Friday, February 28, 2003

Somebody put me out of my misery

I really hate cold season.
My face is so swollen I can only see out of one eye.

Make it stop!!!!
I heard on NPR this morning that the house passed the resolution to ban all human cloning. From what I could tell, it seems that this includes therapeutic cloning. While nearly all the reps are completely against the cloning of humans, democratic senators spoke out in favor of allowing therapeutic cloning to continue for its obvious, far-reaching benefits into the research of various diseases. The righties would have none of it. NPR highlighted one representative bellowing something to the effect of "All it takes is ONE unethical person to take that embryo and place it in utero to create a human clone! And what does your amendment do about this? NOTHING!" It seems that the forces of reaction and illogical fear have won out again over progress. I would like to ask this gentleman what his proposal does for the millions suffering from alzheimers, diabetes, and the many other horrible diseases that therapeutic cloning could help us understand, if not prevent. Sounds like a big fat nothing to me. So this suffering population is to be more or less abandoned because of this sci-fi fear of a mutant clone army taking over earth. And I shudder to think how much this guy is skewing the scientific realities to come up with this conclusion. Kriston?

Thursday, February 27, 2003

This guy had a fantasy about a post-operative, smartened-up Bush holding a press conference. Here's an excerpt:

Sandra Kentwell, CNN: Um, one thing that I’ve noticed about your position on Iraq is that it changes from day to day. Sometimes you say that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. And yet, other times you say that the purpose of this war – this ‘preemptive action’ as you call it – is to prevent him from making weapons of mass destruction. So, I guess I’d like to ask, which is it? Does Saddam have these WMDs, or not?

Bush: That’s more like it. Excellent question, Ms. Kentwell! Why, I can’t tell you how nice it is to initiate a dialogue with an intellect of the same caliber as my own. Conversing with those who, like me, ‘live the life of the mind,’ is always cause for ebullience.

But enough shilly-shally. Let me address your query directly.

I must confess that, until recently, I was vexed by this very point; namely, does Saddam have, in his possession, weapons of mass destruction? As our treatment of North Korea illustrates, the United States’ policy towards a rogue nation is contingent upon the answer to this most vital of questions.

But in the last few weeks, I have come to realize my folly in analyzing the issue of WMD-ownership in strict accordance with Newtonian-physics. Once I jettisoned my preconceived notions of reality, the matter became–

Marlin: I’m sorry, did you say ‘Newtonian physics?’

Bush: Precisely. If you view Iraq in a classical Newtonian framework, then you must concede that they either do or do not have weapons of mass destruction. It is this narrow mindset that causes such confusion in the uninformed.

But, over President’s Day weekend at Camp David, I delved into the collected writings of Erwin Schrödinger, and now have no recourse but to conclude that Saddam both has and does not have weapons of mass destruction.

Weinberg: How’s that again?

Bush: Hah hah! Yes, I’ll freely admit that the concept is a bit difficult to grasp, unless you’re something of a physics hobbyist, as I have become since the operation. But if you examine the facts on a subatomic level, the proposition that Iraq both has and does not have these weapons is really inescapable. Here, allow me to give you an overview of quantum mechanics in general, and the principles of Schrödinger’s hypothesis in specific…

[The presentation that follows is largely incomprehensible.]

Bush: And so as you can see, until such time that the inner workings of Iraq are observed by the outside world, its WMD program exists in both a state of being and of not being – or, to put it simply, in a state of ‘superposition.’

James Groff, LA Observer: But why don’t you want to allow inspections to continue?

Bush: Here we come to the very crux of the matter. As I have just elucidated, so long as Iraq is kept in this state of superposition it only half-has weapons of mass destruction. But the mere act of observing Iraq may force it to enter one state or the other; analogous, in the demonstration I just gave, to the opening of the box and immediately rendering the cat either dead or alive. By continuing inspections, we run the risk of giving Iraq the WMDs it so desperately wants. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather deal with a Saddam that only half-has WMDs rather than a Saddam who, you know, like totally has them.

Forget the cruise missiles, forget the Blackhawk helicopters, forget, if you can, the terror alert levels. If we're serious about winning the war on terror, it's time to deploy our secret weapon. Mormons.
Amen, brother

Richard Cohen isn't pulling any punches when, in his
editorial today, he refers to John Ashcroft's "biblical bloodlust." Ouch!!
Terror alert is going back down to Yella. Reasons why this is good news.
1)They will re-open the far more convenient Pennsylvania Ave. entrance to my building
sirens will finally stop!

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Ya khochu Pivo!

According to the Washington Times:
Russia's national drink is suffering from an image problem on its home
Young people are drinking less vodka and more beer as health
considerations, better brews and good marketing are reordering the domestic
     That means that Russians, this year for the first time, are on a pace
to spend more on beer than on vodka, according to market-research firms.
     "It's definitely going to happen," said Vicky Darwin, marketing
director at Concise Business to Business Information, an England-based
market-information and -analysis group.
     It's a big change in the country that says it invented vodka. (Poland
also claims the honor.) The very word stems from "voda," Russian for water.
(In Polish, it's "woda.")
     "Vodka is Russia's national drink. It is drunk in quantities that
amaze and horrify many visitors to Russia," says an analysis published last
year by Euromonitor International, a global research company.
     But vodka has been steadily losing sales. And the trend away from
low-quality cheap vodka, which makes up the bulk of alcohol sales, is
expected to continue even as Russians continue to drink more, Euromonitor
     Russia consumes more units of alcohol per capita than any other nation
on earth, according to Euromonitor, and alcoholism rates are troublingly
high, health organizations say.

