Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

Reportage Redux

Potholes on the Times' Road

THE EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES WEIGH IN TODAY ON JUSTICE SCALIA as the next chief justice. They're a'gin him. This makes him, of course, a perfect choice. It was a standard issue Times editorial, smooth as a baby's bottom, until just towards the end when it rode right over a large pothole at high speed.

Many of the most central principles of American constitutional law - from the right to a court-appointed lawyer to the right to buy contraception - have emerged from the court's evolving sense of the meaning of constitutional clauses. -- That Scalia Charm
I don't think many would argue that a right to a lawyer is a "central principle," but I have a great deal of difficulty putting the purchase of pills, condoms and diaphragms smack dab in the center along with it. I'm sure that to many people who work at the New York Times children are either irrelevant to their lifestyle, or would seriously crimp their career path, but surely that's no reason to make their avoidance a "central principle of American constitutional law." Or perhaps I just haven't been reading the Times enough to keep up on the code. Could it be that "the right to buy contraception" is the new code phrase for "the right to have an abortion." No, that's far too cynical. Isn't it?

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 21, 2005 5:47 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dictatorship? What Dictatorship?: Washington Post Managing Editor Chats With The Peoples' Daily

PHILIP BENNETT, MANAGING EDITOR OF THE WASHINGTON POST, either does not know or does not care that information travels everywhere. That's the impression one gets from his remarkably candid comments in the "Exclusive Interview " he gives to The People's Daily of the People's Republic of China. Perhaps the Washington Post, like The Godfather's "I have business with Mo Green", has business with the PRC and this interview was meant primarily for internal consumption in Beijing. Still, the translation has moved to the internet with People's Daily Online -- "I don't think US should be the leader of the world" and Bennett's attitudes, the attitudes that drive the Washington Post, are illuminating to say the least. The entire interview is worth reading, but here are some choice excerpts.

America according to Bennett and WAPO:

Another source of the resentment is the perception that Bush administration wants to act unilaterally in the world, outside of alliance that traditionally governed the ways Bush made foreign policy decisions. In some ways the core of perception problems is centered on 911 terrorist attacks in 2001 in which the US government and Bush administration reacted by deciding that the country would make decisions in foreign affairs that respond only to US interests. They were not going to consult very widely, and not to compromise in making those decisions. That caused rift even among the US allies. So it is natural to see that the image of America is the lowest in public opinion.
Mr. Bennett seems to have forgotten, or not known of, the six-month run up to the Iraq war, the endless shuttling of diplomats east and west, north and south, the speeches to the UN, the passage of resolutions by the United Nations, the visits by Bush to same, the building of a coalition of nations -- sans the really important France and Germany-- , and the ultimatums an long count-down to war. All of which the Washington Post reported in great detail. He needs to take time out to read his own paper.

America, according to Bennett, is more than its foreign policy. Who knew?

But it is important for Chinese to understand that the image of America is many things, not just the image of the government. American culture, as expressed in Movies and music etc, is still quite popular in the world today. American movies are remarkably popular all over the world to the extent that you can buy them on the streets of all major Chinese cities.
Why you certainly can, Mr. Bennett, the only question is whether they are better bits of piracy than those you can buy on the streets of New York City.

Should America be the leader of the world? To answer in Bennettese is to "complexify" and nuance to the hilt while ignoring the fait accompli.

No, I don't think US should be the leader of the world. My job is helping my readers trying to understand what is happening now. What is happening now is very difficult to understand. The world is very complex. There are various complex forces occurring in it. I don't think you can imagine a world where one country or one group of people could lead everybody else. I can't imagine that could happen.
This just in, world complex, we're from your Washington Post, and we're here to help. Cool Hand Bennett: "What we have here is a failure to imaginate."

Bennett then defines Democracy down....

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 14, 2005 4:17 AM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Canada Erases Israel

STRUGGLING TO REMAIN AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF ANTI-SEMITISM, Canada is issuing, or, rather, re-issuing, politically correct passports for its Israel born Jewish citizens:

Canadian Jews born in Jerusalem are having their passports recalled in order to erase the word "Israel" from beside the name of the Jewish State's capital.

B'nai Brith of Canada has filed an application for judicial review of the Government's policy to deny Canadian citizens born in Jerusalem the right to have Israel noted in their passports as their country of birth.

Though the request was filed on behalf of a 17-year-old Torontonian, many others have now been affected by the Canadian policy as well. In recent months, scores of Canadian Jews have been contacted by Canadian Passport Office officials and told to surrender their passports showing Jerusalem, Israel as the country of birth.
-- Arutz Sheva - Israel National News

I can hardly wait for the new-old maps of "Palestine" to start showing up in Canadian textbooks and other "official" maps. It really is only a matter of time. Canada, always avant-garde, n'cest pas?

Of course, if Israel would only make French their official language, all this merde Canadian would vanish c'est soir-la. Oui? Bonne chance.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 13, 2005 8:48 PM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Fine Art of Slant

SLANTING THE NEWS IS AN ART; an art learned delicately over many years of careful craftsmanship. And as music is an art defined by the silences between the notes, the art of slanting the news is often defined by knowing what to leave out. Knowing what to leave out is very valuable to "reporters." It shows, to their editors and collegues that they "get" the unwritten rules of shaping and molding the impressions people take away from what seem to be "hard news" stories. If readers take away the "correct" impressions, the reporter can count on his stock and salary rising.

A classic example of the fine art of slanted news is the recent story scribbled by Editor and Publisher's editor, Greg Mitchell. It is a minor masterpiece of sorts and I'm sure Mr. Mitchell can look forward to a lot of invitations to fine parties as a result of it and the others like it he carefully crafts on his little prose bench.

First read the entire article and form an impression from it. Then we'll look at how that impression is created.

One in Four Americans Would Use Nukes Against Terrorists, Gallup Finds
By Greg Mitchell
Published: March 01, 2005 12:00 PM ET

NEW YORK More than one in four Americans would go so far as to utilize nuclear bombs if need be in the fight against terrorism, according to a national survey reported today by The Gallup Organization.

Gallup asked Americans whether they would be willing or not willing "to have the U.S. government do each of the following" and then listed an array of options.

For example, "assassinate known terrorists" drew the support of 65% of all adults. "Torture known terrorists if they know details about future terrorist attacks in the U.S." won the backing of 39%.

Finally, the option of using "nuclear weapons to attack terrorist facilities" drew the support of 27% of adults, with 72% opposing, which would shatter the taboo on using these weapons militarily since the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Experts agree that the power of today's weapons, their range of damage and the peril of drifting radioactive fallout far exceeds the bombs used against Japan. That support has declined 7% since 2001, however.

Greg Mitchell ( is the editor of E&P and co-author (with Robert Jay Lifton) of the book "Hiroshima in America."

It seems to me you can come away from this small item (which was widely circulated and commented on from the right and the left yesterday) with the distinct impression that there's a lot of Americans ready to assassinate, torture and nuke our enemies. And in that you would be right. If you lean left, you'll probably feel shocked and upset that insanity is rising. If you lean right, you'll probably be heartened by the fact that sanity is rising.

No matter what you feel, you'll be wrong.

You'll be wrong because what this slanted art work leaves out (except for the parting "escape" statement in the last sentence) is that in ALL THREE "FACTS" reported -- out of four in the survey -- American support has DROPPED since October of 2001.

That's right, fewer Americans in January of 2005 approved of the assassination of terrorists, of foreign leaders who harbor terrorists, of the torture of terrorists, and the nuclear option than in October of 2001.

How do we know this? Well, we went to Mitchell's original source at Gallup's Would Americans Fight Terrorism by Any Means Necessary?, signed up for their free 30 day trial, and took a look at the same data he looked at.

Here's what you see:

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 2, 2005 11:53 PM |  Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Atlantis of the Sands

THE APTLY-NAMED CALLIMACHUS @ Done With Mirrors takes us on a sentimental journey with "Fallujah Calling:"

Remember Fallujah? Three months ago, U.S. Marines waded into the warren of its streets and fought their toughest battle since Vietnam. They captured the former capital of the Islamist terrorists in Iraq. They ended the reign of Abu Musab al Zarqawi there, where he had created a grotesque miniature picture of what all Iraq would become if the U.S. packed up and came home, as war opponents wanted us to do.

Our troops scoured the city, and chased or killed the thug army that had made it its citadel. The fighting devastated Fallujah, which once had been home to 300,000 people. We said we would help them build a new Fallujah, when they returned. This was to be a showplace of the new Iraq, in the heart of the Sunni region, in the Baathist bastion.

Well, how's it going? Are we keeping our promise? Are we doing it well or poorly? What do the people say?

You'll never find out by reading the Associated Press. Or the New York Times. For the print media, Fallujah seems to have fallen off the map as totally as Atlantis.

Callimachus points out that this is not "a good news/bad news" issue, but a "no-news" issue. No photos online from AP for February, no updates moving on the wires, the whole town -- so make-or-break for the US effort in Iraq -- was a "make," a victory, so what interest could the aftermath possibly have.

This is more than a no-bleed / no-lead item. This is an issue where a win for the United States is obviously not worthy of any follow-up whatsoever. Daily body counts are great, but daily reclamation and restoration victories are in the strange amoral universe of the MSM unworthy even of notice.

Still, there is some news trickling out and Callimachus is kind enough to distill it for you. Why large international news organizations would fail to do this, I leave to your own conclusions.

[Pointer via Final Historian @ History's End]

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 2, 2005 10:03 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Google News Family Values

I KNOW THAT GOOGLE NEWS IS SUPPOSED TO BE RUN BY A ROBOT, but am I alone in suspecting it is a really, really stupid robot?
Let's see. From this I am supposed to think that the Hockey Season That Wasn't is more important than the India-Pakistan War That Wasn't?

Given that Google is famous for hiring very bright people, maybe it could assign an entry level janitor to empty the drool cup of its news robot from time to time.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 16, 2005 11:06 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Eason Jordan Resigns

From Jay Rosen : PressThink: Eason Jordan Resigns

Just got off the phone with Howard Kurtz. It's confirmed. Eason Jordan resigned today about an hour ago.

This is the statement CNN put out:

After 23 years at CNN, I have decided to resign in an effort to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy over conflicting accounts of my recent remarks regarding the alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq.

I have devoted my professional life to helping make CNN the most trusted and respected news outlet in the world, and I would never do anything to compromise my work or that of the thousands of talented people it is my honor to work alongside.

While my CNN colleagues and my friends in the U.S. military know me well enough to know I have never stated, believed, or suspected that U.S. military forces intended to kill people they knew to be journalists, my comments on this subject in a World Economic Forum panel discussion were not as clear as they should have been.

I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise. I have great admiration and respect for the men and women of the U.S. armed forces, with whom I have worked closely and been embedded in Baghdad, Tikrit, and Mosul, in addition to my time with American soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen in Afghanistan, former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the Arabian Gulf.

As for my colleagues at CNN, I am enormously proud to have worked with you, risking my life in the trenches with you, and making CNN great with you. For that experience, and for your friendship and support these many years, I thank you.

"We'll always have Davos."

UPDATE: Crow Eating Carification -- I was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! and must now steel myself to eating Roger Simon's hat.

Call for recipes.
UPDATE II: Just guesstimating here, but with 23 years in on CNN and what with taking one for the team, this has got to be worth between 1.5 and 2.5 million to Jordan as he goes out the door. Plus continuing benefits of course.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 11, 2005 4:30 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Killing the Messengers?

For those that have been following the story that evolved out of CNN's Eason Jordon's remarks at Davos the swirl of opinion and comment can be daunting. There is, by now, little doubt over what was said -- confirmed by at least two sources present -- and no little parsing of what it could mean to CNN, Jordon, and the media around the globe. But for all the numerous people who have written about this, the single most compelling voice is still that of Rony Abovitz, the man who first reported on what he saw and heard at Davos. It is often the case that when going to a particular blog you already know the tone and the take of the writer, but Abovitz is both fresh, informative, and fair. If you want a clear look at the what is at stake, see

Journalists Killed in Iraq - The Core Issues

Here are the issues as I see them:

(1) What really did happen in Iraq to both the U.S. and foreign journalists killed while trying to cover the war? The posts by the readers, in particular a few from soldiers themselves, make this question even more compelling. And what is going to happen to journalists covering Iraq going forward? How does the truth ever become fully revealed and made public? Does the U.N. need to investigate what happened? Is there a major media organization reputable enough to present accurate information on a question which by definition here involves the major media?

(2) What is the responsibility of the media, and of media chiefs in particular (such as Eason) when it comes to how the news is shaped (or not shaped) to meet the needs of their audience?  Is the news a business that needs to market to their customers what they want to hear and see, or is there a higher set of ethical and moral responsibilities that come along with the business of news? What is interesting in this case is that I do believe that the exact, objective facts are available with respect to what was said. This particular discussion at the WEF 2005 was videotaped (hopefully it is in a complete and unedited form). The debate about exactly what was said is easily resolved if an accurate transcript of the tape, or the tape itself, can be produced and made public. This kind of transparency lends itself well to global issues where subjectivity can taint any side of a topic like this. It is possible in this case that the subjectivity on one part of this issue can be removed entirely (with the complete videotape and transcript of the discussion).

If this is important to you, and it should be, you need to read his entire essay.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 2, 2005 6:21 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Noted in Passing

ROBERT'S RULES OF SURVIVAL: "10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate. If you want to uncover problems you don't know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven't examined for a while. I guarantee you problems will be there."

BECAUSE YOU. ARE. SPECIAL. The Apple iProduct: "Your life. In a small, plastic case."

BLOGDAMNED IF YOU DO, BLOGDAMNED IF YOU DON'T -- A concerned emailer asks why I am not getting back to work after posting the item below that begins "I'M GETTING RIGHT BACK TO WORK." As I said last night to my blogdamned wife, "Right now, for better or worse, blogging is my work, and yes dear, I promise to work the phrase 'my blogdamned wife' into a post just as soon as possible. No, not just because you thought of it."

KOTTKE CHATS WITH "CALL PAUL TO HAUL." HAS EPIPHANY:Craigslist and cottage industries

I'd never really thought about it before, but in some ways, CL helps lots of people build businesses cheaper and more effectively than more "robust", complex, and expensive enterprise software solutions. Movers are just one example. CL can help you find employees for your business. If you've got a van, you can pick up free furniture and electronics around the city, fix or refurbish, and sell it. You can start a business doing computer troubleshooting, piano lessons, buying and fixing up old motorcycles, or escort and sensual massage services.
Following which a commenter expresses a wish and discloses an opportunity: "Wish CL was more "robust" in smaller cities, e.g. Tucson. Guess that's just the way it goes, but seems like bad luck since small cities have a lot of cottage industry potential."

CLUELESS USERS IS WHAT THE Pew Internet & American Life Project: Search Engine Users sees:

Only 38% of users are aware of the distinction between paid or "sponsored" results and unpaid results. And only one in six say they can always tell which results are paid or sponsored and which are not. This finding is ironic, since nearly half of all users say they would stop using search engines if they thought engines were not being clear about how they presented paid results.

I'M GETTING RIGHT BACK TO WORK right after I post this pointer to the ever-popular Getting Back To Work: A Personal Productivity Toolkit.

WHEN ARCHITECTS ATTACK:Will Alsop's Supercity promises more terror and despair for England.

Imagine a future in which the vast M62 corridor is a singular entity, a huge coast to coast 'SuperCity', 80 miles long and 15 miles wide. Here city limits are blurred, its inhabitants live in Liverpool, shop in Leeds and go clubbing in Manchester. Using the latest forms of advanced transportation, SuperCity residents could wake up by the Mersey and commute to an office overlooking the Humber. Air travel from a central hub puts the world on our doorstep. What impact will this have on the traditional definition of a city and the people who work, rest and play in this radical new landscape?
You'd think decades of social rot and other disasters of urban "planning" in the council flats would have taught them the answers to that. Imagine.

