Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another blog

Stop presses.
“Bush yelled himself hoarse.”

Rush to judgment
Rush Limbaugh on Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s: "In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it's purely an act. This is the only time I have ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has. ... This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two."

So, according to Rush, either Michael J. Fox was displaying actual symptoms of the disease he has, or pretending to have the symptoms of the disease he has. Either way, it’s probably insidious.

Let them eat cake!
From the New York Times:
“… Sheldon H. Jacobson of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and his doctoral student, Laura McLay (‘s)… paper, published in the current issue of The Engineering Economist, calculates how much extra gasoline is used to transport Americans now that they have grown fatter. The answer, they said, is a billion gallons a year.

“Their conclusion is in the same vein as a letter published last year in The American Journal of Public Health. Its authors, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did a sort of back-of-the-envelope calculation of how much extra fuel airlines spend hauling around fatter Americans. The answer, they wrote, based on the extra 10 pounds the average American gained in the 1990’s, is 350 million gallons, which means an extra 3.8 million tons of carbon dioxide.”

Um. So thin people don’t drive?

Put your name in the Google box and add “needs.” Search.

Merle needs to slow down and learn how to use a measuring tape.

Merle needs neither an exorcist nor any amount of necromancy.

Merle needs someone tough and experienced to find.

Merle is no less deserving of a magnificent swansong, but he’s so mean, angry and contrary that it’s not as likely.

Merle needs more signs, if available.

Has it occured to ANYONE that not all people in this city feel that Merle needs to be honored with a street name?

Merle needs more prayer.

Merle needs the money before he goes to the MW4WDA convention next weekend.

Merle needs help.

Merle needs about 30 reservations each to do these.

Merle needs you.

Reuters: “Flaunting bunnies, booze and blackjack, the first Playboy Club in nearly two decades opened in Las Vegas on Saturday night with high hopes that its time-tested combination of sex and celebrity will attract a new generation of high rollers.

“With a distinctly vintage feel, Playboy bunnies wearing the distinctive ears and cottontail delivered drinks and dealt cards to a mostly male crowd at the Palms Casino Resort.”

And the mostly males were wearing ascots, smoking Cuban cigars, and discussing their hi-fi systems among themselves.

More Bunnies
Having learned that Tennessee senator hopeful Harold Ford attended a Playboy-hosted Superbowl party once, attack ads have shown a white actress winking at the camera and asking Mr. Ford to call her. This has led to charges of racism from the left re the ad, and charges of hypocrisy from the right, because Mr. Ford supposedly positions himself as a church-goin’ man, and shouldn’t be hanging out with bunnies. I know nothing about Mr. Ford, but the fact that he – or anybody- attended a Superbowl party a couple years ago, no matter who hosted it, does not qualify as news. Or anything.

Gen X
I found myself leafing through the April 2006 issue of DETAILS at the doctor’s office the other day. I came across an article entitled “Has Gen X Already Peaked?”

The article contained this: “…[W]hile the boomers and the millennials have been gulping up all that mass-media oxygen, somebody seems to have forgotten to put together the NEWSWEEK cover story about Generation X on the brink of turning 40. More to the point, somebody seems to have forgotten Generation X.”

Um. Isn’t DETAILS a major publication? Is it seemly to write in a major publication that you’re not getting attention from major publications?

Presses, stop!
Washington Post: “Democratic operatives do not publicly say that they went out of their way this year to recruit candidates with a high hotness quotient. Privately, however, they acknowledge that, as they focused on finding the most dynamic politicians to challenge vulnerable Republicans, it did not escape their notice that some of the most attractive prospects were indeed often quite attractive.”

Barack Obama, bare, on a bearskin rug? That’ll get the vote out.

