1 September 2002
Embracing the inner grey
John Powers' L.A. Weekly column contrasting the styles of The Nation and The Weekly Standard got some play in the Blogosphere, and while Powers' conclusion seems inarguable yes, the Standard is far sprightlier, but the instructions on a bottle of drain cleaner are sprightlier than The Nation most weeks I have to wonder if this particular dichotomy is also reflected in other subcultures. Yesterday I took a peek at a new blog, posted what I thought was a reasonably wry gibe about it, and watched it soar many thousands of feet over the blogger's head. Are blogs on the left necessarily more drab, less perky, than their counterparts on the right? Has lack of humor become a prerequisite for 21st-century liberal ideology? How come Michael Moore's earlier works are a lot funnier than Stupid White Men?
Powers offers a hint down in the sixth paragraph: "Too much of the writing is muffled by low-word-rate padding and fear of offending the magazine's many constituencies." Well, you can't get much lower a word rate than what is offered in blogdom, which averages somewhere around zero or slightly below this site costs me, excluding kickbacks, about $275 a year to run but that "fear of offending" may be the key. Very few centrist blogs, and hardly any on the right, seem to worry about upsetting anyone's applecart. It's no accident that the most common term used for the evisceration of someone devoid of clues is "fisking", a treatment first visited upon Independent columnist Robert Fisk, who has a tendency to tiptoe gently away from anything that might disagree with what post-Cold War Europeans have come to accept as Revealed Truth. Perhaps needless to say, Fisk is regarded as an iconoclast by the bearers of said Truth, a stance which inevitably results in more fisking.
This is not to say, of course, that there are no sources of left-wing bile. But it's almost always monolithic; there's scarcely ever any sense that this stuff has been hashed out by individual minds. It's the Committee-Approved Version. This process would never work on the right, where individuals, however like-minded, count for far more than groups.
And there's one other thing, which I've actually seen mirrored in Real Life. Self-deprecating humor is evidently considered a Bad Thing among leftists, what with its seeming disregard for one's self-esteem, the single most important quality a person can possess. In response to this pervasive belief, Juan Gato bills his blog as "A Bunch of Crap From a Moron," and just to rub it in, tags his tip jar with "I'm better than you. Give me money." Somehow I can't imagine this kind of irreverence displacing the sanctimony of those who "watch" the warbloggers.
Did you bring enough to share?
"Will Big Media start to sue bloggers for sharing content? Before you dismiss this notion, consider that Madster FairPlay will make it just as easy to share files from a blog as from Napster, Kazaa, or anywhere else on the Internet. Then will blog journalists, because they link or review shared content, find themselves charged with 'contributory and vicarious infringement', no matter how baseless?"
The Intellectual Property Police are nothing if not persistent. And she knows it.
Identity cards, and a joker
In The Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes says that those weird ACLU types and those pesky libertarians have stalled enough; it's time for a national ID card, in the name of, you guessed it, "national security".
There are plenty of reasons to take issue with this premise. We've already lost a measure of privacy, what with various licenses, credit records, medical records and whatnot, so what's a little more? Besides, says Barnes blithely, "the Constitution has never recognized a right to anonymity." If it's not stated in bald type, it does not exist? Has Mr Barnes read the 10th Amendment lately?
Meanwhile, Quana Jones has further complaints:
"Think about all the powermad bladderheads in airport security. You know what Iím talking about. Any idiot in a uniform will feel compelled to demand identification."
And still further:
"Exactly how will knowing a person's name and identity make us safer? Murderous homicide bombers don't intend to go home."
Mr Barnes calls objections of this sort "essentially frivolous". Of course he does. If he didn't, he'd have to take them seriously, and then all he'd have left of his argument would be "The government will protect us." How very, very September 10th of him.
Dash it all
A few months ago, FARK.com made an addition to its usual categories like "weird", "dumbass" and "Wheaton": there is now a category called "Florida". And the Sunshine State, true to form, is delivering all manner of farkable news items.
