his long-ago commune nights available to even begin to cause him trouble. You could write hundreds of letters about his quisling screeds to the editor and they would just join the tens of thousands of others in the circular file. They are all just "good for a laugh" over an expense account lunch. You could cancel your subscription as tens of thousands of others have done. The Times would just, as it has done, mount a campaign to give you home delivery of the paper for a dollar a week in order to replace them. Letters to the Editor and subscription cancellations will have no effect. Scheer will be back peddling his bile the very next week with no end in sight.

    But imagine if a concerted campaign were mounted asking the companies advertising in the Los Angeles Times why they continue to spend good money supporting this quisling. Imagine if those letters contained choice quotations from Scheer and asked if the company agreed with him since it would seem, by where they were spending their money, they might. Imagine if the letters were to arrive at these companies in such numbers that they would prompt a "review" of advertising priorities. This can and does happen.

    "A withdrawal of one major advertiser from a major newspaper means the loss of many millions of dollars to that paper. Worse still, it makes other major advertisers consider the same action."

    Imagine that in the wake of these reviews, one or two major companies decided to pull their advertising from the Los Angeles Times and place it elsewhere in community papers or on local television channels. A withdrawal of one major advertiser from a major newspaper means the loss of many millions of dollars to that paper. Worse still, it makes other major advertisers consider the same action.

    The result is that the position of Robert Scheer at the Los Angeles Times ceases to be just a concern of the newsroom and a subject for idle conversation over lunch. It becomes an item in a cost/benefit analysis.

    The CEO of the company that owns the Los Angeles Times will call the Publisher of the Los Angeles Times. He will ask what the Publisher is doing about their multi-million dollar liability. There will be a pro-forma exchange of views about the "wall" between advertising and editorial, and then they will both return to "working the numbers." Following that call, and the Publisher will have a meeting with the Vice-President of Advertising which the Editor will be required to attend. The VP of Advertising will be in a very bad mood since his bonus and the commissions of his salespeople will have been chopped. The Editor will blather a bit about the "wall" between advertising and editorial. The Publisher will make comforting and understanding noises, but will then return to "working the numbers." The meeting will then focus on "what we are going to do about Robert Scheer and what's the best way to do it."

    And all because you finally got fed up with writing a letter to the editor and decided to write a letter to the advertiser instead. Of course, you don't have to give this up completely. "Letters to the Editor" are why God made the "cc:" field.

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 23, 2004 10:21 AM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    What's Just-So-Wrong With This Picture?


    Via PWOT

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 22, 2004 6:25 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Siberian Purchase

    IN "RETRO-COLONIZATION" History's End takes a close look at what might happen to stop the de-facto demographic invasion of Siberia by the Chinese.

    China in possession of Siberia would pose a mortal danger to Russia, and therefore something must be done to prevent China from possessing Siberia. That something is to sell Siberia to the United States of America.

    Why, you ask, would Russia be so crazy as to sell Siberia to America? Why not? The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 was worth 15 million Dollars US, and the area purchased was 2 million square miles. 15 million dollars worth of gold back then would have bought 300 million dollars today, at roughly 15 dollars per ounce of gold in 1803 and roughly 300 dollars per ounce of gold today (Interestingly, the US dollar was originally pegged against the silver Spanish 8-real peso, more famous as the "piece of 8" ). So the Louisiana Purchase was quite a deal. Alaska, by the way, was sold for 7 million dollars by Russia. So Russia selling Siberia to the USA isn't completely crazy, Russian territory has been sold to the US before. And not all of it has to be sold, only the easternmost parts, in fact. And plenty of precedent already exists. And selling Siberia to the US has a lot of benefits to Russia. First off, it will likely be sold for more than 300 million dollars, or even 3,000 million dollars. Russia could likely get billions for the deal, billions of dollars that it desperately needs to rebuild infrastructure ruined by decades of communist imposed socialism. A deal worth tends of billions of dollars could literally be a G-dsend to the Russians. Also, selling Siberia to America would turn the issue of eventual Chinese control of Siberia from a Russian problem to a US problem. Indeed, Russia could use it as a clever ploy to increase tensions between the US and China. With both focused on each other, Russia could improve its economy, military and world position.

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 22, 2004 5:21 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Making Spammers Pay: Time = Money



    As with the British Post of the 1830's, Internet email is becoming increasingly expensive for message recipients.  In the current case, the culprit is spam.  Although spam does not constitute a monetary expense for most users, it does require time and attention (and hence productivity) to deal with spam.  Moreover,  measurable costs associated with spam are incurred by providers of network services, and these costs are increasing daily.

    In a nutshell, the idea is this: "If I don't know you, and you want to send me mail, then you must prove to me that you have expended a certain amount of effort, just for me and just for this message."  The approach is fundamentally an economic one.  Suppose we measure effort in CPU cycles.  Since there are about 80,000 seconds in a day, a computational "price" of just ten seconds per message would limit a spamming computer to at most 8,000 messages daily. So spammers would have to invest heavily in hardware in order to send high volumes of spam. (While this idea is simple, people often misunderstand its implications. We encourage potential critics to look here first.)

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 15, 2004 3:45 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Why Movable Type's Money Move Spells Disaster

    WHILE ONLY A BUBBLE IN THE BLOGSPHERE, the fiasco aborning at Six Apart and MovableType is certainly of interest to those of us who have up til now used the application. So far, among the many hundreds of posts about the Trotts announced plan to sink their own company, the best explanation of how badly they have handled this and how disastrous it will be for them is: This is why VCs bring in the MBAs

    MT is decent software, even if its kind of rough in areas. But what they're looking at doing is just silly, and is going to be incredibly detrimental. They've always had very... "iffy" licensing, and lots of people have been chomping at the bit and looking for alternatives... but a combination of inertia and features kept people using or trying to work around the license issues.

    But this is just beyond stupid, it's just obvious they don't "get it". And really the reaction looks to be about 95% negative.

    Oh, I'm sure they'll try to spin it... At some point soon you'll see one of them come out and try to throw all sorts of spin on this, using lots of vague terms and mentioning "people who have to live", "mouths to feed", "features aren't free", etc. in the coming while.

    And that is just the nub of it. Read the whole thing and become educated in how good companies go bad in... oh, about a day.
    UPDATE: I've note decided which new system to use, but WordPress is getting good buzz.

    For those of you who want to know the way to migrate from MT to WordPress, the skinny is at: C A R T H I K . N E T » Moving from movable type to WordPress "A lot of MT users might want to move to WordPress, but may have a lot of questions and doubts regarding the move, and about WordPress. I thought a short post with essential resources, tips and answers will come in handy to at least a few people, so here goes."

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 14, 2004 7:14 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Here's a Post We All Need to Echo

    RICH MAROTTI, who I wish was sober more often, makes a strong and compelling point in seldom sober: open letter. I'm placing it here in the hopes that others who, like myself, have experienced a surge of traffic in the wake of the Berg killing will, in some way, echo it.

    In a realm where traffic is seen as some sort of payment, the kind of traffic this has been generating and the reasons for it are certainly cheapening that coin. Marotti sums up how to view this and how, perhaps, to get some good out of it:

    An Open Letter to Internet Connected People on the Occasion of Nick Berg Bringing Me an Unusual Number of Hits

    If you are looking for this video because you have some sick fetish for snuff films, please turn off your computer and get therapy now. The first few copies of this video that I could find were actually on sites dedicated to sickos like you. I am sorry if you are cursed with a psychological affliction, but don't go hunting around the internet trying to satisfy your baser desires. Get help. Now.

    If you are here for other reasons I need to point something out to you. The blogosphere (the community of those who write weB LOGS) broke this story, not Big Media. The blogosphere continues to cover it while Big Media continues to largely ignore it. The blogosphere has the courage and integrity to show this video (or images from it) while Big Media cries "Offensive!" as they continue to show pictures of naked Iraqui prisoners piled on top of one another.

    THIS IS NOT AN ISOLATED OCCURENCE! If you are unfamiliar with the blogosphere, get familiar with it now. We break and cover stories like this all of the time. We are largely honest in our coverage, if not always objective. We cover the stories that Big Media does not, because of their agendas, because of their connections, or for any other reasons. Don't make your search for this one tragic story your last stop in the blogosphere. We offer honesty and (most of the time) truth on a regular basis. Try finding that in the New York Times.

    I have to admit I was initially pleased today to see that my usual small circulation of 1,500 to 2,200 visits a day was pushing on 10,000 yesterday, but that pleasure faded when I checked the search terms. That kind of attention I don't need.

    So, if you are here for some snuff, get out now. I've already spent too much time dealing with people like you.

    If not, stick around, pull up a chair, have a cold one, come back when you want, glad to meet you.

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 14, 2004 1:47 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Abu Ghraib Videotapes We've Yet to See

    DANIEL HENNINGER reports on unseen videos out of the Iraq Prison in: OpinionJournal - Wonder Land

    As perfect justice, the story in fact begins in Abu Ghraib prison, in 1995. With Iraq's economy in a tailspin, Saddam arrested nine Iraqi businessmen to scapegoat them as dollar traders. They got a 30-minute "trial," and were sentenced, after a year's imprisonment, to have their right hands surgically cut off at Abu Ghraib prison.

    The amputations were performed, over two days, by a Baghdad anesthesiologist, a surgeon and medical staff. We know this because Saddam had a videotape made of each procedure. He had the hands brought to him in formalin and then returned to Abu Ghraib. Oh, one more thing: The surgeon carved an X of shame into the forehead of each man. And the authorities charged the men $50.

    OKAY, TELL ME AGAIN the ways in which Americans are just the same as the regime they destroyed. Tell me again all the ways in which we are just as evil and that the Saddam torture chambers have reopened under new management but with the same old ways.

    But wait a moment. The sequel to this story is not the same as we would have had in Iraq if we had not gone to war. Instead the sequel reads:

    Last year, after we liberated Iraq, a veteran TV news producer named Don North--who has worked for major U.S. broadcasters--was in Baghdad with the U.S. to restore TV service. Iraqi contacts there brought him a tape of the men's amputations. Mr. North says dismemberment was common in Saddam's Iraq and that if one walks down a crowded Baghdad street one may see a half-dozen people missing an ear, eye, limb or tongue. He decided to seek out the men whose stubbed arms represented the civilized world's lowest act--the perversion of medicine.

    He found seven. Mr. North determined to make a documentary of their story and get medical help for them. How he found that help, if one may still use this phrase, is an all-American story.

    An oil engineer from Houston, named Roger Brown, overheard Mr. North's tale in a Baghdad café. He suggested Don North get in touch with a famed Houston TV newsman named Marvin Zindler. Mr. Zindler put him in touch with Dr. Joe Agris, a Houston reconstructive surgeon, who has worked in postwar Vietnam and Nicaragua repairing children.

    Mr. North sent Dr. Agris a copy of the videotape of the surgical atrocities, and Dr. Agris said: Send me the men; I will fix them.

    How this was done is something that will restore you after the last week of the news. Read it.

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 14, 2004 11:58 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    And a Little Bit of Rock and Roll!

    It used to be that you got a talk show, then ran for president, à la Pat Buchanan, but Howard Dean may reverse that order. Dean is talking to Viacom about a TV gig and working with "Judge Judy" producer Larry Lyttle, who told Variety: "He's a little bit of Howard Beale, a little Dr. Phil and a little Donahue all rolled into one."
    -- Media Notes Extra

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 5, 2004 8:43 AM | QuickLink: Permalink

    SALON’S PRECARIOUS FISCAL STATE has obviously become dire. The “premium’ subscriptions which began at, I believe, $35 a year have now been discounted down to a dollar a year. Today, this email has been making the rounds.

    I felt compelled to comment:

    Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 00:59:24 -0700
    From: Premium Help
    Subject: Renew Salon Premium for $1

    Dear *****: I understand that you haven't yet renewed your subscription to Salon Premium,

    Right you are, David. No more premium Salon for moi. I’ve left you forever and taken the puppy.

    so I'm prepared to extend you our absolute lowest rate ever: $1 for an entire year.

    One dollar? Just one buck? One small Washington?

    That's right, $1.

    Zowie, David. Tell me more, more, more!

    To take advantage of this great rate, all you need do is renew using our no-annual-fee Salon Visa card. This offer is only valid in the United States.

    I don’t know. That smacks of cultural imperialism to me.

    Again, the card carries no annual fee and has a low interest rate.

    Sounds like a World Bank Loan to a third world country. Can I get some cash up front too?

    Plus it looks fantastic.

    I admit I was on the fence until you told me that. The one thing I require in credit cards is a fantastic look. The guy down at the Circle K always kicks back the ugly cards to me and demands cards that look “fantastic.” Will you be doing one next year that also looks “fabulous”? If so, will it go with my new Pinto print Speedo?

    Just click on the following link to apply: [link deleted to keep readers of this site from swamping the Visa servers]

    We both win because Salon is compensated for every credit card account we open

    No kidding? And here I thought you were offering the dollar a year rate because you loved me and wanted me back desperately. David, don’t tell me you’ve become a Visa slut after all we’ve meant to each other. How could you?