Tangled Webb
Senator George Allen, reeling from bad publicity, has attacked his opponent, Jim Webb, for passages in novels Webb has written. So Allen has taken the time in the middle of a bitter campaign to go through his opponent’s fictional output and find passages that may or may not be offensive to somebody. One marvels.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Perfect Gorm

Stop the presses! I mean, “Exit program!”
CBC News: “Reuters is opening a virtual news bureau in Second Life, a three-dimensional online world inhabited by hundreds of thousands of users and one of the world's most popular virtual economies.”

Maybe he can cover this story…
From CNET: “[E]ven in the open-minded "Second Life" community, what people consider to be acceptable may have its limits. Some of the virtual world's biggest fans are shaking their heads over what users call age play.’ This age-based role-playing can take on various forms: It can be as innocuous as people acting out a family dynamic, or as potentially troubling as two adults engaging in sexual role playing, with one of the avatars made to look like a child.”

Tickle Me Elmo’s 10th iteration.
The New York Times tells me that It’s called “T.M.X. Elmo (the X doubles as a Roman reminder that this is the 10th such doll and a pledge that the toy is ‘extreme’).”

Extreme? Elmo? Does he have tats? Does he engage in age play?

That's so Starbucks-y
NYT: Starbucks chairman Howard “…Schultz said it was ‘not out of the question that we would self-publish’ new authors. Some of the chain’s projects have been relatively intimate and artsy — for example, two several-day-long salons, one at the Sundance Film Festival, one in New York, where the doors were open to free spoken-word performances, musical collaborations and one-act plays.”

Starbucks is currently promoting Mitch Albom’s new book, which is called TAKE ME WITH YOU TO HEAVEN, MORRIE, or something.

What were they thinking?
Seattle’s new slogan is “metronatural.” It has lent itself to much mockery.

AP: “A top Kazakh official has an invitation for the British comedian whose depiction of a homophobic, misogynistic, English-mangling Kazakh journalist has outraged the Central Asian nation: Come visit.

“Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhat Aliyev said in an interview that he understands why Kazakhs are unhappy about Sacha Baron Cohen's character, Borat.

"’But we must have a sense of humor and respect other people's freedom of creativity,’ Aliyev was quoted as saying by Kazakhstan Today.

"’I'd like to invite Cohen here,’ he said. ‘He can discover a lot of things. Women drive cars, wine is made of grapes and Jews are free to go to synagogues.’"

More news from Kazakhistan
AFP: “On Thursday it emerged that the incorrect spelling ‘bankh’ appears instead of ‘bank’ on the country's newly issued currency.”

A visitor to Kazakhistan reports
From the Independent UK: “That evening, we head for the Soho Almaty Club. I plump for a shot of ‘Rzhanaya (Glavspirttrest)’ from the vodka menu. Our fellow diners promptly refill our glasses as they are drinking by the bottle. A series of impressive cover bands start up, and on the dance floor I happen across Kazakhstan's curling champion. Just when I think it can't get any better, Deep Purple's Roger Glover and Don Airey appear on stage and bash out ‘Black Night’, having just played to 6,000 in the city. The audience, particularly the national curling champion, goes wild.”

Deep Purple trivia
Wikipedia: “During 1972, Deep Purple continued to tour and record at a rate that would be rare thirty years on, releasing Machine Head, an album that was due to be recorded at a casino in Montreux, using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, but after a supposedly accidental fire during a Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention gig burned down the casino the album was actually recorded at the nearby Grand Hotel -- this incident famously inspiring the song Smoke on the Water.”

From the mouths of babes.
Or Antonin Scalia anyway: "It so happens that everything that is stupid is not unconstitutional."

Does he mean that not everything that is stupid is unconstitutional? Or does he mean that everything that is stupid IS constitutional?

More phonies
Two blogs, Walmarting Across America (supposedly by a couple of middle-aged RV folk blogging about their wonderful cross-country Wal Mart experiences), and another on the home page of Working Families for Wal-Mart, a supposedly grassroots advocacy group,"committed to fostering open and honest dialogue...that conveys the positive contributions of Wal-Mart to working families," were revealed to have been created by the public relations firm, Edelman, which is employed by Wal-Mart

And there’s another fake blog, as well, on the WFWM subsidiary site Paid Critics, which exposes ties to unions and other special interests that are tarnishing Wal-Mart’s reputation. Edelman was behind that one too.