Consider the case of Patrick Feheley, running for the 13th District House seat currently held by Rep. Dan Miller, who is retiring. Feheley filed suit against another Democratic rival, Candice Brown McElyea, claiming she'd inserted a hyphen into her name when she filed to run for the office; as "Brown-McElyea, Candice", she'd appear on the ballot ahead of "Feheley, Patrick". (Two other Democrats are running, but their names fall farther down in the alphabet.) Says Feheley, this is a deceptive manipulation of the election process. (Deceptive manipulation? In Florida? Sheesh. Now we've heard everything.)
The judge designated to hear the case set a routine procedural hearing for the 5th of September, five days before the primary election, too late for the ballots to be reprinted should Feheley prevail. Upset, but knowing there wasn't much he could do about it, Feheley dropped his suit.
Of course, this is only the primary. Should Feheley win, he'd still have to beat out a Republican to be determined, and an independent candidate. Who might that Republican be? The front-runner right now is Katherine Harris. Yes, that Katherine Harris. Then again, her candidacy is being challenged by rival John Hill (no relation).
It's times like these I almost feel sorry for Jeb Bush.
2 September 2002
The usual crap
There are times when you just have to let the text speak for itself:
Johannesburg (CNSNews.com) - In what some see as a sign that the Earth summit is literally going down the drain, an environmentalist at the Earth summit here has lamented the introduction of the flush toilet.
One of the panelists taking part in a television special on the Earth summit complained about the "pernicious introduction of the flush toilet," according to Competitive Enterprise Institute President Fred Smith, who also was a panelist on the program.
The TV special, hosted by PBS's Bill Moyers, was taped on Tuesday and is set to air Friday night.
A female panelist from India complained that the flush toilet encourages excessive water consumption around the world and is not ecologically friendly.
The remark prompted an associate of Smith, CEI's Chris Horner, to ponder what alternative the woman would suggest. "Presumably the preferred solution to human waste problems is now abstinence," Horner quipped.
Of course, far more water is used for agricultural purposes than for our piddling (sorry) little homes, but what I want to know is this: How many of these high-dollar diplomatic types attending the Summit, moved (so to speak) by this speech, went out and took a dump in their hotel parking lots?
Yeah, I thought so.
(Muchas gracias: Andrea Harris.)
Another coat of paint
NewsOK.com, the joint venture between KWTV television and The Daily Oklahoman, got a facelift over the weekend. What it didn't get, of course, was an injection of content, so NewsOK.com remains what it was: exactly the sort of Web site you'd expect from two organizations who didn't put any work into their sites when they were separate.
On the plus side, at least they're not making you register, unless you're browsing the archives for items older than three days. The Tulsa World charges forty-five bucks a year for access to just about anything, which might be defensible if they carried anything much that wasn't already on the AP wire.
CNN news from Fox
While looking at some local TV-station sites as perfunctory research for the preceding item, I noticed that apparently the Fox TV network doesn't demand that its local affiliates wrap themselves in Rupert Murdoch-approved isolation; quite a few Fox stations have affiliations with CNN, including KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, KABB-TV in San Antonio, and WTIC-TV in Hartford, Connecticut.
There's nothing particularly weird about this CNN swaps video with affiliates of the other major broadcast networks as well but really, if the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy were the ideologically-driven monolith it's alleged to be, shouldn't Murdoch, or Fox News boss Roger Ailes, or somebody, have pulled the plug on these deals by now?
Not likely. Fox, first and foremost, has to make money, and annoying the affiliate stations is not the most efficient way to do it. What's more, Fox, having acquired the old United Stations (Chris-Craft) group, now owns some of the biggest UPN affiliates, including WWOR-TV in Secaucus, New Jersey (New York City market) and KCOP-TV in Los Angeles. Strange bedfellows are the rule, not the exception, in today's Big Media market.
3 September 2002
The legend that was Lemons
He won 599 games, missing the 600th by one point in his last game before retirement. "Damn referees," he said. "I'll miss them less than anybody."
