Saturday, July 29, 2006

A blog walks into a bar...

New, from Jenna Jameson!
“Everyone needs a moantone. And we'll provide them in the universal language of sexy sighs recognized around the world but with our own personal touch. The technology is way beyond most of us, but the bottom line is that you'll be able to hear the other Jenna's Web Girls moan and me when your phone starts to ring."

And if you’re at work, you’d better answer it quick.

Condi Rice returns to Mideast! Lindsay Lohan returns to the set!
After getting a letter of rebuke from the producer, Lindsay Lohan has returned to work on the set of Morgan Creek Productions’ GEORGIA RULE. She plays a troubled teen. A couple days ago, she and her boyfriend got tattooed.

In other news…
Cindy Sheehan has moved to Crawford, Texas.

In other news…
Lance Bass is gay!

In other other news…
Mel Gibson was busted for DUI, and apparently made a spectacle of himself to boot. Allegedly, he called one of the arresting officers, “Sugar Tits,” blamed the “fucking Jews” for all the wars in the world, and asked another officer, “Are you a Jew?” He also said he owned Malibu and would spend all his money to get even with them. He has since apologized for his behavior.

A blog message board poster commented on this story:
“Mel Gibson is the bravest human being of our time! Our beautiful, progressive nation is being destroyed by the old thinkers, the founders of communism, the vindictive ones. The fact that a minor, normal incident is 'exposed' by the masters of our information system in this manner is proof. May the forces of the universe protect (what used to be) the most wonderful, progressive nation on the planet from the vindictive, racist, old thinkers, who currently control us all.”

And I'm glad the blogosphere exists to set us straight on minor, normal incidents like this.

Let me hear you say, “Wha?”
This week, Maureen Dowd submitted a rather unfunny column that purported to be dialogue picked up by a stray microphone between President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair. You know, based on the “Oh my god, the President said ‘shit’” scandal of last week. Remember? I barely do.

Anyway, she prefaced her lame skit with this:

“…That pesky microphone problem that plagued George W. Bush and Tony Blair in St. Petersburg struck again at their White House news conference yesterday. The president told technicians to make sure his real thoughts would not be overheard this time, but somehow someone forgot to turn off the feed to my office. As a public service, I’d like to reprint the candid under-their-breath mutterings they exchanged in between their public utterances.”

Now, you would think it would be plain as the nose on your damn face that this is a set up to a joke. But a blogger called “Red Stater” wrote:

“First off, isn’t that treason? Spying on what the President was saying, and then reprinting it for the whole world to see, including the terrorists? We knew the New York Times would love to take down American as we know it and replace it with one a little more pinko Communist to fit what they like. But can’t the government step in here and do something about it? Now that Maureen Dowd has gone this far to try to help the terrorists defeat America, can’t they finally throw her in jail along with the rest of the moonbats that hate America??

I encourage you to protest by not to reading that ‘Fetch, Heel, Stall’ article. I stopped reading it after that first paragraph, once I realized that she was going to be printing state secrets and probably highly classified information. The only way to help stop the spread of it now is to now read it. Please join me in not reading it, and we can eventually become strong enough to finally put a stop to the nutjobs at The New York Times.”

Though, I dunno, maybe Red Stater is making a joke too.

Let me hear you say, “Huh?”
New York Times: “Two summers ago, on a Congressional trip to Estonia, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton astonished her traveling companions by suggesting that the group do what one does in the Baltics: hold a vodka-drinking contest.”

One of those companions was John McCain.

“The after-dinner drinks went so well — memories are a bit hazy on who drank how much — that Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, later told people how unexpectedly engaging he found Mrs. Clinton to be. ‘One of the guys’ was the way he described Mrs. Clinton, a New York Democrat, to some Republican colleagues.”

This is not a joke.

Ken Jennings
The big JEOPARDY winner, Ken Jennings, made some mild jokes about JEOPARDY on his web site.