AS ROBERT REDFORD DECLARES SUNDANCE to be an island of Freedom in a vast sea of Repression -- "I like to think of this festival as a festival of dissent, and I'd like to celebrate that" (AP) -- Jason at LIBERTAS thinks Redford does not go far enough:

Sundance should be a kind of permanent 'festival of dissent.' After all, Mr. Redford has never really been given the chance by Hollywood to express himself fully. EVEN THOUGH MR. REDFORD CONTROLS A FILM FESTIVAL, A FILM INSTITUTE, A PRODUCTION COMPANY, HIS OWN CABLE CHANNEL, A SKI RESORT AND A POPULAR CLOTHING CATALOGUE, CAN WE REALLY SAY HE'S EVER HAD THE OPPORTUNITIES HE DESERVED? Sadly we cannot, because Mr. Redford deserves ALL of these things... and more.

APPLE'S ON TRACK TO SELL A BILLION SONGS BY THE END OF 2005: Apple iTunes sales tally hits 250m -- The Register

"More than 250m songs have been paid for and downloaded from Apple's iTunes Music Store, the Mac maker boasted today."

GLENN REYNOLDS notes this morning that he has been nominated for a Wired Magazine Rave Award.

Reynolds denies the nomination has anything to do with last Fall's spate of wireless blogging from the dark backrooms at The Tire Shop surrounded by empty water bottles and glow-sticks, but insists he still feels very warm and loving towards the nominating committee.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 24, 2005 8:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
On Dogs and Mainstream Media

My father-in-law, Bob, sometimes forwards jokes. Always a pleasure. This morning one popped in that I hadn't seen before and, like many jokes, it struck me that there's a larger truth hidden in the humor. Don't stop me if you've heard it before.

A young boy, about eight years old, was at the store picking out a large box of laundry detergent. The grocer walked over and, trying to be friendly, asked the boy if he had a lot of laundry to do.

"Oh, no laundry," the boy said. "I'm going to wash my dog."

"But you shouldn't use this to wash your dog. It's very powerful and if you wash your dog in this, he'll get sick. In fact, it might even kill him."

But the boy was not stopped by this and carried the detergent to the counter and paid for it, even as the grocer still tried to talk him out of washing his dog.

About a week later the boy was back in the store doing some shopping. The grocer asked the boy how his dog was doing.

"Oh, he died," the boy said.

The grocer said, "I tried to tell you not to use that detergent on your dog."

"Well," the boy replied, "I don't think it was the detergent that killed him."

"Oh I'm sorry. How did he die?"

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 23, 2005 8:48 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Inside the Sausage Factory: How the News Is Made @ CBS

From deep within the Romenesko letters page , [Scroll down, pilgrim, scroll down. ] comes this fascinating inside look at how things are supposed to work at CBS News. KRISTINA BORJESSON, a producer, is not -- to say the least -- feeling too sanguine about any real reform in the future. Having worked for years at a magazine where the lawsuit du jour was a constant cost of doing business, I can attest to the elements she lists as just about the minimum necessary to take any story into print or onto the screen. How the players in the Rathergate Self-Fornication Festival were able to subvert these procedures remains the great untold story of the whole debacle. The "Why" is known if not acknowledged. The "How" remains to be seen -- at least by the public.

As an afterthought to her map of the CBS vetting procedures, BORJESSON also puts paid to the notion that Mary Mapes "broke" the Abu Ghraib.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 19, 2005 9:32 AM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
All I Need to Know About Rathergate I Learned from Peggy Noonan

And I share a bit of it with you:

Let me repeat that: The MSM rose because it had a monopoly on information. The networks, newspapers and magazines were a Liberal Monolith. In one of his "Making of the President" books the liberal but ingenuous Teddy White famously said of 57th Street in Manhattan that when he stood there he was within a stone's throw of all the offices in which all of American media was busily churning out its vision of The News. Churning it out were a relatively small group of a few hundred liberals who worked and mostly lived on an island off the continent; they told that continent not only what it should be thinking about but how it should be thinking of it. (I think the New York Times unconsciously echoes this old assumption in their television commercials in which an earnest, graying, upscale dunderhead says the New York Times surrounds a story and gives him new ways to think about it. Doesn't it just?)....

All this has been said before but this can't be said enough: The biggest improvement in the flow of information in America in our lifetimes is that no single group controls the news anymore.
-- MSM Requiem - Peggy Noonan

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 15, 2005 11:26 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Moose is Back at the New York Times

Publisher Sulzberger looks for a lift in the numbers.

Executive Editor Keller looks for more readers just like him.

Readers in short supply.

Red ink not.

"You may say to yourself, 'Where does that highway lead to?' "

Stock in the tank. Revenue down, down, down. Circulation gains "infinitesimal." Costs of growth skyrocketing. Ad pages declining. Core market deserting the product. Spending to increase. Sound like a healthy business to you? Business Week agrees.

The current cover story of Business Week concerns a struggling business and the people that run it. Chock full of information hard to find in one place "The Future Of The New York Times" sets out the decline in the Gray Lady's fortunes in some detail.

While the article is exhaustive, the single thing that doesn't really come up in the piece, or in the sidebar where "The Times Top Scribes Speak," is a discussion of why the New York Times might be having these problems. Yes, there are a lot of explanations given concerning tough markets and tough times. There is a nod to the costs of becoming a national newspaper. All this and more, but you will search in vain for any self-searching on the part of the Times concerning the real problem, the "Moose in the Room."

The "Moose Meme" first came to light during the slow defenestration of Howell Raines from top editorial slot at the times. "The Moose" was, and I suppose is, an actual stuffed plushy moose owned and operated by Times publisher and overlord Arthur Sulzberger. He reportedly trots it out at meetings whenever he senses that the obvious problem is not being acknowledged as a problem. For whatever reason, the Moose was not around when BW did the story. [ For more about "The Moose" see our story from July, 2003,: Raines may be gone, but ... the Moose remains: Praise the New York Times but Pass the Ammunition.]

The Moose is, of course, the cold fact that, in ever increasing numbers, people do not trust and do not like the editorial tone and slant that the New York Times is peddling. If this has not penetrated the Publishers office or the newsroom, it has certainly not

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 8, 2005 8:57 AM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
In the Grip


From Peter Flach's gripping first-person account at the Belmont Lounge, a secondary site by Wretchard @ Belmont Club

At that moment I saw large amounts of water coming again and, no longer calm, I screamed "Run!" Lal was still engrossed in his mobile and I screamed, "Forget the mobile -- Run!" But when I looked ahead I could see water cascading over the track as far as the eye could see. "Hang on," I shouted and stopped to grip the rail in both hands. Lal was doing the same about 5 metres to my left. I watched the water swiftly rise up my arms, and let the bag go, with some regret, as it had all my valuables in it, but I wasn't going to jeopardise my safety for the sake of a bag. I looked across at Lal, but he had gone, and then I went.

A wall of water picked me up and flung me backwards into the edge of the jungle. I was rolled about underwater like a rag doll. You read about kittens going round in washing machines and that is what it felt like. I then broke surface and saw the jungle moving past at 30-40 mph. It was dense with a lot of trees and other vegetation. I stupidly tried to grab a palm frond but I was going far too fast and couldn't hold on.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 4, 2005 4:54 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Par-A-Noia Strikes Deep, Into Your Life It Will Creep..."

Times Watch, which tracks the New York Times so you don't have to, has released its New york Times Quotes of Note: The Worst of 2004.

There are so many jawdroppers and gobstoppers listed that it is difficult to pick out a favorite, but the top quote has a lot going for it.

"Abortion might be a crime in most states. Gay people could be thrown in prison for having sex in their homes. States might be free to become mini-theocracies, endorsing Christianity and using tax money to help spread the gospel. The Constitution might no longer protect inmates from being brutalized by prison guards. Family and medical leave and environmental protections could disappear."
-- Editorial board member Adam Cohen, predicting the impact of future Bush appointments to the Supreme Court, October 18.
Yes, indeed, the future "World According to Cohen" is just a bleak demon-haunted landscape in which prisons fill up with unwed mothers taking their babies to term, right next to other prisons filled with Gay couples who had sex,all of which would clutter the landscape in an America where every state was just another version of Utah circa 1878. Not only that, this vast Prison/Theocracy state would be rife with random beatings of inmates in the name of God in an environment of primitive medical care and total pollution.

Sounds like Afghanistan under the Taliban. I wonder if the health plan at the New York Times covers lithium injections and family interventions. If so, Cohen might want to sign up for both.


Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 19, 2004 3:15 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
I, (Frank Rich) Robot

If it is Sunday, it means it may be hard to avoid Frank Rich. Yup, there he is in full blather mode over at the New York Times: The Year of 'The Passion'

I once asked if Frank Rich of the New York Times got his position by bribery or by begging on his knees. He certainly didn't get it from a power-packed prose style or intellect. I was assured that he didn't have the kind of money for bribery.

Today Rich is back at his favorite Kool-Aid stand where he sells large glasses of his particular brew. At hand is his latest screed against the Right in general and Christians in particular. He loves this theme and returns to it "as doth a dog to his vomit."

But the particular paragraph below caught my eye.

Frank Rich from the Left: What is this about? How can those in this country's overwhelming religious majority maintain that they are victims in a fiery battle with forces of darkness? It is certainly not about actual victimization. Christmas is as pervasive as it has ever been in America, where it wasn't even declared a federal holiday until after the Civil War. What's really going on here is yet another example of a post-Election-Day winner-takes-all power grab by the "moral values" brigade. As Mr. Gibson shrewdly contrived his own crucifixion all the way to the bank, trumping up nonexistent threats to his movie to hype it, so the creation of imagined enemies and exaggerated threats to Christianity by "moral values" mongers of the right has its own secular purpose. The idea is to intimidate and marginalize anyone who objects to their efforts to impose the most conservative of Christian dogma on public policy. If you're against their views, you don't have a differing opinion — you're anti-Christian (even if you are a Christian).

How wrong and how Richian, I thought. And then I took another look and saw that Rich was not, after all, a writer, but a bot in the Times copy computer. Why with just a few, a very few, changes it could read exactly the other way around... say...


Frank Rich from the Right: What is this about? How can those in this country's overwhelming political majority maintain that they are victims in a fiery battle with forces of darkness? It is certainly not about any loss of freedom. Freedom is as pervasive as it has ever been in America, where it was declared a God-given right by the Declaration of Independence. What's really going on here is yet another example of a post-Election-Day loser-needs-power grab by the "politically correct" brigade. As Senator Kerry shrewdly contrived his own crucifixion all the way to the bank, trumping up nonexistent threats to freedom to hype his candidacy, so the creation of imagined enemies and exaggerated threats to freedom by "political correctness" mongers of the Left has its own fantatic purpose. The idea is to intimidate and marginalize anyone who objects to their efforts to impose the most liberal of Demmocratic dogmas on public policy. If you're against their views, you don't have a differing opinion — you're anti-Humanity (even if you are a Human.)

No need for the Times to hire a new conservative columnist. I'll just rewrite Frank Rich columns for them. It is so easy, I'll do it for free and an invitation to their ChanukahKwanzaHolidayC____mas Party.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 17, 2004 8:23 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
25 More Reasons to Read the Blogosphere

Well, I imagine if you've gone so far as to name yourself "Project Censored" you need to find things that have been, in fact, censored. Hence this year's linked list Project Censored 2005 - Top 25 Censored Stories.

I went to the link with keen anticipation. Here, at last, would be all those stories that I hadn't heard about because of, well, censorship. Censorship, as we all know, is a massive problem in today's multi-mediaverse. So many things just never, ever, see the light of day.

But none of those things, whatever they may be, seemed to make the Year's Most Censored List at Project Censored. Of all the 25 items listed, there was not one I had not read about in some detail, as it unfolded, at some site across the Blogosphere.

Here's the first 10 listed. See how many ring a bell with you.

  • #1: Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy
  • #2: Ashcroft vs. the Human Rights Law that Holds Corporations Accoutable
  • #3: Bush Administration Censors Science
  • #4: High Levels of Uranium Found in Troops and Civilians
  • #5: The Wholesale Giveaway of Our Natural Resources
  • #6: The Sale of Electoral Politics
  • #7: Conservative Organization Drives Judicial Appointments
  • #8: Cheney's Energy Task Force and The Energy Policy
  • #9: Widow Brings RICO Case Against U.S. government for 9/11
  • #10: New Nuke Plants: Taxpayers Support, Industry Profits
Offhand, I'd say each and every one of these "censorsed" news stories has been beaten down beneath the bedrock like the proverbial dead equine.

I probably missed the censorship of the "Water is wet" expose and the carefully expunged tale about how "Bush Lied." I'm sure both will be censored again next year. But I only know what I read.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 16, 2004 12:16 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Reuters' Mid-East Bizarre Bazaar Still Open for Business

Call me irresponsible but more and more I think that the single job for a writer that would most certainly condemn you to hell in this life and the next has to be reporting for Reuters. Impervious to sense and humanity, this "Service" continues to pump out what passes for "reportage" using editorial rules and filters from somewhere in "the Stone Age". I use that term advisedly.

Here's a full report that just moved over the wires from that bastion of religious peace, harmony and toleration, Iran.

Iranian Adulteress Faces Noose or Stoning-Official

Dec 18, 2004 -- TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian official said on Saturday he was waiting for orders on whether to stone or hang a woman convicted of adultery, the latest in a chain of death sentences passed against women for "fornication."

The official from Iran's conservative judiciary said Hajieh Esmailvand's prison sentence, that began in January 2000, would end in less than a month -- a jail term in the northern city of Jolfa that was always intended as a precursor to execution.

"Her (death) sentence is approved by the Supreme Court, but there are no orders to carry out the sentence. We do not yet know if it is by stoning or hanging," he told Reuters.

Hanging is the most usual death penalty in Iran but some adulterers have been stoned.

Stoning has sparked scathing international criticism, with victims being buried up to their midriffs and then pelted to death with medium-size stones that should not be so large as to kill instantly.

That's it. Whole item. Starts well with a terse factual headline. Goes on in that vein with fact, fact, identified quote, fact ... and then the end. Snip.

Well, it is nice, I suppose, to know that "international criticism" of stoning has been scathing (Although we presume that some countries in love with Iran have been less scathing than others.). But the story does leave you wondering just what that "criticism" might be. Depth to which victim is buried? Size of stones used? Number of stoners invited to the festive moment?

Also left out is the mention of any possible "international criticism" of the charming practice hanging women for "fornication." Are we to assume that stoning is so evil that the world just gives Iran a pass on the noose?

The more that you look at this example of the Reuter's Way of Journalism, the more you see the large empty hole in the middle. The place where ethics and morality should be.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 15, 2004 11:00 AM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
And all the news just repeats itself...

Same old, same old, noted by Anticipatory Retaliation: Same As It Ever Was

Hostage Slaughterhouses, Death Camps, Gulags

Anyone recognize The Beast?

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 13, 2004 11:27 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
This Just In


AVAILABLE NOW AS A SNAZZY TEE SHIRT: Immortalize and savor this moment forever in your always smart, snazzy, and ever-so comfy American Digest    USA TO DEMS: DROP DEAD tee. Order at The American Digest Mall of CyberAmerica!     for only $14.99. Considering how many Dems you can tick off in one cross town block in Manhattan, that's dirt cheap.

[ American Digest is not responsible for any foaming fits, raving shouts at the sky, immolation, or mass self-Bobbitization caused by viewing this tee shirt.]

And, as long as we're going retail today, I should point out this snazzy bumper strip that is sure to irritate anti-Semites and anti-Zionists everywhere:

Standard 10 x 3 Bumper Strip. Click to enlarge

Also available at     The American Digest Mall of CyberAmerica!    just in time for the Holidays.

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 5, 2004 10:56 AM |  Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
As I was saying last July,
There are millions and millions of citizens who are registered as Democrats and who talk the Democrat talk but do not always walk the Democrat walk when push comes to shove. You might be in a union-- Trade, Government, Teachers, etc. -- that could harm you if you announced for Bush. You might be in a family with deep Democratic roots. You might be a member of a minority in which you would be ostracised if you confessed you would vote for Bush. You might be of a sexual persuasion where you're chances of dates would be severely curtailed if you said you were voting for Bush. You might be working in an office or in a career where you chances for advancement might be crippled if you voted for Bush. You might be at a school where even your grades would be impacted if you said you were voting for Bush.