Abe Lemons had a quip for everything. He coached basketball for thirty-four years: eighteen at Oklahoma City University, three at Pan-American University, six at the University of Texas, and then seven more years at OCU.
"Maybe it would be best for me to finish at 599," said Abe. "People seem to like you better when you finish just short."
Naw. Everybody liked Abe, win or lose, and 63.6 percent of the time it was win.
And now he's gone. His name is over the door of the basketball arena at OCU; his influence will be felt by everyone in Oklahoma hoops for many years to come.
The last of the line
Okay, $71,500 seems like a stiff price, but it's the last Chevrolet Camaro to be sold. (It's the second-to-last Camaro off the assembly line; the actual last vehicle is bound for a museum.) General Motors pulled the plug on the Camaro and its sister ship, the Pontiac Firebird, after more than three decades, citing plummeting sales and high costs no other GM car is built on this platform.
At least it's a Z28. With T-tops, of course. And Chevy is donating the proceeds to charity. On to Woodward Avenue, and let those eight cylinders be heard!
4 September 2002
Remembrance at the bridge
Back on the 26th of May, the Interstate 40 bridge over the Arkansas River near Webbers Falls, Oklahoma was struck by two barges; a span collapsed into the river, and fourteen people were killed.
Funding has now been obtained to build a memorial at the site. The bridge has since been reopened and traffic is flowing normally, or as normally as it can flow on I-40. I rather expect that most drivers coming through won't pay a whole lot of attention to the memorial; this is fine with me, so long as they pay a whole lot of attention to their driving. Too many of them don't.
It's a gas, gas, gas
Car and Driver editor Csaba Csere, in the October '02 issue, dissecting California Assembly Bill 1493, which orders reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases in the Golden State starting in 2006:
"As large as California is, however, it produces only 6.5 percent of America's man-made CO2 emissions, and the U.S. accounts for 25 percent of the world total. Moreover, California's privately owned vehicles account for 40 percent of the state's CO2 output. Multiply the percentages, and you get a global man-made CO2 reduction of well under one percent, even if private driving in California were completely banned."
Yeah, that ought to make a dent in global warming.
It's a Volokh world, after all
Admittedly, the world is not exactly teeming with Volokhs. Still, I read The Volokh Conspiracy fairly regularly, and I've subscribed to Movieline for over a decade, and it never once occurred to me that Movieline founder and CEO Anne Volokh might be somehow related to Sasha and Eugene. As Homer J. Simpson might say: "D'oh!"
Once upon a time, I was actually married, which does much (though clearly not everything) to explain why I have two children. And I admit that I was taken by surprise when I was informed that the first one was on the way. For one thing, there had been no testing: no cutesy strips, no trip to the OB/GYN, nothing. It didn't matter: she knew. From the very moment of fertilization, somehow she knew.
And, of course, she was right. Delivery turned out to be something less than flawless, but what matters here is the terminology: at no point in those nine months, so far as I can recall, did either of us use the word "fetus".
And maybe that's some of what Susanna Cornett is talking about when she asks, "What is nine months for a life?"
5 September 2002
There are none so blind as those who slide down the Interstate at 80 mph, unable to see anything beyond the frontage road. An example:
"I'm not sure where Dylan's Desolation Row is, but I-35 between Des Moines and the outer suburbs of Kansas City is pretty desolate in its own right; it's like all the farmers were given Federal subsidies to get as far away from it as possible."
From my very own World Tour log, this past summer. Obviously the rantings of a madman, and a tired madman at that.
And there was a gentle nudge today from Regions of Mind, reminding me as many of us perhaps need reminding once in a while that the rim of the world is neither desolate nor deserted.
Beat the Reaper!
It's called Sick Day. Think of it as The Real World with physiological, not just behavioral, toxicity. Will it come to the States? How desperate do you think the networks are? (Two words: Desmond Pfeiffer.)
(Muchas gracias [sort of]: JunkYardBlog.)