Uh Oh
Israeli DebkaFile reports: “Tuesday, Oct. 17, the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group steamed into the Persian Gulf to join the US naval, air and marine concentration piling up opposite Iran’s shores. It consists of the amphibious transport dock USS Nashville, the guided-missile destroyers USS Cole and USS Bulkeley, the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, the attack submarine USS Albuquerque, and the dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island.

“…, [T]hree US naval task forces will be in place opposite Iran in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea by October 21. The other two are the USS Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group and the USS Enterprise Strike Group.”

Uh Oh Oh “The war ships, scheduled to arrive in the Straits on Oct. 21, include the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier U.S.S. Eisenhower, a cruiser, destroyer, frigate, submarine and supply ship. The mission of this armada is not known, but there are reports that angry naval officers within the Eisenhower Strike Group have told antiwar retired officers that their ships are being sent to launch a military attack against Iran.”

Listen to my alter ego! It’s a podcast, just like the ones the young people do!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

bandar blog

I have been rejected, so here you go. Enjoy. (If you spread it, please, acknowledge me.)

Ask Prince Bandar
Merle Kessler

“[A]s the crucial conduit for relations between Washington and Riyadh he has had unprecedented access to presidents and senior US officials for three decades.”

"Bandar, I guess you're the best asshole who knows about the world. Explain to me one thing."
"Governor, what is it?"
"Why should I care about North Korea?"
--STATE OF DENIAL Bob Woodward

Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud: adviser to presidents. And now: adviser to you.

Dear Prince Bandar:
My brother teases me all the time, even though I tell him to stop. What can I do?

Dear Bothered:
In order for invested parties to sit down at the table and forge an agreement, each party must listen to the other. Your brother does not seem to be listening. That is why negotiations have failed. Once, at Camp David, when we were taking a cigar break from the summit, President Clinton came up to me, and whispered, “Did you say insist on a decision from Arafat, or resist a decision? “Insist, of course,” I told him. “Damn,” he said. The talks failed. My advice is to smile at your brother’s taunts, wait until you’re older, and become a fighter pilot. Fighter pilots always get respect, even from brothers.

Dear Prince Bandar:
I am the chief of intelligence for a small Arab nation, and wish to purchase 25 F-15 fighter jets for my country’s personal use. How do I make this happen?

Dear Frustrated:
You are in luck. I will be having lunch with appropriate members of Congress this week. I will put a bug in their ear. Use back-channels to contact me on Monday. You will be directed to an address in Riyadh. Fly there. Bring an envelope. Remember: the amount you are thinking about putting in the envelope is always (slightly) less that the amount desired. Hope I helped you out!

Dear Prince Bandar:
I am getting married soon, and I am wondering whether to go with a small gathering of friends and family for the wedding, or a more lavish affair. What do you think?

Dear Blushing:
You cannot go wrong with an opulent fete. Hold it at your largest estate. Cover the pool with a faux marble floor, surrounded by acres of satin tents. Have the event at night! Light it with chandeliers, and scent it with urns of lilies, roses, and orchids. Dom Perignon, please, and don’t be skimpy with the lamb.

Dear Prince Bandar:
My father professes to be faithful, yet he fails to perform the rituals and prayers attendant to the profession of faith. I fear that he may be committing unbelief. What should I do?

Dear Fretful:
Do not be a mute Satan.

Dear Prince Bandar:
Like many others, I am asked to remove my shoes at airports. This irritates me. What can be done about it? Do you face this problem?