    -- enabling you to support independent journalism --

    Actually, I have to confess that every credit card account I do not open supports my own independent journalism, David. If you really wanted to support independent journalism, you’d pay your own journalists more and on time as well.

    and you save a lot on an annual subscription that includes great new benefits like a 1-year subscription to "Wired,"

    David, David, David... don’t you know Wired=Tired especially now that it is edited by girls?

    "National Geographic Adventure"

    Yes, I really need another magazine shilling for the travel industry.

    and "U.S. News and World Report"

    A magazine famous for being number 4 in a grouping of 3? When Mort Zuckerman finally gets to be Secretary of the Treasury in the next Democratic administration in 2020, get back to me.

    and access to reading Salon on your PDA or cell phone.

    Now here’s where turning you down makes me sad. To think that I won’t be able to read Salon on my cell phone makes me misty. Promise you won’t let my refusal keep you from sending me those hot textings when we’re apart, won’t you?

    Plus, great existing benefits like reading Salon in a blissfully ad-free reading environment.

    David, do your paying advertisers (both of them) know you’re talking about them behind their back. If they find out you think of ad-free environments as blissful, you’re going to have some ‘splaing to do.

    Applying only takes a moment or two and gets you all the benefits of Salon Premium -- the magazines, the ad-free reading, the PDA and cell phone access, everything --for just $1.

    I heard you the first time, David. Get to the point.

    Without loyal subscribers like you, Salon simply couldn't afford to stay in business.

    There’s a thought.

    That would silence the voice of the Web's leading independent source of unvarnished news coverage, unfettered opinion and unintimidated muckraking.

    Right. Check and double check. Salon -- The No Bias web site. Got it.

    Where would you turn for honest, fearless reporting on the 2004 elections?

    Kind of hard to say, off hand David, since that would make me choose between about 249 sites currently residing in my favorites file. I suppose I could channel surf between about seven news channels if I go really hard up. Still, I agree there’s a real shortage of options when it comes to coverage of these elections, so let’s say I’ll keep you in mind.

    Time and again, Salon has outpaced the other news media to bring you the "scoops".

    That’s right, David. I think you’re shining moment last year was when you were out there in Texas running around with the web cam as the space shuttle debris rained down. That was you, wasn’t it? Or were you the guys who coined the BUSH LIED meme that’s making the rounds?

    I can't tell you what scandals, shams and outrages we'll cover in the year ahead.

    How about the deadly email from Salon that offers a whole year for a quarter if only readers will send their bank account information to a database in Nigeria? That’s gotta be next.

    But I can tell you this: No matter what happens, Salon will be there -- probing, digging, asking all the hard questions.

    Unless, of course, I don’t send you the dollar. In which case, Salon might not be there.

    We need you. You need us.

    David, you naughty boy. If I needed you I would have stayed with you. Admit it, this isn’t about my needs, but yours. It’s not me. It’s you.

    Please renew your subscription for just $1 by clicking on the link below and we'll both be the better for it.

    David, it didn’t work the first time. I’ve moved on. You should too. If the Chronicle takes Mark Morford as resident pervert, they’ll surely hire you back. Man up, David. It’s time.

    Cordially, David Talbot

    “Cordially?” “Cordially?” After everything we’ve been to each other?

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 4, 2004 3:24 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Teach Your Children Well

    Pitzer College - Commencement 2004

    Pitzer College's Keynote Speaker
    Bernardine Dohrn


    BERNARDINE DOHRN , Clinical Associate Professor of Law and Director and Founder of the Children and Family Justice Center, is a leading child advocate. Ms. Dohrn is a member of the Domestic Violence Child Abuse Working Group of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the steering committee of the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Committee and is a board member of the Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Project and the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights.

    Ms. Dohrn has also been a member of the Weather Underground and retains the title of Convicted Felon Emeritus from that organization.

    While most of her recent work is obscure, she is justly famed for her widely quoted remark on Charles Manson/Tate murders: "Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, they even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach! Wild!"

    The veteran of numerous terrorist bombings and robberies, Ms. Dohrn is clearly one of the founding mothers of contemporary domestic terrorism. Pitzer is proud to honor this distinctive American and looks forward to joining her in her valuable work.

    "Our graduates need to see positive role models, and Ms. Dohrn is among the best of the best," said Pitzer spokesperson Bill Ayers, who is also married to Ms. Dohrn.

    Pointer via From Dunn to Dohrn: Covering Up Terrorism at the Claremont Colleges

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 3, 2004 8:54 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Making the Space Shuttle into a Bus

    The braindead at NASA took another step towards rendering space flight irrelevant today when they reduced the Space Shuttle to a Bus. A one stop only bus.

    NASA officials overseeing the space shuttle's return to flight said Friday there are several technical reasons why shuttle missions should not be conducted to the Hubble Space Telescope or destinations other than the International Space Station. Shuttle managers, discussing the latest version of the return-to-flight plan, said that the lack of a "safe haven" at Hubble was a key issue that made shuttle flight s there riskier than those to ISS.
    -- Shuttle managers back Hubble decision
    I'll tell you what. Let's not fly it at all. That should get NASA down to the level of zero-risk space flight they seem to love.

    Posted by Vanderleun at May 2, 2004 9:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Orkut: A Network of Trusted Friends on a Network You Can't Trust

    Pierre's Web -- Click to Enlarge bills itself as an online community that connects people through a network of trusted friends. We are committed to providing an online meeting place where people can socialize, make new acquaintances and find others who share their interests.

    Right. Well, a trusted friend not on Orkut sent me a a piping hot link yesterday in an email entitled: Security Hole of the Day.

    Orkut has the standard drivel about privacy and things "we'd never...." do, but you don't have to join Orkut to see who is talking to who. You just have to go to aptly named Data Whore House and start digging about in the datamine.

    Want to know who Mitchell Kapor is talking to? That's right here.

    He seems to be much more well-connected to the Digiterati than that wild and crazy eBay billionaire Pierre Omiydar whose connections are displayed here.

    Indeed, for all his efforts Pierre (58 links) just can't get himself as well connected as Mitch who seems to be one of the reigning connectoids of Orkut with 268 links. Perhaps Pierre just leads a quieter life at his residence at The Montage, Laguna Beach, California “Nevada", while begging for his taxes not to be cut -- "Please!" "

    A noble sentiment from a man whose primary residence is in the high taxing state of Nevada ... err, California. Yes, California. I think that's right. All those lines on his connections map just happen to lead to a small red dot in Nevada by sheer happenstance.

    You'd think that something like Orkut which is "associated" with the now hypersecret Google would be better at keeping its inside information inside. You would be wrong.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 27, 2004 10:53 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Brick Science Major

    Or -- Why Johnny Can't Code

    Imagine that there was a Brick Science major in a university. What would it look like, if it were modeled after most Computer Science programs? 

    In the freshman year, we teach the students about bricks. The kinds of bricks. The sizes of bricks. The purposes of bricks. Plain bricks, glazed bricks, outdoor bricks, paving bricks, fire bricks. Each exam tests their knowledge of specific kinds of bricks and what they are used for. 

    In the sophomore year we introduce them to Brick Theory. How bricks are made. What goes into the mix. The effects of impurities in bricks, both negative (defective bricks) and positive (coloration). We teach them the chemistry of bricks. The proper firing temperatures for different kinds of bricks. They learn how to analyze brick performance (breaking strength, water permeability, robustness and other considerations in Analysis of Bricks). They finally understand why some bricks come with three little holes in them (they knew about the existence of these in their freshman year, but not why they are present). 

    In the junior year we explain about how mortar puts bricks together. Since they now have more background, in two semesters we start with basic mortar theory and work down to optimum blends of mortar for various purposes. They learn about curing time. They learn about brick-mortar combinations. They learn about pointing, and why it is necessary. They know how to determine the bonding strength by measuring the forces that are required to split two bricks that have been mortared together. 

    In the senior year we introduce them to systems. We talk about the costs of field deployment of brick-mortar systems, including installation and maintenance, long-term issues such as system robustness under weather, salt, and other stress conditions. And we have a senior project. Each group of students gets to build a three-block-high, six-block-wide wall, using bricks and mortar of their choice, and explain why they made these choices. 

    They graduate. They have a B.S. in Brick Science. 

    Their first assignment: "Build a decorative brick wall". 

    Pointer from The Inscrutable Muxway

    Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 21, 2004 6:52 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Why There Aren't Any Movies About 9/11 ?

    As usual, James Lileks is at the top of his game today on The Bleat ask why we aren't seeing any films about September 11. Well, not asking so much as answering. And answering well.

    I wonder whether Hollywood execs shy from a 9/11 movie because they think it might send the wrong message.

    It would anger people anew, and we're supposed to be past that. It would remind us what was done to us instead of rubbing out noses in what we do to others -- I mean, unless you have a character in the second tower watching the plane approaching and saying "My God, this is payback for supporting Israel!" it's going to come across as simplistic nonsense that denies the reality in the West Bank, okay? It would have to tread lightly when it came to the President, because even though we all knew that he wet his pants and ran to hide, we'd have to pretend and do scenes in Air Force One where he's taking charge instead of crying help mommy to Dick Cheney, right? I mean the idiots in flyover people believe that stuff, and you'd have to give it to them or they write letters with envelopes that have these little pre-printed return address stickers with flags up in the corner. Seriously. Little flag stickers. Anyway, we would have to show Arab males as the bad guys, and that's not worth the grief; you want to answer the phone when CAIR sees the dailies of the guys slitting the stewardess' throats? And here's the big one: if we make a patriotic movie during Bush's term, well, it doesn't help the cause, you know. People liked Bush after 9/11. Why remind them of that? Plus, you can just kiss off the European markets, period.

    Richard Clarke's book is available? Here's a blank check. Option that sucker.

    It's like it's 1943, and Hollywood turns down a Pearl Harbor movie in favor of the gripping account of a Washington bureaucrat who warned FDR that the oil embargo would needlessly anger Japan. The attack on Hawaii would take up five minutes -- and even then it would be a shot of the hero listening to the radio with an expression of stoic anguish. If only they'd listened.
    In case you missed it, Richard Clarke did have his turgid variation on Quisling's Lament optioned by Hollywood this week.

    After almost every studio in Hollywood waved their hands in the air shouting, "Me! Pick me!" Sony Pictures took the option rights for "a low six figures."

    Only in AntiAmerica, folks. Only in AntiAmerica.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 14, 2004 10:05 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Signed Racist Artwork: Available Now

    In the Brave New World of Democratic Politics, Bush-Hate has evidently convinced the hard core that everything is okay in their discourse, including sexism and racism and any other level of slime-drenced innuendo.

    Still, it is not every day that one of these elitist liberals gets off a choice bit of anti-Black racism, gets away with it, and signs his name.

    Here's one of those rare signed bits of racist artwork by the long time veteran of things liberal and Democratic, Gary Trudeau:


    That's National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice "speaking" on the left and George W. Bush "speaking" on the right in this final panel of Trudeau's "satire" for today -- showcased on Slate and hundreds of daily newspapers. Trudeau proudly signs his name to this panel.

    In case you came in late during the popular culture of the 20th century, "Brown Sugar" is a kind of pet-name for a black woman made famous by the Rolling Stone's "Brown Sugar." Originally written by Mick Jagger for Marsha Hunt, a woman with which he had a child, the lyrics are pretty much what you'd expect from a Rolling Stone during their classic cocaine period. Indeed, since Trudeau and many of his fellow travellers came of age during the same period, Trudeau counts on his friends to know the lyrics and not just the allusion.

    The lyrics are:

    Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
    Sold in a market down in New Orleans
    Scarred old slaver knows he's doing alright
    Hear him whip the women just around midnight

    Brown sugar how come you taste so good?
    Brown sugar just like a young girl should

    Drums beating, cold English blood runs hot
    Lady of the house wonderin' where it's gonna stop
    House boy knows that he's doing alright
    You shoulda heard him just around midnight

    Brown sugar how come you taste so good, now?
    Brown sugar just like a young girl should, now

    Ah, get along, brown sugar how come you taste so good, baby?
    Ah, got me feelin' now, brown sugar just like a black girl should

    I bet your mama was a tent show queen
    And all here boyfriends were sweet sixteen
    I'm no schoolboy but I know what I like
    You shoulda heard me just around midnight

    Brown sugar how come you taste so good, baby?
    Ah, brown sugar just like a young girl should, yeah

    I said yeah, yeah, yeah, woo
    How come come you taste so good?

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo
    Just like a...just like a black girl should
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo

    The full strip can be seen on Slate so you can see the deep and biting "humor" of the entire strip. After all, it's not everyday that a Pulitzer-Prize winning humorist can work miscegenation, illicit sex, slavery, infidelity, and the Old Plantation into a single panel of Bush-Hate. No wonder his signature graces this panel so proudly.

    Perhaps the next time Mr. Trudeau decides to scrape the bottom of his soul for a strip, he should just turn in one which has a picture of George Bush in one panel, a picture of Ms. Rice in the other panel, and the lyrics of the above song in the two other panels. Just so everybody, at long last, gets it.

    I'm sure all the Democratic friends of the Trudeaus would get a big laugh at that during their next dinner party... if they remembered not invite any African-American Democrats.

    But the real outrage is not that Mr. Trudeau emitted this bit of offal, but that hundreds of American newspapers printed it without some much as a moment's hesitation. But why not? After all, Gary is, in the final analysis, "one of them."