You and I probably already knew this, but Wylie wants to make sure the Usual Suspects, just departed from the Earth Summit, get the point:
"It cannot be emphasized enough that the model of centrally planned economies has failed, and no amount of fiddling around the edges will ever make it work. The only way these countries will ever advance economically is to establish the rule of law, contracts and especially private ownership of land and let the free market take its course."
The Usual Suspects, including First World greenozoids, the International Monetary Fund, and a collection of Third World "We aren't sure what we need, but we sure want money" types, probably won't take heed this time either, but not to worry: eventually they'll be looking for real jobs, just like the Central Planners.
Take this dial and shove it
I've run for a number of years with two ISPs, one local and one national, mostly out of a sense of maintaining redundancy in case of emergency. This doesn't work very well, however, when the local dial doesn't answer half the time and the national service insists that you install their insipid software package or they won't answer either. (It may even be true; I set up standard Windows DUNs for their two local numbers and neither one of them will connect.)
Broadband, you say? For this? Sheesh.
6 September 2002
It would be possible, I think, to make up a perfectly lovely blog made up entirely of passages from James Lileks. Of course, Lileks himself has already done that, to the delight of all, or at least most, but sometimes he says something that resounds so wonderfully that I can't help but fall into its echo, vibrating with it until the inevitable fade.
And then, of course, I post it here, just to keep the vibration going. What do you think of Jon Anderson? Here's Lileks:
"To those unfamiliar with Yes' singer, imagine a hamster that has been dipped in helium and squeezed between the thighs of a pro wrestler."
Thank you, kind sir. Yours is no disgrace.
Oxymoron: "Property Management"
During the six years this site has been in operation, I have delivered a few righteous denunciations of things which I thought needed denouncing, but I don't think anything in this domain qualifies as a world-class Fisking; I've never really been all that vicious.
Until I got home this afternoon and found, of all things, an eviction notice waiting for me, five days after the rent was due but seven days after it was paid. And I've got the receipt to prove it. What's more, they cashed my check on Tuesday, which is rather easily verifiable by a call to the bank.
So this particular quasi-Fisking will be delivered in person tomorrow morning. I don't really expect anyone to quake in fear when I arrive, but you'd better believe they're going to be shaking when I depart.
And if their response is not satisfactory, well, it will be Google-able for the remainder of eternity, for the edification of all.
Update, 6:40 pm, 7 September: The one staffer on duty happened to be the one who signed the rent receipt, so there was little arguing to do; what bothered me was the bland admission that, well, these things happen. Perhaps they do; however, they should not.
7 September 2002
The last McKinney joke?
"[Cynthia] McKinney's compassionate attitude towards the Palestinians is a continuation of the teachings of one of her heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King. It is simply unthinkable that King, if he were alive today, would remain mute in the face of Israel's persecution of the Palestinians, which has included: the use of death squads; torture of detainees; home demolitions; forced deportations; the siege of Jenin, Ramallah, and Bethlehem, the holiest site in Christendom; and the ongoing collective punishment of the innocent."
So speculates William Hughes in Counterpunch. Of course, punishing the guilty would be out of the question, since they've already transformed themselves into noxious swirling gases, which are then condensed, reduced, and published as articles in places like, well, Counterpunch.
As for Dr King, I seriously doubt any part of his dream called for people to wrap themselves in plastique.
Another look at Roe
"[S]urveys show pretty clearly that pretty much half of American women now generally classify themselves as 'pro life' and a firm majority of women would support more restrictions on abortion than Roe v. Wade rammed down the country's collective throat....if we held a special referendum where only female voters were allowed to decide the fate of abortion in the United States, the rabid pro-choice crowd would howl with rage at the result."
I doubt any such referendum would ever take place; the male of the species would howl with rage at being disenfranchised. But if Mr Esmay's numbers are correct, at least part of the philosophical underpinnings of the pro-choice position that opposition to abortion would scarcely exist were it not for a small core of activists has already started to disintegrate.