Dear Shoeless:
No. I am a Prince, and have my own jet. Should I be asked by my employees to remove my shoes before entering my own plane, I would probably have them beheaded. Kidding. As for your situation, I would recommend that you defeat terrorism soonest. Otherwise, Americans will be asked to board planes naked. You could view this as a new kind of “freedom” I suppose. But that is just another American fantasy.

Dear Prince Bandar:
I am a college student, debating whether to pursue a law degree, or go for an MBA. I am hoping for a career in politics. Which path is the best?

Dear Ambitious:
Neither. Become a fighter pilot, and earn the respect of your family. All flows from this.

Dear Prince Bandar:
How do I get rich?

Dear Hopeful:
If you are a Prince, it helps, because- to be blunt- you are already born into wealth. Otherwise, merge the teachings of the Koran and Machiavelli. Become a football fan. Are you a fighter pilot? Become one, immediately. And not a “W” fighter pilot, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. I have actually crashed my plane. If you have crashed a plane, and you are a Prince, it gains you entry to many parties, at which career opportunities will present themselves. Thanks for asking.

Dear Prince Bandar:
What should we hope for? What should we dream of?

Dear Curious:
Enough. Bandar grows weary, and the Airbus awaits.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

somewhere, beyond the blog

Ends of Eras?
CBGB and Tower Records: out of here.

North Korea
So, a few years back, President Bush in his wisdom named Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as the “axis of evil,” and later Cuba, Libya, and Syria were added to the mix. They were all devising weapons of mass destruction, believe it or not. Yes! That's right!

Earlier this month, North Korea said it would stop working on a nuclear weapon if the United States would participate in talks, a proposal we have long refused.

In a desperate bid for attention, like a toddler acting out, I suppose, North Korea finally blew something up, mightily alarming the rest of the world – except for the skeptics, of course.

Newsday reported that North Korea detonated “what it said was a nuclear device.” Further (this report was printed on Friday), “after five days of intense work, analysts still cannot say for sure whether the test was a success or a dud—and there is a remote possibility the blast was not nuclear.”

Sciencenow posted on its site: “But scientists poring over seismic signals from the blast are pondering why the detonation appears to have been so small. Some wonder whether the test was a failure--or even an elaborate hoax.”

Associated Press: “Russia was the only country to say it had ‘no doubts’ over the North Korean claim, but the U.S. and other experts said the explosion was smaller than expected and they had yet to confirm it was nuclear.”

AP also had this, earlier in the week: “Was North Korea's nuclear device a dud, as some Western experts suspect?”

LA TIMES: “One intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. intelligence agencies detected an explosive event in North Korea with a force of less than a kiloton. Historically, the types of devices used in initial nuclear tests have yielded several kilotons of force.”

I don’t know what to make of all this. The implication seems to be that this MIGHT be some kind of massive disinformation campaign by North Korea to strike fear into the heart of the world. If so, it worked just fine. All North Korea had to do, really, was gather a bunch of North Koreans in one area, and have them jump up and down simultaneously, while yelling “Boom!” That would create the seismic activity necessary, and save them a fortune on technology.

It’s just like the terrorist plot to mix shampoo, mouthwash, and coffee to blow up airplanes. Was there really a plot? Terrorists didn’t really need one, did they? All they had to do was SAY they had one, and the next thing you know, airport stores, boarding gate coffee joints, and concourse cafes are pushed out of business. Passengers are left thirsty, greasy-haired, and plagued by halitosis.

What’s next from the pesky axes of evil?

--spread a rumor that eyeglasses can be specially ground to form powerful lasers that can drill a hole in the side of a plane and force it to crash.

--special software can turn laptops into powerful explosives.

--pyrotechnic fuses can be woven into clothing.

--C4 can be disguised as baby formula.

Daily Mail
“A Cabinet Minister has joined the growing furore over British Airways banning a Christian employee from wearing a cross around her neck by branding the ban 'loopy'.”

Mouse Orgy!
Reuters: “The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday said it took ‘appropriate action’ against employees at its Paris theme park who were caught simulating sex while dressed as Disney characters in a digital video that has received wide attention on the Internet.”