In short there are hundreds of situations in which millions of people find themselves where a declared preference for Bush would not be a wise thing to announce. Much better to simply nod vaguely and stay out of the way of any negative consequences. The idea that everybody is going to vote the way they say they will is very oversold, particularly by the media or the pollsters who have a vested interest in declaring the race "tight." The "stealth vote" is especially relevant in an election where the single most pressing question that will come into a voter's mind after the curtains close behind him or her and they stand ready to vote is: "What's it going to be? Issue X, Y, Z, or my life?"

Sensible people, no matter what they may or may not say, choose life. And sensible people know that that is what this election is about.

-- American Digest: The Inevitable Bush Blowout, July 29, 2004

Now I have to say that, in terms of effect, it wasn't exactly what I meant by "blowout" at the time. But still, with the largest number of people voting ever, and the largest number of those by far voting for Bush, and the pick-up of seats in the House, the Senate, and in the states across the country .... well, I'll take it as it stands.

A blowout? Well that would depend on how close you are standing to the center of the blast.

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 3, 2004 2:39 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"It Must Be True. I Read It in The New York Times on the Internet."

John Schwartz, writing in the New York Times (AKA "The White Hot Center of Liberal Hell and Leftist Pinko Moonbat Kerry-Kissing Revisionism Now Coughing Up Only a Death Rattle on a Daily Basis Times) wisely and correctly notes in his surpassingly brilliant and for once utterly true (for at least two paragraphs) Pultizer Prize quality (for at least two paragraphs) article found at: in The New York Times > Week in Review > When No Fact Goes Unchecked

It's true that Kerry and Bush supporters live in "different universes," said Gerard Van der Leun, whose blog, at, blends conservative political views with coruscating humor. But he disagrees strongly with the notion that one side has a monopoly on truth.

"I think it's evident that both sides play about as fast and loose in this political season as they possibly can," he said.

I note he left out my best anecdote about the two groups in two tents with opium pipes, but I'm sure that Schwartz's editor (AKA: Spawn of Satan! ) cut that out so as not to offend Frank Rich with whom he shares a goat.

Now, I admit that might have been misquoted in the article, but due to my recent misfortune ( Blogger's Head Explodes) I'm can't be sure.

Still, I have been reanimated and reconstructed enough to say:

"Hi, my name is Gerard and I'm a Timesaholic. If I can kick it, so can you. " Here's my Program: "NY Times Anonymous: The Twelve Steps. Keep coming back. It works!"

I also realize that there may be among you those so depraved and bottomed out in Timesaholism that you have finished the Sunday Crossword in ink before coming here. To me this can only mean that you will also be casting your vote for the last Democratic candidate for President for at least a generation, John Kerry.

To you I can only say that you will want to come back here on the day after the election. I'll be posting the National Suicide Hotline list, with some special secret phone numbers so you won't have to spend three hours on hold.

A special service for my liberal readers. Both of them.

UPDATE: Reviewed ruthlessly by my wonderful wife at Cheaper Than Therapy .

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 31, 2004 12:16 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Lineaments of Women's Desire Discovered

Although I am sure I am not the first man to have this insight, shortly after my daughter was born I remember holding her and nuzzling her then small and delicate head. The odor of a young baby is difficult to describe especially with a dusting of baby powder, but I recall thinking on more than one occasion that if a men's cologne company wanted to corner the market it would isolate and bottle the aroma. It could be marketed under the name "New Baby." I was sure the scent would prove to be irresistible to women.

Now Rickey James at the invaluable SciScoop reports that a scent emitted by one woman can stimulate desire in women around her. The catch is that she has to be breastfeeding.

Not immediately useful, we still remain certain that manufactures of men's cologne will be drawn to this discovery like flies to honey. You can smell the profits from here.

From a monumentally important press release by the University of  Chicago:  Breastfeeding women and their infants produce a substance that increases sexual desire among other women, according to research at the University of Chicago.

"This is the first report in humans of a natural social chemosignal that increases sexual motivation," said Martha McClintock, the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology at the University, and the lead researcher in a team at the University's Institute for Mind and Biology. Chemosignals are substances that while not necessarily perceived as odors, nonetheless have an impact on mood and menstrual cycles when absorbed through the nose.

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 9, 2004 5:01 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Times Fatigue

You know it is time for an emergency reboot of your brain when you read a paragraph like this in the New York Times on the death of Star Trek:

Some people suggest the problem is audience fatigue. Some say it is creative exhaustion. One solution to both, several actors, writers, producers and directors of past "Star Trek" incarnations say, may be to stop making new "Star Trek" stories for a while. -- Fans Hope Suns Can Rise Again on 'Star Trek'

and your mind instantly translates the paragraph into:
Some people suggest the problem is with the New York Times is audience fatigue. Some say it is creative exhaustion. One solution to both, many editors, writers, reporters and readers of past "New York Times" incarnations say, may be to stop publishing The New York Times for a while.
On the other hand....

Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 8, 2004 10:18 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Smarter Than the Average Bear


N.Z. BEAR (He of the Ecosystem) has the following clues for the "Conventional Blodders." Please forward as you see fit.

Not that you asked, but...

July 26, 2004 09:40 PM

Not to backseat-blog or anything, but here's a bit of advice for my colleagues who actually travelled to the convention:

a) Get the hell out of "blogger alley"

b) Stop talking to each other

c) Stop taking pictures of each other

d) Stop simulblogging speeches that are being covered live by television.

e) Stop doing interviews with big media. (Yes, even fake big media).

This has been a public service announcement. Please resume blogging.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 27, 2004 5:37 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The "L" on the Forehead of Europe

IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T BEEN TRACKING THE GREAT LANCE ARMSTRONG'S TRIALS AT THE TOUR, here a brief update on the not-so-noble Europeans via John @ Inside Europe: Iberian Notes

Lance Armstrong has been taking an incredible amount of abuse this week. As you might have seen, the crowds along the roads have been enormous, barely leaving enough room for the cyclists, and Armstrong publicly blasted Tour management for poor security, saying he was afraid when riding through crowds of aggressive drunken Basque supporters and that he was more disgusted than anything else at the behavior of many drunken German fans. He criticized the record level of poor sportsmanship directed his way, saying he'd never seen it in cycle racing before: he's constantly spit on, insulted, and threatened. Chechu Rubiera, one of Lance's Spanish teammates, said he'd never seen anything like it, either, and that the crowd insults him merely because he's a member of the US Postal team. When Armstrong won yesterday, he was greeted with an enormous chorus of boos and whistles; seems that people, including the incredibly prejudiced Spanish announcers, thought he was arrogant or something for winning three stages in a row. What should he have done, ride less than his best? Throw the race? Let somebody else win? If I were Lance, I'd go out of my way to rip their balls off tomorrow at the individual time trial just to piss them off. I just hope nobody sticks a knife into him.
Not to worry, they're probably saving that move up for the Olympics.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 24, 2004 10:49 PM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Oil for Food Plunder = $10 Billion

FROM THE SOURCE CITED BELOW,IWPR's Iraqi Press Monitor we find this synopsis of where much of the money went:

Central bank tracks foreign deposits
(Al-Mutamar) - An anonymous source in the Central Bank of Iraq said a number of countries, including Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and France, hid more than $10 billion. The source added they were sure of these sums, according to hard evidence related to the accounts of the oil-for-food programme. He pointed that the funds are deposited under names of people close to the former regime or under fake names. Most of the funds are in Lebanon and Jordan and are the result of corruption cases in the oil-for-food memorandum of understanding as well as agreements signed between Iraq and other countries. The Central Bank has taken legal action to restore the funds according to the Security Council resolution 1483 which states that all Iraqi funds abroad be deposited in the Iraqi Development Fund.
(Al-Mutamar is issued daily by the Iraqi National Congress.)
Not surprising, really. Now, if they can only get the addresses and keys to those Rental Storage Units in Lebanon and Jordan.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 24, 2004 10:15 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Press Freedom, Iraqi Style

(Al-Mutamar) - It shows a gunman gives a box full of weapons to an Iraqi man. The caption on the box says "Arab gifts to the brothers of the people of Iraq".

AN UP TO DATE SAMPLING of what is being said in the new Iraq's newspapers can be seen atIraq Press Monitor via the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

Here are a few snippits from Friday, July 23:

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 24, 2004 9:53 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Gone But Not Forgotten, Part 2

IT SEEMS THAT THE JOE WILSON MEMORIAL TRIBUTE PAGE IS NOT THE ONLY THING TO HAVE GONE MISSING FROM JOHNKERRY.COM. Talon News is reporting Kerry Anti-Terror Plan Removed From Campaign Web Site After Berger Revelation
UPDATE: This is getting confusing. It seems that there *is* a cached page of the missing items. It is located at: John Kerry Unveils Comprehensive Plan to Fight the War on Terrorism, but since it is a paged cached under the ownership of "John Kerry Sucks - The truth about John F. Kerry," I think we can safely assume it isn't an "Official" Kerry Cache.

Pointers to other caches are given here and there on Free Republic, but they don't seem to resolve.

Fair and balanced comment about this seems to be falling into the "It was a redesign and they are just conserving bandwidth." Less fair and less balanced comment votes for SATAN! IS DOING IT!

Since I know well how incompetent I can be, I'd usually go with the "mistaeks were made" camp, but this is, after all, a web farm that raises millions and you'd think they'd be on top of these things.

Here are the relevant items that seem to have been disappeared. It would be

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 24, 2004 1:45 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why is this man laughing?

The Demoncratic Convention's coming to town. What, me worry?

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 22, 2004 2:45 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Behind the Scenes at New York Times Headline Meetings

Al Gore Giving His Fans
That "Kennedyesque" Look


Embittered Demented Democratic Gerbil Spews Froth at Move-On Fornication Festival Nope. Too long, detailed and accurate.

Amnesia Strikes Gore As He Calls Bush Most Dishonest President Since Nixon
Nope. Nixon's dead and most Move-On'ers slept through their American History class. They won't get it.

If he had a tenth as much passion in 2000, Al Gore would be President today.
Nope. Too close to the painful truth.

Al Gore Has Full-Blown Dean Episode. Closet Deaniacs Snort Bathtub Meth and Cheer
Nope. Reveals too much about the Democrats energy source

Gore Leads Democratic Party in Defection from Prozac Nation
Nope. It'll piss off our pharmaceutical advertisers

Gore Joins Kennedy as Full-Time Hit Man for the Kerry/Soprano Family
Are you kidding. That was our idea. Don't want to leak that.

Gore Calls for Rumsfeld and Rice Resignation. Stops Short of Calling for Bush Assassination
Close but cut that down a bit. No sense in telling them the news we've got lined up for next week.

Gore Calls for Rumsfeld and Rice to Resign
That's it! It's got it all and it doesn't tell anything about his behavior. Nice and calm. Who could object to a headline like that? It gives the news without giving the news. That's what we're about down here in the New York Times Headline room. Take the rest of the week off.

Source -- The New York Times

Or try Here for a more penetrating analysis. Short form: "That Al. He crazy."

Posted by Vanderleun at May 27, 2004 11:00 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Behind the Scenes at New York Times Headline Meetings

Al Gore Giving His Fans
That "Kennedyesque" Look


Embittered Demented Democratic Gerbil Spews Froth at Move-On Fornication Festival Nope. Too long, detailed and accurate.

Amnesia Strikes Gore As He Calls Bush Most Dishonest President Since Nixon
Nope. Nixon's dead and most Move-On'ers slept through their American History class. They won't get it.

If he had a tenth as much passion in 2000, Al Gore would be President today.
Nope. Too close to the painful truth.

Al Gore Has Full-Blown Dean Episode. Closet Deaniacs Snort Bathtub Meth and Cheer
Nope. Reveals too much about the Democrats energy source

Gore Leads Democratic Party in Defection from Prozac Nation
Nope. It'll piss off our pharmaceutical advertisers

Gore Joins Kennedy as Full-Time Hit Man for the Kerry/Soprano Family
Are you kidding. That was our idea. Don't want to leak that.

Gore Calls for Rumsfeld and Rice Resignation. Stops Short of Calling for Bush Assassination
Close but cut that down a bit. No sense in telling them the news we've got lined up for next week.

Gore Calls for Rumsfeld and Rice to Resign
That's it! It's got it all and it doesn't tell anything about his behavior. Nice and calm. Who could object to a headline like that? It gives the news without giving the news. That's what we're about down here in the New York Times Headline room. Take the rest of the week off.

Source -- The New York Times

Or try Here for a more penetrating analysis. Short form: "That Al. He crazy."

Posted by Vanderleun at May 27, 2004 11:00 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Transit of Venus: Coming Soon to a Continent Near You


Europe, the Middle East and much of Asia and Africa will offer prime viewing next month for an astronomical event that has not occurred for 122 years -- the transit of the planet Venus across the sun. Weather permitting, for six hours on June 8 astronomers and the public will be able to see the planet named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty passing directly between Earth and the sun. Venus is seen in this composite radar image color coded to represent elevation from NASA .
-- Yahoo! News Photos
Posted by Vanderleun at May 26, 2004 8:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Transit of Venus: Coming Soon to a Continent Near You


Europe, the Middle East and much of Asia and Africa will offer prime viewing next month for an astronomical event that has not occurred for 122 years -- the transit of the planet Venus across the sun. Weather permitting, for six hours on June 8 astronomers and the public will be able to see the planet named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty passing directly between Earth and the sun. Venus is seen in this composite radar image color coded to represent elevation from NASA .
-- Yahoo! News Photos
Posted by Vanderleun at May 26, 2004 8:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Who Says There's No Good News?

Dinos Chapman last night confirmed that Hell had been destroyed. "It has burnt," he said. "We have had it confirmed by two or three sources."
-- Art worth millions goes up in flames

Posted by Vanderleun at May 26, 2004 8:44 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Who Says There's No Good News?

Dinos Chapman last night confirmed that Hell had been destroyed. "It has burnt," he said. "We have had it confirmed by two or three sources."
-- Art worth millions goes up in flames

Posted by Vanderleun at May 26, 2004 8:44 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Goalposts Must Move

THE ALWAYS ASTUTE JEANNE DEVOTO has had another moment of bitter sanity. Keep on the lookout for future goalpost movement in line with her predictions in Step by step...

Instapundit passes on a note from a reader about the NYT's new formulation, "No stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction have been found since the invasion.
So that's the new standard, I guess -- and a tacit admission that WMD have been found. But unless Bush can produce "stockpiles" now, it'll have all been a lie, you see. . . .
Oh no. That's not far enough. There are steps in these things, you know. Fallback positions.
  1. "No evidence that Saddam Hussein ever possessed weapons of mass destruction has been found since the invasion." This one is pretty much confined to people ignorant enough to never have heard of al-Anfal, or crazy enough to deny it happened. Most media outlets are neither, and started instead with...

  2. "No evidence that Saddam Hussein was currently involved with weapons of mass destruction has been found since the invasion." Pretty much put paid to by David Kay, frantic though the spinning was there. He certainly had active programs, primed to start production as soon as sanctions were lifted, and Kay said as much. So...

  3. "No weapons of mass destruction have been found since the invasion." The sarin and mustard gas pretty much demolished that one, although some media outlets were a bit late to hear the news. It became necessary, therefore, to resort to the next step...

  4. "No stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction has been found since the invasion." As noted above, this is the current stage. But suppose we track the origin of the sarin-filled mortar shell to the building it came from, and find, oh, a hundred more like it? Then we will move on to...

  5. "No LARGE stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction have been found since the invasion." There were only a hundred or so, the reasoning will go. Probably just leftovers, never mind that Saddam never declared any binary mortar shells of this type. Nothing to worry about. And if we find a more massive cache, say those truckloads that may have been moved to Syria? No problem - we still have...

  6. "No evidence that Saddam Hussein intended to provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists has been found since the invasion." This is the crowning move, since it both changes the subject and opens up a whole new sequence of possible goalpost moves:
    • In the face of any evidence that he did so intend, we can simply switch to saying there's no evidence that he actually did it.
    • If evidence turns up that he did do it, perhaps there's no evidence that his beneficiaries called themselves "al Qaeda".
    • And if we find a photograph of Saddam himself handing a large box labeled "Smallpox" to Mullah Omar, we simply do another switch and point out that these weapons haven't actually been used to attack the US "since the invasion".
It's easy and it's fun, and we can play along at home!