His blog entry, disguised as a letter to JEOPARDY, included jokes like calling the show’s categories (i.e. Opera and US History) "effete.” He suggested some new categories, including, PlayStation, The Arby’s 5-for-$5.95 Value Menu, Reality TV, Men’s Magazines, Skanks from Reality TV Who Got Naked in Men’s Magazines, and Potpourri.

Well, he unleashed a media firestorm, kind of.

Michael Starr at the New York Post wrote: “All-time ‘Jeopardy!’ champ Ken Jennings has emerged from the ‘Where Are They Now?’ shadows to bite the hand that fed him $2.5 million just a short time ago.” The story made the wires, with the headline on Associated Press, “’Jeopardy’” champ Ken Jennings blasts game show.”

Defending himself, Mr. Jennings said on his blog that he did not bear JEOPARDY any animus. He patiently explained: “Making goofy jokes about TV shows isn't `bashing.' I believe it's the whole reason Al Gore invented the Internet." He also called certain posters on his message board: "humor-impaired sock puppet users."

A joke?
What does it all mean? Well, obviously, one of the reasons we’re having more trouble taking a joke these days, is that we can’t even recognize what one is any more. Who’s joking, and who’s not? This Red Stater blogger, for example. I’m still on the fence with that guy.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Double Dutch Blog

Just wondering…
Is to “swift boat” someone the same as to “bork” someone?

Here’s a poem, inspired by recent events.
Holy shit! The president swore!
Stop the presses! God, I’m bored.

Little Green Footballs
The fine commentators at Little Green Footballs are in the habit of referring to Reuters, the wire service, as “al-Reuters.” Some kind of sarcasm is intended, I believe, suggesting that the wire service is a propaganda wing of al-Quaeda. I am reminded of the time, during the Viet Nam War, that George Jessel (the old comic, kids) appeared on the Today Show, and kept referring to the New York Times as “Pravda.” He did it one time too many, and wound up getting kicked off the show. Nowadays he’d be given a medal.

We few, we happy few…
There’s no doubt in my mind that Israel was provoked into its present Lebanese excursion. On the other hand, I am appalled by the unseemly glee with which the right wing seems to view the conflict. I mean, Hezbollah fires its missiles from behind a shield of women and children. Israel goes after Hezbollah anyway. We should be jumping up and down with enthusiasm about this?

Charles Krauthammer wrote in a recent column: “There is crisis and there is opportunity. Amid the general wringing of hands over the seemingly endless and escalating Israel-Hezbollah fighting, everyone asks: Where will it end? The answer, blindingly clear, begins with understanding that this crisis represents a rare, perhaps irreproducible, opportunity.” And dead children.

The opportunity is for Israel to do the nasty job the West and Arab nations can’t or won’t. As usual.

Iranian Propaganda!
According to TIME Magazine, Iranian television public service announcements are urging consumers to boycott American products – including Pepsi, Nestle, and Calvin Klein. One voice-over claimed that “Pepsi stands for 'pay each penny to save Israel.'"

But wouldn’t that be the acronym for, as the Dread Wife pointed out, “Peptsi?” And why would Iranian propagandists be running ads in English?

Another blank surface: covered!
US Airways may place advertising on its barf bags.

Dutch treat?
From the Associated Press:

A diner in Berks County, Pa., is poking fun at the English-only cheesesteak flap in Philadelphia.

The owner of Geno's Steaks in South Philadelphia has posted signs stating, "This is America: When Ordering Speak English." The new sign at the Oley Legion Diner says, "Please Order in Pennsylvania Dutch."

The request isn't enforced, although some regulars said they often speak the dying Pennsylvania German dialect. One resident said, "Sometimes that comes out first."

Dutch uncles?
From an Australian newspaper, (The Australian, if you must know), last May:

DUTCH pedophiles were launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations from 16 to 12 and the legalisation of child pornography and sex with animals.

The Charity, Freedom and Diversity (NVD) party said on its website it would be registered officially on Wednesday, proclaiming: "We are going to shake The Hague awake!"
"A ban just makes children curious," Ad van den Berg, one of the party's founders, told the Algemeen Dagblad (AD) newspaper.

"We want to make pedophilia the subject of discussion," he said.

