Jun 30, 2005

Fight cancer: Buy a bracelet

Basil survives a cancer scare but urges everyone to do something to fight cancer.
So, now I'm asking you. I'm not a cancer survivor. But I have family members who are. And I have friends who are. And there are some really special bloggers I know who are. So, I'm asking you to support the fight against cancer. If you don't know of a way to help, visit one of those sites and buy a $1 band and wear it.

And, it might be a good idea to get yourself checked for cancer. You can get some information about that at WebMD.

Metrosexual: out, Adrenosexual: in

We already knew mantropy was killing off the metrosexuals. Now comes word of a new kind of man--the adrenosexual:
Defined by their healthy relationship with fear and love of action outside the gym, the Adrenosexual is the new adrenaline urban warrior who gets his kicks speed karting, releases his tension by tightrope walking and works out his worries with wing walking.

...[T]he survey sought to identify individuals' relationships with fear and adrenaline activities and how this equates to success and fulfillment in their lives.
I don't know, sounds like the cast of Jackass are the prototypical adrenosexuals. At the other end of the spectrum are the geeks, currently being made over into love machines on the TV show Beauty and the Geek. (Although some of us would have you believe that's not possible.)

Can't we meet somewhere in the middle? How about a cross between an adrenosexual and a geek with no back hair?

Via Ann Althouse.

I'm a neocon!


* Want the US to be the world's unchallenged superpower
* Share unwavering support for Israel
* Support American unilateral action
* Support preemptive strikes to remove perceived threats to US security
* Promote the development of an American empire
* Equate American power with the potential for world peace
* Seek to democratize the Arab world
* Push regime change in states deemed threats to the US or its allies

Historical neoconservative: President Teddy Roosevelt
Modern neoconservative: President Ronald Reagan

I knew I was. Take the CSM's Neocon test. Via Michael Blowhard.

Carnival of the Vanities

SophistPundit hosts Carnival #145. Read it.

Protest the war: Frag an officer

Ward Churchill's latest contribution to civilized discourse can be seen in this video, in which Churchill advocates that soldiers "roll a grenade under their line officer." I didn't know the First Amendment protected the right to incite murder.

Man spends 13 months in airport

Sanjai L. Shah lived for more than a year in the Nairobi, Kenya airport hoping to get British citizenship. He succeeded yesterday.
It was June 1, 2004, when an immigration muddle landed Mr. Shah at the Nairobi airport, stateless and defiant. He pitched camp right outside the rather bleak arrivals hall and has not budged since.

Mr. Shah, 42, has been eating at airport cafes when he finishes off the Indian morsels delivered to him weekly by his wife, Rasmita, a Kenyan citizen. He washes himself in a business class lounge. He spends his days roaming, up one hallway, past the arrival gates, down another hallway, and back to his pile of luggage, stashed in an out-of-the-way corner near a visa counter.

"I know each and every shop," he said recently, strolling along a corridor lined with duty-free items. "I know each and every shopkeeper. I know the sweepers, the security officers, the immigration officers. Everyone."

Jun 29, 2005

Vladimir "Sticky Fingers" Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin pocketed the Super Bowl ring of New England Patriot's owner, Robert Kraft.
Following a meeting of American business executives and Putin at Konstantinovsky Palace near St. Petersburg on Saturday, Kraft showed the ring to Putin — who tried it on, put it in his pocket and left, said Russian news reports.
An anonymous Kremlin official says the super bowl ring was a gift.

Via Ace.

Toothbrushes these days

Terry Teachout suffered a crise de toothbrush the other day and I can relate.
I left my toothbrush behind in my hotel room in Montgomery, and the spare in my Manhattan medicine cabinet proved to be an unpleasant shade of purple. Alas, not only is my bathroom decorated in sunny yellow and cornflower blue, but a Bonnard color lithograph hangs next to the door. Having gone to some trouble last year to track down a suitably blue toothbrush, I went back to the corner drugstore to look for something a bit more compatible with my décor. To my horror, all the brushes they now sell turn out to be vulgar, fat-handled implements that not only don't match my towels but won't even fit into my toothbrush holder.
I don't know about Terry's decor, but I had a similar toothbrush experience recently, having forgotten twice in one weekend to take my toothbrush with me. Now I have this gigantic thing that doesn't fit in my tothbrush holder either. Not wanting to let it stew in its own bacterial juices on the sink, I force the tip of it into said holder anyway and there it stands about a foot above the holder, blocking access to the medicine chest.

What are these product designers thinking? Why must a toothbrush have a handle with the heft of a Colt .45? I know as well as anyone that the war against plaque is a war I must win, but seriously folks, what gives?

As for my decor, it's a lime green and fuschia combo that sounds a bit much but looks rather good, I think.

Find your Trafalgar ancestor


Here. Thanks to Patrick at OxBlog.

Go for the piano player ... or the tympanist

A new book uncovers the secret lives of oboists. In Mozart in the Jungle, Blair Tindall dishes on sex, drugs and classical music.
"Instrument players had a sexual style unique to their instrument,” she writes. “Neurotic violinists, anonymous in their orchestra section, came fast. Trumpet players pumped away like jocks, while pianists’ sensitive fingers worked magic. French horn players, their instruments the testiest of all, could rarely get it up, but percussionists could make beautiful music out of anything."

The heartbreak of Paula Abdul

The American Idol judge pleaded with California legislators yesterday to impose tougher standards on nail salons. It seems Abdul suffered "a yearlong health ordeal" and was the butt of late-night TV jokes thanks to a bad manicure.
"I was publicly humiliated," Abdul said in her closing statement. "That is why with an open heart and a selfless agenda, I implore you to pass this bill."

Friends don't let friends

Drive a zamboni while drunk.
You can't drive with alcohol in your system, even if the vehicle is a four-ton ice-cleaning machine at a skating rink.

Zamboni operator John Peragallo was charged with drunken driving after a fellow employee at the Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown called police and reported that the machine was speeding and nearly crashed into the boards.

Jun 28, 2005

Where's the outrage?

Not here. But the Commissar has a whole carnival of outrage.

Oprah, Hermes and Rosie

The poetic stylings of one Ms. Rosie O'Donnell on one of the tragedies of our age:
oprah was turned away
at hermes in paris

gayle said it was really really bad
she used really twice
she saw it - she was there

“Oprah describes it as
one of the most humiliating
moments of her life.”

and who would know better than gayle

i cannot wait to hear
all the details -
one of the most humiliating moments of her life…
a poor overweight
sexually abused
troubled black female child
from a broken home -
that oprah
sufferred ONE of the most HUMILIATING momemts of HER life
at hermes in paris

Via Best Week Ever.

Happy birthday, Nancy Drew

She's traded in her original roadster for a hybrid car, but the girl detective is still going strong.

Never mind

Turns out Gitmo is a great place.
Senators from both sides of the aisle competed on Monday to extol the humane treatment of detainees whom they said they saw on a weekend trip to the military detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. All said they opposed closing the center.
Not everybody is pleased, though.
An official of Amnesty International, Jumana Musa, dismissed the visits as "this little Congressional show and tell." Ms. Musa said the statements did not address what she called the inadequate investigation of reported abuses.

"Whether or not people are being fed orange chicken," Ms. Musa said, "does not get at the heart of the issue."

Tevye's children

The Jewish Century, a new book by Yuri Slezkine, argues that the 20th Century was the Jewish century. The book traces the lives of Tevye's children, the descendants of the hero of Sholom Aleichim's stories and Broadway and Hollywood's Fiddler on the Roof. Orlando Figes reviews the book and likes it, with some reservations.
Imagining the destinies of Tevye's children, Slezkine charts the three main paths of Jewish emigration—geographical and intellectual—from the shtetl and its traditions. Many Jews followed Beilke to America, a journey Slezkine links to their adoption of liberal and capitalist views (as well as to the spread of Freudianism). A much smaller number emigrated to Palestine (less than half of 1 percent, even at the height of Jewish immigration to the Holy Land).[1] But Slezkine contrives to send Chava there (on the fanciful assumption that her repentant return to her Jewish home at the end of Tevye the Dairyman "stands for her emigration to the Land of Israel"); this allows him to place the emigration to Palestine in the context of a nationalism—Zionism—which developed from the persecution of the Jews. Finally, there were Jews like Hodl, the main subjects of The Jewish Century, who migrated from the Pale of Settlement to the major cities of Russia, where they aligned themselves, for the most part, with the socialist movement, and became prominent in the Soviet government and intelligentsia.

In this way, Slezkine links the emigration of the Jews with the dissemination of the twentieth century's three main ideologies: liberalism, nationalism, and communism. But this is only part of Slezkine's reasoning for calling the twentieth century the "Jewish century"—a provocative description that is bound to cause offense to those for whom the Jewish Holocaust was the defining event of the century. Slezkine argues that "the modern age is the Jewish age, and the twentieth century, in particular, is the Jewish Century," because

modernization is about everyone becoming urban, mobile, literate, articulate, intellectually intricate, physically fastidious, and occupationally flexible. It is about learning how to cultivate people and symbols, not fields or herds. It is about pursuing wealth for the sake of learning, learning for the sake of wealth, and both wealth and learning for their own sake. It is about transforming peasants and princes into merchants and priests, replacing inherited privilege with acquired prestige, and dismantling social estates for the benefit of individuals, nuclear families, and book-reading tribes (nations). Modernization, in other words, is about everyone becoming Jewish.

Modern life, for Slezkine, is all about the transformation of settled agricultural ("Apollonian") societies into mobile urban ("Mercurian") societies, where everyone becomes a stranger and the most successful people are the followers of Hermes, above all the Jews, who get on through their cleverness and their ability to act as go-betweens.


"Entertaining half-pint popinjay:" Gore Vidal.

Zombie dogs: Suspended animation coming your way soon. Thanks to K-Lo.

Secret reports of Congress: Via Boing Boing.

Roll with the paunches: Definite glamour don'ts from the fashion capital of the country. Via Charlotte Allen.

Real live girls: Can discuss comic books intelligently.

Us and them

Dr. Demarche on the difference between Europeans and Americans:
Some factors are more important than others, though, first and foremost is the fact that the United States of America is a single cohesive nation which is never the less made up of diverse peoples who adhere to often divergent beliefs. The EU, on the other hand, is a loose confederation internally homogeneous states, made up of people who have remarkably similar beliefs, that have very little in common externally- other than a desire to "balance" America. Outside of Brussels there really is no "union" in Europe- no Italian who you meet in Central Park will tell you he is from the EU- every American you meet in Rome will tell you they are from America. To put it another way, there will never be a sports movie where a Spaniard defeats an American and the crowd breaks into a frenzied chant of "EU-EU-EU!"

In many ways Americans and Europeans have never been closer, at least superficially- we share the same pop-culture, most of it generated by Hollywood and New York. Many Euros resent this tremendously, calling the American global domination of the entertainment industry "cultural imperialism", as they are unable to comprehend that this is simply capitalism writ loud. more on that to follow. You can hear Britney Spears in a McDonalds anywhere in the world (as an aside I have been meaning to send a thank you letter to the good folks at McD's- we have utilized their restrooms in at least 10 countries, what a lifesaver!). Fashion, the kind real people wear, not the Paris runway type, is somewhat more divergent than our shared taste for block buster movies, but not but no by much. New York Yankees jersey are ubiquitous, as are baseball caps worn cockeyed and jeans several sizes too large. Spot an outfit like that anywhere in Europe and check out the feet to determine if the wearer is an American- the white socks will give him away. Between the clothes, the music and the multiple facial piercing, a seventeen year old from Annapolis is hard to tell apart from one from Amsterdam- at least until they open their mouths. Our Euro teen will most likely speak at least two lang

Demarche readers chip in:
I lived in the US for 16 years, got to understand the social system, the political system and most other "systems"in the US. The reason I say I got to understand the US is because I spent the time learning about my host country. What did I learn? I came away thinking it was the greatest nation on earth. I also came away thinking that it was also the most complex nation on earth. There are nuances foreigners simply do not understand about the US. Take the Presidential voting system. Most people cannot understand why it varies between the states. When I explain to them the American political system was never meant to be centralized, but rather it is a Republic in the true sense of the term they cannot fathom it.

Kerry's plans for Iraq

You know, I'm all for maintaining civility in the political arena (really) and arguing on the merits as opposed to ad hominem attacks on my opponent and his intelligence. But isn't this kinda stupid? It's John Kerry's advice to President Bush and his roadmap for pulling our troops out of Iraq.
The administration must immediately draw up a detailed plan with clear milestones and deadlines for the transfer of military and police responsibilities to Iraqis after the December elections. The plan should be shared with Congress. The guideposts should take into account political and security needs and objectives and be linked to specific tasks and accomplishments. If Iraqis adopt a constitution and hold elections as planned, support for the insurgency should fall and Iraqi security forces should be able to take on more responsibility. It will also set the stage for American forces to begin to come home.
Doesn't this give the "insurgents" plenty of time to plenty of time to organize a full-blown assault on Iraq once we leave. Kind of like a teenagers plans for a kegger when Mom and Dad announce they're going away for a long weekend.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's not stupid. Just cynical.

Via Instapundit.

Silent killer strikes men in the prime of life

Mantropy: "Symptoms of the "illness" ... include a penchant for pedicures, fruit smoothies and small dogs." First spied in the magazine Maxim, mantropy can be counteracted by showing a preference for cars over clothes and eschewing manicures.
The magazine's website says: "If you are male, you're at risk. Mantropy knows no social or economic boundaries, attacking men of all races and tax brackets without warning."

Greg Gutfeld, the editor of the British edition of Maxim, said the campaign had been sparked by fashion images of hairless men.

"It's that sort of thing which is driving normal men crazy," he said. "I personally think television and pubs are the best inoculation against this sort of thing." The campaign is good news for macho heart-throbs, such as Colin Farrell, Bruce Willis and Russell Crowe, and is further proof that the appeal of metrosexual icons such as Jude Law and Orlando Bloom may be on the wane, even if it has yet to have an impact on some stars. For example, Mickey Rourke, a former boxer and the star of the -violent thriller Sin City, has a Chihuahua.

Jun 27, 2005

Double the fun

As of today I'll be blogging at Red State Rant in addition to blogging here. So stop by and check us out.

'Like a bag of leprechaun's gold'

Sex in the movies:
On most television productions, love scenes take between three and five hours to shoot. A love scene on a feature film can require a day or more of shooting, and it's not out of the question for people to be making coffee and serving food right next to your set. After each take, the makeup department not only does the usual touchups but it also typically sprays the actors down with a rosewater and glycerin concoction to make them appear sweaty. While women wear body stockings, G-strings, and pasties on-set, men get what is known as a "sock."

"It's a flesh-colored pouch that wraps your genitals up like a bag of leprechaun's gold," describes Sparks.

We need a new term

Eric at Classical Values:
While I use the term myself because it's so readily understood, I've often thought that "homeless" is the wrong label to place on people whose lack of housing is a result of larger problems in their lives. I've taken in homeless people, and while I'm no expert on the subject, I've known some who just wanted to be left the hell alone to live in a tent. Others suffer from mental illness or drug problems which prevent them from working normal jobs and thus paying for a home. To call them "homeless" makes about as much sense as to call them "inappropriately groomed." The name "homeless" falsely implies that a home will fix the problem. Neither free homes, nor a brand new Giorgio Armani suit, nor direct distributions of cash, will cure alcoholism, drug addiction or mental illness.
We used to call them bums.

But that changed in the 1980s: They became the homeless and homelessness became synonymous in the press with the evils inflicted on the poor by Reagonomics. In those days, the holy grail of homelessness was the homeless family. "Homeless advocates" would shop these unfortunates around to the media, who would dutifully write a story about their heartbreaking existence.

They all but disappeared in the halcyon days of the Clinton administration. And, as James Taranto has so admirably reported, the inauguration of Bush II saw the return of homelessness. But the homeless family has disappeared, and the homeless problem has failed to gain traction as a narrative. I'd wager that successes in urban policing, like those practiced in New York City under the Giuliani administration, prevented the return of the homeless family. It turns out even liberals were glad to be able to walk down the street unaccosted. And the myth of the poor guy who's just down on his luck just doesn't cut it anymore.

Asked and answered

Tom Elia answers William Raspberry's question regarding private accounts for social security.

New phenomenon: Wrap rage

It's what happens when a consumer, unable to open a product, resorts to scissors--or even knives--and ends up injuring himself.
Mona Doyle recently filmed people attempting to open bags of pre-cut lettuce. The tape plays like a bit from the television show "America's Funniest Home Videos." Everybody uses force and torque that would otherwise be reserved for the gym. Either the bag opens suddenly and sprays lettuce all over the floor, or defeat is conceded and scissors or knives are employed.

When Doyle, whose Philadelphia company does research about food and beverage packaging, showed the tape to an audience of produce packers, they chuckled. But Doyle says that belligerent packaging is making consumers spitting mad. They use words "hate" and "difficult" to describe products that seem to be welded shut.
The Brits, who actually keep track of this, estimate that wrap rage has caused 60,000 injuries.

This echoes a story a couple of years ago in which emergency rooms were reporting increased injuries due to incompetent bagel slicing. My first thought then was: Goyim! But it turns out this was actually a good thing, inspiring as it did a new appliance, the bagel slicer, which protected both the bagel industry and the folks who buy bagels.

And now I believe the Brits are on to something. The callous packaging industry wants to put the blame on increasingly enfeebled baby boomers. But I've done the lettuce thingy more than few times, and I'm tired of it. Time to sue. Let's take all the way to the Supreme Court.

Maybe that'll distract them from taking away our property.

New intern to grace the halls of Congress

Move over, Monica Lewinsky. Step away from the microphone, Jessica Cutler. Washington is welcoming a new intern to the fold: Tony Blair's son, Euan.
The eldest son of the British prime minister will spend three months working on the Republican-run House Rules Committee, and then is expected to serve an internship with an as-yet-unnamed Democrat.

It is not known how Mr. Blair, 21, ended up applying for his internship, but for most American candidates, the process involves bombarding their local congressman with letters full of glowing references. There also is the friendly telephone call from a well-placed relative or family friend.

Committee staff members were on orders when contacted last week to say nothing except to confirm that Mr. Blair would be joining them for three months. Jo Maney, the committee's press secretary, insisted it was a normal internship application, sealed by a telephone interview with the candidate.

Jun 26, 2005

Abortion has long-term consequences

Take if from someone who knows. Read it and send it to your friends. Via AJ Strata, who links to that post and more in this week's Carnival of the Chillin'. Check it out.

King of the Hill Democrats

I really dislike these movements to pigeonhole people with labels.
The composition of the audience for ''King of the Hill'' is telling. You might expect that a spoof of a small-town propane salesman and his beer-drinking buddies would attract mostly urban intellectuals, with their highly developed sense of irony. In fact, as Governor Easley long ago realized, the show's primary viewer looks a lot like Hank Hill. According to Nielsen Media Research, the largest group of ''King of the Hill'' viewers is made up of men between the ages of 18 and 49, and almost a quarter of those men own pickup trucks. ''This is only the second show that's a comedy about the South -- this and 'Andy Griffith' -- that doesn't make fun of Southerners,'' Easley told me recently, adding that Hank and his neighbors remind him of the people he grew up with in the hills near Greenville. (Which is probably why Easley does startlingly good impressions of the various characters, including the verbally challenged Boomhauer.)
Geez, people who drive pickup trucks? That's so adorable. Quaint, really.

If the Democrats are so clueless they have to learn about their fellow Americans through TV sitcoms, then they deserve everything that's coming to them. Problem is, they're too busy talking down to these people. To those irony-rich urban intellectuals Hank Hill and his buddies need reeducating; they're just too stupid to know what's good for them. As Tom Maguire says, "Republican strategists can relax."

Besides, I have a sneaking suspicion that Peggy Hill already votes Democratic: she's been co-opted by the teachers' union.

Cross-posted at Red State Rant.

Is he serious? Poor Washingtonienne, indeed

Kevin Aylward would have us feel sorry for Jessica Cutler, the small-time hooker who slept her way to the bottom of Washington society, blogged about it and got herself a book deal in the process:
The story of how Cutler's blog became tabloid fodder begins with Ana Marie Cox, the editor of Wonkette. Cox was alerted to Jessica's blog, which she had been writing for a few short weeks in total anonymity - her identity known only to a few close friends who were the intended audience. Within a day of being featured on the DC based gossip blog Cutlers chaotic personal life was barred [sic] to a world-wide audience, including members of the Hill community who fingered her as the author in no time at all. The rash of publicity and revelations resulted in a Dynasty-style confrontation that lead to Cutler's ouster from DeWine's office.

As her world collapsed around her Cutler acted like she didn't give a damn to anyone who would listen. Friends knew otherwise, noticing that stress-induced lack of appetite was causing weight to melt off her already svelte frame and that she appeared to be on a fast track toward a nervous breakdown.

During the period after the story exploded Cutler and Cox became friends of necessity, as Jessica was still a mystery woman to most of the world. Cutler, out of work, short on cash, and hoping to capitalize on her 15 minutes of fame, needed Cox - if nothing else for what she figured was her maturity and ability to understand Jessica's plight. Since her story was first told at Wonkette requests for Cutler's story initially flowed directly to Cox.
Poor thing. I guess the Playboy spread helped with that cash flow thing, didn't it? But Jessica is a feisty gal, Aylward assures us. And now she's back and better than ever.
One year later she looks back on her relationship with Cox with more the jaded eye of someone who is already making a living as an author.
"She makes a lot of snide and condescending remarks, that I'm desperate for attention, that I need therapy - which is really the pot calling the kettle black. She wants to make sure everyone knows that she's better than I am, but her blog is pretty boring when she's not talking about me."

"For some reason she thinks it's important for her to disassociate herself from the Washingtonienne thing. She's got to do what she's got to do. But girlfriend does talk some shit."

Jessica Cutler also has something that Cox can only dream of -- positive reviews for her first book, The Washingtonienne: A Novel.
Yeah, the review today in the New York Times said it "could be a lot worse." Since the buggery-obsessed blogger--Heh! She said ass-fucking!--also has a novel in the works, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before Cox receives similar accolades.

Meanwhile, I'll reserve my feelings of pity--minimal though they are--for the poor misguided, unmarried sucker who was idiotic enough to have sex with her only to have the details splashed across the blogosphere.

And I'll save my admiration for a broad who really did sleep her way to the top: Pamela Harriman, who not only kept her mouth shut about the sordid details of her love life but managed to get a president elected long after her more fleeting charms fled.

Cross-posted at Red State Rant.

Parents: Choose names wisely

Roger Scruton, originally known as Vernon, his middle name, suffered terribly.
I was a timid child, who keenly felt the double injury of red hair and a sissy name. The critical moment came aged 10, during the last year at primary school. A large boy called Herman, whose misfortune was also contained in a name, and who, therefore, became the school bully by way of compelling us to respect him, kicked me as I sat down for morning assembly, launching into a diatribe against red hair with every word of which I fully concurred. I gave him to understand that, had it been possible to vote for the abolition of red hair, I would have been first to raise my hand. To my dismay, however, Herman was not satisfied with this general apology for my condition, and indicated that I must meet him in the playground during break, so that my head could be bashed in and the problem of red hair solved for good and all.

"There's no helping it," said my friend Brian (the only one in the playground who was more timid than I). "He's after you. If not today then tomorrow. Best to get it over with." News of the impending fight spread rapidly through the school and at the appointed hour the spectators gathered into a ring. Brian pushed me forward and my antagonist strode out from the crowd with flaring nostrils, fists up and big lips parted in a sneer. I closed my eyes, shielded my face with my left hand, and stretched my right arm out to protect myself. Herman came forward at a run, with blood-curdling shrieks and flailing arms. I stood rooted to the spot, the sounds of Herman's war-dance filling my ears, my outstretched fist trembling in the air before me. After what seemed like an age, there was a staggering blow to my knuckles. I opened my eyes to discover Herman recoiling backwards, lips split open and blood pouring over his chin. With a howl of dismay he pirouetted through the crowd and fled to the headmaster's office to report my crime.
And then there's the story of Scruton's last name. Read about it.

Jun 25, 2005

Carbo loading

Thoroughly useless day. Got up with the best of intentions and attacked the bathroom grout with a clorox bleach pen. Now that's a delivery system worth its patent. Having finished that by 8 a.m., I put a load of laundry in, watched Double Indemnity on the tube and headed out to the multiplex at 11 for the first showing of Bewitched and an order of nachos. Came home and, with the thermometer already at 95, decided to lie down and read. Fell asleep, woke up, ordered a pizza and breadsticks. Tried again to finish the book I'm reading. Fell asleep. Woke up, talked to my mother on the phone. And that's about it. Now I think I'll watch the third Harry Potter movie on TV. Maybe I'll top the day off with a chocolate milkshake. Naah. That would be overdoing it.

God Bless America

Where else would you find Indian sweat lodges for prisoners?
In the middle of the dirt floor, a pit had been dug and filled with rocks left in fire so long that any cracks glowed red. Cedar chips were thrown on the rocks, giving off a fragrance, and then lavender, sage and sweet grass.


The inmates in this traditional Indian sweat lodge in this most untraditional setting were practicing Native American spirituality at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in northern Connecticut. With roughly 2,000 inmates, MacDougall-Walker is the state's largest prison, a maximum security facility that is home to some of Connecticut's more notorious prisoners.

In this population are about 30 who identify themselves as Native Americans. Like the more than 500 prisoners statewide who declare themselves Native American on admission, whether they truly have a trace of Indian blood, an entire lineage or not one legitimate drop is of no concern to prison officials here, who find religious pursuit a productive use of inmate time and also have been pressed by the courts to be even more open to it.

Jun 24, 2005


Ask Tom Cruise a question: About anything. Via Best Week Ever.

A day in fairyland: Evelyn Waugh.

Stay away from seat 29E: Seriously. Via Beth.

Make the IndyMedia folks cringe: IVotedForBush.com email.

Blogorrhea: Akaky vows to tame the subordinate claws.

Live Aid may have saved thousands from starvation

But was it responsible for killing as many? David Rieff says donations helped fund a brutal resettlement program in Ethiopia that may have killed up to 100,000.
At least the tsunami was an authentic natural disaster, even though the relief effort may have been put to a wide range of political uses. But Ethiopia in 1985 was a very different case. There, the famine was the product of three elements, only one of which could be described as natural - a two-year drought across the Sahel sub-region. The other two factors were entirely man-made. The first was the dislocation imposed by the wars waged by the government in Addis Ababa against both Eritrean guerrillas and the Tigrean People's Liberation Front. The second and more serious was the forced agricultural collectivisation policy ruthlessly pursued by Mengistu Haile Mariam and his colleagues in the Dergue (committee), who had overthrown Haile Selassie in 1974 (and officially adopted communism as their creed in 1984). This collectivisation was every bit the equal in its radicalism of the policies Stalin pursued in Ukraine in the 1930s, where, as in Ethiopia, the result was inevitable: famine.


Hard on the heels of the Buerk report, the Dergue determined that 600,000 people would have to be moved to southwestern Ethiopia, where the government was in full control. The justification? The terrible famine whose images were now ubiquitous in the western media.


The truth is that the Dergue's resettlement policy - of moving 600,000 people from the north while enforcing the "villagisation" of three million others - was at least in part a military campaign, masquerading as a humanitarian effort. And it was assisted by western aid money.

The lengths to which the Dergue was prepared to go soon became apparent. Though even Mengistu's Soviet patrons advised against it, the Dergue, as François Jean of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) put it at the time, chose to employ "shock treatment in order radically to transform Ethiopian rural society". But one finds no mention of that in any official account of Live Aid, in the speeches of Bob Geldof or the Oxfam website. The Ethiopian terror famine was on a smaller scale than its Soviet and Chinese predecessors, and many in Ethiopia who died in the mid-1980s were not victims of the Dergue's campaign in a direct sense. But, as François Jean wrote, all three terror famines "proceeded from the same approach to reality ... the same vision of the future, the same extreme commitment to radical social transformation".

Likewise, in the weeks leading up to Bob Geldof's latest venture, Live 8, Aiden Hartley argues that most efforts to help poor Africans end up enriching the dictators who are responsible for that poverty in the first place.
Africa’s leaders cannot wait for the G8 leaders — hectored by Bob and Live 8 into bracelet-wearing submission — to double aid and forgive the continent’s debts. They know that such acts of generosity will finance their future purchases of very swish, customised Mercedes-Benz cars, while 315 million poor Africans stay without shoes and Western taxpayers get by with Hondas. This is the way it goes with the WaBenzi, a Swahili term for the Big Men of Africa.

The legacy of colonialism is a continent carved up by arbitrary frontiers into 50-odd states. But the WaBenzi are a transcontinental tribe who have been committing grand theft auto on the dusty, potholed roads of Africa ever since they hijacked freedom in the 1960s. After joyriding their way through six Marshall Plans’ worth of aid Africa is poorer today than 25 years ago; and now the WaBenzi want more.

Professional victim

Oh what a little googling can do for you. Ankle Biting Pundits does a little digging and finds that the author of this NYT op-ed, correctly dubbed the stupidest op-ed ever by Michelle Malkin, has been quoted as a victim of Islamophobia in various news organs since October 2001. Read it. It's about a girl, her hijab and her defiant stance against her American oppressors.

Via Brainster.

Celebrity futures: Sell

Eugene Robinson says the bubble is about to burst. There are simply too many celebrities.
Celebrity "journalism" is in overdrive -- more magazines, more pictures, more everything. I defy anyone, no matter how young and/or hip, to pick up the latest issue of Star or US Weekly or People and, without reading the captions, recognize every celebrity in every photograph. You can't, because you're not supposed to. We need to mint a batch of brand-new celebrities every week to throw into the maw.

This is irrational exuberance. Sell your stock in Justin Guarini, Trista Rehn and Farnsworth Bentley, the guy who used to be P. Diddy's valet. Someday the bubble will pop. And poor Tom Cruise will be able to give it a rest.

Morgan Spurlock, again

In next week's episode of 30 Days, Spurlock reveals his preconceived idea of America the Islamophobic, says Debbie Schlussel, who was approached about being on the show.

The idea was to get an ordinary Joe and have him live for 30 days with a Muslim family in Detroit. The average Joe turned out to be a boyhood friend of Spurlock's. Apparently he knew nothing of Islam and was only too eager to learn. Soon, though, he was a self-proclaimed expert on the topic.
When I met David Stacy, about halfway through his 30-day experience, I was amazed at how uninformed he was. This new "expert" on Islam never heard of Wahhabism--the extremist Sunni strain of Islam that dominates Saudi Arabia and informs the terrorist-breeding madrassa schools throughout Arab and other Muslim lands. He was unfamiliar with groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. He did not believe me when I told him that Hezbollah had murdered hundreds of U.S. Marines and civilians in Beirut and elsewhere. He seemed mystified to learn that President Bush shut down American Islamic charities, like the Holy Land Foundation and Global Relief Foundation, for funding Hamas and al Qaeda.

In Mr. Stacy, it is clear, Mr. Spurlock had found the perfect tabula rasa. He had also found the perfect "experts" and "key members" of Detroit's Islamic community to educate him. One such was Muqtedar Khan, a professor at Adrian College whose occasional columns in the Detroit News and elsewhere have urged us to understand how devout Muslims can be driven to commit terrorism because of the West's economic alliances.


When I told Mr. Spurlock's executive producer that I felt David Stacy was, well, a moron, she replied that Imam Husham Al-Husainy, a prominent Dearborn Shia cleric, "said the same thing" and refused to continue teaching him about Islam for the show. The biggest morons, though, will be not Mr. Stacy but the critics and viewers who fall for this supersized phony "documentary."

Screw Big Bird

Since he rakes in about $1.5 billion from licensing fees, I think he could have survived without the $100 million in CPB funds the House restored yesterday.

Crying while eating

A story of one man's short-lived Internet fame and how to attract that most desirable demographic: The Bored at Work. Here's one of the videos. Not as good as the Numa Numa guy.

'I'm passionate about life, Matt'

Tom Cruise on Today this morning reveals the depth of his knowledge of the history of psychiatry. On Brooke Shields and anti-depressants:
Cruise: I've never agreed with psychiatry, ever. Before I was a Scientologist I never agreed with psychiatry. And when I started studying the history of psychiatry, I understood more and more why I didn't believe in psychology.

And as far as the Brooke Shields thing, look, you got to understand, I really care about Brooke Shields. I think, here's a wonderful and talented woman. And I want to see her do well. And I know that psychiatry is a pseudo science.

Lauer: But Tom, if she said that this particular thing helped her feel better, whether it was the antidepressants or going to a counselor or psychiatrist, isn't that enough?

Cruise: Matt, you have to understand this. Here we are today, where I talk out against drugs and psychiatric abuses of electric shocking people, okay, against their will, of drugging children with them not knowing the effects of these drugs. Do you know what Aderol is? Do you know Ritalin? Do you know now that Ritalin is a street drug? Do you understand that?

Lauer: The difference is —

Cruise: No, no, Matt.

Lauer: This wasn't against her will, though.

Cruise: Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt —

Lauer: But this wasn't against her will.

Cruise: Matt, I'm asking you a question.

Lauer: I understand there's abuse of all of these things.

Cruise: No, you see. Here's the problem. You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do.

He's also an expert on ritalin:
Lauer: I'm only asking, isn't there a possibility that — do you examine the possibility that these things do work for some people? That yes, there are abuses. And yes, maybe they've gone too far in certain areas. Maybe there are too many kids on Ritalin. Maybe electric shock —

Cruise: Too many kids on Ritalin? Matt.

Lauer: I'm just saying. But aren't there examples where it works?

Cruise: Matt. Matt, Matt, you don't even — you're glib. You don't even know what Ritalin is. If you start talking about chemical imbalance, you have to evaluate and read the research papers on how they came up with these theories, Matt, okay? That's what I've done. Then you go and you say where's the medical test? Where's the blood test that says how much Ritalin you're supposed to get?

Lauer: It's very impressive to listen to you. Because clearly, you've done the homework. And you know the subject.

Cruise: And you should. And you should do that also. Because just knowing people who are on Ritalin isn't enough. You should be a little bit more responsible in knowing really —
Good thing he's so knowledgeable, now that he and Katie Holmes are planning to have children.

Protest against Israel divestment

StandWithUs is conducting a letter writing campaign to protest the United Church of Christ's proposal to divest from companies operating in Israel. Here's a list of email addresses:


The General Synod of the United Church of Christ is scheduled to meet July 1-5 in Atlanta. Here is the text of the divestment proposal. Here's the site of a UCC group that opposes divestment. More info also available here.

You can also sign an online petition protesting divestment.

Do what you can.

Rove rage

Apoplexy indeed. Theatre of the apology.

At the movies

Actually at home, channel surfing, I came across Nowhere in Africa on one of the movie channels. Based on a true story, it's about a Jewish family who escape Germany in 1938 to live in Kenya. Not really a typical Holocaust movie, it's more a portrait of a marriage under stress. A little long, but still absorbing.

It's not easy being me

*looks at the current world's population* You must have a lot of frustration then.

What pisses you off?

Created by ptocheia

Via Dodgeblogium.

Nothing but body lotion and a smile

Well, I'm doing it--the naked thing. No web cam here though; and in about half an hour I must make my way out to the wider world where clothing isn't optional.

First International Blog Nekkid Day is also being observed by:

Absolute Blog
Ace of Spades
A Small Victory
Cowboy Blob
Don't Forget The ...
Lies and Statistics
Living in the Real World
Lone Tree on the Prairie
Miriam's Ideas
silent running

Jun 23, 2005

Someday we'll run out of washed up celebrities

And the reality TV craze will implode. Until then, we can look forward to Being Bobby Brown; Pauly Shore's new show, Minding the Store; assorted has beens dancing; and Hit Me Baby One More Time.

This can't go on forever, can it? Are there any washed up celebrities left? Please tell me this trend is dying out.

Official wingnut

Basil hits the bigtime: a place on Michelle Malkin's blogroll. Brainster's there, too.

Fonzie: yes, Cuban librarians: no

The ALA refused a request by NYC librarian Robert Kent to invite Ramon Coles and Berta Mexidor, the co-founders of Cuba's independent library movement, to speak at the ALA's Annual Conference, which starts today in Chicago.
The ALA balked at Kent's challenge. "It's way too late to schedule something," explains [John] Berry, now chair of the ALA's international relations committee.

"Nonsense," Kent replies. He says the ALA president has the authority to invite the Cubans.

Kent may have lost this latest battle, but his group is preparing to release a scathing analysis of the ALA's position on Cuba. He believes that the vast majority of the ALA's 64,000 members have no idea about the ongoing Cuba flap. Because of low turnout in ALA elections, he says, "a small group of extremists can dominate the organization."

In the meantime, the world's largest and oldest library association works in silent complicity with the Western hemisphere's most brutal dictator.
Via Babalu Blog.

Turn offs

Literary ones, that is. Dr. Pat wants to know what books you have read that inspired you to pledge never, ever reading that author again. I can think of nothing off the top of my head, except perhaps Tristram Shandy, though I'm not sure Sterne even wrote anything else.

Also, try The Rule of 33 next time you are considering buying a book by an unknown, to you, author.
I start at the top of page 33 and read no further than page 35. The story should be well underway by then, and I can get a real sense of the writer's style and ability to draw me into the story. Together with the cover notes, cover art (ghastly or ultra-mystic cover art sends the book right back to the shelf, without application of the rule), I can build my personal library with few missteps.

I generally just read the first chapter.

You can be one, too

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Attention fellow bloggers: Take the MIT Weblog survey.

Blogging naked

All the cool kids are doing it. Friday has been officially declared Blog Nekkid Day. Difficult to pull off at work. Some people can't wait 'til Friday to shed their clothes.

Jun 22, 2005

Carbon dating the movies

Truly dated movies are not merely back numbers but so bound up in their time that they preserve the date of their conception in amber, says Aaron Haspel. Take a look at his list. Hard to argue with. Especially Gentleman's Agreement, though they're all good.

Chaplain defends Gitmo

Kent Svendsen volunteered his expertise after he found out the United Methodist Women were considering starting a campaign regarding human rights at Guantanamo. Svendsen, a military chaplain and a Methodist, worked at Gitmo from May 2004 through March 2005. He saw no abuse while stationed there.
I have a great concern for our news media sources today. There was a day when the truth and protecting our nation from harm took precedence over being the first to break a story. Now it seems that accusations, no matter how harmful, no matter the source, no matter the possible consequences, are enough to use them as weapons upon the innocent as well as the guilty.

I am also grieved that there seems to be not only an automatic assumption of guilt when the accusations are aimed at our military and our government, but that any explanation aimed at proving them innocent is also automatically viewed as a "cover up". And that when those who are guilty of violations are uncovered, prosecuted, and punished there is a tendency by some to want to use that as evidence that the violations were policy instead a violation of the standing orders and policy. What the news media and groups like the Women's Division need to understand is that accusations cause harm and create damage that a retraction and an admission of error later cannot repair. (I don't think we will ever really know exactly how many died after Newsweek made the false accusation of a Koran being flushed down a toilet.)

There are those who would use accusations such as those recently made against our military as weapons to gain political power. They count on the fact that people will believe something if its said enough times and said by people and organizations they respect. It was the case in the past that our nation's opponents tried to prevent our culture and news sources from reaching their people. After all, the ideas of freedom, democracy, and equality for all doesn't play well in some parts of the world. So since modern technology cannot be stopped and "world news" is now also news to the world there is now a new strategy. They use it to their advantage as a weapon against our nation.
Svendsen offered to speak to the group if they were interested. Let's hope they take him up on it and don't jump on the anti-Gitmo bandwagon.

Via TKS.

Chance for posterity goes down the sewer

17 1/2 ton popsicle melts.

Series fiction and jumping the shark

Does series fiction inevitably run out of steam?

Sarah Weinman points to this article about the marketing machine that is Janet Evanovich and adds,
[It] doesn't really get to what's likely the bottom line: that as the marketing hoohah has increased (and so too have her sales) the quality of the books have dropped off rather sharply.

But then, does it really matter when the publicity works so well?
I've only made it through number nine of the Stephanie Plum series, To The Nines and I'll probably read the two most recent installments eventually, but I noticed a drop off in quality a while ago. They're still enjoyable, mind you. Just not as much as before.

I didn't grow up in New Jersey, but I lived there for a long time and I know people who grew up in the milieu Evanovich depicts: Ethnic working class types who still live within a few blocks of where they grew up--if not still at home. Evanovich did a great job making the world of the burg, the neighborhood of Trenton where Stephanie lives, come alive. She also showed a great affection for the place and portrayed the characters without condescension.

The first few books also had this great antic quality, as our herione zipped along from one embarrassing incident to another. But as the series progressed, the antic quality became forced, more high strung than hilarious.

So I wonder, is it possible to sustain a series like this for any length of time? Or is it inevitable that such series will jump the shark like their TV counterparts?

Then why don't they leave?

Muslim Group opposes violence and America.
The young Muslim men, with beards and bullhorns, work the streets of Jackson Heights on the weekends. They surface at parades and protests around the city, loudly declaring America the enemy and advocating for an Islamic state. Several weeks ago, they publicly tore up an American flag as payback for the reported desecration of the Koran at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Their own videos of violence against Muslims, one with the title "Muslim Massacres," have recently appeared on Queens Public Television.


For such a public group, much about it remains a mystery. As a policy, its members do not give interviews and members' names are not listed on the group's Web site, www.IslamicThinkers.com. In recent days, the site has been devoted to the inquiries of several newspaper reporters, asserting that they intended to paint the group as militant extremists, with a motive to "demoralize Islam."

Yesterday evening, [the group's leader, Ariful] Islam made an exception and granted an interview, in which he said that the group, which has less than a dozen members, opposed participation in the American political system, and would only approve of an Islamic leader "guided by the Koran."

He dismissed criticism of the group by the city's Muslim leaders as fear of a "backlash."

"We have nothing to hide," he said. "We are always in the public."

"We're all just regular kids in New York City," he added. "We grew up here."

Fidel takes their toys and sends them home

Cuban thugs put the kibosh on a baseball game:

HAVANA (AP) - It was supposed to be a friendly baseball game. But hours before a neighborhood youth group was to play a team from the U.S. mission in Havana, Cuban security agents allegedly charged into the home of activist Marcos de Miranda and confiscated his baseballs, bats and mitts.

De Miranda's parents, Roberto--a librarian who had been imprisoned by Castro--and his wife, Soledad Rivas, were brought in for questioning. The Americans scheduled to play against the youth group were turned away from three fields because they didn't get advance permission to play.

Via Lucianne.

AFI's top 100 movie quotes

I like the list, which covers everything from Terminator to Caddyshack. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" was number one while Titanic came in at 100 with "I'm king of the world!" Michele's less than thrilled, though, and has vowed to make a list of her own.

And while we're on the subject of last night's TV programs, did anybody catch Katie Couric interview the runaway bride? Me neither. But you can catch up on the whole gruesome spectacle here.

Jun 21, 2005


New grant idea: Encourage academics to spend time living in American society.

Live action smurfs: Upcoming movie.

Handi Ghandi: "Great Curries ... No worries."

Older Barefoot Gents: Kitty uncovers barefoot celebrity worshipers.

Why can't libraries be more like Amazon?

Paul Musgrave wants feedback and user reviews on library catalogs.

Job already taken

Are gays the new Jews? Jonah Goldberg doesn't think so.
Marx wrote at length about the Jewish Problem. Where is the equivalent on the right, complaining about the Gay Prooblem? Anti-Semitism's historical roots are ancient and enormous. Five minutes ago, Andrew was arguing that gays were the new blacks, now they're the Jews. Which is it?

Some other problems: Central to the anti-Semitic narrative is the Jews' longevity as an intact people. There's no enduring gay tribe, is there? Can you simply swap out the stereotype of Jews as financiers and predators of capital in favor of the stereotype of gays as interior decorators and hair-dressers and have anything similar to anti-Semitism? Is there a gay diaspora? I've heard the argument that homosexuality behaves like a religion, does this mean that Yglesias and Sullivan buy into it? Or do they want to claim all the benefits of playing this particularly powerful bigotry card without carrying any of the burdens of the analogy?
Besides the Jews are still hard at work being today's Jews.
Ray McGovern, a former intelligence analyst, declared that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and military bases craved by administration "neocons" so "the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world." He said that Israel should not be considered an ally and that Bush was doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

"Israel is not allowed to be brought up in polite conversation," McGovern said. "The last time I did this, the previous director of Central Intelligence called me anti-Semitic."

Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), who prompted the question by wondering whether the true war motive was Iraq's threat to Israel, thanked McGovern for his "candid answer."

U.K. adopts Stasi tactics

Against smokers:
New powers effectively criminalising smoking in public were announced by the Government yesterday, with the minister in charge promising an "intelligence-led approach to enforcing the law".

Informers will be encouraged to report breaches of sweeping bans on the habit, in which company smoking rooms will be outlawed and places such as bus shelters and the outsides of office blocks made no-smoking areas.


It is thought that establishments which attract repeated complaints could be subject to "sting" operations by council enforcers.

Caroline Flint, the public health minister, confirmed that the policy would be vigorously enforced with the assistance of informers from the public.

"I don't think we are talking about brigades of people out on the streets," she said. "What we are talking about is an intelligence-led approach to enforcing the law."

News you may have missed

The pothole that (almost) ate Manhattan:
But if this was a pothole, it was a new breed - it was so deep it looked like an excavation site. Construction workers showed up and blocked off the street. Heavy construction equipment - backhoe loaders, actually - rolled down the block. Barricades were set up to keep the curious away.

Maybe a meteor had hit, one person remarked, or perhaps someone decided to install a seven-foot-deep pool in the middle of 56th Street, in front of a deli and a sushi restaurant.

"I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this," said Ivan Sabio, the superintendent at 29 West 56th Street. "This is a first."

Michael Jackson on toast:
Slices of toast with the star's likeness and slogans such as "not guilty" have appeared on internet auction site eBay.

Vendors claimed the slices were not faked - but popped out of their toasters before or during the verdicts.

Toast said to look like the Virgin Mary sold for $28,000 (£15,400) last year.

The world's dullest museum?
Ralph's dream, like the man, is far more mundane. For decades he has been threatening to open a museum in his hometown of Winstead, Connecticut, dedicated to -- are you ready for this -- American tort law. Sadly, slow fund-raising and several presidential bids have hampered his progress. The other week, however, Nader announced that the Philadelphia architectural firm DPK&A is "putting final touches on the plans" and he expects the museum -- located in an abandoned mill -- to open in the fall 2006. "Historically, it's a nice context because that's where so many workers got injured, in factories around the country," Nader told the AP. Ralph apparently cannot see the sad irony in turning a once-thriving mill that employed hundreds of local residents into a tort lawyers' museum. And isn't saying that workers got injured in factories a bit like soldiers got shot on battlefields or drunks got plastered in saloons? Where else are they going to get injured?

Never mind

The LA times was forced to abandon its so-called wikitorial after readers posted obscene pictures on the site. The plan, which used Wikipedia as its model, invited readers to make online changes to the paper's editorial.
"It sounds nutty," said an introduction to the wikitorial in Friday's paper. "Plenty of skeptics are predicting embarrassment; like an arthritic old lady who takes to the dance floor, they say, The Los Angeles Times is more likely to break a hip than be hip. Nevertheless, we proceed. We're calling this a 'public beta,' which is a fancy way of saying we're making something available even though we haven't completely figured it out."

What they had not planned for was hard-core pornography, which the paper's software could not ward off. Its open-source wikitorial software allowed readers to post without vetting from editors, who could take down posts only after they appeared. Any contributor who persisted in bad behavior could be blocked.
It does sound nutty, doesn't it? Steve Outing, who had his doubts about the project:
Wikis are great for factual information, where group intelligence steers the way to accurate content -- but they're lousy for opinion pieces, where I would not be inclined to use the word intelligence alongside the word group.

He may be superficial

But his heart's in the right place. The Superficial reacts to news that Oprah Winfrey wasn't allowed in Hermes' Paris store:
Quite frankly I could give a damn less if anyone is mean to Oprah Winfrey. ... [B]ut the French can kiss my ass ever since 1986 when they wouldn’t let the United States use their air space to bomb Libya, so this is as good as chance as any to point out that they’re awful awful people.

Jun 20, 2005

Noble killer

You are a Samurai.
You are full of honour and value respect. You
are not really the stereotypical hero, but you
do fight for good. Just in your own way. For
you, it is most certainly okay to kill an evil
person, if it is for justice and peace. You
also don't belive in mourning all the time and
think that once you've hit a bad stage in life
you just have to get up again. It's pointless
to concentrate on emotional pain and better to
just get on with everything. You also are a
down to earth type of person and think before
you act. Impulsive people may annoy you

Main weapon: Sword
Quote: "Always do the right thing.
This will gratify some people and astonish the
rest" -Mark Twain
Facial expression: Small smile

What Type of Killer Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


"America's most dynamic metaphorist:" Dick Durbin.

A beer wench at a French rodeo: Sienna Miller.

Sympathy note: From Ted Casablanca.

Sex change? Bruce Jenner's bad plastic surgery.

Best Gay Novel, 1945: By a famous anti-American.

Democratic anti-semitism must stop now

Richard Baehr:
Democrats, who still have their heads screwed on straight, and retain some sense of decency, like Joe Lieberman, and Steny Hoyer, need to take a long look in the mirror at the unraveling of their Party, and begin to do something about it. Whoever was responsible for allowing the Jew hating conspiracy theorists in the DNC offices to distribute their garbage should be fired. John Conyers should be asked to explain why a known anti-Semite like McGovern was invited to the panel's discussions. Why did no member of Congress attending the Conyers hearing challenge McGovern when he went off on his loopy theories? Not only Barney Frank owes an explanation and an apology to the public for such passivity in the face of evil.

The Israel haters, and anti-Semites believe they have found a comfortable home in the Democratic Party. If American Jews continue to vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats, then they will be casting their votes for a Party which is becoming indifferent to Israel bashing and anti-Semitism, and in the case of Conyers inviting McGovern to speak, even promoting these toxic views.

The insidious coffee cartel

David Adesnik fisks to a fare-the-well a WaPo article that blames Starbucks for rising student debts. Via INDC Journal.

At the movies

I saw Cinderella Man this weekend as promised.

Russell Crowe was great. Paul Giammatti was good, too, although his performance was kind of mannered: he employs a kind of fast-talking patter seen in movies like His Gal Friday. This works for the period and the character: He's Crowe's manager. But Crowe's character is harder to play; he's just a decent guy who wants to do right by his family. This review by Roger Ebert puts it nicely, I think. Renee Zellweger plays Crowe's selfless wife in kind of a thankless role. The movie belongs to Crowe and Giamatti.

As usual, the movie was preceded by about 20 minutes of commercials, followed by endless trailers. I can only remember two: Jodie Foster is back in a movie that can be summed up as Panic Room on an airplane; and Kiera Knightly will be starring in yet another version of Pride and Prejudice. From what I saw of the trailer, the movie seems to put a harlequin romance style gloss on the love affair between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Also Mr. Darcy is played by Matthew MacFadyen, who is neither as aristocratic as Lawrence Olivier nor as adorable as Colin Firth.

Morgan Spurlock and minimum wage

Steve Antler at Econopundit blogs about the first episode of Morgan Spurlock's new show (also here), 30 Days.

In that episode, Spurlock and his fiancee try to eke out a living in Columbus, Ohio on minimum-wage jobs. As Econopundit points out, all those minimum wage jobs are scarcer than the producers apparently thought. All the easily-found jobs pay more than minimum wage. Spurlock signs on with a temp agency at $7/hr; his companion Jamieson dickers her wage down to minimum so as to not cheat the show's premise." The story follows the couple through the vicissitudes of living as members of the working poor, with special attention to health care problems encountered during their month of seeing how the other half lives.

The problem is, as Econopundit points out, Spurlock deals with the health care issue less than honestly.
For whatever reason he moves "up" the ladder and easily finds higher-paying work landscaping. And then his wrist immediately starts hurting, allowing the script to once again show the horrors of the American health care system as seen by the working poor.

But two important words are left out: "worker's compensation." The first thing you're asked in any emergency room is whether the injury is work-related. (I know not only because I'm an educated economist but also because I've been there myself a few times.)

One can only conclude it interfered with the script's political message so it was omitted, but the simple fact is even in his second, no-benefits job, Spurlock's wrist injury was fully covered by his employer's worker's compensation policy.

The problem I had with the show, which I started to watch but then turned off in disgust, is the assumption that people who take minimum wage jobs are condemned to work at minimum wage jobs for the rest of their lives. This assumption is shared by reviewers of the show.
They subsist in an ant-riddled hovel, share a single bus pass, endure medical crises made worse by their poverty and take to sniping at each other. The point: This is no way to live. But in the land of plenty, this is the fate of too many who suffer on an hourly minimum that hasn't been raised since 1997.
Minimum wage jobs are the fate of young, inexperienced, unskilled workers. After some time earning minimum wage, people graduate to higher paying jobs. They're not stuck forever in a minimum-wage hell. Witness the experience of one of Econopundit's readers:
As a two-time college drop-out who worked low skilled, low paying jobs for several years to eventually gain the skills and experience for decent paying work which I love, I'm always interested when people like Spurlock or Barbara Ehrenreich make claims about what can or can't be done on low or minimum wages. The first year I supported myself (1994, at age 18) my gross income was less than $8000.00, with no credit cards and no car, and the only times I ever went hungry were when I decided to buy a novel or CD instead of dinner. I lived "paycheck to paycheck" only because I blew money on stupid crap like collectible card games.
I believe it's called paying your dues.

Via Instapundit.

Jun 19, 2005

Byrd still minimizing KKK role

This profile on West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, written to herald his upcoming book, makes it clear that Byrd has never been as forthcoming about his early days in the Ku Klux Klan, despite the Senator's endless apologies.
His latest account is consistent with others he has offered over the years that tend to minimize his direct involvement with the Klan and explain it as a youthful indiscretion. "My only explanation for the entire episode is that I was sorely afflicted with tunnel vision -- a jejune and immature outlook -- seeing only what I wanted to see because I thought the Klan could provide an outlet for my talents and ambitions," Byrd wrote.

While Byrd provides the most detailed description of his early involvement with the Klan, conceding that he reflected "the fears and prejudices I had heard throughout my boyhood," the account is not complete. He does not acknowledge the full length of time he spent as a Klan organizer and advocate. Nor does he make any mention of a particularly incendiary letter he wrote in 1945 complaining about efforts to integrate the military.


Byrd said in the Dec. 11, 1945, letter -- which would not become public for 42 more years with the publication of a book on blacks in the military during World War II by author Graham Smith -- that he would never fight in the armed forces "with a Negro by my side." Byrd added that, "Rather I should die a thousand times, and see old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels."
Byrd managed to rise to Senate majority leader twice by obsessing over arcane Senate policies and scheduling details and judicious ass kissing.
As a rising member of the leadership, Byrd paid close attention to minor legislative and scheduling details that made life easier for other senators, always showed colleagues elaborate courtesy, and wrote thank you notes on the slightest pretext. In 1971, he challenged Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) for the majority whip post and unseated him, after securing the death-bed proxy of the legendary Sen. Richard B. Russell (D-Ga.), another of Byrd's mentors and the architect of the southern filibuster against civil rights legislation.
And his nonstop pork barreling on behalf of the state of West Virginia ensured that Byrd consistently won re-election to office.

Iran election rigged, candidate charges

Regime Change Iran has that story and whole range of links.

Jun 17, 2005

The steppe punk look

From fashion week in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Via Stephen Bodio, who says:
[T]he town is inhabited, thronged, by incredibly beautiful and stylish women. Everyone in the US seems to think Central Asian women look like East German Athletes or Stalinist WW II vets-- it ain't so! Renato Sala, an irreverent Italian archaeologist based in Almaty, once said to us through clouds of Gauloise smoke that " Kazakhstan has the MOST beautiful women-- Stalin or Chingizz or somebody must have killed all the ugly ones!" Only an Italian.

Hat tip: Michael Blowhard.

Is the cinema dead?

Paul Hamilos:
Do we no longer enjoy the thrill of finding ourselves in a darkened room with hundreds of strangers, waiting eagerly to discover what cinematic delights are in store for us?

Speaking strictly for myself, I still enjoy a night out at the movies. Sure the trailers--and the commercials!--are endless, the other patrons annoying and ticket prices too high. But there's a lot to be said for getting out where the people are and enjoying a film communally. It makes an event that we--with our TiVos, DVD players and pay-per-view movies--have made commonplace. And what's better than dinner and a movie, followed by coffee or drinks afterwards to discuss the movie's finer, or lesser, points?

And then there's the quality. The first time I saw Lawrence of Arabia was on commercial TV, making for a four-hour viewing experience. When they recut and rereleased it in theaters, it was a revelation. You don't get the same experience at home. At least not in my home with my rapidly declining 19-inch TV.

I haven't seen a movie in the theater since Mondovino. I think it's time to take my own advice: This weekend I'm going to see Cinderella Man.

Update: Ann Althouse says maybe fewer of us are going out to the movies because of the quality of the movies being shown. Michael Agger says Hollywood execs don't understand their own products and suggests they turn to academia for help.

What's in a name?

Neal Boortz is asking people to vote for the best title for the Runaway Bride's book and/or movie. Suggestions include:

  • Guide for Obscure Narcissists: How to cash in on your meaningless life.
  • The Flee-ance'
  • How to Find Fame and Fortune Without Holding Clinton's Cigar
  • Bird Brain Bride Bugs Out, Breaks Betrothed Balls
  • He Said, She Fled
  • Double the fun

    Identical twins in Poland run for top two offices in the land.

    Bush: Iran election unfair

    From A Daily Briefing on Iran:
    The Iranian people are heirs to a great civilization - and they deserve a government that honors their ideals and unleashes their talent and creativity. Today, Iran is ruled by men who suppress liberty at home and spread terror across the world. Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy.

    The June 17th presidential elections are sadly consistent with this oppressive record. Iran's rulers denied more than a thousand people who put themselves forward as candidates, including popular reformers and women who have done so much for the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran.

    Via Instapundit.

    Jun 16, 2005


    Marv Albert: He "made appalling sexual deviancy classy."

    "String cheese NOW!" Hollywood screamers.

    Hello Dolly: Not for the PC joke.

    Maureen Dowd Gravitas-Enhancement Program: Times plan to make MoDo look good.

    Good eating: The Gitmo Cookbook, via La Shawn Barber.

    California here I come

    American Cities That Best Fit You:

    70% Los Angeles

    60% Boston

    55% Chicago

    55% Miami

    55% New York City

    The difference

    Between Gitmo and Iraq under Saddam. In pictures--not for the squeamish.

    Good advice

    From The Superficial:
    The next time some celebrity wants to lecture you on politics or the environment or war, please keep in mind the other insane stuff they believe and the genuine disdain they have towards you. Have no doubt, Hollywood is filled with drug-addict, whore-chasing, fuck-ups who sincerely do believe that they’re better then the mechanic in Mississippi who loves his wife and kids. The only good news is that they’re rich and easily duped, so anyone with a moose costume and a flashlight could probably convince a bunch of them that only the MooseLight Foundation can show the way to true enlightenment. That should be good for at least a few million.

    Another list: Children's books

    A meme from Michele Catalano:
    So, what fiction did you read as a teen/young adult that you have re-read as an adult (or would like to)? What pieces of fiction meant something to you? Put up your list, and pass it on to 2-3 people.

    In college, I reread a number of children's books that I loved as a kid for an independent study on children's literature. Then I reread them again to my son, which was great. The ones I loved have held up:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia
  • The Wind in the Willows
  • The Little House series
  • Mary Poppins

    As for young adult, I think I just skipped that part of the library and went straight to adult. I recall reading everything from Valley of the Dolls to Fear of Flying to Crime and Punishment to Wuthering Heights. The last two I've read more than once. The first two, not.

    Now to pass it along: Kitty? Miriam?
  • Top ten screwups

    Brainster accepts a challenge from Captain Ed and posts his list of the top 10 people who are screwing up America, inspired by Bernard Goldberg's upcoming book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is #37). I'm sure there are more, perhaps better candidates, but here's ten off the top of my head:

    Noam Chomsky: I don't know if anyone listens to him anymore, but he laid the groundwork for the left's America-is-always-wrong mindset.

    John McCain: The guy's a hero and I admire his courage, but campaign finance reform is just so wrong.

    Pat Buchanan: Loser.

    Katie Couric: Her perkiness alone is nauseating, but add her ass-licking interviews with the likes of Kofi Annan to the mix and she's truly appalling.

    Al Sharpton: He's raised race-baiting to an art form.

    Patrick Leahy, Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid: They care about nothing but scoring points off the Republicans.

    Ted Kennedy: Sanctimonious sleazeball.

    Arlen Spector: Grandstanding poseur, his main purpose in life is to see himself on camera and to maintain his standing with the MSM as a "moderate."

    See also Bill at INDC Journal.

    Update: Right Wing News polls bloggers for top 20.

    Library records off limits?

    House votes to curb FBI's access to library records. Bush threatens to veto. Librarian.net is happy.

    Kids these days

    When a friend's sister finally had her first and only child, his mother never put him down--literally. She would carry him around in a snuggly all day long, only letting him go when he'd fallen asleep for the night. By the time J became a toddler, he decided when to go to bed. Unfortunately, bedtime never arrived and J was up long past his bedtime; indeed, he was up long past his mother's bedtime. OK if you want to live like that but extremely annoying when you're an overnight guest at his parents' home.

    Getting my sister's son into bed, on the other hand, is an all-night endeavor. It starts with a bath right after dinner and can last until midnight or later as T demands another bottle, story, whatever. He may only be three, but T is a master manipulator.

    Scenarios like these make Supernanny required viewing for the parents of today, says Donald G. McNeil Jr.
    My mother read Dr. Spock. But she also had five children in eight years, starting at age 33. She was actually a great 1950's mom, with huge reserves of patience, cool Halloween costumes and memorable Christmases, but when our spats woke her at 5 a.m., she could lay about us with a pink slipper with a sole like a blackjack.


    And yet I loved her, and most of the time I didn't think her punishments were unfair. Unfortunately, she died when my siblings and I were teenagers, and so wasn't around to offer us child-rearing advice. By the time I needed it I was living on the Upper West Side and the age of Attachment Parenting had dawned. Nothing was to be denied (except television). I had cousins whose children, weaned long after they could walk, disliked meals. A food bag was hung from a chair so they could graze.

    My younger daughter went to a parent co-op for day care. The director was adamant that the children's feelings be respected at all costs, and the worst she would say was, "It makes me unhappy when you do that."