Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

Nota Bene

John Oliver Buys $15M In Medical Debt, Then Forgives It

“With little more to go on than that website,” says Oliver, “we were soon offered a portfolio of nearly $15 million of out-of-statute medical debt from Texas.” The asking price was less than $60,000 for $14,922,261.76 in this zombie debt — or around $.004 for every dollar of debt owed.

Purchasing the debt would give CARP the names, current addresses, Social Security numbers, and amount owed (or previously owed, as the statute of limitations had expired) for nearly 9,000 individuals.
“So, we bought it, which is absolutely terrifying,” admits Oliver. “Because it means if I wanted to, I could legally have CARP take possession of that list and have employees start calling people, turning their lives upside down over medical debt they no longer had to pay. There would be absolutely nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that absolutely everything is wrong with that.”

Thus, rather than try to collect on the debt, Oliver decided to stage the “largest one-time giveaway in television history,” nearly doubling the estimated value of that time Oprah gave everyone in her audience a new Pontiac G6, a moment that has been a gift for meme-makers, but didn’t do much to save the Pontiac brand. – Consumerist

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jun 7, 2016 10:13 AM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Note to Self: Not All 18th Century Art Was Created Equal


Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 18, 2015 1:40 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Life and death upon one tether / And running beautiful together."


East London resident Martin Le-May captured this incredible photo of a baby weasel on the back of a green woodpecker in Essex, England, on Monday

As much as we’d all like to believe this is a wondrous tale of friendship wherein two mates go on an epic adventure featuring a baby weasel and his magnificent flying steed, sadly it’s NOT. It’s a photo of a weasel trying to kill a woodpecker. …

“As we walked we heard a distressed squawking and I saw that flash of green. So hurriedly I pointed out to Ann the bird and it settled into the grass behind a couple of small silver birch trees. Both of us trained our binoculars and it occurred that the woodpecker was unnaturally hopping about like it was treading on a hot surface.

Lots of wing flapping showing that gloriously yellow/white colour interspersed with the flash of red head feathers. Just after I switched from my binoculars to my camera the bird flew across us and slightly in our direction; suddenly it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.

The woodpecker landed in front of us and I feared the worst. I guess though our presence, maybe 25 meters away, momentarily distracted the weasel. The woodpecker seized the opportunity and flew up and away into some bushes away to our left. Quickly the bird gathered its self respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight.

The woodpecker left with its life. The weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry."

Via Never Yet Melted サ Photo of the Week

Crystal Moment

by Robert P. T. Coffin (1892–1955)

Once or twice this side of death
Things can make one hold his breath.

From my boyhood I remember
A crystal moment of September.

A wooded island rang with sounds
Of church bells in the throats of hounds.

A buck leaped out and took the tide
With jewels flowing past each side.

With his head high like a tree
He swam within a yard of me.

I saw the golden drop of light
In his eyes turned dark with fright.

I saw the forest’s holiness
On him like a fierce caress.

Fear made him lovely past belief,
My heart was trembling like a leaf.

He leans towards the land and life
With need above him like a knife.

In his wake the hot hounds churned
They stretched their muzzles out and yearned.

They bayed no more, but swam and throbbed
Hunger drove them till they sobbed.

Pursued, pursuers reached the shore
And vanished. I saw nothing more.

So they passed, a pageant such
As only gods could witness much,

Life and death upon one tether
And running beautiful together.

Posted by gvanderleun at Mar 3, 2015 2:46 PM |  Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Supply and Demand

"The Waterford Chronicle requests that persons supplying the Journal with obituaries will attend to the following scale of prices;

for a simple death two shillings and sixpence. For the death of a person deeply regretted, five shillings. For the death of a person who lived a perfect pattern of all the Christian virtues, and died regretted by the whole country, ten shillings. For the death of a person who possessed extensive literature and profound erudition, superadded to which, his whole life was remarkable for piety, humility, charity, and self-denial, one pound. For the death of a lady, whose husband is inconsolable for her loss, and who was the delight of the circle in which she moved, one pound ten shillings. For the death of a gentleman, who had only been six months married, who was an example of every conjugal and domestic virtue, and whose widow is in a state of anguish bordering on distraction, two pounds. For the death of an aristocrat, who was a pattern of meekness, a model of humility, a patron of distressed genius, a genuine philanthropist, an exemplary Christian, an extensive alms-giver, profoundly learned, unremitting to the duties of his station, kind, hospitable, and affectionate to his tenantry, and whose name will be remembered and his loss deplored to the latest posterity, five pounds. For every additional good quality, whether domestic, moral, or religious, there will be an additional charge." – Birmingham Journal, Aug. 21, 1830
[ – Futility Closet]

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jun 9, 2014 7:44 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: ”If you want to change the world....” Ten Lessons from Seals Training

“If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.”