    UPDATE: This morning my wife, after thinking about this strip, mentioned one more damning thing about it. "It's not only racist, but sexist in a cowardly way. Do you think Trudeau would dare run the same strip putting Colin Powell in instead of Rice and having the last panel read:
    Powell: 'Oh, like, you had!'
    Bush: 'Careful, Boy'"

    I thought a moment and replied, "They're working up to it. They'll get there."

    Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 7, 2004 9:44 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Mission of the Media
    We have a media determined to find imagery that will "define Iraq", in the same way they used pictures of a napalmed girl, and of a street execution, to "define Vietnam" -- with complete indifference to the larger truth. To put no finer point upon it: How does Western Civilization defend itself against such an enemy within?

    For we come to the next stage of an unpleasant proposition. In its selective use of explosive imagery, the media have a power equivalent to that which the terrorists have in the selective use of explosive devices. There is an overlapping agenda, too: for the great majority of both terrorists and journalists consider the Bush administration to be their principal adversary. (On the other hand, they differ on the need for the imposition of Sharia law.)

    From: David Warren -- Essays on Our Times

    Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 6, 2004 5:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Long Dive Towards the Magic Number Begins

    Pricewar in NapsterLand! That's what the salvo of: Wal-Mart starts selling 88-cent songs online means.

    Retailing giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. officially entered the increasingly crowded online music market Tuesday with a service that offers songs for 11 cents less each than competitors like Apple Computer Inc.

    Wal-Mart's online division, which is based in Brisbane, has been testing its Music Downloads store since December, selling tunes for 88 cents each or $8.88 per album. Wal-Mart said the test has been successful enough to formally start the service, at, with an expanded selection of 300,000 songs and exclusive tracks from artists like Jessica Simpson, Black Eyed Peas and Tim McGraw.

    It is only the beginning but I suspect something like Moore's Law is about to take hold as the online music industry races down the price curve to the magic number that will enable them to rebound into stunning levels of profitability.

    That number? 25 cents a tune. No more and no less. At that level, everybody, and I mean everybody, will start to amass personal music collections that would sink the Bismark.

    It's simple. Would you rather have 10,000 dollars or 100,000 quarters? Alas, for many studio execs, math is hard.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 24, 2004 1:59 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Raines to Rain on the Times' Parade

    The New York Observer has a snippet about the forthcoming core dump concerning his crash-and-burn exit from the NYT titled:"As Howell Raines Readies His Memoir, Times Staff Girds." It is unclear exactly what the staff is girding, but it probably has something to do with installing new surge suppressors in the news room.

    Deposed New York Times executive editor Howell Raines, sidelined and mostly silent after his eviction last June from West 43rd Street, is throwing himself back into the action. On March 24, The Atlantic Monthly will begin allowing the press to get a preview look at the cover story of its May issue, a gargantuan piece by Mr. Raines pondering his former place of employment.

    The piece will check in at something greater than 20,000 words, according to The Atlantic. That's some 2,500 words longer than Ken Auletta's mammoth New Yorker profile of Raines. Or, by Atlantic standards, it means Raines gets to spend one-third as much space picking through the wreckage of his own career as William Langewiesche spent picking through the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

    I've never thought Raines was worth a rivet from the WTC, but, hey, I'm prejudiced against his type.

    The squibblet's writer, Scocca, however, gets top marks for the clueless kicker to his item:

    Meanwhile, the standards of journalistic scandal have been bumped up considerably. Last week, USA Today revealed that its star reporter, Jack Kelley, had invented several Hong Kong movies’ worth of incident in his dispatches: drowned Cubans, gunned-down Palestinians, bomb-severed heads rolling in the streets.

    Mr. Blair’s forged datelines and fake sit-down interviews seem suddenly quaint—and Mr. Raines’ purported white liberal guilt seems unremarkable, as editors’ biases go.

    Now, it’s hard to remember exactly why the man got fired.

    Somebody shoud get this guy a computer and teach him to Google. I'm sure bloggers could remind him in about three nanoseconds.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 24, 2004 10:05 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    An Actual Majority Do Feel This Way

    Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds ran an interesting bit of email from a reader concerning the attitudes of an editor in an not-to-be-named major media outlet. The original item is here at

    The text of the email goes:

    I realize you generally assume that the vast majority of reporters are praying to their pagan gods for our failure in Iraq and the war against terrorism (I am not one of them), and are now crafting their stories to reflect and facilitate such a thing. While I think you are dead wrong on this, I have to admit I was taken aback by a conversation I had recently with a colleague.

    I work as a freelancer for a major national publication, and was talking to my editor as we were closing a piece last week. It was Thursday, and the reports were coming out of Pakistan that we might have Ayman al-Zawahiri surrounded. I passed this news on to the editor, who was crestfallen: "Oh, no. I don't want anything good to happen for Bush before the election," was the reaction (P.S., this editor does not edit foreign or political stories).

    It was a sickening moment. This is a man responsible for thousands of American deaths. So while I have no desire to see Bush re-elected, and I disagree with our attack on Iraq, to hope for our failure in capturing one of the deadliest people in the world is a moral blindspot.

    Reynolds' comment contained the following statement which set me to thinking
    Yes, it is. And -- based both on reports like this one, and on the obvious slant of some stories -- I don't think that editor is alone, though I doubt an actual majority of his colleagues feel that way. But some clearly do, letting their Bush-hatred trump their patriotism.
    After some reflection I sent the following comment on to the Professor:
    I beg to differ. At the end of the not-very-surprising anecdote about the reporter and his editor, you comment:

    "I don't think that editor is alone, though I doubt an actual majority of his colleagues feel that way. "

    Based on my 30 year career as an editor, writer and literary agent, I'm afraid I'd have to say that you are but hoping in one hand here. I've worked in San Francisco, London, Boston, and New York over those years, and they have all been spent either in publishing magazines or publishing books. In that time, I've known hundreds of editors. Please believe me when I tell you that not only does a majority of editors feel the same way, it is a vast majority.

    Publishing types, such as editors, agents and writers, tend to come out of the same sort of background. (Hey, those English Major degrees have to be good for something.) If they do not, the climb to influence within the publishing houses will bend them into a compatible mind-set. Like promotes like in these institutions and you'd best be a true believer or good at mimicry if you want to thrive.

    I've sat in endless editorial meetings where books have been declined because they didn't seem to have the right political slant even though they promised great financial rewards.

    The code for this is: "It doesn't seem like the kind of title we do." If the same book were to wind its way onto the list at, say, Regnery, and become a best-seller, (as a couple did) the fact that the house passed on it is certainly not sent up the line to the corporate masters.

    In the same manner, I've seen dozens of books published that didn't have a hope of making a penny in profit (a fact that was acknowledged at the time) because they would bring "luster to the house." This was code for invitations to a lot of dinner parties and exclusive events at Harvard Business School or the Kennedy Center.

    I once sat in a meeting where the financials for a book by Jimmy Carter looked very bleak and the "sponsoring" editor was asked to meet with the sales director so that the numbers could be given a "better glow." By the next meeting, this frog had been kissed into a prince and the book went on to lose a small fortune. We did get a visit by Carter and his entourage to the house though. Somewhere I have a photo of this expensive photo-op paid for by the shareholders. This was not a rare incident, but in all fairness neither was it commonplace. It just happened from time to time.

    With rare exceptions, people in publishing, like, I suppose, many in academe, are not in it for the money, but for the status. I've been to Park Avenue dinner parties thrown by the likes of Bob Bernstein, founder of Human Rights Watch, where never is heard a conservative word. Don't get me wrong, Bob's a fine fellow, but you'd no more find any other than carefully vetted liberals at his table than you'd find a magic mushroom in the soup course at the White House. And you have to reflect that for decades, Bob was the head of Random House. Much has changed during the years since he headed the house, but third generation hires directly descended from Bob's reign persist in bringing like-minded souls onto the payroll.

    Ditto during my five years at Houghton Mifflin in Boston. There the axis of liberal interests between Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and Cambridge was as solid and tangled as the Gordian Knot. At these dos backscratchers were as common as bowties. Again, with all the supper parties and summer events I attended in those years, the most conservative person I could cite as ever in attendance would be John Kenneth Galbraith.

    In all those years of publishing or meeting with editors at various houses (and as an Agent you meet a lot of editors) I can perhaps think of one magazine editor that was not, in bone and blood, a liberal. I'm sure there are more and I'm sure that I met them. They were just very careful about giving that sort of information away. Ruins the protective coloration, you know.

    While there may be an impression that overtly conservative tomes are tending up in publishing as a result of the vast sums earned by a few writers, that impression is very shallow indeed. A brief click and browse through the 100 top sellers on Amazon today with an eye towards political titles would confirm this.

    Tonight, when I went back to look at the item, I noted this scary update had been added from the original correspondent.
    A word of thanks for leaving my name out of that post.

    Realized after I sent the email that if my name were posted it might easily make its way back to the editor. I'm barely making enough money at the journalism thing as it is... the last thing I need is to be blacklisted.

    Ah, blacklisting. The last refuge of the liberal scoundrels of our age. We've come a long way, babies.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 24, 2004 12:11 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Reach Out and Scam Someone

    Ah, yes, the uses of new technology to advance the old technology of lying:

    Cell phone software creates bogus backgrounds

    Pretending to be stuck in traffic during a mobile phone call could become much easier using software that generates fake background noise.

    SoundCover, developed by a Romania phone software company called Simeda, can add artificial traffic and road works to a call at the press of a button. It can mimic a thunderstorm, the dentists drill or even a circus during a call.

    ....The trick involves blending the outgoing voice audio with another looped audio track. Tofan says this is only possible with the latest version of the Symbian mobile phone operating system --New Scientist

    We're looking forward to the release of counter-software, "DetectALoop," so that you can go from "Calling in sick" to "Calling in stupid."

    Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 6, 2004 9:14 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    What's Just-So-Wrong With This Picture?


    The "Re-Elect Bush" Roadmap.

    This is how it will be. Depend upon it.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 3, 2004 7:30 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Satan's Packaging

    Filed under "Brilliant observations about the really irritating little things of modern life" --

    "What's all this about a food product? We're a drywall concern, Jenkins."

    "Exciting new product, sir : thin slabs of lightly-baked dry cracker meal marketed as a base for cheeses and the like, or to the spastic person who would rather appear gluttonous than drool in public."

    "Interesting. Naked unglazed cracker meal? They must stale in a manner of minutes after exposure to air."

    "Yes sir. Inedible."

    "How do you plan to package such a fragile product?"

    "Well sir, we think the obvious way to go is a tough, form-fitting ripstop plastic sleeve with a false seam down one side."

    "Yes, yes... name the product Cracker Meal Everywhere. No, not enough sex appeal... Crumbs In Your Hair... no, you could never get a pun like that over."

    "Saltines sir. The name preserves the surprise, and sets up a false expectation of flavor."

    "Excellent. Slaughter those two baby goats and begin production immediately. Hail Satan!"

    "Hail Satan!"

    From-- Genius at work

    Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 7, 2004 10:22 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    What Dean Could Have Said Last Night...

    ... courtesy of Hugh Hewitt.

    "On Monday night  I spent 15 seconds trying to fire up my volunteers who had a disappointing night --congratulations John and John, but overconfidence is a dangerous thing, as I've learned--  I spent 15 seconds pointing at signs and recognizing people from faraway states who'd driven thousands of miles in some cases to stand on corners in sub-zero temps, and I fire them up and try to show that I am not down for the count because they're not down for the count, and television, radio, Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh and your network, Brit, try to turn me into a deranged psycho. Fred Barnes called me cracked, for goodness sake.  I've been a medical doctor treating crisis cases in emergency rooms for twenty years, and a governor making life and death decisions for ten years, and the American media, threatened by my message that big corporate interests are out of control--and there is no bigger corporate interest than Fox-- decides to marginalize me using a quarter minute of tape."
    ... but, alas, he did not.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 23, 2004 9:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    'Not My Book... Honest'
    "This is Ron Suskind's book," Mr. O'Neill told Katie Couric Tuesday morning. "This is not my book." Not his book? I'm not sure I follow that. Mr. O'Neill gave Ron Suskind CD-ROMs containing 19,000 documents for the book. Mr. Suskind then turned over these 19,000 documents to a 23-year-old former college newspaper editor who he says "dove into the documents . . . and then began the process of assessing the worth of each." Mr. Suskind wrote what he calls "a work of narrative nonfiction" that "relies on the power of story." The primary source for this "story" is Paul O'Neill, whose picture is on the cover with the blind president, but who is now at pains to put distance between himself and the product.

    --[snip]---'s remarkable software has the ability to herd together like-minded readers and point them at each other. It reveals that the book Mr. O'Neill says isn't his is being bought by people who've also purchased "The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception" by David Corn, "Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth" by Joe Conason, "The Clinton Wars" by Sidney Blumenthal, and "American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush" by Kevin Phillips. Among the multitude of apparently unanticipated consequences Mr. O'Neill is just now discovering, falling in among this group must be the one that hurts the most.

    -- Daniel Henninger, WSJ

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 15, 2004 11:29 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    File Blog Comments Under “It seemed like a good idea at the time...”

    Weblogging is growing up. Oh wait, you thought that would be a good thing? You must still be young. -- Mark Pilgrim

    Like most other people working in this medium, I like the idea of open and unfettered comments. Like most sane people, however, I really dislike the reality of over 3,500 comment spams in less than 24 hours.