Posted by Vanderleun at May 25, 2004 10:20 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Goalposts Must Move

THE ALWAYS ASTUTE JEANNE DEVOTO has had another moment of bitter sanity. Keep on the lookout for future goalpost movement in line with her predictions in Step by step...

Instapundit passes on a note from a reader about the NYT's new formulation, "No stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction have been found since the invasion.
So that's the new standard, I guess -- and a tacit admission that WMD have been found. But unless Bush can produce "stockpiles" now, it'll have all been a lie, you see. . . .
Oh no. That's not far enough. There are steps in these things, you know. Fallback positions.
  1. "No evidence that Saddam Hussein ever possessed weapons of mass destruction has been found since the invasion." This one is pretty much confined to people ignorant enough to never have heard of al-Anfal, or crazy enough to deny it happened. Most media outlets are neither, and started instead with...

  2. "No evidence that Saddam Hussein was currently involved with weapons of mass destruction has been found since the invasion." Pretty much put paid to by David Kay, frantic though the spinning was there. He certainly had active programs, primed to start production as soon as sanctions were lifted, and Kay said as much. So...

  3. "No weapons of mass destruction have been found since the invasion." The sarin and mustard gas pretty much demolished that one, although some media outlets were a bit late to hear the news. It became necessary, therefore, to resort to the next step...

  4. "No stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction has been found since the invasion." As noted above, this is the current stage. But suppose we track the origin of the sarin-filled mortar shell to the building it came from, and find, oh, a hundred more like it? Then we will move on to...

  5. "No LARGE stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction have been found since the invasion." There were only a hundred or so, the reasoning will go. Probably just leftovers, never mind that Saddam never declared any binary mortar shells of this type. Nothing to worry about. And if we find a more massive cache, say those truckloads that may have been moved to Syria? No problem - we still have...

  6. "No evidence that Saddam Hussein intended to provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists has been found since the invasion." This is the crowning move, since it both changes the subject and opens up a whole new sequence of possible goalpost moves:
    • In the face of any evidence that he did so intend, we can simply switch to saying there's no evidence that he actually did it.
    • If evidence turns up that he did do it, perhaps there's no evidence that his beneficiaries called themselves "al Qaeda".
    • And if we find a photograph of Saddam himself handing a large box labeled "Smallpox" to Mullah Omar, we simply do another switch and point out that these weapons haven't actually been used to attack the US "since the invasion".
It's easy and it's fun, and we can play along at home!

Posted by Vanderleun at May 25, 2004 10:20 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
UN Undaunted Starts Food for Sex Program in Africa
Teenage rape victims fleeing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being sexually exploited by the United Nations peace-keeping troops sent to the stop their suffering.

The Independent has found that mothers as young as 13 - the victims of multiple rape by militiamen - can only secure enough food to survive in the sprawling refugee camp by routinely sleeping with UN peace-keepers.

Testimony from girls and aid workers in the Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in Bunia, in the north-east corner of Congo, claims that every night teenage girls crawl through a wire fence to an adjoining UN compound to sell their bodies to Moroccan and Uruguayan soldiers.

-- The Independent

Posted by Vanderleun at May 25, 2004 1:54 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Best "It's Going Around" Email Received Today


1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the
country, and who are very good at crosswords.
4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country
but don't really understand the Washington Post. They do, however, like
their statistics shown in pie charts.
5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the
country, if they could spare the time, and if they didn't have to leave
LA to do it.
6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the
country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.
7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's
running the country, and don't really care as long as they can get a
seat on the train.
8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the
country, as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably
while intoxicated.
9. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there
is a country .... or that anyone is running it; but whoever it is, they
oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the
leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs, who also
happen to be illegal aliens from ANY country or galaxy as long as they
are Democrats.
10. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country
but need the baseball scores.
11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the
grocery store.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 24, 2004 12:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Wedding Party" Short Bride, Father of Bride, Cake, etc.

BAD PEOPLE CAN PARTY TOO: No Wedding Party, Children's Deaths Indicated, Military Spokesman Says

"Contrary to media reports, there was no wedding tent and no nuptial tent in the area," Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Multinational Force Iraq said during a Baghdad news conference.

"To the allegation that there was a wedding going on, there was no evidence of a wedding," Kimmitt reiterated. "There were no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration and no gifts.

"The men were almost all military-aged, no family elders that one would expect to see at an event of this type," he said.

To help substantiate his comments, the general showed reporters slides of items found at the site, which included a significant number of weapons, battery packs used to power improvised explosive devices and a host of other non-wedding-related items.

"What was interesting is that the building seemed to be somewhat of a dormitory," Kimmitt pointed out. "There were more than 300 sets of bedding gear in it and about 100 sets of prepackaged clothing. It's suspected that when foreign fighters come in from other countries they change their clothes into typical Iraqi clothing sets.

"We also found a significant number of identity cards, ID-making machines, the capability to make exit visas for Iraq and a couple of passports," the general noted. "And we found a waist-high medical table for examination and treatment."

Highlighting some other intelligence found at the site, Kimmitt said, "There were a couple of other items we found to be quite interesting. None of the bodies had any identification of any kind -- no ID cards, no wallets, no pictures. They had watches, and that was about the only way you could identify one person from another.

"We feel that that was an indicator that this was a high-risk meeting of high-level anti-coalition forces," he said. Kimmitt pointed out items found in the victims' pockets, "including a lot of telephone numbers to foreign countries -- Afghanistan, Sudan and a number of others."

He said the site was purported to be a ranch, but there was no indication of ranching activities. "Most homes in remote desert areas support sheep ranching operations," Kimmitt noted. "But there wasn't any evidence of livestock at that location. There were large farm trucks present, but no indication that they'd ever been used for ranching."

"There were also a number of terrorist training manuals (and) suspected forged Iraqi IDs," he said.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 22, 2004 3:08 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How to Cram an Editorial into a Headline

THE NEW YORK TIMES today yields a classic in the field of "How to Slant a Headline:"

Army Discovers Old Iraqi Shell Holding Sarin, Illicit Weapon

As old news hands know, reporters file the stories, but editors write the headline. I wonder how much heavy lifting went into this one to get the story slanted in the Times direction?

Journalism 101 teaches you to write headlines that get across the news of the story in as few words as possible.

The news in the headline is:Army Discovers Iraqi Shell Holding Sarin. The curious additions here are "old" (Hell, son, that's just an old, old shell. Probably decrepit. Nothing to worrry above. Trust me. You defuse it, I'll wait for you about 20 miles upwind."), and "Illicit" ("I see you boys are dropping those illicit items all around the roadside in Baghdad these days. You been dropping those reefers, those copies of Jugs, those video tapes of Gina Davis with her top off, and those cannisters of the lethal nerve gas Sarin wired to explode. When are you going to learn to pick up after yourselves?") You've got to admire the mind that would parse nerve gas as something merely illicit.

In the lead of this story we learn that the shell had been transformed into a "homemade bomb" for use against American troops. In the next graph we learn that the shell had been manufactured in 1991 -- which is the basis for "old" in the headline. Typically, shells for the delivery of nerve agents are manufactured before the agents are added. The are what is called binary in that the torque of the shell upon being fired causes a barrier to break between two chemicals and the chemicals to mix. This is the way in which chemicals become chemical weapons.

As a result, you would want to manufacture and test the shell before you cooked up your chemicals and loaded them (very carefully) into the shell. It is not, therefore, a question of when the shell was made, but when the sarin was put into the shell. Old doesn't enter into it. If you have a stick of dynamite made in 1991, do you stop treating it with respect now that it is over 21? As the story tells you, the sarin wasn't so old that it was not dangerous.

"Illicit:" Sarin is a nerve gas. Alert readers will recall a Japanese cult's successful attack on the Tokyo subway system in the 1990s as an example of it being used against human beings. I suppose you could call it an "illicit" weapon even if the word "lethal" is more accurate.

I wonder when the Times' much-touted ombudsman is going to get around to the haiku editorializing implicit in headlines like this. Probably right after a breakthrough in ovine aviation.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 18, 2004 9:40 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Woman Who Would Be First Daughter

"No questions about my dad,
but I have nothing to hide."

LOOKING VERY EUROPEAN, John Kerry's daughter exhibited the taste, style, judgment and discernment that has become a hallmark of her party.
Kerry daughter heats up Cannes red carpet

Alexandra Kerry, 30-year-old daughter of US Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry walked up Cannes' celebrated red-carpet for the premiere of Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill 2" wearing an off-shoulder black number that turned transparent under the flashes.

Kerry, who is showing a short film at the festival, was tailed by the press during her stay at Cannes but French newspapers reported that her staff had warned journalists off questions concerning her famous father.

Her film entitled "The Last Full Measure" is being presented in the Short Film Corner section and describes the ravage wreaked on a US family by the Vietnam war.

"Miss Kerry, without asking you about your father and his oft-repeated service in Vietnam, what exactly inspired your film?

Posted by Vanderleun at May 17, 2004 11:14 AM |  Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Chemical Weapon? Who are you going to believe, Ted Kennedy or your lying eyes?

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Bomb With Nerve Agent Explodes in Iraq

"An explosive containing sarin nerve gas was discovered by American troops in Baghdad and detonated, an American military spokesman there said today. It was the first sarin shell the American military has found since the invasion of Iraq last year, the spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, said in a televised news conference.
The bomb was a "binary chemical projectile" with two chambers each containing a distinct chemical. When the projectile is fitted into an artillery round and fired, the rotation of the round causes the wall between the chambers to break, thereby blending the two chemicals. On impact with the target, the shell explodes, releasing the sarin.

But the explosive discovered last week was not launched as an artillery round, so only a small amount of the two chemicals mixed together, General Kimmitt said. It was not known whether whoever rigged the bomb knew of the presence of sarin in the explosive

Probably just something left behind in the luggage of those kidnapped Japanese tourists.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 17, 2004 11:04 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
MARK HELPRIN: Essential Reading

A LUCID AND ARRESTING ARTICLE on what is to be done in Iraq: Written on Water

"In the Middle East, our original purpose, since perverted by carelessness of estimation, was self-defense. To return to it would take advantage of the facts that the countries in the area do not have to be democracies before we require of them that they refrain from attacking us; that a regime with a firm hold upon a nation has much at stake and can be coerced to eradicate the terrorist apparatus within its frontiers; and that the ideal instrument for this is a remounted and properly supported U.S. military, released from nation building and counterinsurgency, its ability to make war, when called upon, nonpareil.

The Kurds and Shia of Iraq could within days assert control in their areas. We already have ceded part of Sunni Iraq: What remains is to pick a strongman, see him along, arrange a federation, hope for the best, remount the army, and retire, with or without Saudi permission, to the Saudi bases roughly equidistant to Damascus, Baghdad, and Riyadh. There, protected by the desert, with modern infrastructure, and our backs to the sea, which is our metier, we would command the center of gravity of the Middle East, and with the ability to strike hard, fast and at will, could enforce responsible behavior upon regimes that have been the citadel of our enemies.

In a war that has steadily grown beyond expectations, America has been poorly served by those who govern it. The Democrats are guilty of seemingly innate ideological confusion about self-defense, the Republicans of willful disdain for reflection, and, both, of lack of imagination, probity, and preparation--and, perhaps above all, of subjecting the most serious business in the life of a nation to coarse partisanship. Having come up short, both parties are sorely in need of a severe reprimand and direct order from the American people to correct their failings and get on with the common defense.

Also illuminating is Helprin's 2003 essay: The Claremont Institute: War in the Absence of Strategic Clarity
The enemy must and can be defined. That he is the terrorist himself almost everyone agrees, but in the same way that the United States extended blame beyond the pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor, it must now reach far back into the structures of enablement for the sake of deciding who and what must be fought. And given the enormity of a war against civilians, and the attacks upon our warships, embassies, economy, capital, government, and most populous city, this determination must be liberal and free-flowing rather than cautious and constrained, both by necessity and by right. The enemy has embarked upon a particular form of warfare with the intent of shielding his center of mass from counterattack, but he must not be allowed such a baseless privilege. For as much as he is the terrorist who executes the strategy, he is the intelligence service in aid of it, the nation that harbors his training camps, the country that finances him, the press filled with adulation, the people who dance in the streets when there is a slaughter, and the regime that turns a blind eye.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 17, 2004 10:58 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
When A Tabloid Tells More Truth Than the Boston Globe


THIS IS HOW a real newspaper corrects itself. The Boston Globe, however, makes do with a warm pile of drivel. The Mirror's Editor was sacked with "more to come:" "Live by the scoop, die by the scoop."

But printing fake photographs from dubious sources chock full of porn seems to something they let slide at the Globe. The Boston Globe's editor has proudly proclaimed that nobody will be fired and no one will be asked to resign, except perhaps Donald Rumsfeld.

OKAY, TELL ME AGAIN about the professionalism and honor of America's papers of record:


CONFUSION AND INCOMPETENCE. Boston Globe ombudsman Christine Chinlund gets a B-minus today for her assessment of what went wrong with those hardcore porn pictures that made their way into the Globe on Wednesday. The photos were promoted by Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and local activist Sadiki Kambon as possibly depicting US soldiers raping Iraqi women.

The Boston Globe is owned by, and evidently held to the same standards as, The New York Times.
Leads and links via the far-too-fair and much-too-balanced Newsdesigner

Posted by Vanderleun at May 16, 2004 8:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Original "Duck and Cover" Moment

"Scientists announced Thursday that they have found evidence of a giant crater buried off the coast of Australia that may be linked to the extinction of most life forms on Earth 250 million years ago. In a paper published this week on the web site of the journal Science, scientists said that they believe that Bedout, a structure 200 kilometers across off the northwest coast of Australia, is the remnant of a crater created 250 million years ago when an asteroid or comet struck the Earth. That impact is linked to the "Great Dying" at the end of the Permian, an extinction event that killed off 80 percent of life on land and 90 percent of marine life. Meteoritic fragments found in Antarctica and shocked quartz located there and in Australia also support this hypothesis, scientists said. Other scientists caution, however, that those rocks could be created by events other than impacts, such as volcanic eruptions."
-- spacetoday

Posted by Vanderleun at May 15, 2004 2:54 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Understatement of the Month
IT WAS ZARQAWI: Yes, it probably was Osama's number two. As dumb as he is evil. I don't think he understands the Jeffersonian tendency in American life and culture.
-- - Daily Dish
Posted by Vanderleun at May 14, 2004 6:43 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Air Hate America Hostess Says Shooting Bush "Works for Her"


"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."
-- American Digest: Where Bush Hate is Heading
The group of losing traitors that make up the staff of "Air America" took that concept one step further today when, as pointed out by Donald Sensing at One Hand Clapping an "Air America hostess says President Bush should be shot."
Yesterday on her Air America radio show, Randi Rhodes said that's exactly what should be done to President Bush. Rhodes commented that Bush was like Fredo Corleone and that either Poppy or Jeb should take W. out for a fishing trip and blow him away.

After imitating the sound of gun going off Rhodes said, "Works for me." Nice.

Would you like to hear Rhodes say this? The clip is available via Cynical Nation at: Cynical Nation

OKAY, TELL ME AGAIN what the definition of treason is. I'm a little unclear on the concept.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 11, 2004 10:38 PM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Body Part Negotiations Offer

The Brave Ghouls of Palestine

ACTING IN CONCERT with the other animals in their herd, the members of Hamas and other popular Palestinian terrorist organizations, offered to "negotiate" with Isreal over the return of the body parts of the soldiers killed by a "heroic" roadside bomb blast. But only after they'd gotten some valuable air-time out of the body parts.

Hamas Displays Israeli Soldiers' Remains

Israel's Channel Two TV showed footage of the armored personnel carrier with its sides blown out and pieces of armor plating scattered over a wide area.

Hamas militants displayed pieces of metal and bits of flesh, laying them out on the ground. In another scene, a Hamas gunman on a motorcycle held a bloodied burlap bag with body parts.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the roadside bomb, but two other groups, the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades -- linked to Arafat's Fatah movement -- and Islamic Jihad, said they also had some remains. They offered to negotiate with Israel.