The party said private possession of child pornography should be allowed although it favours banning the trade of such materials.

The broadcast of pornography should be allowed on daytime television, with only violent pornography limited to the late evening, according to the party.

Toddlers should be given sex education and youths aged 16 and up should be allowed to appear in pornographic films and prostitute themselves.

Sex with animals should be allowed although abuse of animals should remain illegal, the NVD said.

The party also said everybody should be allowed to go naked in public.

The party's programme also includes ideas for other areas of public policy including legalising all soft and hard drugs and free train travel for all.

Dutch pedophiles, unite!
From AP, July 17, after Dutch courts allowed the party's formation:
“The party, which has only three known members, is very unlikely ever to win a seat in parliament - it would need around 60,000 votes, and pollsters estimate it would get fewer than a thousand.”

So boo hoo, Humbert. No drugs or free trains for you.

Finally, some good news!
The Federal Drug Administration has a new anthem! Here are its lyrics!

(Words and Music by Gerald Harris ©2006)

One century past, a people’s hope fulfilled
By an act conceived for safe medicine and food
Protecting rights that our founding fathers willed
To life and liberty, to happiness pursued.

We honor those who carried on before
O’er these hundred years, public safety to secure
For food, vaccines, drugs, devices, blood and more
They strove to see these goods effective, safe, and pure.

In field and lab, in workplace far and near
From both civilian and commissioned corps
A call goes forth in this centennial year
That this rich heritage continue evermore.

Now in this proud hour, a vibrant vision thrives
True to our mission, whate’er the challenge be
With science our guide, we rededicate our lives
To help create a future healthy, safe, and free.

Response to the FDA Anthem was swift and decisive.

From “While the FDA has roots in the Progressive Era of Theodore Roosevelt, the four stanzas of lofty sentiments ignore more recent FDA setbacks, such as its handling of Vioxx, a drug pulled from the market after it was linked to heart attacks, say agency critics.”

Michael Jackson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said, “It reads like it's out of a 1950s grammar school textbook where everything is just wonderful. It's a little disconnected from the reality of today's FDA.”

According to, "Sidney Wolfe, director of the Public Citizen Health Research Group, describes the lyrics as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘degenerate.'" Degenerate? Wha?

Wolf also huffed: "There's nothing in there, of course, about regulation. Don't they have any kind of self-consciousness?''

Further, claims, re the anthem: “Sen. Ted Kennedy was equally unamused.”

The Truth About Anthems.
Anthems are written to make us feel good about ourselves. That is why there is nothing about racism, or weaselly foreign policies, or corruption, say, in the American national anthem. Instead, it talks about a big flag, and how glorious it is to look at it, still streaming, after being bombarded all night.

In other words, the FDA song strikes me as being an excellent anthem. The line, “Now in this proud hour, a vibrant vision thrives,” for instance, is just the sort of thing you look for in a lyric, anthem-wise.

The songwritter is a 60 year old employee of the FDA. If the carpers want a protest song, they should seek out a disgruntled former employee, give him a guitar, and stand back.

Writing from the Summer TV Press Tour in SoCal, Lisa de Moraes of, informs us that Aaron Sorkin told the assembled journalists: "Television is a terribly influential part of this country, and when things that are very mean-spirited and voyeuristic go on TV, I think it's bad crack in the schoolyard."

After which, Ms. de MOraes says, “…critics in the section of the ballroom known as Power-Strip Village began madly throwing the quote up on their blogs.”

Sorkin, creator of WEST WING, has had substance abuse issues, you see. So that makes his comment about crack, um… well, what does it make it exactly?

Sorkin was there to plug a new show on NBC, STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP. According to Ms. DeMoraes it is “a wicked send-up of an ‘SNL’-esque late-night series on a network that smells a lot like NBC.”

Later two stars of the series, Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford, were asked to “comment on the fact that their characters bear more than passing resemblance to Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme.”

Perry said, "It's like bad Vicodin in a schoolyard."

After which, according to DeMoraes: “Manic blogging.”

Because, you might recall, Matthew Perry went into rehab because of Vicodin dependence, which again, makes his joke, I dunno, more jokeful? Less?