I have seen this video! Its features:

--Goofy humps Minnie

--Snowman humps Minnie.

--Goofy humps Minnie again, until an assistant in a blazer parts them.

--Mickey humps Snowman.

--Goofy humps Chipmunk.

This sounds more degenerate than it was. It was more like dirty-dancing than humping. Remember the Bump? Like that. Just young people in stupid costumes mucking about. And remember: they’re French!

Last night
I did a reading for the final night of Litquake, a San Francisco annual event that has become very popular. The venue, a small gallery in the Mission, was packed. I shared the venue with R.U. Sirius (from Mondo 2000, remember?), reading his invented dialogue between Timothy Leary and William Burroughs; Pam Tent (reading from her memoir of her years with SF underground legend, The Cockettes); Chronicle columnist Mark Morford (funnier live than in print, I thought); talking about The Rapture and hate mail; monologist extraordinaire, Josh Kornbluth, recalling his college days injecting mice with cancer; and crusty editor/publisher Warren Hinckle, who arrived late with a very sweet and very smelly basset hound. He told stories about Hunter Thompson. He was entertaining enough, but you know--? Enough about Hunter S. Thompson.

Our little group reading was titled “Emperor Norton Lives: Only in S.F. Authors.” This was mildly irritating. One doesn’t want to think of oneself as a delusional person (Emperor Norton ws not an emperor, but though he was). Worse, one doesn’t want to think of oneself as a delusional person, and being promoted to the public as a delusional person in order to get people to come see you.

But hey, I say, shrugging, the joint was packed. I killed. I was reading from my new show in progress, SLOUCHING TOWARDS DISNEYLAND, a half-baked history of the world, focussing mainly on (it’s a theme!) delusional persons, drunken louts, and odd events. The War of Jenkin’s Ear, for example.

My friend Bill…
…and I were talking, and he had an interesting insight into these modern times. People LOVE to multi-task. If we’re on the cell phone while driving, say, we feel like we’re on the cutting edge of accomplishment.

But if you are on the receiving end of multi-tasking you are angered and/or annoyed. That is, you feel insulted that while talking to you, multi-taskers are not giving you their full attention.

There may an algorithm contained in this that might explain all human behavior. I'll get back to you. Gotta take this....

Thanks to James Wolcott…
…I got this from Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, THE ENEMY AT HOME:

"Although I do not believe that Abu Ghraib reflects America's predatory intentions toward the Muslim world, I can see why Muslims would see it this way. In one crucial respect, however, the Muslim critics of Abu Ghraib were wrong. Contrary to their assertions, Abu Ghraib did not reflect the shared values of America, it reflected the sexual immodesty of liberal America. Lynndie England and Charles Graner were two wretched individuals from red America who were trying to act out the fantasies of Blue America... This was bohemianism, West Virginia-style."

This may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. It’s like blaming Timothy Leary circa 1967 for a keg party rape circa 2003.

Which led me to Chris Shay’s comments last week:

During a debate last Wednesday, he said, re Abu Ghraib: “It was outrageous, outrageous involvement of National Guard troops from (Maryland) who were involved in a sex ring and they took pictures of soldiers who were naked. And they did other things that were just outrageous. But it wasn't torture.''

It was the sexual immodesty of liberal America. Ipso fucking facto.

Stop the presses!
Washington Post: “Democratic operatives do not publicly say that they went out of their way this year to recruit candidates with a high hotness quotient. Privately, however, they acknowledge that, as they focused on finding the most dynamic politicians to challenge vulnerable Republicans, it did not escape their notice that some of the most attractive prospects were indeed often quite attractive.”

Demonstrating once again, I suppose, the sexual immodesty of liberal America.