OKAY, TELL ME AGAIN why we are not joining up our armed forces with those of Isreal and killing these people wholesale? I'm a little unclear on the concept and the use of limited force in this war.
Al-Jazeera showed Islamic Jihad members holding up the head of one of the soldiers
-- Jerusalem Post
OKAY, TELL ME AGAIN why these animals "deserve" any state other than a state of non-existence.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 11, 2004 3:04 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Sullivan Gets It Right Right Away

SPOT ON INSIGHT FROM AndrewSullivan's Daily Dish

NO MORE DOUBLE STANDARDS: Here's an email that strikes me as representative of most Americans:
"Andrew, you know I've never really liked this war and my disgust for George Bush and his planning for this war is immeasurable. However, I agree with your piece "Insane Spin." I am still fuming about the beheading of Nick Berg, and people throughout the world need to understand the contrasting images of that situation and the Abu Ghraib prison fiasco. The world needs to understand that we will get to the bottom of this problem no matter where it leads. In contrast, al Qaeda and it's murderers flaunt this type of cruelty because they believe it will make Americans run away. In fact, it pisses us off and this type of crap needs to shown to the American people so that we all know who we are dealing with."

Let's start an internet campaign to insist that the major media - including the New Yorker, the networks, the major newsweeklies, and every major paper - run a picture of Zarqawi holding up Nick Berg's severed head. It's time to release the Pearl video and stills too. Enough with the double standards. The media were absolutely right to show the abuse photos. But they are only part of the story. It's about time the media gave us all of it, however harrowing it is.
- 4:39:15 PM

AN INSANE SPIN: How are the media this stupid? AOL headlines: "Abuse Scandal's Deadly Fallout" referring to the hideous beheading of Nick Berg. Or this idiocy: "American Beheaded for Abuse." Do these people have no memories? This is al Qaeda. They beheaded Daniel Pearl long before the war in Iraq. They murdered thousands in New York City long before Saddam was removed from power. And they are as stupid as they are evil. Iraqis now have contrasting images. Do they want to be run by people who cut innocent people's throats at will or by people who have removed a dictator and are investigating unethical abuse of prison inmates? Zarqawi has now done something for our morale as well as his. He has reminded us of the real enemy; and he has reminded the Iraqis. One simple question: will CNN now show these video stills? I know it must be torment for the family. But if we are in a propaganda war, as we are, we need to be as ruthless in publicizing the murders committed by our enemy as we are in exposing the abuses committed by our own.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 11, 2004 1:10 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Religion of Peace and Understanding


Governor Ahmed Sani of Zamfara State, has ordered the demolition of all churches in the state, as he launched the second phase of his Sharia project yesterday.

Speaking at the launch in Gusau, the state capital, Governor Sani disclosed that time was ripe for full implementation of the programme as enshrined in the Holy Quran.

He added that his government would soon embark on demolition of all places of worship of unbelievers in the state, in line with Islamic injunction to fight them wherever they are found.

The governor also disclosed that a law to compel employers of labour in the state to give their employees "prayer breaks" five times daily would soon be enacted by the state House of Assembly.
-- -- Nigeria: Zamfara Gov. Orders Demolition of All Churches

Demolishing churches seems to us to be wasteful. Instead, they could be converted into condominiums to house the displaced and homeless Taliban from Afghanistan. That's a win-win all around.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 9, 2004 8:41 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
What Liberal Media? The San Jose Mercury News for Starters.

Tom Mangan, who works at " features copy desk at the San Jose Mercury News" and runs Prints the Chaff is refreshingly direct about the nature of his newspaper:

Thing is, everybody I work with, almost without exception, is against the war. And this true of just about every American newsroom not owned by Rupert Murdoch or the Moonies. And it won't be long before they turn, too, the way things are going.

So what I'm wondering is, how did the White House and the Pentagon think they'd get this story past all us limp-wristed, bleeding-heart, pacifist, war-hating journalists?

He's upset about the treatment of prisoners in Iraq. Indeed, it is hard to find anyone right, left, or center who isn't upset about this issue. It seems to be either the thing we do, or the thing to do, depending.

Either way it certainly is empowering to many around the world. Many find in the incident the proof positive that we are a terrible people. Many find in the endless paens of outrage and disgust proof positive that we are a decent and compassionate people. Our enemies find in the incident and its political fallout proof positive that we are a silly people.

Liberal journalists such as Mangan see it as proof positive that by God there is no plan and we told you so: "I'm not seeing many hints that the White House or the Pentagon has a sensible plan to win the political war, much less the blood-and-guts one. But they'd better get one soon if they expect all us newsies to stick with the program."

Readers of the San Jose Mercury News may see statements such as that as proof positive that the staff of their newspaper, especially those on the features copy desk, may not be too dedicated to the proposition of unbiased reporting.

As for the threat that somehow newsies such as Mr. Mangan may stop 'sticking with the program,' it hasn't been our impression that a lot of newsies have been "with the program" for decades; as Mr. Mangan is kind enough to verify. Now, if only we could get one other member of the San Jose Mercury News to confirm Mangan's statement we could publish it as the truth.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 9, 2004 7:21 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Micah Wright's Second Book of Lies Canned. First Book of Lies Lives.

Birds of a Feather Books By Seven Stories Press
Left to right, top to bottom: Nut, Killer, Quisling, Liar

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY HAS SOME MORE DETAIL on disgraced Democratic booster and liar Micah Wright's cancelled book.

Seven Stories Cancels Book Over Author's False Claim
by Calvin Reid, PW NewsLine -- 5/4/2004

A forthcoming anti-war book from Seven Stories Press by a popular comics writer has been cancelled after the author admitted that he lied about being a U.S. Army Ranger in both the introduction to a previous book and the biographical information of his new book.

Seven Stories publisher Dan Simon has cancelled If You're Not a Terrorist... Then Stop Asking Questions from the noted Micah Wright after being notified several times since last summer that Wright was lying about his background. Wright had maintained he was telling the truth, providing what Simon called "fuzzy photographs that were supposed to verify his military service," but when a Washington Post reporter last week informed Wright he was planning to expose his claims and reveal he was never in the military, Wright then admitted he was lying, according to Simon. The publisher then cancelled the book.

For his part, Wright said he came clean for reasons other than the possibility of exposure. "[F]rankly, I'm sick of it. I'm sick of lying to my friends, to employers, to my fans, to myself," he wrote on his site. "I haven't been able to sleep and I've just about given myself an ulcer. It's all become too much. I'm stopping the lies."

Wright's first book, You Back the Attack, We'll Bomb Who We Want, out in 2003, has sold about 20,000 copies. Simon said Seven Stories will continue to sell that book, but will remove the introduction if it goes back to press.

In his books, Wright rewrites the slogans on classic posters from World War II and transforms them into sly anti-war statements; his book has received contributions from Howard Zinn and Kurt Vonnegut.

A couple of interesting facts in that little item. The first is the howler about submitting "fuzzy photographs" to publisher Simon.

Perhaps Simon could have asked for sharper shots, even formal ID photos since it seems to be a given that the Army and the Rangers take a lot of photos of their troops. But perhaps Simon didn't really want to ask. After all, why spoil a good thing until it walks into your office, lifts you out of your chair and sinks its fangs deep into your posterior.

Interesting also that Mr. Simon will continue to sell Wright's first book with the elimination of the Introduction. I suppose that means the log rolling boosts written for Wright by Howard Zinn and Kurt Vonnegut will stay.

One might ask what they are doing there in the first place? Why would writers with the stature of Zinn and Vonnegut weigh in on a book that only displays political bile photoshopped onto public domain images? In turns out that the logs do not roll far from the tree. Zinn and Vonnegut both have books published by Simon's grisley little house.

And what a house it is. While the 20,000 copies Simon claims to have sold of Wright's first book may seem like very small potatoes to any real publishing house, there's a good chance Wright might actually be the sales star of Seven Stories Press.

Other "hot" authors touted by this bastion of fine publishing include the recently disgraced Howard Zinn, the doddering Kurt Vonnegut, convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, aging activist Angela Davis, the Huey P. Newton Reader, a collection of screeds by the quisling Robert Scheer, professional globe trotting meddler and dictator groupie Ramsey Clark, the Zapatistas (I don't mean Frank's), and the ever-popular reigning looney of left-wing fantasy land, Noam (Gen. O'Cide) Chomsky. Placed against that roster of leading anti-American Americans you can readily see why a mere pathological liar such as Micah Wright would, as they say, "add luster to the list."

It also shows that, barring the ability to get aging leftist authors to write Seven Stories into their wills, why the press would need Wright's sales. Compared to those other offerings, his book of posters is probably the most readable in the entire Seven Stories catalog.

Ironic that the entire catalog of this vermin packed house should showcase simultaneously the best of our Bill of Rights and the worst of American publishing.
UPDATE: As to the "fuzzy photographs" Simon claims to have seen, it's too bad he didn't ask for Wright's Ranger Class Graduation photograph. It is to be found at: Ranger School Class Photos: Class 13-87 and seems crystal clear.

So the question becomes not just is Micah Wright lying, but is Simon lying as well?

Posted by Vanderleun at May 4, 2004 4:33 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
IRIS: 100 Terabits Per Second


TCS: Revolutionizing a Revolution

Lucent's formal charter is to develop the architecture, components and prototype for a wavelength-based optical packet router that can send and receive up to 100 terabits of data -- approximately the information content of the entire Library of Congress -- in just one second.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 3, 2004 10:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Koppel to Read Names of Saddam's Victims

by Scott Ott

(2004-04-30) -- ABC-TV journalist Ted Koppel, who caused a firestorm of controversy with his plan to read the names of U.S. troops killed in Iraq, today announced that in the interest of balance and fairness next week he will read another list on his show, Nightline.

"I would never want anyone to accuse me of bias. After all, I'm a journalist, devoted to accurately portraying world events," said Mr. Koppel. "So, next week I will read the list of Iraqis who were raped, tortured and killed by Saddam Hussein's regime after President George H.W. Bush declared victory in the Gulf War on February 28, 1991."

Mr. Koppel said next week's Nightline will be a "special extended episode starting Friday and running non-stop until the day I retire from ABC."


Posted by Vanderleun at May 1, 2004 8:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Usual Suspects

Here's an example of $3 Billion of your foreign aid tax dollars at work. The following "explanation" is from the Egyptian government daily newspaper Al-Gumhouriyya titled 'The Secret Israeli Weapon,' by the deputy editor Abd Al-Wahhab 'Adas:

"If you want to know the real perpetrator of every disaster or every act of terrorism, look for the Zionist Jews. They are behind all the violent and terror operations that have occurred everywhere in the world. [They do this] first of all in order to slap [the label of the attacks] on the Arabs and Muslims, and second to harm them, distort their image, and represent them to the world as terrorists who endanger innocents. What is even more dangerous is that after every terror operation they perpetrate, they leave a sign, clue, or traces meant to show that the perpetrators are Arab Muslims.
-- via MEMRI
And now you know what $3 billion a year buys you in Egypt. But you knew that already, didn't you.

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 27, 2004 9:14 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Earth to Oliphant: So What?

Eyewitness to Prisstory

Thomas Oliphant, one of the Democrats most prissy pecksniff's came to the party today to say "ON THE WAY to the fence where he threw some of his military decorations 33 years ago, I was 4 or 5 feet behind John Kerry."

While this sort of supercilious commentary is Oliphant's stock and trade, it still sets my teeth on fire. It's an item whose sole functin is to pump up the vanity of the commentator. It's neither news nor "views" when an incident has been recorded on film, audio tape, and in dozens of reporters' notebooks. You will recall that Kerry's medal moment was not a secret ritual, but a staged media event which the media duly attended en masse.

All Oliphant's little memoir amounts to is vain primping in front of the mirror: "Can you hear me, History? It's me, Tom."

We mourn the passing of a perfectly good question out of the media's playbook: SO WHAT?

As the pablum of this political season proliferates, it seems to me good way to reduce it to a bowl that any sensible person would consider eating, is to first and foremostthrow our the useless carbs. When confronted with what I shall term an "Oliphantism" (That which seems like a story but is really an advertisement for the self) a wise editor should apply the question: SO WHAT?

The mere application of such a question carries the answer: SO NOTHING.

Do editors really want their readers' teeth to burst into flame? Too many Oliphantisms and readers of the Boston Globe may find themselves saying: "The Boston Globe? SO WHAT?"

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 27, 2004 8:30 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
CNN's Candy Crowley and John Kerry Get A Room...

Hot prose purples the air:

"Back in 1971, the square-jawed, clean-cut decorated combat veteran, with a generous mop of dark hair, told a rapt audience of senators of atrocities he said had been reported to him by his fellow soldiers in Vietnam....."

"At 60, the hair is graying, though the jaw is still square. And he is still explaining and defending those strong, vivid words, which continue to divide."
From: - Kerry's 1971 testimony on Vietnam reverberates by Candy Crowley

Wheww! It's clear that Candy has got it going on for John. The only question is if ,when Teresa tumbles to this, more CNN bimbo eruptions will be allowed.

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 24, 2004 11:44 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
And Now the News from the BBC

The caring nature of our friends across the pond as show in: Goldfish rescued from drain death

"He may only be a goldfish in the eyes of the person who poured him away, but this street really wanted to see him rescued," Inspector Craig said.

"Goldfish may not be as cute as cats or dogs, but they still deserve our respect and the chance to live out their lives safely and without distress. "

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 24, 2004 10:28 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Screen Icons Honored

In the world of very small, but widely seen art, icons hold a special place in the hearts of computer users and their operating systems. While the schizm between Windows users and Mac users is, at bottom, religious, what is not in dispute is that Mac Icons are, well, simply more beautiful. So beautiful in fact that annual contests are held for the most attractive and elegant icons. Chief among these is Pixelpalooza, hosted by The Iconfactory , a site where Mac Icons go to find loving foster homes on desktops and laptops across the Web.

This year, when they opened the envelope at The Icon Factory's Pixelpalooza 2004!, the winners were .... seen here

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 23, 2004 9:14 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Freshman Reporter Unclear on US Political Realities

One would hope that Reuters would adopt a policy of sending seasoned reporters to Washington instead of those barely out of some high school in the Ukraine.

David Morgan, callow youth that he must be, reveals his stunning ignorance of basic American political structures in his report: Nuclear-Armed Iran Would Be 'Intolerable' -Bush

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A nuclear-armed Iran would pose an intolerable threat to peace in the Middle East and a mortal danger to Israel, President Bush said on Wednesday, adding that any such threat would be "dealt with" by the United States and its allies.

In strongly worded remarks before an audience of newspaper editors and publishers, the Republican president pressed the secretive leadership of the Islamic republic to heed U.S. and European demands not to pursue a nuclear weapons program.

We await the young Mr. Morgan's report on the words of the Democratic president, no matter where he may be.

Email brings us this footnote to history:

Gerard Van der Leun should at least be informed that the name of the state is "Ukraine" not "the Ukraine". There are no articles in the Ukrainian language.

This way of refering to Ukraine is believed by many Ukrainian-Americans to have been pushed by the Soviets as a way of making Ukraine appear to be only a region of the USSR. -- Charles Osgood

Gerard Van der Leun regrets his ignorance in this matter and has corrected the entry accordingly.

He would also like to state that by mentioning Ukraine in the same anecdote as the Reuters news service, he in no way meant to tarnish or defame the proud people of Ukraine.

Incident filed under: "Osgood"

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 21, 2004 6:34 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Voice of the Turtle Is Heard Throughout The Land


File under "Markets Plunge Due to Irrational Ignorance"

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 21, 2004 2:03 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Democratic Party Platform, 2004, For Dumbies

Prepare to have your cranium seethe.

Woodward Book Accuses Bush Of Keeping Plan From Many Top Aides

WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush secretly ordered a war plan drawn up against Iraq less than two months after U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan and was so worried the decision would cause a furor he did not tell everyone on his national security team, says a new book on his Iraq policy. -- AP

Yes, in the rush to just coredump the current liberal gush onto the news channels, we have this latest move in the form of yet another book by the ultimate Washington insider.