    That was the reality here over the last day and, after spending hours reading about and installing a blacklist and other gizmos I’ve concluded that, for now at least, it really isn’t worth the aggravation and wasted time.

    Until such time as Movabletype comes out with a fix for this, or until such time as some unknown hero develops a killer plugin, or until such time as the comment spammers are located and fed into industrial shredders feet first while ringed with web cams, I’m disabling comments here.

    SpamCop I am not. Neither am I SpongeBob. The idea of maintaining a page with a big “Spam Me!” sign printed on it fills me with inertia.

    Should you wish to comment on anything posted here, please mail it to me at

    I’ll put it in an update.

    For those who want to read the article that made up my mind for me, please check Mark Pilgrim’s take no prisoners article: Weblog Spam .

    He’s right, you know.


    UPDATE: SB writes: "The problem with weblog comments is probably why the Blogfather himself, Glenn Reynolds, doesn't have comments. He also pointed out that it was like having spraycans available for people to put graffiti on your site as well, or words to that effect.

    "I just wish that those who still have comments would have the software automatically remove the idiotic "First!" posts, but not necessarily the first posting. "

    Now that's a software we could get behind.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 14, 2004 8:29 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    On the New National Space Program
    Bush OKs new moon missions

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- American astronauts will return to the moon early in the next decade in preparation for sending crews to explore Mars and nearby asteroids, President Bush is expected to propose next week as part of a sweeping reform of the U.S. space program.

    Outer Space
    Robert Frost

    "But outer Space,
    At least this far,
    For all the fuss
    Of the populace
    Stays more popular
    Than populous."

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 12, 2004 7:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Words You Can't Say Anywhere, Anytime, Anymore Ever!

    The Banished Words List for 2004 has been announced. They are doing God's work in a demon haunted world.

    Hardly looking 'metrosexual,' a 'shocked and awed' Lake Superior State University Word Banishment selection committee emerged from its spider hole with its annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness.
    Words and phrases now consigned to the outer darkness and/or stygian deep include but are not limited to:

    (And we were having such fun such fun with this one too.)

    Ignore alien orders. And will the post office really not deliver the letter? Time for a test around April 15th.

    At least the know they won't be on anybody's menu soon.

    I noticed this afternoon that MSNBC in its futile quest for cool, ratings and sheer survival is now using the phrase "Campaign Embeds." A hanging offense.

    The website gets a pass, but everyone else gets shot.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 6, 2004 6:01 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    "It's His Taxes, Stupid!"

    Why is this man laughing?

    The Wall Street Journal presents us with this interesting little graphic in Take a Hike Howard Dean wants to raise your taxes, whether you're dead or alive.

    Regardless of anything else that happens, the obvious Republican strategy for disintegrating this candidate if he does become THE candidate, would simply be to get on the message, "It's His Taxes, Stupid," reproduce the following graph 500 million times at Kindkos and just keep handing them out.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 3, 2004 6:16 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Tell Me Again About the Pleasures of the Home Office

    For some months now, the editorial offices of American Digest have been blessed with a very agressive program of renovation of the street directly outside the window. This morning, however, it reached previously unimagined heights of clamor, hammer, rasp, blast, roar, tintinnabulation and din with:

    The Street Renovation Trifecta!: (left to right) The Bobcat with the GRINDING OF THE PAVEMENT instrument of torture, the skipjack loader for LIFTING UP LARGE AMOUNTS OF RUBBLE AND SHAKING THEM AROUND FOR NO REASON, the big white truck with the HUGE WIRE BRISTLES for SCRAPING AND

    Just as we were about to throw ourselves off a nearby cliff, a friend saved our sanity by one simple question: "Do you have an Ipod?" FOREHEAD SLAP! Result: Pink Floyd never sounded better. I have become comfortably numb.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 9, 2003 1:47 PM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Who Says There's No Good News?

    U.N. control of Web rejected

    GENEVA -- The United States, backed by the European Union, Japan and Canada, has turned back a bid by developing nations to place the Internet under the control of the United Nations or its member governments.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 8, 2003 10:05 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Cheating Continues at Wizbang

    This morning one could find the following announcement at the top of a blog names in Wizbang's Compromised Weblog Awards:

    " the 2003 Weblog Awards category Best New Blog. Head on over and check out the entrants, find some favorites for further reading, and vote. This process is going on all week and you can vote every 12 hours."
    Over at Wizbang there's lots of folks that think this little "technical feature" isn't "cheating." I don't know what civics class they took in elementary school, nor their opinion on the Florida voting in the 2000 Presidential elections, but it seems clear they must be of the ilk that proclaims "eating ain't cheating" as well. If I were their significant others, I'd be very disappointed.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 8, 2003 8:42 AM |  Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Where Bush Hate is Heading

    A minor moron moment making its way on the talk shows today are the new lyrics by Eminem:
    "F--k money. I don't rap for dead presidents.
    I'd rather see the president dead.
    It's never been said,
    but I set precedents and the standards
    and they can't stand it. ...
    We as Americans. Us as a citizen.
    We've got to protect ourselves ..."

    Even though written to be brain fade of the month, the lyrics encapsulate where Bush Hate is going.

    Bush Hate, at the rate of festering intensity currently observable, is headed towards only one singular event: An attempt on the life of George W. Bush by an American citizen.

    We've had our fun with the "Extraordinary and Popular Delusions of Crowds Democratic" in the last few days. Nor have others been slow in mapping the decline of the party to the level of Raving Bull Goose Lunacy.

    But as we see time and again, words are actions and actions have consquences.

    As Americans, we assume that the terrorist enemies of our country would like nothing better than to assassinate the President of the United States. We can only hope that the Secret Service and all those entrusted with his protection have taken extraordinary precautions to protect him and prevent such an event from ever taking place.

    Even so, as we have learned several times in my lifetime, no security arrangements are flawless, and while you can protect rationally against rational threats, the game can fall apart when you are dealing with people who are manifestly insane and do not need to live.

    We expect our enemies to hate the President and to seek to do him harm. We do not expect members of the loyal opposition to allow their rhetoric and their "cultural standard bearers" such as Eminem ("I set precedents and the standards...") to poison the political system to the level that some of their misguided ilk take it upon themselves to take a shot at Bush "for the sake of the greater good."

    Yet Bush hate is leading is to that point. It may be that we get through the next year without seeing the headline: BUSH KILLED. I pray that it is so. At the same time, would you be surprised?

    Given the tenor of the tunes being sung by the Democrats, I'd just remember that I read here, today, the lyric: 'I'd rather see the President dead...' done in the name of "We as Americans. Us as a citizen."
    UPDATE: Orson Scott Card puts some more grist in this mill with: The Campaign of Hate and Fear

    "Watching the primary campaigns among this year's pathetic crop of Democratic candidates, I can't help but think that their campaigns would be vastly improved if they would only rise to the level of "Death to the Republicans."

    "Instead, their platforms range from Howard Dean's "Bush is the devil" to everybody else's "I'll make you rich and Bush is quite similar to the devil."

    "Since Bush is quite plainly not the devil, one wonders why anyone in the Democratic Party thinks this ploy will play with the general public."

    UPDATE 2:Secret Service checks Eminem's 'dead president' lyric - Dec. 6, 2003
    "The Secret Service is trying to determine if any action needs to be taken regarding a lyric from rapper Eminem that may be a threat to President Bush....


    Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 5, 2003 5:47 PM |  Comments (138)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    No Great Publisher Goes Unpunished

    Yesterday during a conversation with a friend I found myself saying that the really great publishers of the world have one thing in common: they know when to stop publishing this or that title.

    I've worked for several publishers in what might be called 'my career' but is otherwise known as 'a job,' but I've never been fortunate enough to work for one that has that great trait. Usually, they just keep publishing like the drinking bird bobbing over the glass.

    Lord Black, from all that I've known about him, is not one of the latter but one of the former. As such he is the natural enemy of journalists since that ragtag army of scribes depends on weak publishers to keep their checks flowing. The result is that, once the ragtags sense blood in these waters they just can't keep away. Hang around book and magazine publishing houses long enough and you'll learn that every single editor, writer and employee down to the guy who waters the plants knows more about publishing than the publisher. And they can be right, sometimes. But neither usually or nor frequently.

    But when there's lots of blood in the water as there is with the Black embroglio, the urge to snap up great wads of chum cannot be resisted even by the best journalists. Reading the WSJ's hamhanded report on Black's troubles the other day, I couldn't help but think I was watching scavengers at work. This morning, R. Emmett Tyrrell, who has no little experience in these matters takes the same tone is looking at the Press pile-on in Black board Ado

    "Hit 'em when they're down," is our motto. "Pile on," is our hearty exhortation. Who are we? We are the noble souls of the press. We are the self-described heroes, who write "history's first draft" as daily journalism is called. Yes, perhaps old Henry Ford had something when he described history as "bunk."

        I may write in newspapers every week -- when I am not writing in magazines or writing books -- but I am quite confident I am not a member of the press corps. I only "hit 'em" when they are standing and capable of hitting back. I would never "pile on."

        I avoid group things, and besides there is something cowardly about the journalists' feeding frenzy.

        Today the press is piling on in its coverage of the British and North American press tycoon Conrad Black. The journalists have found Mr. Black's disagreements with members of his boards at his Hollinger corporations have put him under scrutiny by government agencies, and so they "hit 'im while he's down."

    It's the high and the mighty brought down theme, over and over again. You'd think that a business that spends so much time praising itself and so much effort constructing ethical microscopes to examine ever finer photos of its own navel lint would be able to construct a tale that moves upward instead of downward. You might think that, but, in the immortal words of Richard Nixon, "It would be WRONG."

    Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 5, 2003 9:25 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Playing Catchup in the Infostream

    You leave your web connections and your struggling little page for a few days and it means a week of catchup.

    It never fails. Take a little 1,400 mile ride down the west coast of America for four days and all hell breaks loose here in the 'virtual world.' Well, perhaps not "all hell" but more like "business as usual" in the lukewarm behavioral soup that has come to be known as 'contemporary American culture.' During my brief vacation away from the infostream, it turned out to be anything but a holiday for those whose primary aim in life is to aid our nation on its slow drift to oblivion.

    Let's review some of the major and minor dubious and triumphant moments of the last few days:

    Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 4, 2003 8:24 PM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    1. "Mourner-in-Chief?"

    The President-as-Pinata crowd barely took time out for a turkey sandwich before they ramped up the Maureen Dowdian concept of Mourner-in-Chief. It would seem that Bush is now to be despised because he isn't going to any funerals.

    There are those who say Mr. Bush should have emulated Rudy Giuliani's empathetic leadership after 9/11, or Dad's in the first gulf war, and attended some of the funerals of the 379 Americans killed in Iraq. -- Death Be Not Loud
    Pundits and provocateurs have been all over this meme, but nobody that I'm aware of has said the obvious.

    The obvious is, briefly put, that everyone in America who is indeed still an American, should be down on their knees thanking God and the President that this is still a war in which it is even conceivable that a President could attend the funerals of those killed in action.

    Yes, we need to give thanks that our losses are still on a level where they remain in the double digits for a month. Quite unlike the battles of the World Wars, Korea, or even Vietnam where the deaths were such that one could barely count them, much less attend the funerals.

    This fact alone is a testament to the success, so far, of the Bush policy in the War on Terrorism. Not a Tarawa of American Deaths, not an Okinawa of American Deaths, but a death toll to date in Iraq somewhere south of those taken by traffic over, say, a long Thanksgiving holiday in the days before Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

    I have no way of knowing how many funerals Ms. Dowd of the Times went to in the wake of September 11th, but I went to 14 funerals in the months that came after that. I originally promised myself that I would, as a vigil, attend all the funerals of the firemen and policemen lost on that day. It was a promise I couldn't keep. The emotional drain was simply more than I could stand.

    To propose that the President begin making the rounds of our tragic losses in Iraq in order to see if he could weep strikes me as the worst sort of cynicism. It is, dare I say it, utterly Clintonian in its cynicism. But it is a cynicism we have, sadly come to expect from the likes of Maureen Dowd. Low and vile, but then again, being low and vile is her job and she is inordinately good at it.

    In a just world with a responsible media, vile "writers" such as Ms. Dowd would be sent to dig a few plastic wrapped corpses out of the Iraqi sands with a spoon and a toothbrush. Instead, she gets to stay in the US, hit the dinner party circuit, cash the check, and spend her off-hours just lying back and lubing her Pulitzer.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 4, 2003 7:29 PM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    2. "Cheaters Sort-Of Prosper in the Blogsphere"

    The admirableN.Z. Bear, about as fair a person as you could hope to find in the Blogsphere, was forced to deal with one of the worst cases of link-whoring and rank cheating in recent memory. It would seem that a group of blogs called, appropriately, "The League of Liberals," was caught out gaming Bear's blog ranking 'ecosystem' in order to push itself and its "Hate Bush" agenda higher and higher in the rankings. Multiple counters, blogs linking to blogs within blogs, blog clones, all of these were used by the ringleader of the Cheating League, one delusional "Barry," in the service of a 'higher cause" -- the defeat of the President. And like others of his ilk, any means, fair or foul, is appropriate.

    The Bear, who is to my mind, much more fair and evenhanded than I can ever hope to be, issued the mildest of punishments:

    :If you're wondering just how badly these blogs distorted the League's rankings, I'll draw your attention to the League's total inbound unique statistics from this morning, before I suspended these blogs: 8597 unique inbound links across all the League's blogs. With the removal of the duplicate blogs, the League now totals 5641 unique inbound links . That's right: 34% of the League's total unique links were due to these duplicate blogs. To League members, I ask you: is that really the way you want to advance? The Bear Suspends
    Nice, but was the application of a baseball bat to the fingers of these little weasels completely out of the question?

    Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 4, 2003 5:48 PM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    "We shouldn't just allow gay marriage. We should insist on gay marriage."

    To my mind, this observation by David Brooks is the most lucid thing said to date on the subject of gay marriage in particular and marriage in general: The Power of Marriage

    "Some conservatives may have latched onto biological determinism (men are savages who need women to tame them) as a convenient way to oppose gay marriage. But in fact we are not animals whose lives are bounded by our flesh and by our gender. We're moral creatures with souls, endowed with the ability to make covenants, such as the one Ruth made with Naomi: "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried."

    "The conservative course is not to banish gay people from making such commitments. It is to expect that they make such commitments. We shouldn't just allow gay marriage. We should insist on gay marriage. We should regard it as scandalous that two people could claim to love each other and not want to sanctify their love with marriage and fidelity.

    "When liberals argue for gay marriage, they make it sound like a really good employee benefits plan. Or they frame it as a civil rights issue, like extending the right to vote.

    "Marriage is not voting. It's going to be up to conservatives to make the important, moral case for marriage, including gay marriage. Not making it means drifting further into the culture of contingency, which, when it comes to intimate and sacred relations, is an abomination."

    Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 23, 2003 7:23 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    A Quiet Rage

    On Slaughter, Bad Americans, and Vile Iraqis.

    Before he became a simpering dottard the once lucid Norman Mailer wrote a book entitled: “Why Are We in Vietnam?” The snide defeatism of that title and the content spewed after it are, for the moment, out of fashion with the majority of Americans. But should the apologists and appeasers among us have their way, this will not always be the case. Still, that will be then and this is the now.

    For now, were I to take the time to pen a short treatise in the Mailer vein, mine would be titled, “Why Are We Not Killing More of Our Enemies Wholesale?”

    It is not as if we do not know who they are and where they are. Rather it is the case that we are still in the fastidious and polite phase of this war; the phase where little or nothing is asked of Americans at home while nothing short of everything is required from our American troops on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Everything that is, except the freedom to bring the war home to our enemies with every means at our command.

    To watch our troops killed day by day fills me, day by day, with a growing rage both at our enemies and at our policies that offer these men and women up for slaughter without a full committment from our government and ourselves.

    Listening to those spineless excuses for "Candidates" fielded by the abominable crawling thing that the once noble Democratic Party has become fills me with a quiet rage as well. In a very real sense, they are one of the homefront's reasons that our troops continue to die. Their carping and despicable pursuit of the President and their own cheap ambitions embolden our enemies and encourage the slow war of attrition.

    How many times can one listen, after all, to a Kerry or a Dean or their lesser partners in vile ambition stress that they “Support the troops” and at the same time listen to their message that the war those troops fight is stupid, misguided, a lie, and a crime. Is this not like saying to each and every American soldier, “I’m behind you 100 percent and am sad that your life and your efforts are an idiotic, confused, and criminally false mission?” This is not support. This is subversion.

    I’ve long accepted that as career politicians grow more desperate they grow more craven and despicable, but of late this acceptance is becoming more

    Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 23, 2003 5:03 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    How the Infotel Scam Works


    "If you're not in the Infotel Business Directories, how will they find you?"
    Infotel;"Making the world just a little smaller"

    -- Slogans on Infotel Web Site

    Over the last few days a lot of attention has been given to a shabby con run out of Canada by the Frank family called "Infotel." Essentially, this is one of those "get the company to pay" bits of sleaze that run as low-level infections throughout the corporate world. It only usually falls apart when the scamsters try to shakedown a small company that knows what it orders and what it doesn't.

    Canada, long a haunt for fly-by-night telemarketing con-artists and shabby porn peddlars, gives companies like this shelter from US laws. I guess because Canada needs every sort of business it can bet these days.

    At any rate, there hasn't been a lot of detail on how the scam or scams of Infotel are done until now when a 'former employee' has detailed them. The details are fascinating reading [Brackets = Added Information]:

    Posted by a "former employee" in the comments section of "damnum absque injuria"


    Hey I worked there in Sales; this is [how the scams work]……

    Categorized as a Legal Counterfeit Company because the products are real it is still a Telemarketing Scam because of the way the products are sold and there is no way of knowing how many are distributed.

    Infotel/CBSI Products: (as seen at )


    These are National Business to Business Directories. Because they are National (ex. all the U.S. in one book) they are ... worthless. Nevertheless, they are what they are and are sold as that and no more.

    The only illegal premise is the falsifying of the fact that the company was previously listed. This is fraud and the BBB knows it.

    The *Paper Rolls are for Credit Card machines etc. This nickel & dime Scam starts with the sales pitch “You are running out of paper etc.” The paper is sold by weight. Again the products do exist. This time around the small fry is caught thinking it’s his supplier calling. Nothing illegal here, just gullible employees.

    Part 1 (Directories)

    The Scam starts with the Sales Pitch directed at the unknowing small fry at a company: "Would you like to continue your listing in the 2xxx Directory of American Business, it's the National Business to Business Directory, Yellow and White pages."

    The Yellow and White pages draw them in. It's a Phone Book to the small fry. They were previously listed? (This is the Scam, they were not)

    The Scam continues with a Shipping Department call: "This is so and so from the Shipping Department of Infotel Publications", I am calling to confirm the details..." The Scam here is to get the small fry to admit he/she is authorized to make the purchase. This call is taped.

    If yes, the Scam is set in motion. If no, then it is returned to the sales where it may be pitched again to the same company.

    With the Scam set in motion, the company is listed in the directory and on the website The directory is sent by UPS to the company.

    Part 2 (Directories)

    The collection department (known in telemarketing as The BOILER room) handles the non paid invoices which make up a large % of the take. The monitored call, the proof of purchase, the authorized small fry, all contributes to the success of the Scam.

    The BOILER room rotates the unpaid invoices trying to keep the calls to companies at the US legal debt collecting limit avoiding BBB & Attorney General Complaints. The goal is to get to the Owner, President, or V.P. etc. This is the turn point of the Scam. The Owner, President, V.P. etc. will pay the Full Invoice price, Partial or a Lower Fee or Nothing.



    Who do they target?
    Any and all Businesses including Non-Profit Organizations even Churches (But no Synagogues)

    Do I have to pay?

    How do I stop the Calls?
    Call the Better Business Bureau

    But Better…..
    Alert the Attorney General

    Who are these guys?
    Canadian Telemarketers aimed at the US and Europe

    The Owners
    Gordon Frank, Ted Frank, Sean Frank

    Even the ... mother (Rosalyn Cobrin) of these CROOKS works there, it’s a FAMILY BUSINESS!

    Montreal, Toronto

    More info......

    Posted by: FORMER EMPLOYEE at October 31, 2003 04:46 PM

    Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 16, 2003 10:16 AM |  Comments (60)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Where's the Outrage?

    John Podhoretz asks a key question in his NY Post article: BEWARE THE 'FILTER'

    You might think that an attack that killed 15 Americans and wounded hundreds more might inspire even the merest hint of anger on the part of those Americans whose job it is to write about it. Their articles might offer some perspective on how those seeking to kill Americans in Iraq are working for the restoration of one of the most barbaric regimes in world history. They'd ask the key question raised by such an attack: What is to be done to smoke out these barbarians?
    Strange how this key question never seem to find their way into the headlines, or even into most copy. You'd almost think some media outlets care more about defeating Bush than they do about the lives of American soldiers. But that's can't be true. Can it?

    Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 4, 2003 1:28 AM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Microsoft Cans Pix Posting Blogger

    I'm willing to bet folding money that within a year we'll be hearing a Gates Keynote, at any one of the bazillion conferences onliners feel compelled to attend, about how essential blogging is to the "Microsoft Way." Then we'll have a BillBlog to show us the light!

    What a pity Microsoft will have fired its better bloggers by that time.

    Of blogging and unemployment

    The day started like any other day — get up, dink around for a bit, bus into work, and start working through the stack of jobs. Just shy of an hour after I got in, my manager came in and asked me to step into his office when I had a chance. Sure, no biggie, and I headed over as soon as I finished the job I was setting up.

    "Okay, here's the first question. Is this page," and here he turned his monitor towards me, letting me see my "Even Microsoft wants G5s" post from last Thursday, "hosted on any Microsoft computer? Or is it on your own?"

    "It's on mine. Well, it's on a hosted site that I pay for, but no, it's not on anything of Microsoft's."

    "Good. That means that as it's your site on your own server, you have the right to say anything you want. Unfortunately, Microsoft has the right to decide that because of what you said, you're no longer welcome on the Microsoft campus." [eclecticism]

    Well, you can't argue with that. Or perhaps you can. Either way, the man is canned.

    Either way, if you think he got a raw deal, and I do, you can send him a bit of cash to tide him over. I did. His PayPal page is: here.

    UPDATE: Well, that's didn't take long. Instapundit reports Bill's into blogs:

    THIS SPEECH BY BILL GATES on Longhorn, Microsoft's in-design operating system, indicates that they're thinking about blogs, at least a little: But what's interesting about this is a couple of things. First, it actually built in these common parts that show information, notification, services, that a user might really be... []

    Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 29, 2003 8:05 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Through the Lens, the Severe Beauty of Nuclear Test Blasts


    In a new book, "100 Suns," published this week by Knopf, the photographer Michael Light has retrieved images of these blasts from government and scientific archives and presented them in all their stark and severe beauty. They document a menace that continues even though we can no longer photograph it.

    As Mr. Light reminds us, some hundred thousand nuclear weapons have been built and remain on the earth. That is what makes these old photographs "utterly relevant" today.[New York Times: Science]

    Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 20, 2003 10:33 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    On American Liberty and Destiny

    A world divided against itself cannot stand. Governments cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.”

    This morning I read a pocket essay by Demosophia entitled: "Imminent Threat in Florida and Iraq." which uses the Florida Recount controversy and the Iraq incursion to illustrate how opposing factions, internationally and nationally, view the concept of "imminent." I commend it to you for its balance and lucidity.

    Still, as I read the following excerpt from it, I felt the author had hit on something important although at right angles to his central point:

    "... it would seem to me that the real issue isn't "imminence" but the same issue that was at stake in the Florida Recount: uncertainty. And to some people uncertainty means freedom and license, while to others it means constraint and caution. To Saddam, as to the Japanese High Command, the uncertainty of the US and its allies was freedom and license. It represented operating parameters, and opportunities. To Byrd and Kennedy uncertainly meant the possibility that a threat didn't exist. I might even say it meant the probability that the threat would not materialize unexpectedly. So, to them it also meant freedom and license. To the Bush people, on the other hand, uncertainty meant the possibility of a really nasty surprise somewhere down the line. And for an executive, to be on the receiving end of a "day of infamy," is something to be avoided.
    My first reflection was to note that for George W. Bush being on the receiving end of a second "day of infamy" was a main motivation behind his policies.

    I also found myself thinking that the author had, in passing, also mapped the fault line at the core of our present political impasse.

    One would think that with 3,000 dead and the nation's economy suffering a body blow from which it has taken two years recover, Americans of all political persuasions would still possess an adamantine unity. We all know this is not the case. Our politics of faction grows more bitter and divisive by the day and, absent another blow from terrorism, will continue in this wise through the 2004 elections and beyond.

    In addition, the historic isolationism of Americans seems to be once more on the rise. Victor Davis Hanson’s remarks this week in "The Vision Thing: Convincing Americans to stick with a crazy Middle East." underscore this:

    “ I gauge current American public opinion, there is a rising weariness of the insanity abroad, and it will only grow unless administration spokesmen habitually address — weekly, daily, even hourly — such exasperations and counter them by appealing to the innate American sense of idealism and generosity.

    “Otherwise, we will finally go ballistic at enemies as loud and obnoxious as they are impotent, further sickened that our old allies are not even neutrals but themselves sound off like near enemies. Most Americans, tragically so, do not find from 30-second film clips that the Iraqi people are all that sympathetic a lot, but rather — after the war, the looting, the suicide bombings, and the complaining — that they are not worth the billions of dollars and the lost lives. And it is precisely that innate unease with ingratitude that the Democrats and the press have tapped into, at last finding some resonance with the American people.

    Hanson’s dour meditation and Demosophia’s characterization of the two poles of the “political uncertainty principle” seem to fit the parameters of our politics and our national mood this autumn.

    In one corner, wearing the Rainbow trunks, we have the party of “liberty and license” exemplified by the shrill Democratic Party and its crop of candidates touring the talk shows. Their policies are, leaving aside the central rallying pivot of hate for the person of the President, drenched with nostalgia for “those thrilling days of yesteryear” when the Liberal vision of a perfectable society was ascendant. When neither hating Bush nor yearning for the past, their policies seem to be those that could only be enacted as those of a “President Bartlett” in an administration to be known as “The West Wing -- This Time for Real.” Fear and loathing blended with nostalgia and fantasy does not, I think, make for a viable party.