Remarks by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at the University-wide Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 17:

To me basic SEAL training was a life time of challenges crammed into six months.

So, here are the ten lesson’s I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection.  It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day.  It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews.  Each crew is seven students—three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy.

Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surfzone and paddle several miles down the coast.

In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in.

Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain.  Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.

For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.

You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.

If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class which started with 150 men was down to just 35.  There were now six boat crews of seven men each.

I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the the little guys—the munchkin crew we called them—no one was over about 5-foot five.

The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African American, one Polish America, one Greek American, one Italian American, and two tough kids from the mid-west.

They out paddled, out-ran, and out swam all the other boat crews.

The big men in the other boat crews would always make good natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim.

But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the Nation and the world, always had the last laugh— swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.

SEAL training was a great equalizer.  Nothing mattered but your will to succeed.  Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.

If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 26, 2014 9:35 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Requiem for the Boomers aka "The Not-So-Great Generation"

We were a generation forever unable to perceive, understand, or tolerate the slightest gap between desire and gratification. We were a generation whose elite's utter deriliction of duty would be forgiven by the most moist and waffling of our weak Presidents, Jimmy Carter. It was like having the all the worse sins of your youth forgiven and expunged by Alvin the Chipmunk. We grew up learning, time after time, that radical actions have few radical consequences. Accordingly, in an effort to improve our progeny as we had been improved, we taught our own children that their actions, no matter how awful, would have no consequences whatsoever. It would turn out to be the toughest thing they would ever have to unlearn and very few had any success doing so. Unwilling, as always, to set a good example we didn't even try.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Apr 12, 2013 8:33 AM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
R-Rated Internet Writing Lesson. Hey, Y R U Not Paying Attention?

Strong language warning, but it's all in a good cause. Besides, you probably need this or know someone who does.


Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 25, 2012 12:07 PM |  Comments (72)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Go Green


Click image to posterize

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 14, 2010 12:51 AM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Law of the Gun


Click image to posterize

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 14, 2010 12:29 AM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Flying; The Prophecy from 2005

Dateline: March 10, 2005 in The Brand-Extension Blight @ AMERICAN DIGEST

Please allow me to quote my favorite source, me.

FLYING: Everybody's favorite. On my first flight to Europe, everyone dressed for success. Now everyone dresses for Gold's Gym. And I'm sure the next step in TOTAL SECURITY will be to require everyone who is not of Arab descent to arrive with a note from their doctor attesting that they had a high colonic an hour before the airport to make the body cavity searches a bit more pleasant for the staff. Then there's the added coach thrill of a blood clot developing in the legs that stops your heart at 50,000 feet. Plus... no peanuts! After all, think of the allergic children! Add to that the new innovation, no pillows! I don't see why the airlines don't simply install hooks and, working in concert with government's laughable security cops, require everyone to hang from said hooks naked. It will come to that. You know it will.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 10, 2010 8:09 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What Did Kipling Know and When Did He Know It?

He knew more than our entire government when it comes to the Middle-East and Asia. And he knew it before any in our government were born.

Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle the Aryan brown,
For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and he weareth the Christian down;
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear: "A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East."

-- The Naulahka

Posted by Vanderleun at May 16, 2009 1:25 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A 'perfect' iTunes equalizer setting

And now for something actually useful. I'm restarting my long ago DJ career over at, so it was time to bring this reminder to myself and others back from the Archives.


Works like a charm. Here's how to set it up.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 14, 2009 7:54 PM |  Comments (28)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The More Things Change The More They Stay Insane

Exurban League exhumed this from 30 Years Ago

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 1, 2009 9:36 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
When There Is No Vision...

"Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt: First Inaugural Address. U.S. Inaugural Addresses.Saturday, March 4, 1933

The last sentence is taken from Proverbs 29:18 and although the King James translation is resolved as "the people perish" that is not the only way the proverb can be understood. Here are some variations. See if they strike a chord.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 8, 2009 5:32 AM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How long, oh Lord, how long before Joe Biden...
Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 28, 2008 8:01 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Rats: If I'd Just Listened to My Last Wife, This Could Have Been Me!

Some people have all the fun.

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 14, 2008 7:11 PM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Jackets? We don't have to give you no steenkin' jackets!

It does basically make you look fat and naked, but you see all this stuff." - Susan Hallowell (above), Director of TSA's Security Laboratory.

Proof that there is no airline service so cheap and shoddy that some bean-counter can't make it worse:
The woman checking me in informed me that Delta discontinued the use of the ticket jackets as of Monday in order to help cut costs!
Food goes, blankets go, seats get jammed in, pillows vanish, oxygen is reduced, peanuts change into tasteless "freeze-baked crunchy things with salt" which come two to a pack and you only get one. Don't even get me started on Homeland Security which is just biding its time until you will be required to fly naked after an anal probe by uniformed dwarf.

I know I am far from alone when I say that after years of flying many times a year, often on a whim, I am now at the point where only the most powerful forces in life -- love and death -- can get me on a plane.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 7, 2008 8:41 AM |  Comments (35)  | QuickLink: Permalink
American Digest Daybook #216


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 4, 2008 5:29 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The News About Newspapers Is "not that bad, it's worse"

deep%2Bdive.jpgTim Oren's Due Diligence notes in The Newspaper Biz: From 'Controlled Flight into Terrain' to 'Flat Spin'

Having grown up in a General Motors family during the 60's and early 70's, this sounds familiar. Arrogance on the part of both management and labor, a belief the customers have no alternative but to keep paying increasing costs and accept the (low) quality on offer, followed by the arrival of competition to feast on the disgruntled customer base.

Silicon Alley Insider piles on with Newspaper Ads Tank Again, Industry Shrinking Fast

"Newspapers did a brilliant job of ramping their sales smoothly throughout the 1990s by boosting ad rates at will. Those remarkably consistent and predictable sales gains were derailed by the arrival of Internet and other disruptive, new technologies that give readers and advertisers unprecedented media alternatives. Seemingly dumbfounded by the arrival of serious competition for their audiences and advertising revenues, newspapers have been struggling for more than a decade, with meager success, to regain their relevance and economic vitality."
Say goodnight Gracie.

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 21, 2007 11:09 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
American Digest -- 4 Years Old... Maybe 5
Original 2002 Logo
This June marks the 4th Anniversary of this page. My handy counters note 4,384,000 visits, 11,707 comments (weeded the spam), and 3,017 posts including this one. And, from way back in June, 2003, this list of things that ticked me off then: The Brand Extension Blight @ AMERICAN DIGEST . The list has only gotten longer.

But thanks to all for stopping by. None of you are on that list. [Well, maybe a few, and you know who you are.]

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 22, 2007 12:23 PM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink

"Why right to vote, without an ID, is worth fighting for" by State Sen. Mario Gallegos, D., Houston (Houston Chronicle) Translation: People can vote Democrat more than once!

Posted by Vanderleun at May 23, 2007 6:18 AM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Zeal for the Rights of the People"

"A dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants." Hamiliton -- The Federalist Papers #1

Posted by Vanderleun at May 19, 2007 5:40 AM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Crisp Clickables

Forget the flesh eating bacteria, here's a fungus that eats dynamite.

Mac Alerts: Are there now two worms in your Apple?

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 23, 2006 9:58 AM | QuickLink: Permalink

The Kevin Roderick says, "Guests at Wednesday night's fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Clinton at the Hollywood Hills home of producer Roland Emmerich are being warned not to speak with any reporters. It's part of their written instructions."