But the real question is, yes, Democrats are way cuter than Republicans, but which candidate is going to perform oral sex upon my voting person? That, to me, is the dealbreaker. When it comes to pulling the lever, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Finally, from the pale wife:
She was reading something or other, as is her wont, when she told me where the phrase “beyond the pale” comes from. World Wide Words gives the whole story:

“That word pale has nothing to do with the adjective for something light in colour except that both come from Latin roots. The one referring to colour is from the Latin verb pallere, to be pale, whilst our one is from palus, a stake.

“A pale is an old name for a pointed stake driven into the ground to form part of a fence and—by obvious extension—to a barrier made of such stakes, a fence (our modern word paling is from the same source, as are pole and impale). This meaning has been around in English since the fourteenth century. By 1400 it had taken on various figurative senses, such as a defence, a safeguard, a barrier, an enclosure, or a limit beyond which it was not permissible to go.

“In particular, it was used to describe various defended enclosures of territory inside other countries. For example, the English pale in France in the fourteenth century was the territory of Calais, the last English possession in that country. … Another famous one is the Pale in Ireland, that part of the country over which England had direct jurisdiction….”

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Cat BLog

Last night, the wee bride and I were watching television when our cats set up an ungodly yowling. Rushing to my office, I found our furry one backed against the wall, and our nasty Siamese snarling on a chair at something under my desk. It was a black cat, who promptly scooted out the door and down into the garage.
It turned out to be Max, the cat across the way, who had walked into our house this afternoon while the wee bride was gardening. We opened the back door for her (yes, Max, is female), and she left without further commotion. Two hours later, both our cats' tails had returned to normal size.

Octo Bloggo

From Christopher Hitchens's MySpace profile
I am a man of the Enlightenment. Words fall from my tongue and you eat them up like a starving kitten on the street. We could have been living in a different world, and so could the people of Iraq, and I shall go on keeping score about this until the last phony pacifist has been strangled with the entrails of the last suicide-murderer.

No, it’s not really Christopher Hitchens.
By the way, is Bob Woodward the most uncharismatic man who ever lived? And reading his books is like chewing rope.

How to deal with loons: give them air time.
Talk show host Mike Gallagher gave representatives of the Westboro Baptist Church out of Topeka nearly an hour on the air, in exchange for a promise that they wouldn’t picket the funeral of the five murdered Amish girls in Pennsylvania. This is the church led by the Rev. Fred Phelps, whose members show up at the funerals of dead soldiers with signs that say, “God hates fags.”

Shirley Phelps-Roper (Fred’s daughter) told the radio audience that the killer “… did with one stroke on that day, sending a pervert in — because America is a nation of perverts — it’s appropriate he sent a pervert in to shoot those children. The Amish people were laid to an open shame because they are a false religion.”

Mr. Gallagher later claimed he was proud of the show. It was “able to do some good.”

From the Sunday New York Times:
“Smart celebrity satires are flourishing online — rarely anywhere else — and they do more than deflate the self-importance of stars. They also mock the gushing media that glorify them, and demonstrate that while taking tired potshots at stars is common (see any Britney-bashing episode of “Saturday Night Live” or “Mad TV”) satirizing TomKat or Brangelina so effectively that you expose the inane soul of celebrity culture itself is an art. In the form of artists’ blogs, fake news stories and tongue-in-cheek analyses of fame, together these sites function like an underground movement, subverting the cult of celebrity even as they feed off it.”

In other words, snarky fake gossip can be found all over the Internet. Stop the presses!

From the Sunday NY Magazine:
“All across Africa, India and parts of Southeast Asia, from within and around whatever patches and corridors of their natural habitat remain, elephants have been striking out, destroying villages and crops, attacking and killing human beings. In fact, these attacks have become so commonplace that a whole new statistical category, known as Human-Elephant Conflict, or H.E.C., was created by elephant researchers in the mid-1990’s to monitor the problem.”