    In the other corner, wearing trunks monogramed with the dollar sign, a hard hat obsessed with deficits and encumbered with a large crucifix, we have the party of “constraint and caution.” Nominally Republican this faction is exemplified by forces within the current administration, such as State, that act as a brake on the administration’s plans to take out increasing military insurance against the clear and present enemies of the United States. Hence, the seemingly endless Minuet with the United Nations over Iraq and Israel that we endure as a self-imposed check on our power.

    More dangerous still are the rabid isolationists (in all but business), that infect the Republican Party because they have no place else to go. These are the factions symbolized but not contained to the realm of Mordor trumpeted by Pat Buchanan. They counsel us to retreat from the world at large and lounge upon the soft sofas of Fortress America. They hold that the mere possession and threat of power is more important than the rational projection of that power. In this they wallow with the equally dysfunctional Democrats who hold that a possession of a pure morality is more important than the projection of that morality through the export of American institutions and values.

    Both these factions seem to me to be effete, irresponsible and irrelevant. Yet they seem to dominate our political discussions through their polarizing influences and the endless sideshow of their partisan squabbles. The fascination with these positions is a nightmare from which we must now struggle to awake.

    To do so we must become aware that neither of these factions can answer the central question that History is currently proposing to these States.

    Simply stated that question is whether these States are prepared to take the Spirit of the Revolution begun here over two hundred years ago, and extend it to the world at large wherever it is needed, or whether that Revolution of the Human Spirit, continuous for over two centuries, will now be judged to have found its limits in the early 21st century.

    There are those on both sides of the political uncertainty principle who believe our Revolution is over. They believe its meaning is now no more than something antiquated, quaint and vague. Something not ready for global prime time at the beginning of a brave new world order. History, beginning on September 11, 2001, has opened for us another way, a clearer and more certain path, through the unwitting sacrifice of the vastly diverse group of our citizens, civilian and military, that died that day.

    This path is best found through two questions we must each now ask ourselves. The first is if, in our time and in our soft, rich, lax and “uncertain” America,

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness —

    “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

    “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.“

    The second question we must ask ourselves, if we answer in the affirmative to the first, is if we believe, to paraphrase Lincoln, that “A world divided against itself cannot stand. Governments cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.”

    We have, as a nation and as a people, in the last few decades become tedious in our pursuit of the good life to the exclusion of all else. We have become, in our dedication to the secular life of the body and the world dimensional, increasingly slothful and selfish as a nation. We have tarried in our Xanadu while the forces of Totalitarianism have hardened their hold over their captive populations and pursued philosophies and weaponry with which to hold Freedom hostage to Terror.

    In the last two years we have begun to haltingly roll back this tide but now, this autumn, our will seems to waver under assaults from within and without.

    The issue placed before us by the reconstruction of Iraq is whether we have it in our national character and our gift to export the values of the Declaration to the vast areas of the world still held in the grip of a medieval Totalitarianism, or whether our factions of uncertainty, be they those of liberty and license or of caution and constraint, will remove our gift from the world’s tree of life and we will, for but a little time, continue in the foolish idyll from which we awoke one September morning.

    Several years ago, a bestseller entitled “The Greatest Generation,” recounting the nature and achievement of the Americans who triumphed over the Great Depression and WWII, drew attention to those who had given us the rich and lavish society we now inhabit. It also underscored the fact that those Americans were departing these scene. Implicit therein was the recognition that their children and grandchildren now hold the positions of power and influence that direct America’s destiny. Absent the wounds of Vietnam, whose scars still bend the attitudes of many in politics and most in the media, these descendants of the Greatest Generation have not until now had to deal with a global war. That time is now upon us.

    One message contained within “The Greatest Generation” was that America’s finest hours lay behind it. That may be. Perhaps our politics of faction and uncertainty will prevail. Perhaps we will decide that the “unalienable rights” of the Declaration will be made available not to all men, but only to those lucky enough to escape from the Middle Ages to the West. Perhaps we are no longer able to “pay any price and bear any burden” to extend Freedom across the face of the world and to end, once and for all, the slavery of Totalitarianism.

    If so we confirm our enemies’ assumptions that we will not be able to tolerate a daily death rate in the single digits, where our fathers and mothers withstood a war in which the daily deaths could not begin to be listed in the final 15 seconds of a newscast. If so, then our finest hours will indeed, to our shame, lie in our past.

    I reject this thin and tepid interpretation of America’s soul. I prefer to believe that this nation will find it neither easy nor possible to immunize itself from History. I believe that America still has a greater destiny, no longer manifest but just as inevitable, to continue the greater mission of the Western Enlightenment that found its first and fullest expression within these States.

    There are those among us and in the world at large who maintain that America is the greatest present threat to the people of the world, but we know this to be a lie. What is true is that America and what it represents is the greatest present threat to those governments, religions and institutions that still enslave their people. If you need to know “why they hate us” this is your answer.

    No nation is immune to history. I believe we shall, through coming trials of ice or fire, find it within ourselves to use our power and our preeminence at this moment to extend our principles to wherever Totalitarianism currently reigns, and to expunge it from the world. In this, I believe our finest hours still lie ahead.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 20, 2003 10:26 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Hint to NYT: They Call It Staten "Island" for a Reason

    An editorial in the Times celebrates the normalcy of the commute on after the Staten Island Ferry Tragedy, by saying:

    Still, ferry riders returned yesterday morning. According to Iris Weinshall, the city's transportation commissioner, "It was an eerily normal rush hour."

    That's as much a testament to the resilience of Staten Islanders and their faith in the ferries as to their confidence that investigators will figure out what happened.

    The Times really has to talk to someone who lives there before preening in this way. It is an "island" like, say, Manhattan, but with no trains connecting it. There's a busline, natch, but that's about an hour and a half into the city. Nope, the islanders were, as islanders are, simply trapped into their commuting rut.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 17, 2003 1:34 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Speak the Truth and the LA Times Will Investigate You
    "...if you didn't know it before, the central LA Times editorial policy seems to have become 'The right tool for the right job.'"

    The elephant in the room when it comes to The First Terrorist War is that nobody is allowed to say that it is, after all, a religious war. The President knows this, but can't say it. Members of the clergy know this but can't say it. Millions of citizens know this, but don't say it.

    Why? Because it would be insensitive, divisive and politically incorrect to say it. It is one of the ironies of history that this has become the first religious war that cannot be called a religious war. Except, of course, by the Radical Islamic elements and their millions of supporters here and around the world. It is as if we've agreed to deliberately misunderstand the definition of "Jihad" in order to spare the tender feelings of the Muslims among us.

    But, it would seem that one person, former commander of Army Special Forces, Lt. Gen. William Boykin, is on record as telling the truth that dare not speak its name. "This summer, Boykin was promoted to deputy undersecretary of defense, with a new mission for which many say he is uniquely qualified: to aggressively combine intelligence with special operations and hunt down so-called high-value terrorist targets including bin Laden and Saddam."

    But Boykin is a devout Christian and has made statements that underscore his belief that this is, after all is said and done, a religious war. Worse still, he has said these things at churches while in, gasp, uniform. Naturally, secular interests can't have that. They simply can't abide it. Result, the beginnings of a media backed campaign to discredit and dislodge him:

    Why are terrorists out to destroy the United States? Boykin said:“They’re after us because we’re a Christian nation.”

    NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin, who’s been investigating Boykin for the Los Angeles Times, says the general casts the war on terror as a religious war: “I think that it is not only at odds with what the president believes, but it is a dangerous, extreme and pernicious view that really has no place.” Top terrorist hunter

    It would seem that the oft-quoted pundit and "military analyst" Bill Arkin, has more than one axe to grind against the Pentagon as the article linked here shows.

    It is also interesting to see that he is privy to "what the President believes" rather than what the President says he believes. Since Mr. Arkin's ability to know the President's mind is dubious, what his statement really tells us is that Mr.Arkin believes that the General's stance is "a dangerous, extreme and pernicious view that really has no place." All well and good since it tells us up-front the assumptions and beliefs that will form the foundation of Arkin's forthcoming "impartial investigation" of Boykin.I'm sure it will be held to the same high standards of journalism we've recently come to expect from the L. A. Times.

    By the way, did we mention that Arkin, besides working for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and MSNBC as a "Senior Military Analyst," has also done a lot of work for Human Rights Watch? Nice to have your news cut on the bias. It makes everything that much more predictable.

    UPDATE: Mr. Arkin's investigative report as "Commentary" is here. Arkin is identified as a "military affairs analyst who writes regularly for The Times."

    The LATimes news story on this issue on the same day is here and written by one "Richard T. Cooper, Times Staff Writer." Cooper leans heavily on Arkin and his "commentary" for the hard news item.

    The NBC Nightly News item was credited as being created "by Lisa Myers and the NBC Investigative Unit." Other than quotes and clips the foremost person asked to comment on the story was " NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin."

    Besides his work for Human Rights Watch, one of Arkin's hobbies is
    "compiling a long-term data base of civilian casualties in U.S. wars since 1991."

    It is also interesting to note that last January, in his farewell Dot.Mil column in the Washington Post, Arkin was concerned that the adminstration was dissing the "uniformed military"

    " The current Bush administration started down a path of stifling dialog and marginalizing the uniformed military long before the attacks on September 11. Initially Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld went to war against the uniformed leadership under the guise of transformation" Farewell
    Evidently Boykin is the "wrong" kind of uniformed military because he has strong religious convictions and speaks his mind.

    Other interesting items on Arkin's resume include:

    "He served as the director of Greenpeace International's war response team during the Gulf War and served in the US army from 1974 to 1978." - via Democracy Now

    He still has a viable email address at the Institute for Global Communications whose mission statement reads: "...played a formative role in bringing advanced communications technologies to grassroots organizations worldwide working for peace, human rights, environmental sustainability, women's rights, conflict resolution and worker rights. Our flagship global computer networks -- PeaceNet, EcoNet, WomensNet, ConflictNet, LaborNet and AntiRacismNet -- became trademark names in the struggle for democratic use of the media and the world's communications infrastructure."

    I'd think that instead of stopping at the terse designation of Mr. Arkin as a "military analyst" it would behoove various media outlets to also trumpet his experience in Human Rights Watch, Greenpeace, and the Institute for Global Communications. After all, it helps to know where our military analysis is coming from.

    It also helps to know that, if you didn't know it before, the central LA Times editorial policy seems to have become "The right tool for the right job."

    Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 17, 2003 8:46 AM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Class and Caste on the Internet


    You are probably spending far too much time online when you begin to type in URLs found in the captions of cartoons. But, at the same time, you'd be smart to follow any URLs Chris Muir feels are interesting enought for "Day by Day."

    That's certainly the case this morning when he points to a fascinating essay on Class warfare on the Internet.

    The upper classes are not amused by efforts to level the playing field, and so while the Internet (and college subsidies) happen to do just that, the result is modern class warfare as the upper class fights back, probably by using the Internet's own tools for democracy.

    One such tool is the digital identity, or the electronic signature. With Public Key Cryptography you can create an electronic key that cannot be forged, and that establishes the identity part. But these keys can also be signed by someone else, and the goal is the transference of trust: if I trust Charles, and Charles signs Vyvian's key, then I can now trust that Vyvian is who Charles says he is. If Vyvian then signs Reginald's key then Reginald is indirectly trusted, but not as much as Vyvian. If it turns out that Reginald has plans to spoil the party by signing Bubba's key, then everybody can punish Reginald by setting their software to distrust Reginald's key and any key signed with it.

    These layers of signatures can be used to build a hierarchy and a new way of identifying class; if you want to create an exclusive Internet club who's members can only be two levels of trust away from Charles, then it's as simple as writing a few lines of code on the login screen. If you want to screen job applicants, then you can require their electronic signature (which could be considered reasonable now that many people apply for jobs online). These networks are cryptographically secure, so nobody from the lower classes can break into them.

    A highly worthwhile look at how the Internet may not be the key to a classless society after all along with asides on how sometimes good intentions carry within them the seeds of their own defeat.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 14, 2003 9:41 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Dinosaurs 16, Small Furry Mammals, 5 Billion

    The ever-lucid Clay Shirky has written one of the best essays yet on why the RIAA's cmapaign to make its customers hate the recording industry is doomed in File-sharing Goes Social

    The RIAA has taken us on a tour of networking strategies in the last few years, by constantly changing the environment file-sharing systems operate in. In hostile environments, organisms often adapt to become less energetic but harder to kill, and so it is now. With the RIAA's waves of legal attacks driving experimentation with decentralized file-sharing tools, file-sharing networks have progressively traded efficiency for resistance to legal attack.

    The RIAA has slowly altered the environment so that relatively efficient systems like Napster were killed, opening up a niche for more decentralized systems like Gnutella and Kazaa. With their current campaign against Kazaa in full swing, we are about to see another shift in network design, one that will have file sharers adopting tools originally designed for secure collaboration in a corporate setting.