Now that comments for this site have been brought in-house (thank you, Mena and Ben) and work most of the time, I have taken down the Grouse-O-Matic Message Board, which was getting scant use: in two years of operation, it got maybe thirty posts.
The pre-MT log archives are now accessible through a framed (but very lightly framed) page that opens up any of the twenty-odd months from the list on the left. And the MT archives have been resorted to start with the first post of the month, which corresponds more closely to my preposterous notion that the log is actually a secret (possibly even unauthorized) autobiography and should be read in sequence.
As always, thank you for coming.
It's only a number (plus two)
The next step, perhaps, is to blame those horrid liberals in the Connecticut Department of Public Health; apparently Ann Coulter is a couple years closer to AARP membership than she's been willing to let on. Of course, whether she's 38 (as she claims) or 40 (as Connecticut records indicate) is largely irrelevant, unless you think that 40 is some horrible age for a woman to be, in which case I suggest you've been hanging around too many Britneys for your own good.
And let us not snipe solely at Ann Coulter. Just to show you that this sort of thing transcends mere political stances, Barbara Walters' bio has always said she was born in 1931, two years later than the actual date.
Besides, Walters and Coulter share other attributes besides the ability to write off years with the stroke of a pen: both are well-served by short skirts, and both tend to overestimate their journalistic credibility.
(Muchas gracias: Jeanne d'Arc.)
Potsdam II: Iraq and a Hard Place
In 1945, the heads of the three major Allied powers Harry Truman from the US, Winston Churchill (subsequently replaced by Clement Attlee, an election having intervened) from Britain, and Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union met in Potsdam, near occupied Berlin, and signed an agreement among themselves regarding just how to handle the "conquered countries," by which they meant Germany and whatever lands the Reich had been occupying by force during the preceding years. Other matters were discussed at Potsdam, including the drafting of an ultimatum to be dispatched to Japan.
The Potsdam terms imposed upon Germany, says Frank Martin at Techno-Merc, can be applied with only minor modifications to Iraq, once that war draws to a close, and he offers a revised version of the pertinent parts of the Potsdam declaration to illustrate. Is this necessary? Mr Martin responds, "[D]o Iraqis not deserve the same level of justice meted out to Germans at the end of WWII?"
8 September 2002
The mysterious voice(s) of In Arguendo, with a sentiment we are proud to echo:
We would like to take just one moment to, well, brag really that we have NEVER watched one single episode of ANY reality show that has come out in the last couple of years. Not Survivor, Big Brother, Fear Factor, Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire, or any of them. Yes, this makes us feel good, and we just wanted to share.
This item was titled American Idol Finals!!, and no, I didn't watch that either. Frankly, if I want to see relentlessly-mediocre people who are in way over their heads, I can always tune in C-Span's Congressional coverage.
The email began, like so many others, with this:
DO NOT DELETE THIS READ FIRST IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
By the time I get through with it, the sender will wish I had deleted it.
Life among the dogs
At first, I thought Gregory Hlatky was having a bad day:
The march of years has brought less hair and more fat, but it has failed to impart wisdom or maturity. Even as I've reached what should be considered middle age, I completely lack common sense. I remain so socially inept that I'm a constant embarrassment to my lovely bride and now take refuge in taciturnity. I still have the emotional stability of a person a quarter of my age.
Been there, felt that. Still feel that, to a certain extent. But this post, less than twelve hours later, banishes one particularly-annoying publicity hound to deserved oblivion, and in so doing demonstrates the true strength of the man:
Damn you! Damn you, you syphilitic roué, you rancid tub of solipsism, you stuprous slave of your hormones, you fungus that lives off pond scum, you prevaricating confidence-man! May the chancres you acquired from one of your trailer-trash strumpets never heal. How dare you use this somber time to buff up your record! The only thing I forever again want to hear from you is this:
"'I was President of the United States for eight years. I might have, but failed to prevent this atrocity. For that I will feel the deepest shame for the rest of my days.'"
Thanks, Greg. We needed that.