In related news:
From the CCBC:

“People in California are being warned to take care when going for a walk in the park after reports that humans are being attacked by squirrels. A group of aggressive critters are being held responsible for six attacks in Mount View (sic) over the last few months. The most recent happened last week when a boy was bitten and scratched by one local grey squirrel. City rangers, who work to keep parks safe, have now set special traps to get rid of the pesky creatures.

Known as Human Squirrel Conflict.

Mark Foley news
From Time: “The FBI is apparently looking into reports that at least one boy responded to Foley's IMs only as a prank, to embarrass the Congressman.” In the same article Time described Mr. Foley as a “pathetic flaneur.” Flaneur is a word coined by Charles Baudelair, and means “gentleman stroller of city streets.” Kind of a man about town. And Time described his messages to the boys as “louche,” which means “shady.”

But what is it about Mark Foley that made Time Magazine lurch into French?

New spin: predatory pages!
Representative Chris Cannon of Utah, told KSL News last week: "You know, these kids are actually precocious kids. It looks like, just maybe, this one email was just a prank, just a bunch of kids sitting around, egging this guy on, you know. So, uh, the world's a complicated place, and we just have to do the best we can."

News from North Korea.
As the rest of the world gathers together to condemn North Korea’s decision to test a bomb, what are the media there saying?

The Korean Central News Agency: "The world admires the absolute power and greatness of our dear leader."

Rodong Sinmun: "Our great leader Kim Jong-il's leadership has written a history of strengthening the solidarity of our revolutionary spirit and creating a miracle of the century."

These were issued on the occasion of the anniversary of Kin Jong-il’s rise to power.

MSM News.
Jeffrey Johnson, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times who stood by his paper's editor against ownership's demand for staff cuts, has been fired by The Tribune Co.

Johnson was the guy who encouraged Michael Kinsley to leave the paper, and removed longtime columnist Robert Scheer from its roster as well.

Scott Palmer, Dennis Hastert’s chief of staff, is also Hastert’s roommate. I’ll bet they play a lot of cribbage. A LOT.

John Podhoretz in the New York Post:
“This column is directed entirely to the sleazy, scuzzy, unprincipled and entirely Machiavellian Democratic political operative who helped design the careful plan resulting in the fingerprint-free leak of Mark Foley e-mails: Bravo!”

Again, next phase: It’s Clinton’s fault!

From the St. Petersburg Times, 1998:
Speaking about President Clinton and Ms. Lewinsky: "It's vile. It's more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction."

Oh, shut up. Just. Shut. Up.
Talking to Wisconsin Republicans on Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday accused Democrats of being soft in the war on terrorism.

All you unlawful enemy combatants in our midst:

Headline of the week: Man Apologizes for Courtroom Feces.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Who Are You Blog

The "Rage" of William Jefferson Clinton
So President Clinton was interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News. He was asked by Wallace whether there was more his administration could have done to stop Osama bin Laden prior to 9/11. At that point, President Clinton either became hysterically angry, or gave Fox News a long overdue come-uppance, depending on your political point of view. The Drudge Report said he was “purple with rage.” Howard Dean said he was "taking on the right-wing propaganda machine." Various sources also claimed that Clinton was also shamelessly hypocritical, brutally honest, returning to form, bloviating, and shrewd.

Well, I recently saw the interview on YouTube, and I must say, in all honesty, that it looked like Bill Clinton being interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News. Move on. Nothing to see here.

Trope of the day
I hear this at least six times a day while listening to public radio: “Going forward.” “Going forward, what are the implications of this policy?” “What do you think will happen, going forward?” “Going forward, value and execution will be rewarded.” Etc.

Where else could we go? Stop it.

Another trope
Pretexting is one of those words that pop up in the culture with no context and no explanation, and suddenly every newscaster and pundit knows what it means, and why it’s a problem. When I first heard the word I thought pretexting was something you had to do before you sent a text message. What that meant, in turn, I hadn’t the foggiest. Gathering your thoughts maybe. Deciding which vowels to eliminate.