    Read on to find out the full recipe for failure the record moguls are currently pursuing.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 13, 2003 4:28 PM | QuickLink: Permalink


    Forget about the Liberal News Network If Al Gore and his business buddies really wanted to start a media outlet that would benefit America, another Fountain of Feedback is not what we need. Instead, consider the idea T. J. Sejnowski puts forward in Science's Tap into Science 24-7

    C-SPAN reaches 80 million U.S. households, providing information on policy and politics 24 hours a day. It provides complete, unedited coverage of speeches and proceedings that affect public policy, without filtering by commentators and pundits. In Washington, D.C., C-SPAN is an ever-present part of the background buzz.

    What we need is a C-SPAN for science: a cable science network (CSN). This network would carry live lectures by knowledgeable scientists on topics ranging from climate change to biological warfare, as well as debates on issues from the biological basis of aggression to missile defense. A wide range of programs is available from events such as the AAAS meetings, public conferences (4), and annual lectures (5). It is time for science to join the background buzz.

    At times of crisis, such as the anthrax attacks in America in 2001, CSN would provide accurate, timely scientific information. Instead of hearing on a U.S. national TV broadcast that anthrax is a virus, concerned citizens could have had the world's leading experts on infectious disease available 24 hours a day. CSN would be more reliable than government sources: during the anthrax crisis, NIH scientists who had accurate information were not allowed to make public statements, even about the effects of stress on health. The recent outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is another example where timely expert advice was needed.

    You'll note he's not calling out for another Discovery or TLC, but a serious science network for serious people.

    So, I put it to you, what would be best for the country at this time? A series of shows batting the He Said/She Said politics potato back and forth between the lying liars of DemLibs TV and the Lying Liars of Fox News, or a show that seriously covers and expands this nation's knowledge of science and technology? It's not rocket science. Indeed, the question seems to be more of a nobrainer than the Geraldo Show.

    How to actually make it happen? I'm sure the Web has more than ideas. If you find any, leave them here. I'll be scanning as well.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 12, 2003 11:32 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Note to Poet George: Don't give up your day job.

    A Pome by George W. Bush to his wife:

    "Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    Oh my, lump in the bed
    How I've missed you."

    "Roses are redder
    Bluer am I
    Seeing you kissed
    by that charming French guy."

    This either signals a thaw in Franco-American Relations or a prelude to Defcon 1.

    From: Laura Bush hosts Book Festival as president writes her a poem

    Posted by Van der Leun at Oct 9, 2003 4:04 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Guilt Tripping the Rich

    Here's a clever way to raise money from the connected of the world at:Global Rich List

    Every year we gaze enviously at the lists of the richest people in world. Wondering what it would be like to have that sort of cash. But where would you sit on one of those lists? Hereï¿•s your chance to find out.
    The program parses your income and then presents you with a bar graph showing your position on a scale from poorest person in the world to richest one. It is no suprise that if you can even read these words on your screen that you are very, very close to the richest person in the world. Yup, compared to the "poorest person in the world" you'll be right up there in the top 1% every time.

    The page then allows you to "donate securely in 2 minutes" to CARE INTERNATONAL. Exactly how much is going to reach the poorest person in the world isn't that clear, but at least you will be swelling the coffers of CARE.

    Posted by Van der Leun at Sep 12, 2003 2:22 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Yet More Words to Live By
    "The Left should have figured that Osama was out to get them on September 11, when he targeted New York instead of Salt Lake City. Those who missed the point might have caught on when a truck bomb demolished the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. The Islamist war against Marxist Algeria, which kills 150 people a day might have suggested that they too, were on the jihad hit parade. But the Left is clueless, so it was hardly surprising to hear Howard Dean say in response to recent attacks in Israel that "it's not our place to take sides", little reckoning that Islam may have already assigned Howard Dean his 'side' whatever he says, whatever he does.
    -- From the brilliant and lucid Belmont Club
    Posted by Van der Leun at Sep 10, 2003 5:15 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    No CDs for the Holidays: 2003 - Make It Happen

    Image by SYA


    You have to be utterly unconnected to everything not to have noticed that the recording industry, represented by RIAA, has decided to get medieval on its customer base. The latest moronic move by this organization to halt P2P file sharing is a deluge of subpoenas and lawsuits designed to 'really teach music downloaders a lesson.'

    Will it work? It will for those unfortunate enough to "win" this Lawsuit Lottery. Nothing like the prospect of large legal bills and crippling fines to make the "bad" consumers of music see the error of their ways.

    Is it fair? Not by a long shot. The Register estimates that it will take RIAA over 2,000 years to sue everybody at the current rate.

    Is it sane? The RIAA thinks it is very sane to attack, at random, individuals, and
    to take a look at their hard drives to see if there was ever a track downloaded that the person under their guns still has somewhere.

    Well, if that is the case, who among us will escape hanging?

    And while you are contemplating that, contemplate whether or not you want to allow a tactic that lets any government or business interest start poking around on your computer on the basis of information gathered from your ISP go unopposed.

    Are you sure all those "accidentally" collected jpegs are really expunged?

    Would you prefer to balance your checkbook the old fashioned way? How about your online bank account? Any copies of that floating around along with letters to your significant other?

    That (journal entry) (unsent email) about your boss, your lover, President Bush... is that really erased or hidden so that it can never be recovered?

    Not a pretty picture, is it?

    Think of this RIAA tactic as "random cyberterrorism with lawyers." It stinks. It is part of the axis of evil interests determined to control your online behavior. And it is a very dangerous precedent. What's more, looked at from any reasonable perspective, it is merely the last in a series of attempts by the executives behind RIAA to save their cushy jobs and perks. That, at bottom, is all it is. This possibility that all these lawsuits will add a dime to the royalty checks of the musicians it is said to represent is close to zero.

    If these litigation junkies at the RIAA could wake up from their money induced dementia and smell the coffee of online micropayments and the clear signals from Apple's online music store, they'd find billions more in revenue than they are currently seeing from grinding out half-baked albums and pricing them into the stratosphere.

    But they can't wake up. They need to be shaken.

    What I'd like to see happen, so that the RIAA and the recording industry deeply understands that suing people at random is VERY BAD FOR BUSINESS is a Web wide boycott on CDs as holiday gifts in 2003.

    It is simple and it will be, if broadly based enough, effective. It simply targets the one season of the year when all the recording companies are hoping to make a killing in sales. What would happen if those sales fell dramatically? They might get the message that while downloading music that you don't pay for is wrong, destroying individuals financially at random is equally wrong.

    It has something to do with that old adage about: "Two wrongs don't make a right."

    Yes, just that simple and sometimes simple ideas are strong ideas.

    My idea, simply put:

    Pass it on.

    If the Web can get their attention, perhaps we can help them kick their addiction to lawyers at the same time we kick out addiction to "free" downloads of music.

    P.S. Can someone design a nifty little ribbon and button for this campaign? Gotta have a ribbon and a button you know.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation is out in front on this issue.
    Reid Stout at is a sane man about this issue.
    The Inquirer gives you an idea of the reality of this issue.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 10, 2003 9:11 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Hammer. Nail. Bang

    John Derbyshire's lucid on Christianity in America sums up in a few paragraphs exactly what is wrong with the current kerfuffle over the monument to the Ten Commandments dust-up. In the process he puts a lot more than Moore in perspective:

    There is a war on: People who hate America are working day and night to destroy us. Just a few months ago they murdered 3,000 of us, and brought down two of our noblest buildings. Manufacturing jobs are long gone, and middle-class paper-shuffling jobs are following them fast. Public-sector unions are pillaging our state treasuries to fund their 50-90 programs (retire at 50 on 90 percent of your salary). Meanwhile, trial lawyers are chewing their way like termites through the private sector. We have 13 million illegal immigrants scoffing at our laws and helping themselves to the welfare provisions that citizens have spent their lifetimes funding through taxes. Two million of us are currently in jail, and the one-eighth of our population that is black supplies one-half of those inmates. Our education systems are collapsing under absurd demands that "no child be left behind" — everyone must be above average! — and hundreds of thousands of citizens have fled those systems in disgust to school their kids at home. Our universities are in the hands of nihilist ideologues who hate their own nation, culture and ancestors. The political system has seized up, impossible-to-cut spending programs crashing head on into impossible-to-raise tax rates. Drop a cigarette butt into some power generator in Cleveland and you can shut down the northeastern U.S.A. for a day. A North Korean nuke has been smuggled across the Mexican border and hidden in a filing cabinet on the 102nd floor of the Sears Tower. (I made that up, but if it hasn't actually happened yet, it won't be long.)

    And action to deal with all these problems is massively hindered by the fact that we can't even talk about them in public for fear of being branded with one of the half-dozen modern equivalents of the scarlet letter — "racist," "nativist," "elitist," "profiler," and the rest of the idiot schoolmarmish cant we hear from the guardians of our public virtue.

    In short, we are going to hell in a hand basket here, and all you liberals can think of is to jab your finger in the eyes of 46 percent of your fellow citizens over some footling dubious point of Constitutional law? Just ask yourselves — please, please, ask yourselves: Is Roy's Rock really a proper target for my zeal, my energy, my passion, my money? Is my reaction to it in any kind of proportion to any harm it might conceivably do?

    Posted by Van der Leun at Aug 27, 2003 7:13 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Kottke Takes the Space Out of Web Log

    At the always fascinating and persistently brilliant :: home of fine hypertext products, Jason Kottke is out to slash the space out of "Web Log" and make the world safe for the "Weblog."

    When dealing with words generated by the Internet, where people stick bits of different words together with reckless abandon, I can understand the need for high-quality newspapers and magazines to use the proper grammatical approach in dealing with compound words, hyphens, etc. At first blush, "weblog" appears to be a shortened version of "web log" which is in turn a shortened version of "World Wide Web log", in which case the usage the media has adopted would be more or less correct ("Web log" would probably be more correct). But the evidence doesn't support this...
    He's right. It doesn't. Check the links for a fascinating tour into the origins of this medium. That's your assignment for today. Will there be a quiz? Are you kidding? It's August.

    Posted by Van der Leun at Aug 26, 2003 4:43 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Hidden Agenda of Sobig

    Organized crime behind Sobig?

    Peter Simpson, manager of ThreatLab at Clearswift, warned that antivirus companies and the media have become so obsessed with the unprecedented numbers surrounding the prolific Sobig.F variant that the real dangers are going almost unnoticed....

    "Sobig smashed all the records in terms of pure numbers, but that's not nearly the whole story," said Simpson. "This is the sixth in a series of controlled experiments. This isn't about some kiddy writing viruses in his bedroom--this is really a very sophisticated example of organized crime."

    And he believes there may be far worse to come.

    Posted by Van der Leun at Aug 26, 2003 8:24 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    On the Vulnerability of Power and Technology

    In Unorthodox Thoughts about Asymmetric Warfare, published in the current edition of PARAMETERS, the US Army War College Quarterly, Montgomery Meigs writes this eerily prescient passage:

    Technology plays a critical role in this new equation. Strategically, from financial markets to transportation systems to electric power grids, standards of living worldwide depend fundamentally on integrated technical systems that are susceptible to idiosyncratic threats. The operational structures upon which campaigns depend have similar attributes. These systems may have internal safeguards against failure in normal operations, but they do not have an ability to avoid catastrophic failure when they are interrupted or attacked in an unexpected, unanticipated, and peculiar way that generates cascading or accelerating effects.

    The Northeast blackout of 9 November 1965 provides a useful example. At 5:16 p.m. on that day, an overcurrent relay on a transmission line from the Beck power plant outside of Toronto tripped and shut down one of six lines carrying power from that plant into the Canadian power grid that served Ontario. In 2.5 seconds -- to protect Beck’s generators from overload -- shutdowns rippled through the Canadian system, closing off the five other lines from the plant. The transmission systems in Ontario were linked to systems in New York. When the demand from Ontario went off-line, Beck’s output surged into the power grid in New York, almost doubling throughput. The overload began to surge through the US grid, threatening generation plants all over the Northeast. To protect their own generators, private utilities took their systems off-line, forcing the large public utilities to follow suit. In a total of four seconds, the Northeast went completely dark.4 The blackout represents the potential for catastrophic failure of technologically intensive systems with high degrees of interdependence. If one can find a weakness through which safety factors can be overloaded or bypassed, then manipulate the system in a self-destructive, eccentric manner, he can cause imploding, catastrophic failure.

    The principle also applies in military operations. If one can attack the center of gravity of an operational system in an idiosyncratic manner with weapons or a combination of weapon systems that the opponent does not possess—or, even better, does not even understand or perceive—then the perpetrator can achieve catastrophic failure of that system, whether the target is a transportation network or an integrated command and control grid. The potential effect increases to the degree that the system is technologically intensive and functionally or geographically integrated.

    And now we have a second example.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 22, 2003 9:05 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    On the Money at Capitalism Magazine

    Courtesy of Cox & Forkum

    From: Capitalism Magazine: Californication and the East Coast Blackout by Alan Caruba

    There's a very fundamental reason for the latest blackout on the East Coast. The United States of America needs more power facilities. I'm not talking about ten thousand windmills on the coast of Massachusetts or seventy square miles of solar collectors in Vermont. I'm talking about burning coal and using natural gas. I'm talking about hydroelectric plants and, yes, nuclear-based plants. All of them gloriously producing electricity.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 15, 2003 5:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Self-Inflicted Terrorism Evident in Blackout

    They say it is not a "terrorist incident" as the entire Northeastern part of the United States' power grid crashes. That may be as it may be, but there's no doubt that it didn't "just happen." Besides, if you do have millions of people out on the street in cities that are about to go very, very dark, you really don't need the added panic of making them think there is a bit of terrorism in the mix, do you?