This book is the other half of the full-court pincer movement currently being acted out in Washington. This completes The Two Planks of the Democratic Party for 2004

The Reader's Digest Condensed version of this platform is this:

"Before 911, Bush didn't do enough soon enough!" After 911, Bush did too much too soon!

That's really all you need to know. You can avoid cable news for the next two weeks. Don't say I never did anything for you, because I just did.


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 16, 2004 8:41 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Man Bites Dog. Really.

Man bites dog -- to death, China paper says

April 13, 2004 HONG KONG -- A man reportedly turned the tables on a dog in China, fatally biting it after it attacked.

The Shanghai man was strolling home with friends and was drunk after a night out, the South China Morning Post said. The canine apparently nipped at his fingers and cheek.

He jumped on the dog and bit it to death, the paper said.
-- Chicago Sun-Times

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 13, 2004 10:06 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Legacy of Terror: The Mass Graves

From the mass grave at Musayib, Iraq

Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway,
A place where nobody knows

-- Talking Heads, Life During Wartime

From USAID, a short but chlling brochure , Iraq's Legacy of Terror: Mass Graves, combines facts, maps, survivor stories, and graphic images. Available as a PDF from the link above.

Since the Saddam Hussein regime was overthrown in May, 270 mass graves have been reported. By mid-January, 2004, the number of confirmed sites climbed to fifty-three. Some graves hold a few dozen bodies -- their arms lashed together and the bullet holes in the backs of skulls testimony to their execution. Other graves go on for hundreds of meters, densely packed with thousands of bodies.
Here's one of the survivors' stories.

Ali,* 36, an aircraft mechanic, was driving his family from Al Hillah to his farm in Mahawil on March 6, 1991, during the Shiite uprising after the end of the Gulf War. The city was being bombed. Ali was stopped at a military checkpoint outside the city near a brick factory and ordered to get out. His wife, newborn baby, and handicapped mother were ordered to drive away. Ali was ordered to remove his jacket, and uniformed men tied his hands and feet with his jacket and pieces of cloth and placed a blindfold over his eyes. Ali could still see through the blindfold, however, and saw about 12 other people, including men, women, children, and elderly, pulled from cars, bound, and blindfolded. They were dragged to a white Toyota Land Cruiser and piled on top of each other over the seats. No words were spoken, because when others attempted to speak they received severe blows to the head and body. It was approximately 10 a.m. when they arrived at the Mahawil military camp on the outskirts of the city. There they were unloaded, registered, and escorted into a large assembly hall filled with approximately 200 people.

Everyone was sitting on the floor with their hands and feet tied. They were blindfolded and positioned facing the walls.

Ali was placed near the door and could see outside. At about 4:30 p.m., the military men built a large ring of tires about 20 feet wide and set it on fire. Next to the fire were large buses, and the soldiers began escorting people from the hall to the buses. At this time, people were also being carried out of the hall and thrown into the fire. Ali believes that because the military was in a hurry to execute them and not everyone would fit on the buses, they decided to burn some people alive. After about 30 minutes of witnessing this, he was escorted from the hall and loaded onto a bus.

At approximately 6 p.m., they were taken on a short drive to a swampy area behind the brick factory. It was dark and he saw headlights in front of the buses. He believes the lights were headlights from the Land Cruisers driven by

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 8, 2004 12:54 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Rest of the Web Today

YES, WHILE I WAS OUT along the coast in Big Sur earlier this week, getting in touch with William Blake and the Eternals, the world took little notice and continued to -- for the most part -- to decline. Here's a few noted short items. The "What I did on my Big Sur vacation" magnum opus isn't due until later.


Spammers R' US: US tops junk mail list of shame - again
Who say's we can't make anything in the US any longer?

The US has once again topped a list of spam producing countries. One in three (35.7 per cent) of the spam messages intercepted by security firm Sophos's global network of spam traps between January and March 2005 came from the USA. South Korea, second in the chart, accounted for a further 25 per cent of junk messages, with third place China accounting for 9.7 per cent of spam email trapped by Sophos.
Take that, People's Capitalistic Republic of China! You've got mail!

Like Some Limitless Gas, This Footnoting Medium Expands to Fill Its Container
To underscore the extent to which blogging remains a series of footnotes to the news, here'sThe Annotated NY Times a new "aggregator" that tracks what blogs have said about the New York Times. The process is described as " These blog fragments are grouped by author or by topic to form virtual, distributed conversations that span multiple sites and that center around the coverage of news events as reported by the Times."

Am I the only one who finds the designation of various posts as "conversations" overly coy and damp? A "conversation" is something between two or more people within each others hearing. A sheaf of titles and the first sentence held under a link to the New York Times seems to be something else and something much weaker. Indeed, that something is more like a series of Letters to the Editor that don't go through the Editor but just sort of show up. You can find the back and forth of conversational interplay on various Forum boards, but blog posts don't seem to make that cut.

There's a lot of blather about concerning "conversations" of blogging being a rising power in the media world and a lot of it is true. But most of it is premature. Wake me when The New York Times starts to take its talking points and editorial positions from blogs. Until then, we'd best inure ourselves to being a medium of footnotes, pointers, and the white hot heat of uncaged opinions.


Close Shaves in the Graveyard of Divorce
How to get that perfect shave
Just in case, as a man, you are unclear about how to shave your face, this step-by-step article lays it all out for you. But why don't you know this? According to the author, "Shaving is one of those glorious male traditions that used to be passed down from father to son, but somewhere along the line, when shaving became more about cheap, disposable razors than a nice, precision-made metal tool in your hand, it became a brainless routine to rush through in the morning without even thinking about it."

Well, that makes for a certain amount of sense, but it also snakes neatly around the fact that a lot of "sons" no longer have a father around when it comes time to teach shaving. The endless thirst for divorce is at least as much to blame for clueless young men as anything else in this blighted culture. For the most part, men are relegated -- through arcane laws coupled with no-fault divorce -- to a check-writing mechanism for singled moms. Little wonder, when seeing your son calls for an "appointment" that generational shaving tips don't get passed down and instead get passed over to magazine writers shilling for expensive razor companies. Then again this may explain the plague of young men with perpetual three-day stubble on their face, but legs shaved as smooth as a baby's bottom.

Evil Overlord Affirmations: 100 Things to Think About During Your Immortal Reign
Who says that real-life lessons cannot be learned from video games? --->

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 7, 2004 1:05 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Tomorrow's News Today with Allah

Click to Enlarge

What Allah did to tell the future before Photoshop we don't know. We just know we're glad his worshippers gave him the software.

Will the New York Times dare to sue Allah for hijacking their front page from this coming Sunday? Or do their lawyers only read the Web for corrections to their Corrections page?

Our opinion is that the New York Times should give serious consideration to replacing both Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman with Allah . That would be a Pinch two-fer, save money and be terrorist insurance to boot. After all Allah knows as much about what's going on as anybody. Funnier too. And why not? He's a God, isn't He?

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 7, 2004 9:12 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Psychosis of Islamic Fundamentalism, Exhibit # 4,123,346 In An Unending Series

Memri has posted a translation of one of the bizarre Sheikh Atiyyah Saqrs screeds concerning the Jews. The original translation is here.

I read through it not because I thought I would find anything new, but just to see an Muslim anti-Semite in full flower, uninhibited by thought that non-Muslims were listening. I was not disappointed.

Still, after stripping out the citations to the Koran (since these gentlemen are compelled to staple some scripture to every thought), I was impressed to see that the list Saqr supplied seemed to exemplify the actions and attitudes we see expressed daily not by Jews, but by terrorists and Muslim fundamentalists throughout the world. It seemed to me that Saqr was not describing Jews and Israelis so much as he was unconsciously describing himself and his own people.

In therapy this sort of psychotic break is called transference, which is defined as a state when a person who is receiving treatment transfers the thoughts and emotions they have been having about one person on to someone else. In therapy, the target is usually the therapist. In radical Islam, it is the Jews. (Spare me the straight lines regarding the roots and founding and practicioners of pyschotherapy, okay?)

If there was ever any doubt that Islam today needs to seek professional therapeutic help, this list erases it. Indeed it seems to me that one of the real long term benefits of settling the Isreal/Palestinian dispute is that Palestinians could at last have access to first-rate Israeli psychotherapy.

Bear in mind that, throughout this ranting catalog of sin and transgression, Saqr is convinced he is describing the Jews even though these traits more clearly describe people much, much closer to him. Probably his kinfolk. More probably himself:

1. "They used to fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah.
2. "They love to listen to lies.
3. "Disobeying Almighty Allah and never observing His commands.
4. "Disputing and quarreling."
5. "Hiding the truth and supporting deception."
6. "Rebelling against the Prophets and rejecting their guidance."
7. "Hypocrisy."
8. "Giving preference to their own interests over the rulings of religion and the dictates of truth."
9. "Wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them."
10. "They feel pain to see others in happiness and are gleeful when others are afflicted with a calamity."
11. "They are known for their arrogance and haughtiness.
12. "Utilitarianism and opportunism are among their innate traits."
13. "Their rudeness and vulgarity is beyond description."
14. "It is easy for them to slay people and kill innocents."
15. "They are merciless and heartless.
16. "They never keep their promises or fulfill their words.
17. "They rush hurriedly to sin and compete in transgression.
18. "Cowardice and love for this worldly life are undisputable traits.
19. "Miserliness runs deep in their hearts.
20. "Distorting Divine Revelation and Allah's Sacred Books.

That last item is especially revealing since, if you read the original translation, youll note that Saqr adds Koranic notes to every item on his list that distort his religion's "Divine Revelation and Allahs Sacred Books at every turn.

Pointer via Allah Himself.

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 6, 2004 1:28 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Most Disturbing Image on the Web Today

"Victoria's Other secret" -- by Jeff Goldstein at protein wisdom who should be ashamed of himself.

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 6, 2004 12:35 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Don't Trust Any Black Holes Under 30
Astronomers Mark Black Hole Anniversary GREEN BANK, W.Va. -- Astronomers gathered this week to mark the 30th anniversary of the discovery here of the radio signature of what is believed to be the super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

Robert L. Brown and Bruce Balick discovered Sagittarius A, a black hole with three million times the mass of the sun at a distance of 24,000 light years, and attended a symposium at the Green Bank National Observatory on new center-galaxy research. The event drew 50 radio, X-ray and infrared astronomers and scientific historians from around the world.

How many standard candles this black hole deserves was not mentioned.

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 5, 2004 5:54 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Blogs As Living History

At the end of a long series of excerpts from Iraqi bloggers, by the always interesting Doc Searles notes, almost in passing, something essential and important in the blogging medium.

I'm glad these people are giving the world reports and perspectives you won't find in any of The Media.

Maybe that's because what they say is unmediated. Because it's speech, not "content." Because it's at the same time alive and archival. It has a memory of itself. You don't get that from radio and TV, or from publications that don't expose their pasts to search engines, and that charge money for last month's fishwrap.

We're watching history being written while it is also being lived, with all its passions and contradictions.

The history of Iraq today won't be written by winners or losers, but by people whose lives are involved with their subjects, and who cannot allow the facts of their lives to be abstracted exclusively to the rhetoric of sports and war.

The same goes for America, too. Even when it's leaders and challengers are "in the ring" standing "toe to toe" and "sparring" with each other.

It has long been a commonplace that history is written by the winners. Perhaps it is time to let that concept fade into its own history as we enter the period where history is written by the participants.

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 5, 2004 5:44 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Boring Man Boring on Boredom

One of the SF Chronicles most stultifying columnists has, as all boring writers do sooner or later, come up with a column on, yes, boredom. As always we find that the concept produces, in the end, only more questions:

Liberating and terrifying, benumbing and enlightening, boredom raises questions about meaning it can't possibly answer. Is experience itself a void, as 20th century artists like Beckett, Cage, Duchamp, Warhol and others often suggest? Or is boredom a failure of our own spirits and imagination?
That paragraph's a classic example of "We report. You sleep."

We'd give you the link but it's too boring.

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 4, 2004 3:30 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Truth In Environmental Packaging

At HobbsOnline today there's an interesting comparison of how images are chosen for stories on the environment.

Pictures like those two above are what the environmentalists show when discussing their opposition to oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. And it is true that these are photos of part of ANWR. But they are not where the drilling would occur. They are in the permanently protected zone of ANWR. The coastal plain of ANWR was always intended to be reserved for possible future oil exploration - Congress said so when it established ANWR. And what does the coastal plain look like?
Check them out. The difference is stunning.

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 1, 2004 10:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink

More evidence that a clash of civilizations requires two civilizations:

The Gulf Arab monarchies are trying to bring order to the national sport of camel racing in the face of protests over the trafficking of children as jockeys.

The US State Department and human rights groups have raised the alarm over the exploitation of small children by traffickers who pay impoverished parents a paltry sum or simply resort to kidnapping their victims.

The children, mostly from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Pakistan, are then smuggled into the Gulf states.

They are often starved by employers to keep them light and maximise their racing potential. Mounting camels three times their height, the children -- some as young as six -- face the risk of being thrown off or trampled.
-- Qatar trials robot substitute for controversial child camel jockeys

The Energizer Body
As our lives are increasingly mediated by technological interventions, the After-life project raises the issue of our increasing faith in technology and our decreasing interest in organized religion. With this in mind the afterlife project offers a technologically mediated service that provides a tangible expression of afterlife for those who have become spiritually disconnected, or require hard evidence in some form of life after death.

The grieving process from an atheists perspective can be problematic with the concept of afterlife or other place, by definition being discounted. Fundamental to most religions is a concept of some other state or heaven, offering comfort to the faithful.

What then is there for the aggrieved atheist with regard to reassurance or comfort after the death of a loved one?

There is enough Hydrochloric (Hcl) acid in our bodies to burn a hole in a carpet. If this acid were extracted and refined it may be converted into electricity when combined with zinc and copper acting as anode and cathode.

This bringing together of elements effectively creates a wet cell battery that may be used directly as a source of electricity, or to charge a more useable dry cell battery which may then be placed in a range of electronic products.

This may be interpreted as a form of regeneration especially in the context of batteries, which are often described in terms of life, extra life and now afterlife.

Accepting this electronic state as life after death we are provided with a tangible proof of life after biological expiry.
-- After Life

Gore Issue Gored. Internet Tax? Nyet as in Not Yet.
I want to talk about one other thing we've got to do to make sure this is a good place for people to realize their dreams and start a business and get well educated, is we've got to make sure this country is on the leading end of broadband technology. You see, new ideas and new businesses and new ways to educate people in Farmington, New Mexico are going to occur when we're able to get information flowing across cables and telephone lines in a fast way. That's what broadband technology is. It means we'll open the highways of knowledge -- new highways of knowledge.

This country needs a national goal for broadband technology, for the spread of broadband technology. We ought to have a universal, affordable access for broadband technology by the year 2007, and then we ought to make sure as soon as possible thereafter, consumers have got plenty of choices when it comes to purchasing the broadband carrier. See, the more choices

there are, the more the price will go down. And the more the price goes down, the more users there will be. And the more users there will be, the more likely it is America will stay on the competitive edge of world trade.

The more users there are, the more likely it is people will be able to have interesting new ways to receive doctors' advices in the home. The more affordable broadband technology is, the more innovative we can be with education. It's important that we stay on the cutting edge of technological change, and one way to do so is to have a bold plan for broadband.

Let me say one thing about broadband -- we don't need to tax access to broadband. The Congress must not tax access to broadband technology if we want to spread it around.
--President Bush Meets with First-Time Homebuyers in NM and AZ

The 1960s No-Judgment Epidemic Continues
Of course, political complexion is not measured only by party affiliation. Indeed, the fact that faculties on most American campuses are predominantly Democratic is perhaps less significant than their adherence to what one writer called "Left Eclecticism," that intellectual goulash composed of varying bits of Marxism, feminism, racialism, deconstruction, post-colonialism, and other specimens of academic "theory."