But it turned out that pretexting means misrepresenting who you are in order to get something from somebody else. Some of the fine folks at Hewlett Packard seem to be guilty of this. In order to find out who among the mucky mucks at HP was leaking corporate information to the press, those same mucky mucks hired private detectives who then pretended not to be private detectives in order to find out which mucky muck was the leak. Unfortunately, the pretexters were exposed, the heads of various mucky mucks rolled, headlines screamed, the fifth was taken in front of appropriately appalled congresspeople, laws were passed, and we can now once again buy our inkjet cartridges with peace of mind.

But this week, in the San Francisco Chronicle, in the same issue reporting that the state of California had outlawed pretexting, there was an article about parents monitoring their childrens’ activities on myspace. One mother had started a web site called myspaceforparents. In a sidebar, the Chronicle listed some of the web site’s tips, including, “Create your own account. Don’t use your real name or age if you don’t want your child to know you’re spying.”

Wait a second. Isn’t that, you know, pretexting? Isn’t that illegal in California now?

Well, maybe pretexting’s kind of like torture. It’s not torture is we do it, and nobody finds out about it. If Moms pretext, it’s okay. If corporations do it, it’s not. But listen to this: not only is there myspacefor parents, there’s another site called SafeSpacers, run by college students, who will monitor the profiles of children of parents who are too busy to do it. Parker Stech, one of the founders, told the Chronicle, “Parents don’t want to read their kids’ diary, so we do it for them. We’re able to decipher their messages and their lingo. These are things we’re familiar with that parents aren’t.”

So concerned Moms are outsourcing pretexting, in a new creepy America, where everybody’s pretending to be somebody else in order to find out what we’re really up to, even though nobody knows who anybody really is. People used to criticize Americans for being egotistic, now I guess we’d be called alter egotistic. We’re all secret identity, no super power. We can’t keep track of all our nicknames and passwords. Our biographies are pure fiction, and Oprah Winfrey will no longer have us on the program. Who are we? Are we conquering heroes, or idiots waving flags in the rubble? Are we perky teens, or pedophile predators? America wants to know. Whoever America is these days.

In related news…
Second Life is, according to its web site, “a 3D online digital world imagined, created, and owned by its residents.” You can buy “virtual land” with virtual money called “Linden dollars.” You, or your avatar, can also buy virtual products.

NYT Magazine: “…Skoopf is strictly an ‘in world’ brand, not a carry-over from ‘RL’ (real life). It was founded by Lancaster’s virtual-world avatar, Moopf Murray, a Second Life resident since January 2004. One of Lancaster-Murray’s products is the Skoopf Ultra Roller Skate, available in-world for about 50 Linden dollars. (That’s the Second Life currency; one U.S. dollar is worth about 250 Lindens.) Lancaster says he has sold about 50,000 pairs.”

Conclusions, with scare quotes.
So the cartoon “you” uses real dollars to get “dollars” to “buy” “roller skates,” all the while being observed by a “college kid” preparing a report to give to your “mom.”

And, er…
From the blog, Clickable Culture:

“…SL resident Pirate Cotton, boldly goes where I am too timid to tread. His blog post on ‘Sex and Second Life’ summarizes how doin' the humpty-hump evolved in Linden Lab's digital domain. The thing I've found funniest about Second Life's anatomically-spare avatars is that in order to engage in ‘realistic’ sex acts, one must attach the appropriate genitalia.”

Available with your good Linden credit at the genitalia “store.” Careful though. “Mom” is watching.

Conservative scandals
The GOP has known about Representative Mark Foley’s “over-friendly” e-mails to a teenage boy for a couple years. (Sample query: “is your little guy limp… or growing.”)

The Nation claims that the number two editor at the Washington Times and his wife are white supremacists.

The director of human resources at the Washington Times was arrested in a sting operation by the Metropolitan Police. He thought he was hooking up with a 13 year old girl, but when he showed up for the rendezvoux, all he met were cops.