The P.J. O'Rourke says, "I suggest a Celebrity Tax with a low-end base rate of, mmm, 100 percent.... Given the modest talent of current celebrities and the immodest example they set for impressionable youth, we'll call it a 'Value Subtracted Tax.' "

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 2, 2005 10:28 AM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN ASKS: "Is it possible that urging the overweight or mildly obese to cut calories and lose weight

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 6, 2005 8:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink

ROCKENOMICS: "As Coldplay's recording budgets have grown, so have its reverberation times."

HOW TO BUILD A Gauss Rifle at home in your spare time: "This very simple toy uses a magnetic chain reaction to launch a steel marble at a target at high speed."

IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME: Stop or I'll Shoot This Koran: "Sure," I said. "I use Korans for everything: Oven mitts, ash trays, air sickness bags and car wash shammies. You never know when one'll come in handy."

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 4, 2005 5:00 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Blogs Are No Threat to Mainstream Media. Teenagers Are Another Story

"A recent survey in America showed that 36% of high school students think newspapers should get government approval of stories before being allowed to publish."

Kids today. What are you going to do?

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 16, 2005 4:02 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink

It's a disgrace that some of the nation's law schools, objecting to the Pentagon's "discrimination policies," refuse to permit military recruiters to make their pitch on campus, relegating them instead to unofficial off-campus venues. Law students pondering their first career move can be wined and dined by fancy firms that set up recruitment tables at campus job fairs, but they have to stroll over to the local Day's Inn to seek out the lonely military recruiter.

To put it another way, the same liberals who object that the military includes too many lower-class kids won't let military recruiters near the schools that contain students who will soon join the upper-class elite. It's almost enough to make us contemplate restoring the draft, starting with law school students. -- The Wall Street Journal

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 2, 2005 8:56 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Job Opportunies for Bluepers In Iraq

Lance Frizzell, a 2nd Lt Medical Platoon Leader with the Tennessee National Guard 278th Regimental Combat Team, currently serving in Northern Iraq posts an employment ad at:

Lance in Iraq: Wanted: Human Shields

Back in January '03, you may remember a group of Western liberals who volunteered to go to Iraq as human shields in case the US enforced UN resolutions that Saddam violated. Key graf:

"...they are willing to put themselves in the firing line should US and British forces bomb Iraq. They plan to identify potential bombing targets such as power stations and bridges and act as human shields to protect them."

Well, I think I have just the job for these globe-travelers: Iraq Election Poll Worker. They are familiar with the terrain and people, they have a self-professed desire to help and they seem very articulate. However, their biggest asset is bravery. If they are willing to hunker down between Coalition Forces and a bridge, standing between a foreign terrorist and a polling precinct should be no big deal. Any takers?

I've sort of lost track of the much-reported-on 'human shields.' I suppose they're off somewhere resting between gigs with the 'grief counselors.' Can somebody dig these people up and toss them on a plane?

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 20, 2005 8:47 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
ZZZZzzzzzzzz... Huh?

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sleep (But Were Too Afraid To Ask)

What are you doing up so late, staring at the computer screen reading this? For that matter, what am I doing up late writing this at 11pm? Are we all nuts?
I don't know about you but I'm posting this at 11:54 PM. I'd go to sleep, but I have to finish reading this exceptional study in larks vs. owls so I can understand why I can't go to sleep.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 16, 2005 11:51 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The American Digest Digest: We Link So You Don't Scroll

If someone ever has the bad taste to parody "Rawhide" with "Rawblog," (Humm...) we're sure the refrain will begin with "Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling...." But why scroll, when you can click? To eliminate that carpal tunnel stress for our readers, here are a few of the posts for the last week or so that would be worth a click if you missed them.

We considered the institutionalization of 43% of American voters in It's Happydale for the Democrats, but the blogsphere as a whole decided to go with a fat kid and Roumanian pop songs -- Numa Numa Original Discovered and Decoded. Go figure.

On a more serious note, it might be time to take a look at: RULES? IN A KNIFE FIGHT?: Redrafting the Rules of Engagement in the First Terrorist War, but if sampling the variety of the web suits your mood we suggest: Blogs of Wonder and Delight. If you've got the time after that, please consider our suggestion for a safer and saner America: Why Someone Doesn't Sue the ACLU on General Principles is Beyond Me.