The triumph of Left Eclecticism means that campus "diversity" involves not only political but also intellectual conformity. For although Left Eclecticism comes in many modes and levels of toxicity, it revolves around a common core of attitudes. One unalterable tenet is that "everything is political": that the traditional academic ideals of objectivity and disinterestedness are pernicious fictions and therefore that all academic pursuits can be, indeed must be, evaluated in political terms. This is why, for example, you so seldom see the word "truth" without scare quotes in academic writing these days. Truth is what the bourgeois hegemonists preach; any left-wing academic worth his salt rejects "truth" in favor of "'truth,'" its epistemologically challenged but politically adaptable cousin.

As for the practical implications of this approach to pedagogy, they were, we thought, vividly summed up by Keith Moxey, the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Art History at Barnard College and Columbia University. "The abandonment of an epistemological foundation for art history," Professor Moxey has written, means that "historical arguments will be evaluated according to how well they coincide with our political convictions and cultural attitudes." In other words, for Professor Moxey, as for so many of his academic brethren, things like truth, probability, and explanatory value take a distant back seat to politics. We hope that his students keep that in mind when they sit down to write their papers for him.

As we say, all of this is simply business as usual in contemporary academic life. It is a natural coefficient of the reign of political correctness among college faculties today. Still, one might ask, Why? Why are faculties overwhelming left-leaning? Why have so many abandoned the traditional scholarly ideals of objectivity and disinterested inquiry? Why have they embraced the rancid smorgasbord of Left Eclecticism? No doubt there are many factors that go into answering these questions. One answer, we believe, involves the institutionalization of the radicalism of the 1960s. After all, the race-class-gender brigade now ruling in the humanities and social sciences is patently a child of the political imperatives of that unlovely decade. But of course one could pose the question again: Why were faculties so susceptible to that brand of emancipationist rhetoric?
-- Notes & Comments March 2004 by

No Evidence, Just a Half-Ton of Fertilizer for the Tomatos on the Window Sill
Explosive material found in terror raids

LONDON (Reuters) - Police have seized a large amount of explosive material and arrested eight men across London and southeast England in Britain's largest anti-terror operation for years.

Peter Clarke, head of the anti-terror branch, told a news conference on Tuesday more than half a tonne of ammonium nitrate fertiliser was discovered in a six-foot (two-metre) high plastic bag in west London.

"Part of the investigation will focus on the purchase, storage and intended use of that material," Clarke said.

An anti-terror source said the fertiliser was similar to explosive materials used in the 2002 Bali bombings, although there was no evidence that a bombing was planned or any possible target.

That would be the British version of the Richard Clarke School of Anti-terror.

Life in a Jar
There's a must-read article out today by Ronald Kotulak from which I've condensed the juicy parts below. Kotulak quotes scientists who say they are finally ready to try their hand at creating life. "It's certainly true that we are tinkering with something very powerful here," said artificial-life researcher Steen Rasmussen of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. "But there's no difference between what we do here and what humans have always done when we invented fire, transistors and ways to split the atom. The more powerful technology you unleash, the more careful you have to be."

Kotulak notes more than 100 laboratories study processes involved in the creation of life, and scientists say for the first time that they have just about all the pieces they need to begin making inanimate chemicals come alive. "The ability to make new forms of life from scratch--molecular living systems from chemicals we get from a chemical supply store--is going to have a profound impact on society, much of it positive, but some of it potentially negative," said Mark Bedau, editor-in-chief of the Artificial Life Journal.
-- SciScoop || And The Scientists Said, Let There Be Life

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 30, 2004 7:39 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
MSM Consortium Announces Don Henley Benefit Concert in PINELLAS PARK

"Is the head dead yet?"

RECOGNIZING THE INTENSE suffering and deprivation the Terri Schiavo Death Watch assignment has brought to hundreds of reporters, cameramen, and assorted support staff, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News announced today the rock star Don Henley will play a benefit for Pinellas Media workers. "With the falling ratings as Mrs.Schiavo failed to die," a MSM spokesman said this morning, "we're looking for ways to boost morale among those of us who were forced, by America's Right-To-Know, to be away from their families over Easter."

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 30, 2004 9:31 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Number of Atheists In Wheelchairs Declining
Demonstrating in her wheelchair with a "Feed Terri" sign in Florida this week, Eleanor Smith -- a self-described lesbian, liberal and agnostic -- told Reuters: "At this point I would rather have a right-wing Christian decide my fate than an ACLU member." -- - 'I Want to Live!'

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 28, 2004 11:06 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
It's Not Over Until the Fat Man Sings
London, March 27: Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was captured by US forces after he was betrayed by a relative, who was one of his closest bodyguards.

"After eight months on the run, the hiding place of the ousted Iraqi leader was given away by an aide known as 'the fat man'," the BBC reported.
-- Saddam betrayed by his own bodyguard

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 27, 2004 10:26 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Right Man for the Right Job

It's nice to see the great legal minds of France working on something that will help their international reputation:

PARIS March 27 -- A French lawyer, known for defending terrorists and a Nazi leader, said Saturday he will defend Saddam Hussein.

Jacques Verges told France-Inter radio he had received a letter from Saddam's family requesting him to defend the former Iraqi leader in court.

The letter read: "In my capacity as nephew of President Saddam Hussein, I commission you officially by this letter to assure the defense of my uncle," Verges said. He did not name the person who sent the letter.

Verges has defended Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez. He gained international notoriety during the Cold War for staging a string of deadly bombings, assassinations and hostage seizures.

The French lawyer also defended, Klaus Barbie, a Nazi Gestapo chief in France in World War II, who was convicted of crimes against humanity in Lyon, France.
--French Lawyer Says He Will Defend Saddam

Will he call Chirac, Penn, Anan and a host of others as character witnesses?

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 27, 2004 10:12 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Scrappleface Headlines We'd Like to See


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 25, 2004 11:46 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Philly Daily News Editor Confesses to Stupidity and Tastelessness

In a moronic effort to disparage the already compromised Pulitzer Prizes, Zack Stalberg establishes himself an someone unfit to be an arbiter of taste at any media organization, much less the Philadelphia Daily News. It seems that Stalberg is still upset that the Pulitzer committee didn't see fit to hand one out to The Onion for its "coverage" of 9/11:

March 22, 2004) -- Zack Stalberg still remembers the oddest experience he had during his two-year stint as a Pulitzer Prize jurist.

The longtime editor of The Philadelphia Daily News was on the committee choosing finalists in the commentary category in 2002 when a submission from The Onion, the irreverent humor newspaper, came before the group.

"As it went around the table, you could see that people were blown away by this work," Stalberg said about the entry, which included the paper's mock Sept. 11 coverage. "But it was a little too different, a little too risky. I voted to make it a finalist, but nobody else did."

Although it would be surprising to see the Pulitzer Board award its coveted medal to what is essentially a parody of a newspaper, such an incident highlights what some feel is the reverence -- some might say restrictions -- under which the Pulitzer judging operates.
-- Pulitzer Prizes: Keeping the Little Guys Down?
Really? Would some? Some who? Perhaps some such as Stalberg or Editor and Publisher's Joel Strupp who penned this little whine. Should the Pulitzer have been awarded to The Onion for bouncing out of the gate on September 26 with copy like this? --
"Terrorist hijackings, buildings blowing up, thousands of people dying --these are all things I'm accustomed to seeing," said Dan Monahan, 32, who witnessed the fiery destruction of the Twin Towers firsthand from the window of his second-story apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. "I've seen them all before -- we all have -- on TV and in movies. In movies like Armageddon, it seemed silly and escapist. But this, this doesn't have any scenes where Bruce Willis saves the planet and quips a one-liner as he blows the bad guy up."
-- The Onion | American Life Turns Into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie
Not funny then. Less funny now. Don't get us wrong, we like The Onion in its place -- free on the street corner -- but at the same time only an idiot would think this stuff worthy of a Pulitzer. Only an idiot or Zack Stalberg. We report, you decide.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 23, 2004 12:30 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Sharp Sharpton Hoovers $100,000 Out of USA

The 2004 Democratic Dream Team

New York Street Hustler Flim-Flams FEC

Reversing his unbroken chain of losses, Al (The Don't Call Him) Sharpton (for nothing) apparently guilt-tripped Republicans and Democrats alike into giving him what he wants first, last and always -- a fat check for $100,000.

The Sharpton campaign may have failed to disclose expenses, contributions in the form of hotel rooms, limo rides and air fare. FEC auditors see evidence his campaign co-mingled finances with his non-profit National Action Network, and "NAN may have provided salary and financial support for various campaign consultants and staff."

As The Post has reported, Sharpton has been staying in swanky spots like the Four Seasons in L.A., the Phoenician in Arizona, the Mansion in Turtle Creek in Dallas and the Mandarin Oriental and the Delano in Miami.

"Lastly, the [Sharpton campaign] committee may have submitted multiple contributions from the same individual" in applying for matching federal funds, the auditors wrote.

But, they added, "These alleged violations are not sufficient to withhold certification of the candidate's eligibility for public funds."

Also apparently insufficient: FEC rules that state a candidate who fails to get 10 percent of the vote in two straight primaries is ineligible for matching funds. Sharpton hasn't drawn 10 percent anywhere.

Sharpton's money may seem miniscule in the big picture. Paranoid perennial candidate Lyndon Larouche, convicted of election fraud in 1989, has received $5.6 million in matching funds since 1980, and just got another check for $838,848.

Well, why should Lydon Larouche have all the funds?

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 13, 2004 12:35 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Correction of the Day
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - In a March 8 story about encyclopedias in the Internet age, The Associated Press misspelled the name of a Web site geared for children's research. It is FactMonster, not FactsMonster, which is a porn-related site.
Just the facts, er, fact.
Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 9, 2004 11:04 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Blogs, Social Software, Mobile Culture, Emergent Democracy, Collapsing Contexts, User-Centered Flux Capacitors -- Humbug!

A friend writes to tell me to watch this spot: The Diary of a Blog Sceptic

The current entry holds much promise as does the blogs overarching motto:"Blogs, Social Software, Mobile Culture, Emergent Democracy, Collapsing Contexts, User-Centered Flux Capacitors -- Humbug!"

Where are you going, where have you been? Here's a preview on some of the subjects I plan to touch on in the days ahead. Feel free to suggest others.

Debunking the Myth, Part 1: Show me the Money!

Debunking the Myth, Part 2: Show me the Numbers; or, My High-School Newsletter Had More Readers!

Debunking the Myth, Part 3: Social Change, Revolution and the Mouse that Roared: Traditional Journalism, Real-time Blogging and the CalifornIrani Paradox; or, Food? Drink? Shelter? What they Really Need is Free WiFi!

Bloggers and the People Who Read Them Part 1; Hey, Look at my Shiny New Toy! Hey, Let's Have a Deep Conversation (about Polka-Dot Socks)! Hey, I'm Posting Live from PunditCon (and Here's the Moblog)!

Bloggers and the People Who Read Them Part 2: Birds of a Feather Flock Together, or A Blog for Every Opinion

Social Software, or I'm So Bored with Orkut--Wait, You Mean Nobody Invited You?

Biting the Hand that Blogs You: A Critical Look at Blogger, TypePad and LiveJournal

We can only hope the deeper promise of this blog is fulfilled.... as is the demand of one of the comments: " if you want to do something useful, come up with a non-stupid word for 'blog'."

And so say we all.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 13, 2004 9:18 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Just Imagine

Pakistan Suspected Nuke Expert for Years

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Warnings from fellow scientists about the father of Pakistan's nuclear program and his ostentatious wealth raised suspicions Abdul Qadeer Khan was selling weapons technology abroad years before the government was compelled to take action against him, officials say.

Scientists who worked in Pakistan's covert program to build a nuclear deterrent against rival India had warned the government even before its first bomb test in 1998 that Khan was involved in suspect activity, a government official told The Associated Press, speaking Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

Fade up. Cue white piano chords.

Abdul Khans Imagine

Imagine Im still at it,
It's easy if you try.
Selling hell for Allah,
That infidels may fry.
Imagine all your people
Blown away today...

Imagine there's no America,
It isnt hard to do.
Nothing to hate or envy,
No Christians and no Jews.
Imagine all survivors
Praying to the East...

Imagine no Seattle.
I wonder if you dare?
No need for OS or lattes,
As our bomb ignites their air.
Imagine all the people
Turning into ash...

You may say Im a schemer,
We hope some day to nuke you,
And the world will end as one.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 11, 2004 7:26 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Mars Rover: The Right Tool for the Right Job?


On Mars, nothing can go wrong,
...go wrong ...go wrong...

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 6, 2004 11:26 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
News from the Near Future

Eyewitness account of the Linux monopoly trial
By: Robin Miller

Washington DC, January 31, 2014 -- Riot police have finally managed to beat back the milling throng of displaced Visual Basic programmers who attacked the courthouse after Judge Cotter Kathelly announced that Linux was not an illegal monopoly and that neither Linus Torvalds nor his company, Linux Development, Inc, owed damages to former employees and shareholders of now-bankrupt Microsoft or to any of its business partners.

Protestors have been a daily feature of this trial since it started early last year. A bald, bearded man wearing a poncho who identifies himself only as "Balls," but who some say is really former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been fingered by police as the ringleader, but so far their efforts to capture him have been fruitless. His appearances have been brief, and he has melted back into the crowd and disappeared after each one, while thousands of demonstrators carrying signs with "Flying Windows" logos on them have blocked police whenever they tried to pursue the fleeing figure.

Inside the courthouse, a greying Torvalds has been like the calm point in the center of a roiling whirlpool, allowing his poker face to show emotion only when making one of his famous quips, several of which have brought the trial to a halt while Judge Kathelly recovered his composure and laughter from others in the courtroom -- including from the plaintiffs' table -- died down....

[Continued at: NewsForge | Eyewitness account of the Linux monopoly trial]

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 4, 2004 8:11 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Don't Ask, Don't Pink

Message on Bomb reads:
"From: Queen of the Sky
To: Wong Foo
Re:Thanks for Everything!"

THE WAY THINGS REALLY WORK: Pink Fighter-Bombers January 30, 2004: During the Iraq war, army and marine helicopters were all over the place, and troops had plenty of opportunity to see both types together. You could easily tell them apart. The army choppers are painted dark green while the marine helicopters are painted "Haze Gray."

One thing everyone noted was that the marine helicopters were always harder to see. If a marine and army helicopter were flying close together and approached you from a distance, you would always be able to pick out the army chopper first. The marines changed the color of their helicopters after the Cold War ended, when they realized that their most likely opponents would be looking up at them, not down from the sky. For protection from enemy aircraft above, a green paint job gives you more protection. But from below, a gray paint scheme works better to hide you.

Deciding what color to paint aircraft has always been a contentious issue. Many different color schemes have been tried over the years. At one point, the U.S. Air Force ran some extensive tests and concluded the color that best hid an aircraft in flight was a shade of pink. The results of this effort were never implemented.

-- StrategyPage

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 31, 2004 6:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Nation's Press Corp Mourns
"And you know something? You know something? Not only are we going to New Hampshire, we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico! We're going to California and Texas and New York! And we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan."
-- Howard Dean
Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 19, 2004 11:27 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
All in the (Palestinian) Family

In the first in what will be a continuing Palestinian hit series, the infection of human beings by the insect mind of the Hamas borg continued last week with this verision of "Mommy Dearest":Homicide Bomber-Mom Kills Four at Gaza Border

JERUSALEM --A Palestinian homicide bomber -- and mother of two -- blew herself up Wednesday at the main crossing between Israel and theGaza Strip (search), killing four people and injuring seven, emergency officials said.

Authorities believe this was the first mother to act as a homicide or suicide bomber. She was identified as Hamas member Reem Al-Reyashi, 22, of Gaza. Family members said she had a 3-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl....

Reyashi left behind a 1-1/2-year-old daughter and a 3-1/2-year-old son. "God gave me two children and I loved them so much. Only God knew how much I loved them," she said in the video, asking that her children study in religious schools.

This loving mother, who left her children to a rich and full intellectual life inside the local maddras, seemed to think nothing of the four Jewish mothers from whom she took:

  • St.-Sgt. Tzur Or 20, from Rishon Lezion

  • Cpl. Andre Kegeles, 19, from Nahariya

  • Border policeman St.-Sgt. Vladimir Trostinsky, 22, from Rehovot

  • Security guard Gal Shapira, 29 from Ashkelon

  • As soldiers they were between her and killing even more Jews and so, frankly, they had to go. It was the least she could do for a God that knew how much she loved children.