Later, Sorkin cracked (get it?) to reporters: "And, seriously, I'll give you each one hundred dollars if we can just get the crack quote out. It's just an expression; I didn't mean anything by it."

To which: “Manic blogging.”

All of which goes to show that Mainstream Media (The Washington Post) and the Blogosphere can actually get along when they feel like it, and there are enough molehills in a room to make into a mountain, if you squint at them the right way, and manically.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lag Blog

Jet Lag Blog
Hi there. I’ve been out for a week and a half, first on a trip to visit my wife’s family in Wisconsin- a trip marred by a sudden death in her family- and then a quick overnight to our nation’s capitol, where I held forth on Montesquieu for a Very Special Philosophy Talk (noon Tuesdays, KALW, stream it on the Web – go to Topic: Separation of Powers.

What happened was: Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (a great gal, by the way) invited Philsoophy Talk to Washington D.C. She had been a guest on the program last fall, a live taping at Stanford University, and enjoyed the experience so much that she wanted to help the show reach a wider audience.

Philosophy Talk
Go to It will pretty much explain everything. It is a program, hosted by two Stanford philosophy professors, Ken Taylor and John Perry, that takes a philosophical approach to issues of the day. It does other things as well, but that’s the um, basic concept. I appear at the end, every other episode or so, as “the 60 second philosopher,” and do my best to put a button on whatever the topic du jour happens to be. I am underpaid, but grateful to be part of a wonderful radio show. It is wonderful, because it doesn’t pretend to have answers, or to even understand what the problem is. It is refreshing: All questions, no answers.

Where we taped.
In a windowless room, directly, and deep, underneath the rotunda of the capitol building.

After we had finished the show, I was standing in the hallway, and some silver-haired guy appeared. He was a parody of a Congressman – silver hair, white teeth, blazer, glad-handing manner. He disappeared, smiling, into the windowless room across the hall. There are mazes of windowless rooms underneath the rotunda. These are where all the committees meet, and where all our laws are crafted.

And where little public radio shows are taped live.

And where commentators like me fuck up their commentaries, because of trying to talk too fast while suffering from jet lag. Thank God for editing programs!

IMHO: To be a Congressman (or woman), I think you have to emulate the appearance of a successful small town businessman. You don’t want to appear to be TOO well-dressed, but you don’t want to look homeless either.

Senators, on the other hand, want to have more of the Bill Gates look.

Meanwhile, On Wisconsin.
I don’t want to dwell on the death in the family. It’s not my place, and it’s not my grief. Instead I will share with you the weird and wonderful things that happened.

The Child Bride’s father is in a Dixieland band. The Dread Wife, Mother-in-law, and I accompanied him on a gig, in Rockton Illinois.

Every Thursday night, it seems, his band plays at this venue. For free. They call it their rehearsal night.

My father-in-law, at 62, is the youngest member of the band. They range in age from, I’d guess, 62 (obviously) to late 70’s. The band was really good. I had been apprehensive, Dixieland not being my style of choice, but the band was quite eclectic, jumping from Dixieland, to jazz, to blues, to jug band…. The arrangements were inventive, and the playing dynamic. Enough of that.

It seems the band has a following. The bar was full of Hot Senior Babes. I mean SERIOUSLY hot. They had to have spent hours putting on makeup, and selecting their outfits. I’m talking pants suits with slits up the side, mesh nylons, salon coiffures, etc. I was told by Jill (my mother-in-law) that the leader of the band (the trombone player) had been contacted by one of these Babes, apologizing in advance for not being able to attend a performance. To which, I’m told, he responded, “What am I? Your mother?”

So I’m sitting in the audience for this show in Rockton Illinois. There’s a really old guy a couple tables away from us. Jill says he’s had a stroke, and had been a vaudeville performer. I watched him try to attempt a soft shoe during one of the songs, and felt a pang. You could see that his heart was there, but the body was not.

Jill said to watch for the red umbrella. ??? I said.