    You'd need to have several hours without panic just to mobilize the National Guard.

    What we have here is, absent terrorism, is a case of slow and "self-inflicted terrorism." It is what is bound to happen, on any summer day, when you run a power grid that has been strangled for years by the awful NO-MEN of our society.

    NO: you may not build more power plants powered by oil. We're too dependent.

    NO: you may not build more power plants powered by coal. We need clean air.

    NO: you may not build more power plants powered by water. We need wild rivers.

    NO: you may not build more power plants powered by nuclear means. We need a radioactivity free world.

    NO: you may not build more electric lines and substations. We are afraid of weird cancers.

    NO: you may not charge what it is worth. We are afraid of big monopoly business.

    NO, NO, NO, you may not expand supply to meet demand. Use computers to manage it. Computers down because of no electricity. Well, at least we are back to our natural state at last.

    Good planning, legislators.
    Nice work, Greens.
    Excellent job, EPA.

    The fruits of your labors are seen today on the bridges, at the edges, on the roadways, in the high-rises, and down in the subways of New York and a dozen other cities.

    As a wise man once said, "Failure to make a plan is making a plan."

    So far this is working according to the plans made over the decades by the NO-MEN.

    And night is coming on in the East.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 14, 2003 2:56 PM |  Comments (22)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Arnold Perplex Solved

    That Swiss Army Knife of commentators,Michael J. Totten is working his way through "the Arnold Perplex" (tm) today in: Annoying Arnold

    Totten writes:

    Arnold is apparently a liberal Republican, one of those guys who could go either way but chose the GOP for whatever reason. Fine then, he's probably like my dad with bigger muscles.
    That's not only a start, it is also a hint. Just, exactly, what is Arnold? In a way, I suppose we'll find out a little of that over the next two months. But, in an effort to get ahead of the curve, my theory evolved as follows.

    Once the Totten effect clarified my thinking, I knew in a flash that the solution to 'the Arnold Perplex' was simple: Arnold is a "biliberal."(tm)

    "What in the name of all that is politically correct is a "biliberal?" you might ask. And you'd be right to do so. The simplest way of determining the essence of "biliberality" is to contemplate another, more established American "bi," the American bisexual.

    The American bisexual is a kind of human who has been around for a lot longer than his or her new running mate, the American biliberal. When we ask the Googlic Oracle (tm) about this, it sends us the answer thus:

    "What is a bisexual? A "bisexual" is a person who has a sexual and/or romantic interest in people of both genders. However, a bisexual woman or man does not necessarily have lovers of both genders at the same time. "

    From that it is a simple matter to transpose a few terms and create a concise definition of our term:

    "What is a biliberal? A "biliberal" is a person who has a political and/or philosophic interest in policies of both parties. However, a biliberal Democrat or Republican does not necessarily hold policies of both parties at the same time."

    If you reflect on the above, and compare it to the little that is known about Arnold's political views at this time, you will see that it maps perfectly.

    Whether or not Arnold's political tendencies arise from his more personal sexual tendencies is beyond the scope of a page rooted in family values such as this.

    I leave that to be revealed by those Divas of Dirt (tm), Bonnie Fuller and Matt Drudge.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 12, 2003 10:14 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Internet for Dummies, Redux

    Doc Searls and David Weinberger take everyone back to school with:
    What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else.
    The entire article is, as my source says, "interesting," but the summation reads:

    The companies whose value came from distributing content in ways the market no longer wants -- can you hear us Recording Industry? -- can stop thinking that bits are like really lightweight atoms. You are never going to prevent us from copying the bits we want. Instead, why not give us some reasons to prefer buying music from you? Hell, we might even help you sell your stuff if you asked us to.

    The government types who have confused the value of the Internet with the value of its contents could realize that in tinkering with the Internet's core, they're actually driving down its value. In fact, they maybe could see that having a system that transports all bits equally, without government or industry censorship, is the single most powerful force for democracy and open markets in history.

    The incumbent providers of networking services -- Hint: It begins with "tele" and ends with "com" -- could accept that the stupid network is going to swallow their smart network. They could bite the bullet now rather than running up hundreds of billions of dollars in costs delaying and fighting the inevitable.

    The federal agency responsible for allocating spectrum might notice that the value of open spectrum is the same as the true value of the Internet.Those who would censor ideas might realize that the Internet couldn't tell a good bit from a bad bit if it bit it on its naughty bits.

    Whatever censorship is going to occur will have to occur on the Net's ends and it's not going to work very well.

    Perhaps companies that think they can force us to listen to their messages -- their banners, their interruptive graphic crawls over the pages we're trying to read -- will realize that our ability to flit from site to site is built into the Web's architecture. They might as well just put up banners that say "Hi! We don't understand the Internet. Oh, and, by the way, we hate you."

    Enough already. Let's stop banging our heads against the facts of the Internet life.

    We have nothing to lose but our stupidity.

    Ah, I love the whiff of sanity in the morning.

    [Pointer via Michael's Web]

    Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 4, 2003 7:03 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Killing Fields Without Borders

    Shallow Grave in Iraq

    In an extended essay entitled "The War in Iraq" on the weblog of Norman Geras, Mr. Geras notes, in passing:

    Here is one approximate measure of the barbarities of the Baathist regime I have just referred to. It comes not from the Pentagon, or anyone in the Bush administration, or from Tony Blair or those around him. It comes from Human Rights Watch. According to Human Rights Watch, during 23 years of Saddam's rule some 290,000 Iraqis disappeared into the regime's deadly maw, the majority of these reckoned to be now dead. Rounding this number down by as much as 60,000 to compensate for the 'thought to be', that is 230,000. It is 10,000 a year. It is 200 people every week. And I'll refrain from embellishing with details, which you should all know, as to exactly how a lot of these people died.

    Had the opposition to the war succeeded this is what it would have postponed - and postponed indefinitely - bringing to an end. This is how almost the whole international left expressed its moral solidarity with the Iraqi people. Worse still, some sections of the left seemed none too bothered about making common cause with, marching alongside, fundamentalist religious bigots and known racists; and there were also those who dismissed Iraqi voices in support of the war as coming from American stooges - a disgraceful lie. [Emphasis added]

    Geras then goes on to other arguments that buttress his main theme of how the Left has failed to respond well to any of the global moral issues of the last few years. It is an excellent analysis and I commend it to your attention.

    However, I was struck by the gruesome mathematics of the phrase: "It is 10,000 a year. It is 200 people every week." Horrendous enough to contemplate. The small town of Laguna Beach where I live has a population of around 25,000. That would mean, in terms that I can comprehend, that every man, woman and child in this town would be wiped out in 2.5 years. And they would be killed in some of the most awful ways we can imagine, and many that we cannot.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 29, 2003 4:50 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Good News for the Whales

    An article published in Scientific American, "Genetic Analysis Revises Tally of Past Whale Populations" reports new findings that sets the vile practice of hunting whales back many decades.

    A high historic whale population could have an impact on how scientists presently view the status of whales as an endangered species. The current humpback whale population of around 10,000 is roughly 50 percent of the pre-industrial whaling numbers determined from logbook records. Using the genetic analysis, however, the current population is only 4 percent of what it once was. Palumbi says that with the revised historical estimates, it could be "on the order of 50 to 100 years" before whales can again be hunted.

    Let's hope that in much less than 50 to 100 years, the world will have evolved enough to make this "need" part of it's shameful past. But while we're waiting, we could use a lot more inforcement as well.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 26, 2003 12:29 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    We Like Your Blog, But Don't Give Up Your Day Job (Yet)


    NEW YORK ( -- Internet advertising spending is increasing steadily and will reach or surpass $8 billion annually by 2006...

    ...According to Geoff Ramsey, eMarketer's CEO, search engine-based advertising and broadband connectivity are among the top trends driving the new growth in online advertising.

    Yes, in only 3 (three!) years the Internet will be back in the year 2000.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 20, 2003 9:50 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Internet Bites O'Reilly Back



    Fox News Attack Irish Terrier Bill O'Reilly riled up the Internet in mid-June when he brought his "I'm Right / You're Stupid" schtick to bear in a Talking Points segment called "Sex, lies and videotape on the Internet" (Note to Bill - Headlines that reference movies are amusing only for the first five years of constant use. Beyond that you risk have a close encounter of the cliched kind).

    In this typical O'Reilly blatherfest, Bill accused the Internet in general of being a cesspit of lies, child porn, lies, child rape, lies, slander, lies, libel, child molestation, and, or course, lies. All perfectly true and yet most certainly false.

    The Internet is not called the "Net of a Billion Lies" for nothing. It is, without a doubt, the largest repository of lies, bias, slants, half-truths, and hoaxes ever created by the cojoined minds of all personkind. And it is only getting started.

    The Net, of course, does not like to be bitten in this manner and was quick to bite O'Reilly back. Torrents of bloggers quickly 'fact-checked his ass' and blasted Bill back into the videosphere where his "And that's the fact, Jack" schtick seemed safe.

    If only he had stayed there. But then, with an hour of TV to fill, and our current wars on summer recess, hourly news shows can easily strike a dry patch where the dreaded 'dead air' threatens. For these quiet months, the Internet is a TV producer's wet dream; the fountain of foolish shows everywhere.

    Yes, in slightly more than a month it seems that O'Reilly utterly forgot about the Net of a Billion Lies when he showcased last week's lovely "Hunting for Bambi" hoax on his show.

    The video of Bill buying into this bit of bull is still available on his site and is captioned with:

    Hunting 'Bambi' Some businessmen in Las Vegas are hiring women who are then stalked by men armed with paint! Is there anything illegal about this? O'Reilly talks with Michael Burdick the creator of this game, and one of the women who works for him, who goes by the name of "Julia"
    As I recall this segment (which O'Reilly stuck at the back of his hour and breathlessly promoted with the 'There Outta Be A Law" technique), "Julia" declined to share her personal details with Bill when he asked the equivalent of "Why is a cheap, hapless hooker like you doing letting herself by shot by men with paintball guns?"

    And well she should have. The venerable Snopeshas today put The Bambi Hunt into the probable hoax column:

    Contributing to the public's belief in this venture (a concept which has already been perpetrated at least once before, at Hunt Naked Women), is the typical non-probing coverage of it by television news outlets such as a local Las Vegas television station, KLAS-TV, and FOXNews, both of whom ran features on Hunting for Bambi (complete with footage of "hunters" in action) and proclaimed it to be real....

    ...In common with most web-based business hoaxes, the Hunting for Bambi site displays a curious lack of contact information. Its putative parent company, Real Men Outdoor Productions, is indeed a registered Nevada corporation, but that in itself doesn't mean much, as anyone can register a business for a small fee. (The address listed for Real Men Outdoor Productions corresponds to the address of another registered Las Vegas company, Clean Your Carpets Inc., whose corporate status has since been revoked.) Perhaps more significant is that no business address or phone number is to be found on the Hunting for Bambi site, and several readers who expressed interest in booking a "hunt" have told us their e-mail inquiries to the Hunting for Bambi folks went unanswered. Those are rather odd business practices for a legitimate company looking to book customers at $10,000 a pop. We're still investigating, but we'd be quite surprised if this scheme was hatched as anything but an attempt to sell videos.

    We still don't see any convincing evidence that Hunting for Bambi has actually conducted any genuine hunts for paying customers.

    Will the Factor return to this thrilling story and will Bill consume a large baked crow on camera? Will Snopes find reason to recant as naked women stagger out of the Nevada desert with large stains and larger bruises counting bundles of cash? Will the Net of a Billion Lies continue to spew out fantasies only a frantic TV news producer will believe? Stay tuned.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 18, 2003 9:26 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Springtime for Hasbians

    "If the lipstick lesbian was the gay icon of the '90s, these days she's been replaced by her more controversial counterpart, the hasbian: a woman who used to date women but now dates men. Though (actress) Anne Heche is the most prominent example, many hasbians...are by-products of '90s liberal arts educations. Caught up in the gay scene at school, they came out at 20 or 21 and now, five or ten years later, are finding themselves in the odd position of coming out all over again -- as heterosexuals." --Amy Sohn

    It's a great country, but people have just got to make up their minds.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 14, 2003 3:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    An Ode to Lawrence Lessig

    On Secondly Looking Into Lawrence Lessig's Web Site

    Much have I clicked on in the realms of blather
    And many drooling sites and web-rings seen.
    Round many dot-gov URLs have I been
    Which lawyers in fealty to the dollar lather.
    Oft of one deep mosh-pit had I been told
    That vulpine Lessig ruled as his demesne;
    Yet did I never scan log-rolling so serene
    Till I heard Lessig's blurbs blurt loud and bold:
    Then felt I like some vested geek at Microsoft
    When a new government agent swims into view
    Or like Billions Bill when with grasping hands
    He star’d at Jobs' GUI—and all his men
    Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
    And planned to buy a second house in Darien.

    Title= "Lessig_Forehead_Thumb"

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 1, 2003 10:57 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
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