It took time for me to know
About the third lesson in Bloggage 101 is "Find someone who says what you want to say, only better, and put up a link." Well, I can't very well link to a 45 (or, for that matter, an LP), but with apologies to the appropriate copyright holder and to anyone else who might take umbrage, here is something said better than I could, said many years before I could, by a chap who calls himself Lobo:
You told yourself years ago
You'd never let your feelings show
The obligation that you made
For the title that they gave
Baby, I'd love you to want me
The way that I want you
The way that it should be
Baby, you'd love me to want you
The way that I want to
If you'd only let it be
Repeat and fade. (Which, of course, I will.)
9 September 2002
Little. Yellow. Gravitational.
"What is the value of the pencil test?" asks Susanna Cornett. "What, precisely, does it prove?"
What it proves, I think, is that the contemporary all-breasts-are-beautiful stance is not making much headway against the old-style stereotyping implicit in the test, and that almost everyone has a pencil to spare.
Bette Midler used to do a bit of shtick about this, in which she found herself testing not only with pencils but an entire typewriter, fercryingoutloud. Finally, she fetched the postal scale, positioned the flesh on the platform, and declared, "I'm not saying how much it weighs, but it costs $87 to send it to Brazil."
At some point, I fear someone is going to ask me for a preference, and frankly, I don't have one, though I suppose I would tend to prefer an intermediate sort of structure, somewhere on the continuum between the extremes, neither gypsum wallboard nor Anna Nicole Smith. (Bless you, O mighty bell curve.) But I concede that the nicest pair ever presented for my, um, inspection as distinguished from those only viewable at a distance had, in fact, been surgically modified to near-perfect just-shy-of-C curvature.
A hell of a good reduction job, if you ask me, and worthy of a fresh, unsharpened Eberhard Faber No. 2.
Lessons from life (one in a series)
When researching hardware to see if it's sufficiently fast, it is highly sub-optimal to rely on the judgment of the guy who took six years to implement a program enhancement.
As Ron Ziegler used to say, previous statements are inoperative: they issued the Final Demand today. And fortunately, it was a day in which everything at 42nd and Treadmill had gone terribly wrong Christ on a crutch, why do I put up with these nitwits? so I was in the proper mood to deliver world-class invective.
Actually, it fell slightly short of world-class, but what the hell, it's better than they deserved; I should have sued the bastards. In the meantime, there is still the task of providing Googleable information about this place, which is called Courtyard Village, owned by Pacific West Management, and managed (and I use the term loosely) by Lisa Rada (for now, anyway; they go through personnel like Gray Davis goes through campaign contributions), for the benefit of anyone seeking a flat east of Oklahoma City and north of Tinker Air Force Base.
Ms Rada, incidentally, seemed unimpressed when I indicated that I was expecting a written apology, and that I would post it here when it arrived and that I would post references to its absence until it does.
And if I discover anything deleterious has been added to my credit record as a result of this, well, you'll get to hear about that too. I was assured that it would not, but how likely am I to believe that?
Posting, incidentally, may be light around lease-expiration time.
Today's spam comes from Trent Franks, a "principled, pro-family conservative Republican" running for Arizona's Second District House seat, up for grabs now that incumbent Bob Stump is retiring after 26 years. Franks has five opponents in tomorrow's GOP primary, none of whom have (1) spammed me (2) from a Korean mail drop. Not that the Koreans know I don't live anywhere near the district.
Spam, of course, is to principle what Cocoa Puffs are to Ghirardelli chocolate, and I hope it sinks Trent Franks as badly as it did California gubernatorial wannabe Bill Jones. And let this be a warning to any actual Oklahoma politicians with the same cheesy idea.
10 September 2002
Two letters, no waiting
Somebody was it P. J. O'Rourke? once opined that the single most useful word in defending US interests was the simple word so, framed as a question in as accusatory a manner as possible. Used in this way, it becomes possible to refute all sorts of criticisms leveled from the Other Side. Example: