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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

YOU ... YOU ... FRENCH-LOOKING PERSON! 

There's a new insult in town and it hasn't yet been declared politically incorrect. Au contraire, it's politically au courant. The new f word is: ... [wait for it] ... "French."

Spinsanity has engaged in some dishy trend spotting:
• An anonymous Bush advisor seems to have started the ball rolling by leaking that presidential hopeful John Kerry "looks French" to the New York Times way back in April. (This week pollster David Hill found he's started "acting French" as well.)

• James Taranto later made a similar charge, then added insult to injury by accusing Kerry of "favoring a French-style high-tax regime" and flying around in "a black, French-made twin-engine six-seater" helicopter.

• Rush Limbaugh has fallen hard for the trend, adding the Frenchy nickname "Jean Cheri" to the mix. (An unnamed "Republican strategist" prefers "Jacques Kerry;" Wesley Pruden of the Washington Times dubbed him "Monsieur Kerry.")

• Republican National Committee weighed in with a fact sheet revealing that, quel horror!, Kerry has a French cousin.

• Kerry is called the "The rage of Paris ..." and "more French than American" (this, the opinion of ... French people).

• Although Kerry famously made his bid to be the second black President, Mark Steyn opines he'd be our "first French president."
Yeah, it's true that all the spitballs are directed in one direction, at one person even. Spinsanity decries this as "manipulative political rhetoric." But I think they're missing the point. Americans are desperate for a new general-purpose insult that won't get them fined by the FCC. Thank you John Kerry! You're an inspiration.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

LET'S BE MORE SURGICAL ABOUT IT AND BAN UBERTWATS 

Eirephile Atomizer of Fraters Libertas is not pleased by the recently enacted Irish ban on smoking in "workplaces" (a pub is a "workplace"). But Simon of No Rock and Roll Fun, who lives a bit closer to the fray, sees a bright side for music fans:
...you'll no longer be down the front when some twat attempting to mosh with a blazing Rothmans in his or her hand keeps knocking into you, covering your clothes in those tiny little holes. Or, in summer, making your arms look like an obsessive Manics fan's. Now all they need to do is clear out the ubertwats who have a problem grasping the basic nature of liquids and why they're not acceptable in mad-dancing situations, and Dublin might become the only place in these islands where you can dervish yourself silly without wrecking your entire wardrobe with burnholes and lager stains.
Cheer up Atomizer. You can still wreck your wardrobe here at home. For at least a bit longer. (Treasure those burnholes, treasure them...)

Sunday, March 28, 2004

CONNECTING THE DOTS? TRY INSERTING THEM FIRST. 

The OpEx section of today's Star Tribune reprints several excerpts from Richard Clarke's recent testimony before the 9/11 commission under the headline "Testimony excerpts: Connecting the 9/11 dots." (I can't find it online, oddly). A fine idea in principle--more people should read more of what Clarke actually said, rather than relying on the handful of five- and ten-second soundbites that the mainstream media outlets keep repeating ad nauseum or the tendentious second-hand characterizations of his testimony being offered by most on the left and the right.

But the ham-handed Strib editors simply pull out brief passages and string them together without providing context or even ellipsis points, giving an unwarranted impression of continuity. The bits snipped from Richard Ben-Veniste's questioning concerning Zacarias Moussaoui are particularly egregious--in fact, they are so misleading as to suggest an outright intention to deceive.

Here's what the Strib reprinted:
BEN-VENISTE: And I will have to end it here although I'd like to go further. Was the information with respect to Moussaoui and his erratic behavior in flight school ever communicated to you?

CLARKE: Not to me.

BEN-VENISTE: And yet, an FAA advisory went out. The FAA advised on the potential for domestic hijackings.

CLARKE: I asked them to.

BEN-VENISTE: And had you known on top of that that there was a jihadist who was identified, apprehended in the United States before 9/11 who was in flight school acting erratically...

CLARKE: I would like to think, sir, that even without the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, I could have connected those dots.
Here's the complete passage; I've set off in bold-face type the part which the Strib editors in their inestimable wisdom thought too inconsequential even to warrant ellipsis:
BEN-VENISTE: And I will have to end it here although I'd like to go further. Was the information with respect to Moussaoui and his erratic behavior in flight school ever communicated to you?

CLARKE: Not to me.

BEN-VENISTE: Given the fact that there was a body of information with respect to the use of planes as weapons within the intelligence community's knowledge, had you received information about Moussaoui training to fly a commercial airplane? Would that have had some impact on the kind of efforts which might be made to protect commercial aviation?

CLARKE: I don't know. The information to which you refer, information in the intelligence community's knowledge about Al Qaida having thought of using aircraft as weapons, that information was old relatively speaking -- five years, six years old -- hadn't reoccurred to my knowledge during those five or six years -- and has to be placed -- to give the intelligence community a break -- it has to be placed in the context of the other intelligence reports.

The volume of intelligence reports on this kind of thing, on Al Qaida threats and other terrorist threats, was in the tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands over the course of the five or six years.

Now, in retrospect, to go back and find a report six years earlier that said perhaps they were going to use aircraft as weapons, it's easy to do now. But I think the intelligence community analysts can be forgiven for not thinking about it given the fact that they hadn't seen a lot in the five or six years intervening about it and that there were so many reports about so many other things.

BEN-VENISTE: And yet -- with your indulgence, Mr. Chairman...

KEAN: Short indulgence.


BEN-VENISTE: And yet, an FAA advisory went out. The FAA advised on the potential for domestic hijackings.

CLARKE: I asked them to.

BEN-VENISTE: And had you known on top of that that there was a jihadist who was identified, apprehended in the United States before 9/11 who was in flight school acting erratically...

CLARKE: I would like to think, sir, that even without the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, I could have connected those dots.
And I'll leave it up you to connect the Strib's (absence of) dots.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

YOU MEAN I CAN IGNORE HALF THE CORPUS OF WESTERN MUSIC? WHAT A RELIEF! 

What do Mozart's Requiem, Strauss's Death and Transfiguration, Mahler's Ninth Symphony, most blues songs, and everything ever written in a minor mode have in common? Haunting, melancholy, dark . . . and therefore "crap," according to a local music critic whose work I've enjoyed in the past.

On the bright side (no pun intended), John Philip Sousa, Up With People (not to mention Hooray for Everything), and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" appear to be safe. For now.

Friday, March 26, 2004

TWISTED TITLE #17 

This week's demented children's book title:
Po and Laa Laa Beat Tinky Winky With His Purse
To see last week's title, click here.

RADIO FREE SATURDAY 

Well well well. The Northern Alliance Radio Network still hasn't been cancelled and, unbelievably enough, they're getting some far-above-their-means guests: Kenneth Timmerman, author of The French Betrayal of America, and Thomas Lipscomb, the NY Sun reporter who's been leading the coverage of the Kerry-V.V.A.W. assassination plot story will be on tomorrow's show.

We at Spitbull continue to abstain from on-air participation but it looks like we're going to have to come up with a new excuse.

I know! We can be the promoters! Everyone needs a promoter:
Hey all you visitors* to our fair blog! Listen to AM 1280 The Patriot between noon and three p.m. tomorrow!
*broadcast will be hearable only by those of you who live within 7 miles of Eagan, MN. And yeah, we know, most of our visitors came to us through links from the Northern Alliance anyway so our marginal promotion rate is near zero. Just humor us.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I GUESS YOU COULD CALL IT HIGH CLASS ... 

Al Franken's radio campaign to help John Kerry become the nation's second black President seems to have advanced the ball a few yards. New York's premier black activist radio station has just announced it is dumping its tradition lineup of Black-produced programing in favor of Franken's new Air America Radio talk radio network (hat tip: I Want Media).

Inner City Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Pierre Sutton is pumped:
We are excited about the diverse and important voices Air America Radio is bringing to the airwaves, both on our own WLIB signal and others.
An anonymous former station staffer was less thrilled:
That's what you call 'high-class B.S.!'
Plans are to keep only a few of the station's leading Black radio personalities. The Air America Radio lineup does boast a Black co-host for one segment: rapper Chuck D.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

NO-LONGER-SMUG BLOGGING ON CORPULENCE 

Do you ever wonder about those decapitated photos and video clips of hugely fat people waddling down the street run as teasers to a "special" report on the evening news? They always get my attention and, as I've admitted before, make me feel all smug and skinny-by-comparison. Extensive media coverage of diet advice also makes me feel all smug and wise-by-comparion.

So it will probably come as a relief to you, dear reader, that I have been humbled this time. Indeed, struck dumb (but not so struck as to be unable to type), by the enduring nature of the quest to be less fat and its sheer inventiveness as revealed by a recent article in the Arizona Republic on the history of fad diets (hat tip: Newmark's Door).

My favorite (my recommendation is based on aesthetics, but I believe the Warrior Monk can give at least the second part of this one his personal recommendation, having tried it in college) is William the Conqueror's liquid diet from 1087:
tak[e] to ... bed and consum[e] nothing but alcohol.
Sure sounds better than dousing food with vinegar, daily enemas or eliminating all carbohydrates.

History is such a vital element of intellectual discourse.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

OPEN, SHUT THEM. OPEN, SHUT THEM. GIVE A LITTLE YAP. 

I am very bad at opening things.

When I am an old lady and die alone I expect to be found three weeks later not half eaten by an Alsatian (I gave up dogs nearly twelve years ago in exchange for valuable consideration) but emaciated by hunger, clutching a jar of olives or something whose top I was unable to loosen.

Until then, I get to be tortured by items like shrink wrapped CD's (but now I have this nifty mouse shaped blade whose sole purpose in life is to cut the wrappings--take that you scoundrel!) and today's nemesis: a Cordless Optical Mouse for Notebooks encased in a rigid plastic tomb. A rigid plastic tomb that now boasts several incisions that I cleverly made with a pair of scissors. As I sit back and survey my work they look like mere scratches. I bend and pull on the plastic so it's clear I've made cuts, not scratches. But it doesn't matter. The tomb's contents remain pristine. If I were a smoker I would have a cigarette right now and consider my options.

Fittingly--and perhaps this is connected with my opening issues--I am also very bad at closing things. Tupperware containers that I have stored food in appear closed, but they are really not. When an innocent stumbles across one and attempts to exert the pressure normally needed to pull off the lid, it flies open and the contents spray onto the floor. In this way, I get to pay it forward.

Monday, March 22, 2004

AT LEAST THE GUY WITH THE WTC SIGN WAS SAVVY ENOUGH TO HOLD IT OVER HIS FACE 

Lileks today mines a rich vein of screediness regarding this past weekend's anti-war rallies. It's all good, but I was struck by this line near the end:
Pictures of Bush as Hitler sieg-heiling away would get them killed if this was truly the country they insist it is.
Are these yahoos really so thoroughly dense or so utterly blinded by ideology that they can't see this self-evident fact?

Look. You can be against all war in general on pacifist grounds. And you can be against this particular war in Iraq for any number of reasons--that it's a distraction from the wider war on terror, for instance, or that it will make us less rather than more secure because it will inflame terrorism, or that it lacked sufficient international support, or that the WMD justification was trumped up. Et cetera, et cetera. I don't think these reasons are very good ones, and I think pacifism as a general principle is loony, but at least these are reasons and principles. You know, supported by actual thoughts, however misguided they might be. But to call Bush Hitler, without stopping for the nanomoment of reflection it takes to realize that if Bush really were Hitler you'd be shot dead for saying so, is so intellectually bankrupt as to defy understanding.

Is this really the best the hard left can offer us? Because if it is, I think they are doing as much to guarantee another four years of Bush in the White House as the Republicans are.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

DUCKS: FILE UNDER VICIOUS & CRUEL 

I stopped thinking ducks were benign, sorta cute, feathered creatures years ago. They're actually murderous beasts. With my own eyes I have seen several ducks attack another duck and drag it around by the neck. This wanton act of cruelty was carried out, brazenly, in the hey kids! feed the cute duckies! area of Lake Harriet. So I'm on Will Baude's side in the Great Crescat Sententia Poetic Duck Debate (a.k.a. the Scalia/Cheney Evil Duck Destroyers? Controversy).

But, unlike the Warrior Monk and his squirrel allergy, I don't act on my antipathy. Laziness has its virtues. From a duck's point of view, at least.

Friday, March 19, 2004

TWISTED TITLE #16 

This week's demented children's book title is an Atomizer favorite:
Mmmm, Doesn't That Frozen Pump Handle Look Tasty?
Rumor has it he enjoyed this one not once but TWICE, in rapid succession. Puts to rest any theories that at least he had promise as a child, doesn't it?

To see last week's title, click here.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

TOO MANY YERTEL THE TURTLES 

Dr. Seuss once drew cartoons warning of the dangers of appeasement (via GeekPress via James Hudnall).

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

IN HONOR OF THE DAY 

Some Irish jokes from Bloviating Inanities (hat tip: The Llama Butchers). My favorite:
How many Irishmen does it take to change a lightbulb?

Five - One to change the bulb and four to comment on how grand the old bulb was.
Hi Terry!

MAYBE THEY JUST THOUGHT THE CONSERVATIVE MEDIA DID A GREAT JOB ON THE WAR 

The Washington Times complains that conservative media was not invited to this week's Media at War Conference sponsored by UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism (hat tip: Romenesko):
Speakers include representatives from CNN, National Public Radio, PBS, Al Jazeera, ABC, CBS and the BBC, but no one from the Fox News Channel.

The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times are represented, but not the Wall Street Journal or The Washington Times.
Conference panels are to address issues such as "the force of wartime patriotism in the United States and the 'double bind' that embedded reporters faced."

For the record, the Northern Alliance of Blogs wasn't invited to the conference either.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

THE HELL IT'S NOT 

What does anyone see in John Kerry?

I can understand why one might not like President Bush's personality and style (though the caricatures of him as a dolt or a puppet or a Hitler are silly). I can understand why one might disagree with his decision to go to war in Iraq (though I still think that on balance it was the right choice). I can understand why one might be less than pleased with his fiscal policies (e.g., reckless discretionary spending) or his stance on many social issues (e.g., same-sex marriage). But does anyone actually affirmatively like John Kerry? Come November, will anyone vote for him for any reason other than the bare fact that he's not George W. Bush?

Case in point: A voter challenges Kerry's rather preposterous claim that he has met with foreign leaders who are backing his campaign, asking him to give us some details that might make the claim seem slightly less preposterous, and Kerry responds with this: "That's none of your business."

None of our business, eh? We're your boss, you ass. You're courting our votes, and your first instinct when one of us gives you the faintest whiff of opposition--on a subject that you brought up unbidden, remember--is to retreat behind a wall of privileged self-importance? You've been a politician for three decades and you can't finesse a non-fawner any better than this?

If Kerry keeps this up for the next eight months I predict that a whole lot of people who think they don't like Bush will realize that they like Kerry even less.

Monday, March 15, 2004

CORRELATE THIS! 

Aaron Haspel of God of the Machine confesses his adolescent political and cultural prejudices and this confession shakes his mature prejudice in favor of the existence of objective values in art.

In 6th grade Aaron supported George McGovern for President because his parents did. Later on (high school) his taste was formed by reacting against the opinions of others: he disdained both the kids who worshipped Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and the music they liked. Does our taste in people explain our taste in art?
You admire someone, and he plays you music, and shows you pictures, and lends you books. You admire the exhibits, but to what extent can that be disentangled from your admiration of the exhibitor, if at all?
Like most correlated phenomena, cause and effect are difficult to tease out. Nearly all of my boyfriends have shared a similar taste in music. I have never dated anyone who loves Bruce Springsteen (although some of them tolerate him better than I) and I two-timed my sweet high school boyfriend, who once gave me an Eagles record for my birthday (in his defense I think he had no idea who the Eagles were, just knew they were popular). Do I like the music I do because the men in my life like or liked it? Or do I like the men because they like the music?

Friday, March 12, 2004

"BONZO GOES TO BITBURG" WASN'T HIS IDEA, IN CASE YOU'RE WONDERING 

We've found MST3K's Michael J. Nelson a little friend to play with: Johnny Ramone:
Johnny dropped his job as a construction worker in 1974 and held down stage right for 22 years as the guitarist for the most influential rock band of the last 30 years. The Ramones fertilized the punk-rock scene first in their hometown of New York City, then in England. Eventually — who knew? — that sound would form the chassis for what the corporate rock industry later dubbed "alternative" and, eventually, infiltrated top 40.

He was a rebel in a rebel's world, though. Johnny Ramone was a fiercely Republican-voting, NRA-supporting musician in a milieu that is remarkable for its embrace of all things left.

Johnny went worldwide public with his partisanship in 2002, when the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the microphone to give props to the people who made it all possible, he offered his own version of a Michael Moore moment.

"God bless President Bush, and God bless America," he said, clad in his trademark T-shirt, ripped blue jeans and leather jacket.

"I said that to counter those other speeches at the other awards," Mr. Ramone says in a phone interview. "Republicans let this happen over and over, and there is never anyone to stick up for them. They spend too much time defending themselves."
Gabba gabba hey! (Hat tip to Jay L.)

THERE'S A SMALL PADDED ROOM IN THE BLOGOSPHERE TOO 

I had just flipped on CNN when the second plane hit the second tower. Like many, I didn't turn it off for--I don't know--months. At first I remained glued because I feared further mayhem, later because I hoped to see news of the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Yesterday, two and a half years later, I had just pulled up cnn.com when the news of a possible al Qaeda connection to the Madrid bombings broke. What Madrid bombings? This was the first I had heard of it.

I raced around the blogosophere trying to find out what happened. 10 bombs! 4 trains! 199 dead! 1,450 wounded! Terror. 9/11-scale terror.

I checked Instapundit and some of the blogs listed as commenting on the news, all of which seemed to be righty (or at least non-lefty) blogs. So, I decided to check a lefty blog.

If you've been read much of Spitbull, you might have guessed that I'm not very righty myself. I'm not very lefty either. Politics usually bores me and I usually have a hard time getting all worked up about how awful things will be if the wrong side wins. But I have lots of righty friends (although I may have more lefty friends than righty ones) and the Northern Alliance fellows are a nice enough bunch and don't seem to mind that I don't really toe the line (I guess the Warrior Monk is righty enough for them). But what I saw on the lefty blog made me angry:
... the Basques have been fighting for their existence for as long as the Celtic Irish ... have been. It doesn't make this right, but perhaps someone should start listening.
Someone should start listening?!?!

I got mad, and then, I turned to other matters. Not mad enough to blog. But this morning, when I read Lileks' Bleat about Madrid, I remembered:

There’s a small padded room in my mind where I imagine the theories of the daft: OMG Bushitler did this, it’s part of a campaign to make us “afraid,” it’ll only get worse. That’s one take, from the foil-chapeau brigade, a decided minority. Then there’s the schadenfreuders: well, Spain supported the war in Iraq. Payback’s a bitch, eh? As if there was some sort of epiphany in the terrorist community: whoa, Spain is assisting the Crusaders now. I know it’s going out on a limb, but I propose adding Spain to the list of Western Christian polyglot democracies to destroy. All in favor, say aye. Of course one can say that the jihadists attacked Spain for its role, but to suggest that Spain earned this atrocity means that the two causes are morally indistinguishable.
I'd go even further. Any suggestion that Spain had this coming, that she is at all to blame for this calamity, is morally reprehensible. It's like saying "it doesn't make raping her right, but perhaps that woman shouldn't have worn that super short skirt." Both examples of daft "reasoning" are more than enough to rouse me from my torpor and make me vote against the reasoners.

TWISTED TITLE #15 

This week's demented children's book title is:
Wearing Diapers in Third Grade is a Sign of Manhood
To see last week's title, click here.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

KEEPIN' IT CLEAN 

How do I know that Eloise has poor cleaning skills? Uh, because I've seen her clean.

As for the insinuation that there's "more than meets the eye" here at Spitbull, that's preposterous. Everyone knows I'm gay.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

GOOD CLEAN BLOGGING 

Exploited, or not, at least one cleaner seems to be blogging (hat tip: Guardian weblog). Sample:
The most animated tea break conversation yet broke out today. Suddenly, over the shortbread, my workmates are debating, comparing, ranting - about washing machines. It hits me - my colleagues actually like cleaning. Or at least are very interested in it. It's their specialist subject. These women clean and scrub and wash all day at work, then go home and do the same for their husbands and children. And have done for years. They are Experts. As I watch my supervisor's finesse with the mop - how she squeezes at just the right pressure and angle for optimum water and bubbles - I know I will never achieve such skill.
I've always been in awe of cleaning skills. Me, I'm such a klutz that I often actually make things dirtier when I attempt to clean them. Sadly, I speak the truth.

WARRIOR MONK: Sadly, she does speak the truth. Skillful blogger, however.

CHURCH GIGGLES, PSHAW 

Monologist Spalding Gray's death (proof of which was recently discovered) has turned some bloggers' thoughts to the various ways we take our leave of the dead.

I am hardly one to emulate on that score. When my grandfather died, my mother, sister and I had to sit apart from each other at the funeral because we kept setting each other off in gales of laughter.

My grandmother, whose English and hearing were both dicey, had chosen to wear some kind of lace doily pinned on her head. As the officiant "counseled" her before the ceremony, she frequently nodded her head in what we all knew to be utter incomprehension. At each flutter of the doily, the three of us guffawed helplessly. Our grandmother, who knew and loved us, was not offended (actually, I'm not sure how much she noticed). My mother's brother, whom my grandparents adopted late (after my mother had left home to get married), was shocked, I guess understandably. We were told not to sit together by the officiant, and so managed to appear dignified at the actual ceremony. But clearly we are not a dignified family.

(The Warrior Monk and I both attended a Spalding Gray monologue staged at the Guthrie Theater a number of years ago. He was indeed riveting and it is sad to learn he was unable to escape his demons.)

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

THE FOLKLORE OF COPYRIGHT LAW 

Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution asks for economic reasons against protecting folklore with copyright laws. Countries such as Ghana are attempting to protect their folklore in this manner in order to have the right to royalties when this "property" is used by rich companies (think Disney) from other countries to create commercially sucessful products.

I'll bite: creating this property right won't increase the quantity of folklore created (it was created long ago and not because there's money to be made in that line of work) but will decrease the quantity of products that are derived from the folklore (because creators of these derivative works will have to pay tribute for using the underlying work). Of course requiring tribute woudn't eliminate derivative works, but there will be fewer of them created than if tribute weren't required.

The whole struggle in copyright law is to try to balance incentives to creators so as to maximize the public benefit. There's value in both the first work and the second. The creator of the first work gets the right to dictate how and whether the work is used, but not indefinitely, so as not to exclude or lessen the possibility of the second work ever being created.

(Copyright law is a huge and daunting subject not well suited for my preference for bite size blog posts, but I had to give it a try. My apologies for failing.)

To dig the hole a little further, I'm with Larry Lessig in being very suspicious of the economic benefits of increasing intellectual property rights. I'm interested in what the blogging phenomenon, with its plethora of high-quality and thought-provoking writing apparently created with little hope of recompense, says about where copyright incentives ought to be placed.

I also have to admit I'm a little tickled at the idea that Disney, who was instrumental in lobbying for the recent increase in how long copyrights last, could find itself on the other side of the copyright calculus.

Monday, March 08, 2004

GUILTY FEMINIST PLEASURES 

A corner of the Blogosphere has been getting itself all worked up about the evils of hiring other people to do your household's domestic work (house cleaners, nannies, etc.) Some of them are shouting out "exploitation." I want to shout out "thank you!" to everyone, paid and unpaid, who has helped and helps my household with its domestic work.

I don't get why the domestic sphere is so different than any other. If you're in the position of being an employer, you should treat your employees decently. Pay them decently, allow them some autonomy, treat them with respect. If you do, where's the exploitation?

Refusing to employ somone to assuage one's own guilt about being a lousy housekeeper (admit it! I do) seems to me like a different form of exploitation. Some years ago my family rented a house in Mexico for a week's vacation. The house had a caretaker cottage on the premises. We were told that the caretakers were available to cook our evening meal for us if we paid them for the materials and their time. We did this once--the meal was excellent--and then my sister and cousins decided that this arrangement was exploitative and refused to do it again. We ended up going out to restaurants for the rest of the trip. I thought this was ridiculous and said so, but was overruled. To this day I'm convinced the caretakers thought this cheap bunch of Americans had gypped them out of an expected bonus source of cash.

As to the concerns about the loss of self-sufficiency that hiring nannies entails: whatever happened to "It Takes a Village"?

Friday, March 05, 2004

RADIO DAYS 

Be in on the ground floor of the media convergence revolution: listen to members of the Northern Alliance of Blogs' first radio broadcast! (Um, if you live within 7 miles of Eagan, Minnesota, that is.) Mark your calendars:
Date: Saturday March 6
Time: noon to 3 pm
Station: AM 1280 The Patriot
Don't forget, like blogging, radio can be interactive! Just call 651-688-3131 and let 'em have it. Love 'em, hate 'em, here's your chance to harass 'em. Remember they're pretty new at this and so probably easy to fluster. Go ahead and make like Hugh!

(Spitbull, no fools, are abstaining from this foolhardy enterprise altogether. Rumor has it The Elder is hiding out in Florida, shaking in his boots, until it's all over. But the others will be ripe for picking.)

We're guessing Alliance member James Lileks may call in to tout some gold stocks. Don't miss it!

Previous plans? If the show doesn't get pulled before then, the gang will be on again, the next Saturday.

WHAT HE SAID 

I recognize that the likelihood that you haven't already read this approaches zero, but in the course of today's Bleat Lileks so perfectly channels my own views on Bush, Clinton, partisans of both stripes, and what the 2004 election boils down to that I feel compelled to cut and paste:
Obligatory statement: I am tired of making the following obligatory statement, but I must. Obligatory Statement the Second: I do not believe Bush walks on water. I have arguments with many policies. McCain Feingold: gah. Gah in excelsis deo. Other policies I understand as political expediencies, but that doesn’t mean I like them. I have one issue above all: the war. And yes, I’m one of those deluded types who thinks we’re at war, and that the absence of attacks since 9/11 no more means we’re not at war than the absence of air raids on Manhattan in 1942 meant we weren’t at war with Germany and Japan.

Obligatory Statement the Third: I was not a Clinton hater. I eventually developed an eww-ick distaste of the man, but I was frequently amused and impressed by the politician; he was good. And he did some things I liked. It’s possible, you know: you can disapprove of a politician’s value set, applaud some decisions, dislike others, and wish his exit - that’s normal and American. If you see the guy on TV and you have an aneurism because the crawl doesn’t say THIS MAN BURST FROM A CARBUNCLE ON SATAN’S BUTT! you have a problem.

Statement the Fourth: it’s the war. That’s what counts. If I had a choice between an isolationist Republican who would withdraw all American troops from everywhere and cast Israel adrift, OR a Joe Lieberman Democrat who understood the threat and wanted to take the fight to them - and nevermind what our valiant allies thought, like Russia - I’d pull the lever for the D. As I've said before: we can argue about the future of Western Civilization after we've ensured Western Civilization will survive.

So there. Obligatory opening statements. I wish we could just have a chord that would stand in for one’s position. A nice augmented chord for those of us who have our beliefs but respect the loyal opposition, a bright shining major tonic for those who are unabashed partisans, and a minor-key fugue that strays into atonal chaos for those who hate the opposition and don’t care who knows it. You’d load the page, hear the chord, and know what you were in for.
Obligatory Statement the Fifth: Read the whole thing.

TWISTED TITLE #14 

This week's demented children's book title is:
Bert and Ernie Get Naked
To see last week's title, click here.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

HARVARD BRING ON DA NOISE 

In case you were wondering what's up with Jesse (Ventura, that is), this week's Boston Phoenix reports that little has changed for the now Harvard visiting fellow: he's still very very noisy (hat tip: Romanesko). Except, of course, for that vow of silence he took to, but certainly not about, the Minnesota media: "'I refused,' he says. 'I was like Prince.'"

Well you know Spitbull don't talk to the press either. It's a Minnesotan Thing. You wouldn't understand. Uff da and all that.

IRISH, EH? WELL, THAT EXPLAINS THE ALCOHOLISM. 

The March 2004 issue of The Rake has an acerbic review of American Sucker, the latest memoir by cyber-onanist, NyQuil junkie, and New Yorker film critic David Denby. (Query: Which of those sins gets you into the deepest circle of hell?) The review is worth reading on its merits, but its most curiosity-piquing aspect is its author, Daniel A. Brennan. Who is Daniel A. Brennan, you ask? Well, the print version of the review (though, strangely, not the online one) tells us that Mr. Brennan "contributes to The Minor Fall, The Major Lift--our favorite New York blog."

Contributes? Are we to believe that TMFTML's seemingly royal "we" is in fact a literal one? I'm skeptical. Then again, Daniel A. Brennan is one busy man, what with inventing the award-winning Grill-n-Chill®, getting arrested on August 14, 2002 for an open container violation on Ocean Boulevard in Hampton, New Hampshire, and recently celebrating his 164th birthday. So who knows.

(Answer: Writing multiple memoirs.)

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

VIVA LES SONDAGES D'OPINION! 

I do recognize that polls are merely a hifalutin form of gossip, but as I love gossip you'll have to forgive me my obsession.

Today's amusement: did you know that we Americans used to think very very highly of the French? No really, despite Jerry Lewis and all the other jokes I vaguely remember from the good old days (but then again, my memory of all jokes is vague),
France routinely received favorable ratings of 70% or more from the American public throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, making it one of the countries about which Americans had the most positive opinions.
Nonetheless, I suspect it will not shock you to learn opinions changed:
The favorable image of France nose-dived from 79% in February 2002 to 59% in February 2003, and then all the way down to 34% in March of last year, just as the war with Iraq was getting underway.
Evidently, however, la plus ca change, la plus c'est la meme chose; the ratings are now on their way back up, but only among Independents and Democrats, not Republicans. What, d'ya think, is Stephen Green's (of Vodkapundit fame) current thinking on the French?

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

I'M SO RELIEVED 

I guess I'm not so strange after all; turns out 31% of Americans also didn't watch any movies last year.

Well, okay, you caught my wishful error: the survey covers movie theater viewing. Yes, many of these miscreants probably saw a movie or two at home and I counted my home movie viewing habits as well. So what do I watch? Cartoons.

Monday, March 01, 2004

MASS CULTURE PRETENDER 

Last night was the very first time I've ever watched almost all of the Oscars. I usually skip the Oscars because I never see any of the movies (this year I did watch one: Finding Nemo) and so they are an unpleasant reminder of how culturally strange I am (I'm a Dory fish!).

This year I knew someone who was attending the awards so I was able to keep myself absorbed by staring hard at each of the audience shots, hoping to spot him (he's not a celebrity; he's a biz guy). Of course, I didn't. Too many beautiful people crowded him out. But this Where's Waldo game turned out to be the hook that got me through the program and provided a ticket into the mass culture membership from which I've always been excluded. Finally, finally, I'll be able to participate in the office small talk instead of doing my usual confused but still-smiling tourist bit.

Newly emboldened by my feat, I decided to actually read the next day round-ups. After all, I was there in the television audience. This time, I told myself, I'll know what they're talking about! And so I do, sort of.

And that's all it takes for a blogger to become a big know-it-all and start handing out my own meaningless awards to other bloggers. Here goes:

Laura of Apt. 11D wins a Bloscar for elegant summarizing (hat tip: Daniel W. Drezner). Sample:
...
Renee Zellweger. Shut up.
Sophia Copella. Damn you. That should be me.
Jude Law. Babe.
...
Eurotrash gets one for empathetic envy speculation:
And as Madonna sat there last night munching on her tofu popcorn and watching the man she used to have sex with winning an Oscar, I wondered did she hate him? Did she throw things at the TV and rage loudly how some people just get the lucky breaks and some people never get the full appreciation their talents deserve? Or did she get out her personal copy of Swept Away, shove it in the DVD player and weep bitter tears of loss, abandonment and bile.
I am so keyed in.

Flushed with success, I remember that one of my friends said the way she learned to like baseball was to make a game of ogling the players' butts. From small beginnings ... on to the World Series!