    Newspapers, television, and the Internet were awash in amazed commentary on the "tragedy" of the incident, but few noted the connection between this caring mother and "The Loving Terrorist Father of Two," seen below in an article here from last year.

    Looking at the two pictures of these proud and beaming parents, you can see the same insect mind chittering behind the eyes.

    Here's a variation of that article with only the picture and pronouns changed:

    Try to imagine, if for only a moment, the insect mindset that gibbers and crawls behind the smiling and proud face above. She's getting ready to "live the dream," to 'Just Do It,' to launch herself on "a mission from God." Her calling? To strap on a belt of explosives, kiss her two children on the forehead, bid her husband goodbye, and head downtown to kill Jews. Men, women, children, infants, babes in the womb .. it is all grist to the chittering insect soul of this woman and her supporters and compatriots. Who is she? Why she is a "a woman of God", an exponent of the religion of submission and peace. She is the mother of two children, but that doesn't stop her from viewing Jewish chidren as just so many vermin to be exterminated.

    You've got to hand it to the Hivemind of the Palestinian Insect Masters, they've finally come up with a new take on an old show. Call it, All in the Family.


    Right to left: Koran, Insect Mind, Automatic Weapon

    And people like this are said to be "owed" a state of their own?. Really? Where? Is there a Hell deep enough for those whose conception of God's work is this?


    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 18, 2004 10:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Hungry Universe


    Sloan Digital Sky Survey Reveals Giant Clump of Stars Near Andromeda Galaxy

    Atlanta -- A international team of astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey collaboration has discovered a giant clump of stars near the Andromeda Galaxy that could be a previously unknown satellite galaxy of Andromeda or could be the last remnants of a galaxy torn apart by Andromeda's tidal forces.

    The clump of stars, named Andromeda NE by the researchers for its location to the northeast of the Andromeda Galaxy, is enormous. It covers a larger area on the sky than the full Moon. If added together the total light from the stars in Andromeda NE would rival many nearby galaxies in brightness. Yet because these stars are so spread out, Andromeda NE appears 10 times dimmer than the faintest known galaxy.


    While analyzing data from an SDSS scan of Andromeda, Zucker and his team used special filtering techniques to select objects with specific colors and brightness typical of Andromeda's stars. When the SDSS team mapped the distribution of these stars they detected a number of features previously noted by other astronomers. But SDSS researchers didn't know what to make of a large concentration of stars - what they described at first as a giant, ghostly shape ....

    "One of the most important questions about Andromeda NE is its distance. Although our findings don't allow us to measure this precisely, our data indicate that it is roughly at the same distance as the Andromeda Galaxy," said Bell.

    That means that the clump of stars is gravitationally bound to the Andromeda Galaxy, in orbit around its larger neighbor and possibly is in the process of being torn apart by Andromeda's tidal forces. These forces arise because Andromeda's gravitational pull is stronger on the near side of Andromeda NE than on the far side, pulling the stars away from each other. "For most small companion galaxies it is ultimately only a matter of time until they are shredded by the tides of the parent galaxy," explained Hans-Walter Rix, director of MPIA.

    Over the past decade astronomers have found increasing evidence that the distant, outer reaches of normal spiral galaxies like Andromeda and the Milky Way are not quiet backwaters, but rather arenas of ongoing galaxy disruption. As satellite galaxies are ripped apart by tidal forces, they lose stars in great streams along their orbital paths. Researchers have detected such stellar streams around both the Milky Way and Andromeda, suggesting that this kind of galactic cannibalism is commonplace.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 16, 2004 9:24 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    The Three Second Rule
    Pppel's Universal

    We take life 3 seconds at a time. Human experience and behaviour is characterized by temporal segmentation. Successive segments or "time windows" have a duration of approx. 3 seconds. Examples: Intentional movements are embedded within 3 s (like a handshake); the anticipation of a precise movement like hitting a golf ball does not go beyond 3 s; if we reproduce the duration of a stimulus, we can do so accurately up to 3 s but not beyond; if we look at ambiguous figures (like a vase vs. two faces) or if we listen to ambiguous phoneme sequences (like Cu-Ba-Cu-Ba-.., either hearing Cuba or Bacu) automatically after approx. 3 s the percept switches to the alternative; the working platform of our short term memory lasts only 3 s (being interrupted after 3 s most of the information is gone); spontaneous speech in all languages is temporally segmented, each segment lasting up to 3 s; this temporal segmentation of speech shows up again in poetry, as a verse of a poem is embedded within 3 s (Shakespeare: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day"); musical motives preferably last 3 s (remember Beethoven's Fifth Symphony); decisions are made within 3 s (like zapping between TV channels); and there are more examples. Thus, the brain provides a temporal stage that last approx. 3 s, which is used in perception, cognition, movement control, memory, speech, or music.

    -- The World Question Center

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 16, 2004 8:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    More Good News on Taxes

    It's becoming crystal clear that one of the central issues that Americans will vote on this November is whether they side for the party that wants everybody to have more money, or the party that wants everybody to have less money.

    It's hardly news that Americans save too little. Yet for the past two decades, while the personal savings rate has headed mostly down, politicians have mostly only remarked (or despaired, depending on temperament) on that fact.

    But now it looks like somebody is going to do something about it. Our good friend, Mr. Rumor, has it that on Tuesday night President Bush will revive the proposal for two new tax-exempt savings accounts in his State of the Union address.

    The first, a lifetime savings account, would allow individuals of any age and any income to contribute up to $7,500 a year. Interest and investment income would accumulate tax-free and withdrawals could be made at any time, for any purpose, without a tax penalty. Permitting tax-free withdrawals distinguishes this account from the current, more specialized, medical or education savings accounts by offering savers immediate, penalty-free liquidity.

    The second, a retirement savings account, would be similar to a Roth IRA but much more powerful. Like current IRAs, withdrawals would not be permitted until a certain age is reached. Interest and investment income would grow tax-free and withdrawals would also be tax-exempt. But the new account would more than double the contribution to $7,500 a year, per individual, and has no income caps for eligibility. (Currently, to be eligible for a Roth IRA, joint income cannot exceed $160,000.)

    -- Lead Editorial, Wall Street Journal

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 16, 2004 6:34 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Beagle Found! Honest!
    ESA Finds Beagle - no, really this time! European Space Agency HQ - Bad Kockupp, Germany. ESA official, Harry Cheeks has just made one of the strangest "Good News -- Bad News" announcements in the history of space exploration.

    Mr. Cheeks: "Ladies and gentlemen, I have the pleasant duty to inform you that the Beagle 2 has been located on Mars, in an unexpected location, but nevertheless in perfect working order!"

    Read on to find the Beagle's exact Location

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 8, 2004 5:44 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    What It Took to Give Mars the Spirit

    The saga of the Spirit on Marsis only just beginning, and many have seen the various animations from NASA on the landing. But if you want to backtrack all the way to the launch pad, Rocket Man's: How Spirit got to Mars is the place to go for an astute and, frankly, mind-boggling account of just want it takes to ship 408 pounds of science experiments to the Red Planet.

    Spirit was launched aboard a Delta II 7925 from Cape Canaveral on June 10, 2003. The Delta II consisted of 3 separate stages and 9 solid rocket motors. The launch vehicle weighed almost 527,000 lbs and on top of it, enclosed inside the payload fairing, was the Spacecraft. The entire spacecraft weighed a total of 2,343 lbs, but the Spirit rover weighed only 408 lbs. So for every 1 lb of rover that would make it to the surface of Mars, 1,296 lbs of launch vehicle and spacecraft were required to be launched from the surface of the Earth.

    The enormous amount of energy required to get landers all the way to the Martian surface imposes severe restrictions on the design of the vehicles, which is why it is no easy feat to have a successful mission. There are a lot of critical systems that have absolutely no backup, and if one of them fails, the whole mission will fail. Which is why every component, system and subsystem on a planetary probe is rigorously tested prior to launch, and it is also one of the reasons why these types of missions cost a lot of money.

    But when all those critical systems work perfectly you get spectacular data, as these pictures from the Spirit rover show.

    Read the rest for a step-by-step, stage-by-stage account.

    [Seen at Belmont Club

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 8, 2004 3:36 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    God's Back and He's Not Pleased

    His schedule passeth all understanding, but every so often GOD speaks.

    No Rock Badgers, Pigs, Lawyers or Each Other Shalt Thou Eat

    As THE LORD THY GOD there are lots of things about my latest experiment, The Smart Monkey, that really gets my gilded calf into meltdown mode. I try to let a lot of things slide because I've got a universe to run and I'M BUSY getting things in order for my Son to take over fairly soon. Still, whenever I take a magazine break to keep up on how things are going for that Free Will 4.6 program I've been running on Earth for a few thousand years I keep stumbling across items like The Case for Cannibalism by Theodore Dalrymple at City Journal:

    According to the psychiatrist, Heinrich Wilmer, the German cannibal Armin Meiwes, who killed Bernd Brandes and then ate at least 44 pounds of his flesh, is suffering from "emotional problems." We might say the same, I suppose, of Brandes, who answered Meiwes's Internet advertisement for "a young, well-built man who wants to be eaten" though his problems are now past curing. Brandes also had a slightly offbeat sense of humor. On discovering that both he and Meiwes were smokers, he reportedly said, "Good, smoked meat lasts longer."
    Lest anyone think that the argument from mutual consent for the permissibility of cannibalism is purely theoretical, it is precisely what Meiwess defense lawyer is arguing in court. The case is a reductio ad absurdum of the philosophy according to which individual desire is the only thing that counts in deciding what is permissible in society. Brandes wanted to be killed and eaten; Meiwes wanted to kill and eat. Thanks to one of the wonders of modern technology, the Internet, they both could avoid that most debilitating of all human conditions, frustrated desire. What is wrong with that? Please answer from first principles only.

    Sigh. I boil it down to 10 things. Ten little easy to understand things and you STILL DON'T GET IT!

    It's enough to make me dump the way-new business plan my Son drew up and get Old Testament on your ass. First principles? Okay, here are a few striaight from THE LORD THY GOD:

    GOD SAYS: not all desires should be gratified, instantly or otherwise. Please note that the more desires there are that can be gratified, the greater the opportunity for evil. NOW I DON'T LIKE EVIL. I'VE BEEN KNOWN TO PUMP UP THE SEA LEVEL SEVERAL MILES JUST TO MAKE THAT POINT.

    GOD SAYS: Cannibalism is not only wrong but depraved and vile even if you can find a willing meal.

    GOD SAYS: Some things (and many more than we'd like to think) cannot be justified under the banner of "consenting adults." Remember, that's your idea not MINE.

    GOD SAYS: Any lawyer who would argue in court that "mutual consent" is a defense for cannibalism, needs to be fed to STARVING WART HOGS alive on a live web cam. For the public good.

    UPDATE: My Son just emailed me to say that I'm being too hard on the lawyers, and that I copped that punishment from Thomas Harris. (Humph, Who does He think gave Harris the idea in the first place?) Okay, I'll hack him up before I feed him to the swine. The webcast stays.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 8, 2004 2:46 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    Our Fearless and Far Flung Correspondents
    And a darkly tanned and disheveled Peter Jennings was seen patiently waiting on the two-hour Customs line at the St. Thomas airport.
    New York Post Gossip
    Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 6, 2004 5:12 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
    "The Wisdom of Al Sharpton"

    ...[P]opular ideologies like multiculturalism and utopianism have become embedded in the postwar Democratic party. Both notions tend to characterize the American military not as a force for good, but as an extension of American pathology that legitimizes if not promotes an oppressive globalism, racism, sexism, colonialism, and economic oppression.

    If one finds that stereotype unfair, remember the pathetic scene of a Gen. Clark during the recent Democratic debate, who castigated the president of the United States at a time of war while deferring to the wisdom of Al Sharpton. Take out a mass murderer, free 26 million, and you will earn charges of incompetence if not treason; slander a DA, fabricate a crime, and fan the flames of riot and racial hatred, and you will win respect from a Democratic frontrunner. For Republicans who must resort to war, the primary challenge will not be the fighting itself, but rather the perception that the United States was inherently wrong to have fought in the first place.

    Victor Davis Hanson on U.S. Power

    Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 20, 2003 1:02 PM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    Goons of the New York Times

    It seems that the thugs of Iraq are not limited to the criminals and terrorists, some of them work for the New York Times. Here's an extract from a letter from an Iraqi to the eternally boyish publisher of the Times:

    My family has a property in the green zone in down town Baghdad on Abi-Nuas street. The New York Times rents the adjacent property. For several weeks now my brother Ali Al Ali has been denied automobile access to our property by security guards. Until two days ago we thought this was a coalition security measure. Now we known these guards are not coalition personal but are instead the private security force employed by your news paper.

    The family property has two store fronts. Yesterday (Saturday November 15, 2003) my brother and two hired men were in one of the stores installing shelves. My brother lost his livelihood in the war and needs to open this store to make a living. His efforts were interrupted by several of the security guards employed by your paper. He was knocked roughly to the floor and threatened. Your guards pointed there AK-47 rifles and my brother and his work men and told them they would be shot if they did not leave immediately.

    I feel sure if learned the United States Army was responsible an incident such as this you would feel obligated to publish the story and condemn the act.

    From a letter to the Publisher of the New York Times

    Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 19, 2003 10:21 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
    "Down the Rat-Hole to Surrender"

    Commenting on Bush in London, David Warren uses an analogy to the life of the late Fitz Cramer:

    The monocle-wearing Prof. Kraemer, a curious survival of Wilhelmine Germany, and an accomplished scholar of international law, political philosophy, and history, died of kidney failure at age 95 in Washington on Sept. 8, as I just learned... From a small office in the Pentagon, he taught a generation of U.S. officers not only the principles of geostrategic warfare; but the reasons why it must be fought and won.

    Kraemer grasped .... that the great weakness of the United States and the West, after the defeat of Nazism, was identical with the great weakness of Germany that had allowed the rise of Hitler. In each case, it is the existence of an intellectual elite who think about abstractions instead of realities, and whose instinct to appease a mortal enemy is founded in a lazy, cowardly, and conceited moral relativism. Kraemer was father to the phrase, "provocative weakness" -- in two words, the reason why the West is under attack today from such terror networks as Al Qaeda....

    Kraemer was a man who believed in fighting for the truth, regardless of consequences; and of fighting with no option of surrender or even compromise with evil. He was no "mere conservative". Donald Rumsfeld is his true protege in the U.S. government today, and to a lesser extent President Bush.

    These are men who realize the U.S., and all free peoples, have a mortal enemy in ideological Islamism, and that it must be defeated rather than accommodated. This has made them deeply unpopular with the intelligentsia of our time, and especially with that half-educated reflection of it in the mass media. Europe and Canada are much farther gone down the rat-hole to surrender, but the U.S. itself also teeters....

    As I write, the anti-Bush demonstrations are cranking up in the London streets.... A little knowledge is a dangerous thing -- and those with little knowledge of how the world unfolds, demand that America and Britain give up defending themselves against the menace made visible in the morning of 9/11/01.

    To what is apparently a majority of polling respondents on the European continent, little democratic Israel is the world's most dangerous country, and George W. Bush its most dangerous man....

    As in the 1930s, leftists and pacifists on the streets of Europe directly advanced the triumphs of Nazism, so today the demonstrators work to advance the triumphs of Islamism. For they refuse to acknowledge the consequences of ignoring such an enemy.

    And so the bombing of synagogues in Istanbul draws, from e.g. Britain's Stop the War Coalition, no whimper of distress. But the arrival in England of the Western world's pre-eminent statesman ignites a self-righteous outcry....

    In their own subjective world of illusions, the demonstrators demand not surrender, but an unobtainable "peace". However, in the objective world of cause and effect, they are the reliable allies of the people who flew airplanes into the World Trade Centre, who blow up Jews in synagogues and supermarkets, who tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and bulldozed their bodies into mass graves.

    Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 19, 2003 10:03 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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