Our film critic, Jeremiah Lewis swam through the latest Bill Murray mistranslation. Verdict? The Life Aquatic: A Beached Whale of a Movie **

In the long March of Apple to conquer the world with the iPod, we noticed that the President has been assimilated -- Here's to the Crazy Ones: Verbatim from -- but the holy war of Mac vs. PC continues: And the Reason You Still Use a Windows Machine Is?

Pat Cummings, our book editor and constant reader, found a lot to like paging through Steven Pinker: Words and Rules -- Not the How, But the Why, while our old friend, Tom Parker, came up with a way to make near-Earth space more interesting -- Racing Rovers on the Moon? Yes! No word yet from JPL or NASA.

We confessed to compassion fatigue with The Deluge. Seeing the rest of the nation, or at least the media, pivot from the Tsunami disaster to Brad and Jen, it was sadly prescient.

A vast chasm opened in the American Digest staff when Jeremiah Lewis pronounced Sideways: Not Just a Good Vintage, A Great Vintage, but I found it to be, well, slight with Getting Sideways on "Sideways" -- Less Here Than Meets the Critical Eye

While the rest of the blogsphere was taking a slow victory lap around Rathergate, we glanced instead at the leading "What Me Liberal?" news outlet in the nation and didn't find a lot of good news: The Moose is Back at the New York Times.

In the realm of helpful hints to our readers we pointed to a dynamic use of Flickr with Organizing Complex Projects.

And finally, for sports fans everwhere, Chris Lynch pulled out a page from his X-Files with The Curse of the Simpsons and Big League Baseball. He also had some NFL picks, but we won't go there, okay. Maybe this week.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 15, 2005 10:38 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Refusal To Mourn The Death, By Fire, Of A Child In London

Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.

         -- Dylan Thomas

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 1, 2005 11:34 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Movies that do the decent thing

Last Saturday at the local cinema in Laguna Beach, we went to see the opening of "The Incredibles." Other than state the obvious that it was, indeed, incredible, I won't bother to add to the 386,457 reviews of this film.

I did note one thing that struck me. The film is on many levels state-of-the-art, and the sound track does no less. The sound track is so dense and so fully-packed that it frankly overwhelmed the equipment of this little local theater. The staff either didn't know how to balance the speakers or the speakers themselves couldn't cope with the sound track. Either way, a lot of the track was incomprehensible during the last 40 minutes of the film.

But this theater is a decent, local business. It lost no time in having a staff member stand out in front at the end of the film, and offer free passes or money back to anyone who felt they hadn't been satisfied by the film's outcome. There were a lot of takers. It was the decent thing to do.

Which made me think: If you make a film that promises a satisfying outcome to millions and millions of people, and if you make millions upon millions of dollars with this promise, and if that film, in the end, doesn't deliver a satisfying outcome to the millions who bought tickets, shouldn't you offer to give them their money back?

Wouldn't that be the least, the very least, decent thing to do?

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 10, 2004 12:27 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
2004 Weblog Awards: And the Nominee is..... ME!

Nine days into the votingI just noticed this morning that American Digest is a nominee in Wizbang's 2004 Weblog Awards in the Best Essayist category.

I am more than flattered to be on any list that includes my personal favorites, James Lileks, Victor Davis Hanson, and Roger Simon among others.

I confess that I voted for myself because, as the saying goes, "If I am not for myself, who is?," but I note that everyone in the category is worth of a vote so I suggest, if you've got the time, to head to the link above and vote.

Then head off into the rest of the exhaustive awards categories. An amazing effort by Kevin at Wizbang -- even though I still do not get the reason behind giving everyone a fresh vote every day across 12 days. It has been explained to me very s l o w l y, but it still doesn't penetrate my noggin.

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 9, 2004 7:44 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Attention, Losers! Housing Swap Opportunities in Holland

All Democrats who are just fed up! already, take note of Dutch Blogger Zacht Ei's item : Three in ten Dutch want to flee the country

According to a national survey, 28 percent of all Dutch would leave the country if they had the opportunity. Admittedly, my first emotional response to the Van Gogh murder was: "That's it. I'm moving to the USA."
Seems like the perfect chance to swap lives, kids. Upsides: No Bush and plenty of weed for your bongs! Downsides: Three bullets in the chest and a knife stuck in your torso if you dare to whisper a bad thing about Islam. So, hey, what's the worry? Start packing. You'll fit right in.

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 1, 2004 2:13 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Current Status

AFTER NO LITTLE EFFORT I'm pleased to report that I've secured a house in the Queen Anne section of Seattle. The movers deliver next Tuesday and at some point soon after that I should be able to resume ranting at regular intervals.

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 29, 2004 12:32 PM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On Comments

A brief note about comments:

As many know, "comment spam" is a vile and unceasing problem in the blog world. Usually I weed out these noxious items as part of my early-morning ritual, but after being away last week I returned to find that more than 1,500 comment spams of particularly odious content had been posted to the page.

The result is that I am still, in fits and starts, working to remove them. But in the meantime I've set comments off by default.

In the near future we will install a more advanced blogging system and I'll be able to return things to normal, but in the interim please bear with me.

If you do have something you would like included, please email it to me at the link under the Jasper Johns' American flag in the upper right hand corner. I'll do my best to fit it in.

Thank you.

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 23, 2004 1:29 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Kerry "Plan" in a Nutshell

Roger Simon rolls the entire "plan" of the Kerry squad into a nice tight package:

The brutal truth is that the basic subject of the entire election, of the future going forward, is the neocon argument that (militant if necessary) export of democracy is the only viable solution to endless (possibly nuclear) conflagration . Bush bought into it to one degree or another. The Democrats seem to oppose it. I emphasize the seem because all they offer in opposition is a vague "plan." What this plan is is a mystery to everyone. I think there is a reason for that. There is no other plan.
-- Roger L. Simon: Tick-Tock

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 16, 2004 2:30 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The American Digest Reader: A Short Selection

FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS I'll be in the process of relocating from Laguna Beach, California to Seattle, Washington. In the interim, I'll be driving Highway 1 up the coastline of California, Oregon, and Washington and I don't plan to push it. One thousand miles of coastline is nothing to just zoom past if you've got the chance. (See Laguna Dawn for my observations on part of this route.)

UPDATE: The Getty, Cambria, the Sur, Berkeley, Mill Valley, Stinson Beach, Bolinas, .... currently in Mendocino. The road goes on forever.

During this period, my ability and desire to update this page is likely to be intermittent. In the meantime, I've made a little list of essays and items in various categories that may be of interest to the idle browser.

Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 14, 2004 4:44 PM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Blogs Will Be Seared - Seared - Into the Memory of This Campaign

Glenn Reynolds in the Wall St. Journal on why old media can't seem to bail out Kerry's swamped boat.

Ten Bullets from Stephen Green that are shooting .527 holes in the hull of said boat.

Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 1, 2004 7:49 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Evolution Porridge: Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold, but Just Right

STONE SOUP MEETS GOLDILOCKS as told by Paul Shlichta at
The American Thinker

[T]he concept of the spontaneous origin of the first cell is on very shaky ground. You must start by making a quasi-primordial soup, rich in amino acids and other building blocks of life, as Stanley Miller and Harold Urey did in the 1950's. Then you must somehow stir it and shake it until the components spontaneously assemble to form long chains of DNA, RNA, proteins, and numerous other macromolecules—with all of the multi-thousand amino acid sequences exactly right and mutually compatible. Then you must continue stirring until the macromolecules sort themselves out into the proper groups and somehow surround themselves with membranes, with just the right sort of ion transport properties, to form organelles such as a nucleus, lysosomes, ribosomes, mitochondria, and all the other cellular components. Then you must keep stirring until all these organelles pack themselves into a cell membrane, with just the right composition of fluid in it. You have only a few billion years to shake up all these dice and have them all come up right at the same place and time.. Ready, set, go, and good luck -- but I don't think you're going to succeed. However, if you think this scenario is scientifically plausible, then sit down and start calculating probabilities.

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 26, 2004 10:12 AM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
August 29, 2005

  • LIVING THE LIE.The Inequality Taboo by Charles Murray: "Elites throughout the West are living a lie, basing the futures of their societies on the assumption that all groups of people are equal in all respects. Lie is a strong word, but justified. It is a lie because so many elite politicians who profess to believe it in public do not believe it in private. It is a lie because so many elite scholars choose to ignore what is already known and choose not to inquire into what they suspect. We enable ourselves to continue to live the lie by establishing a taboo against discussion of group differences."
  • "AMERICANS HAVE NEVER tolerated mockery of battlefield sacrifice, and only morticians have made a successful industry of mourning. The politics of lamentation is not likely to appeal to Americans with a taste for the sunny side of the street. A promise of 'Morning in America' sets off landslides. A lengthening line of Democratic candidates could tell you that 'Mourning in America' is for losers." -- Wesley Pruden
  • If instead of going On The Road, famed Beat writer Jack Kerouac spent the early 1950s as a maverick product development specialist for General Mills, Inc: "Sure, 'Cheerios' sell well. But they're jut just so 1940's, y'dig? Whereas my new 'Daddy-O's!' -- delicious whole grain O's baked through with bits of cannibis and topped with a sweet heroin glaze -- now these would really speak to a new generation, baby"
  • WHEN TERRORISTS TARGET CHILDREN: "... such brutal acts are justified by the perpetrators on ideological grounds because they are part of what is perceived to be a moral struggle. As Antar Soubari, a senior member of Algeria's Armed Islamic Group (GIA), put it: 'I am innocent of those killed because they are associated with those who had to be fought.' In recent times, this sort of argument has found explicit backing among a growing number of Islamist thinkers. They have argued that the prophet Mohammed's prohibition on killing children does not apply if the children being targeted 'knowingly'' participated in combat, or aided the enemy war effort, or even if they only acted to 'encourage'' the enemy."
  • CONFLICT RESOLUTION. Necessary Wars: "Why is this war 'necessary?' Because it prevents World War II in Europe, the Holocaust, and the deaths of tens of millions of people, from the North Sea to the Russian steepe."
  • PETTING ZOE: "Zoe loves when I rub her belly. I call her by name, and she scampers over. She stretches out on the floor, legs up in the air, tail sweeping the ground. Though it feels incredibly corny each time, stroking her fur always puts me in a better mood."
  • IDENTITY THIEF STEALS HOUSE.This Is Not My Beautiful House! This Is Not My Beautiful Identity!: "James Cook left on a business trip to Florida, and his wife Paula went to Oklahoma to care for her sick mother. When the two returned to Frisco, Texas several days later, their keys didn't work. The locks on the house had been changed."
  • CRIME IN MOTION: "The London and Madrid bombings are the most recent examples of attacks on rail and transit systems around the world. Although they represent a frightening escalation, these attacks are only the latest in a criminal history which dates back to the mid-19th century, when railroads in the United States and elsewhere first became attractive targets."
  • ASTRONOMERS, THE PECKING ORDER. When I'm not in prison I'm an astronomer: "There is a weird social hierarchy among astronomers where the more amorphous and abstract the subject, the higher the status of the people who study it. Within the astronomy community the cosmologists rank at the top. Their studies rely almost entirely on mathematics and they rarely bother to look through a telescope because they're too busy trying to use equations to prove the nonexistence of God."
  • THE SCIENCE OF ALIENS : "Scientists, including the Cambridge palaeontologist Simon Conway-Morris, have come up with a number of species including the stinger fan, a plant-like animal, the gulphog, a dinosaur-type predator, and the skywhale, a flying sea monster."
  • MIGHT AS WELL JUMP! World Jump Day: "Join us as we attempt to drive Earth into a new orbit and stop global warming."
  • WHAT COULD BE WORSE THAN A STAR TREK CONVENTION? EschaCon 2005: "the gathering of Eschatonians known as EschaCon."
  • THE HOUSE CAT REPLACEMENT IS HERE. Child-Shaped Robot Set for Debut in Japan: "A child-shaped humanoid robot that can recognize about 10,000 words and work as a house sitter will go on sale in Japan in September."
  • YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART. It's a miracle: mice regrow hearts : "SCIENTISTS have created 'miracle mice' that can regenerate amputated limbs or damaged vital organs, making them able to recover from injuries that would kill or permanently disable normal animals.The experimental animals are unique among mammals in their ability to regrow their heart, toes, joints and tail."
  • THE TIPPING POINT IN THE NEW YORKER : "In another, waiters sharply increased their tips by giving each member of a dining party a piece of candy and then, seemingly spontaneously, offering each person a second piece, too."
  • YES, THE NEW YORKER. Mickey Kaus: "Like many New Yorker policy articles, Gladwell's reads like a lecture to an isolated, ill-informed and somewhat gullible group of highly literate children. They are cheap dates. They won't think of the obvious objections. They won't demand that you 'play Notre Dame,' as my boss Charles Peters used to say, and take on the best arguments for the other side. They just need to be given a bit of intellectual entertainment and pointed off in a comforting anti-Bush direction."
  • CUE TWILIGHT ZONE THEME: Area 51 Panorama taken from Tikaboo Peak on August 7, 2005
  • IT'S ONLY A PAPER TROUT SWIMMING IN A CARDBOARD SEA. Trouts and Seasons of The Mountain Village - Paper Craft 1: "Try to use color paper, paper of stone pattern or wood grain pattern and so on besides white paper if you want to taste different atmosphere."
  • SLEEP? WHY BOTHER? STAY AT WORK FOREVER. Performance and Removal of the Effects of Sleep Deprivation by CX717 in Nonhuman Primates: "CX717 administered to sleep-deprived monkeys produced a striking removal of the behavioral impairment and returned performance to above-normal levels even though animals were sleep deprived."

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 29, 2004 4:29 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
  • Radiance of the Seas

    Click to englarge

    IT IS ALWAYS FASCINATING to see the steps behind making an amazing illustration. Case point: Kevin Hulsey's stunning cutaway of the Radiance of the Seas. As he modestly states: "Size: 36" @ 350 dpi, 640 mb CMYK File with 35 Layers / Illustration Time: 720 hrs."

    Yes, 720 hours. That would be one month. Solid. 24/7. No breaks.

    If he can put in those kind of hours, you can put in the five minutes it takes to read how it was done. Well worth it.

    Detail from Illustration Above

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 17, 2004 8:57 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    One Year Old Today

    We note in passing that American Digest is now at the one year mark.

    For those interested in numbers, this is article # 1,590 (more or less).

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 9, 2004 4:12 PM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Commenting Is Off Temporarily

    All commenting has been turned off for the immediate future. We'll see about getting it going soon.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 2, 2003 9:00 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Comment on Comments

    Don't touch that dial, we've taken control of your comments

    We're switching over to a new software for publishing [MT 3.01 for those that are interested], and in the transition theres a new comment spam filter in place.

    For now, during the transition, comments to the site are marked for "approval" before being reflected on the post. This will change soon but for now bear with us.

    If you post a comment, it will appear just as soon as I can run the approval script on it. Don't think that we didn't get it just because you don't see it. It will arrive -- unless of course you are an evil spammer.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 30, 2003 11:23 AM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    G2E Media GmbH

    5-Minute Arguments
    American Studies
    Analog World
    Art Within America
    Bad Americans
    Blather & Spew
    Blodder Award
    Click-Pix: Blogs on a Roll
    Coasts & Heartland
    Connect the DotComs
    Critical Mass
    Culture & Civilization
    Drool-Cup Award
    Enemies, Foreign & Domestic
    Essays & Items
    Fish Barrel Bang
    Frequently Answered Questions
    Global Reach
    Grace Notes
    Heroes & Hustlers
    Intellectually Insane
    Issues & Episodes
    Its the Law
    Letters from Home
    Letters Never Sent
    Mass Distractions
    Military Affairs
    Mondo Bizarro
    Moving Images
    My Back Pages
    Myths & Texts
    News to Me
    Nota Bene
    Obsessed & Confused
    On the Land
    Patriot Gains
    Pinhead Punditry
    Political Corrections
    Political Pablum
    Pure Opinion
    Pure Products of America
    Quisling Corner
    Reportage Redux
    Rumors: Substantiated & Otherwise
    Science Made Stupid
    Site Notes
    Sites Unseen
    Space Patrol
    Squawking Points
    The Americans
    These Just In
    Thinking Right
    Tinfoil Brigade
    Truth @ Slant
    Under Review
    Useful Idiots
    What's Just So Wrong With This Picture?
    Word Forge