The Red Umbrella
This guy, once per set, would unfurl a red umbrella and start marching around the dance floor. This was the cue for everybody (I abstained) to march around with him, not necessarily to the rhythm of the music. At the end of the song, he would fold the umbrella, and sit back down. It was kind of like a conga line, only without the conga part.

The license plates in DC read “Taxation without Representation.” Can someone explain this to me?

We were done taping PHILOSOPHY TALK by 10:30. Ben Manilla (the show’s producer) and I hung together. Our flight wasn’t until 9 p.m. so we hit the museums until our feet gave out.

American History:
They had an actual HUEY helicopter on display, as well as Sheridan’s uniform, etc. etc.

The way things are displayed in museums these days, none of it seems real. It is, of course, but it all seems like a re-enactment.

On Wisconsin2:
We were in Milwaukee, and I noticed two dwarves holding hands. And then I noticed five dwarves walking around the mall. And then I saw eight dwarves.

It turns out there was a Little People Convention going on in Milwaukee.

Apropos of nothing, I was reminded of the time my friend Joshua and I went to Atlanta, and we happened to be staying at a hotel where the national gay body builders competition was assembled. I have never felt so small in my life.

Current Events
That would be Israel. I can’t blame Israel for its actions.

The world at large may disagree with what they’re doing,. but they’re not surrounded with people that hate them, or even people within the state that hate them, are they?

I wish our government would step up to the plate on this, but they won’t. I suspect that they’re secretly happy that Israel is doing the things we can only daydream about doing.

I have never been so creeped out.

They missed us with their missile. Whew! Now we can make fun of them, instead of fear them. Until the next launch, of course.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Independence Day Blog

I recommend….

The glorious defenders of American values…
…are once again thwarted in their attempt to halt rampant flag burning.

YouTube, do you take MySpace to be your lawful wedded bride?
NEW YORK, July 2 (UPI) -- …With the rise of the Internet, an increase in work hours and long commutes, and technology that discourages face-to-face interaction, the average American's connection to his or her community is weakening, the (New York) Times reported ….

What the…?
The New York Times, being chided by the White House and the rightwing blogosphere for giving information to the enemy, apparently based its story on the government’s attempts to track terrorist on money on the very same information that the administration gave willingly to the Wall Street Journal.

What the…?
Conservatives are also upset that Superman, in his latest stolid cinematic iteration, does not stand for “truth, justice, and the American way,” but for “truth, justice, and all that stuff.” Actually, I don’t think Superman ever said that in the old television series. I believe it was the announcer who said it, at end of the list of Superman’s unlikely abilities. Also, I should remind people that not only did Superman arrive here as an illegal alien, he is entirely fictitious, and therefore does not and can not fight a “never ending battle” for anything. Thank you.

From Wikipedia:
On June 3, 2006, Samuel L. Jackson said, while presenting the award for best movie at the MTV Movie Awards, "I'm here tonight to present the award everyone's been waiting for: best movie. This award holds a special place in my heart because next year I'll be winning it for SNAKES ON A PLANE. Now I know, I know that sounds cocky, but I don't give a damn. I'm guaranteeing that SNAKES ON A PLANE will win best movie next year. Does not matter what else is coming out. New James Bond... no snakes in that! Ocean's 13... where my snakes at? Shrek the Third... green, but not a snake. No movie shall triumph over Snakes on a Plane. Unless I happen to feel like making a movie called MO' MOTHA-FUCKIN' SNAKES ON MO' MOTHA-FUCKIN' PLANES."

I recommend…
ZOMBIES ON A PLANE. Because, as you know, if it has zombies in it, it is a good movie. THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA does NOT have a zombie in it, but Melquiades Estrada is extremely dead through most of it. This movie would make a great double feature with BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA.

This amused me.
From an Alexander Cockburn essay on blogs:
“The effect on writers is horrifying. Talented people feel they have produce (sic) 400 words of commentary every day and you can see the lethal consequences on their minds and style, both of which turn rapidly to slush. They glance at the New York Times and rush to their laptops to rewrite what they just read. Hawsers to reality soon fray and they float off, drifting zeppelins of inanity.”