Red Justice

According to the Moscow Times, if Kriston manages to get himself arrested in Moscow, he will most assuredly go to jail. Well, actually what it said is that Russian courts run an acquittal rate of .8%. Which is double what it was last year. So less than 1% of defendants are found not guilty. In the U.S., this rate is more like 17%, and approaches 30% in big cities. And this is why, when the militsia asks for all your money, you give it to them. Right?
You be the judge

Who's the freakier looking Washington Post columnist?
This guy or this guy? I can't decide.
No brain(er)

Another dumb column by the Post's Ugliest Columnist. (does he remind anyone else of Hanna Barbara's Droopy Dog?) I only read the last paragraph because I was pre-emptively annoyed. But that's all you seem to need to get the point, which is: Tyranny is Bad! People don't like Oppression! and the logical syllogism (is that the right word?):
since Oppression=Bad, and Invasion ends Oppression, then Invasion=Good. Could we possibly, possibly lower the debate to a more elementary level? Here we are, up to our ears in the never-ending Iraq debate, and here's this argument presented as if nobody had ever considered it before. As if there were no other considerations to completely redefining foreign policy and stomping into the world's most notorious wasp's nest. He ends his column with what you know he believes to be the big kicker: how would *you* like to be oppressed?
Holy crap! I never thought of that before! In fact, I would *not* like to be oppressed! And the Iraqis, maybe they don't either! Golly, let's go!
Remind me again why people hate us?

This has to be seen to be believed.
The United States has "serious concerns" about Egypt's extension of emergency laws which allow it to detain suspects without charge and try civilians in military courts.

John Ashcroft was seen stomping his foot in a huff saying "quit copying!!"
But seriously, I'm speechless. I got this link, and the last couple, from Atrios' blog where one commenter duly noted that The Onion is going to have a hard time coming up with headlines if reality keeps sounding like this...
You know it's a bad sign when

you're the White House Press Secretary and the Washington Press Corps laughs you off the stage during a briefing. I wish I had something other than Windows Media so I could watch this clip (apparently, you can click on Fleischer's 2/25 Press Briefing, and start watching it around 28:00) but here's the basic transcript. A Mexican journalist is suggesting that Mexico should be offered some kind of compensation if it decides to back up the U.S. on Iraq (a la Turkey's 6 kazillion dollar bribe).

Q But Mexico can get something from the United States, from the President --

MR. FLEISCHER: This is a time -- no, the President is not offering quid pro quos. This is a time for nations to do what they estimate is the right thing to do to promote the peace.

Q Ari, just to follow up on Mexico. Is it true that the administration is willing to give Mexico some sort of immigration agreements like amnesty or guest worker program, to assure the Mexican vote, as the French press is pointing out today and is quoting, actually, two different diplomats from the State Department?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, it's exactly as I indicated, that we have, on this issue, a matter of diplomacy and a matter of the merits. We ask each nation on the Security Council to weigh the merits and make a decision about war and peace. And if anybody thinks that there are nations like Mexico, whose vote could be bought on the basis of a trade issue or something else like that, I think you're giving -- doing grave injustice to the independence and the judgment of the leaders of other nations.

Q -- the French press is quoting actually two different diplomats from the United States State Department that -- they're highlighting that the United States is giving some sort of agreements or benefits to Colombia -- and other non-members of the Security Council --

MR. FLEISCHER: I haven't seen the story. And you already have the answer, about what this will be decided on. But think about the implications of what you're saying. You're saying that the leaders of other nations are buyable. And that is not an acceptable proposition. (Laughter.)

That's right, laughter. Apparently on the video, the Washington Press Corps breaks out into guffaws when Fleischer suggests that the U.S. doesn't bribe nations for votes. Then, (and this naturally isn't on the transcript but is apparently audible on the video) a journalist remarks that Fleischer was just "laughed off the stage."

Fresh air

Paul Krugman was on Fresh Air yesterday. You can listen to the recordinghere. But it's pretty much just what he writes in his columns: this tax cut is a Bad, Bad, Idea; the Bushies are Liars; economically speaking, this country is Screwed. I don't know if it's my computer here or what, but he and Terry Gross kind of sound like muppets. I like Paul Krugman a lot, but it's hard to take a muppet seriously on fiscal policy...
Don't read Maureen Dowd's Op-ed Piece today. I have better things to waste my time on than some columnist ticking off a list of "things I know about Bulgaria." Could she find some other venue to parade her limited grasp of world affairs and leave more room for Friedman and Krugman?
(the Washingtonian seems to agree...)

Make up for those wasted hours spent watching Joe Millionaire by checking out Dan Rather's exclusive interview with Saddam Hussein tonight on 60 Minutes (CBS, 9/8pm). Will they find true love or is he just in it for the oil? Oh, and it should allll be over before Sorority Life 2 starts.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Clear Channel Part Deux

Forgot to post more Kriston editorial:

that article on clear channel is fantastic. michael copps - he's a democrat commissioner on the FCC, an ardent anti-deregulation (which is somehow different from plain ol' regulation) advocate, and only one letter off - is my hero.

did you know in the original telecom act - which is responsible for the clear channel hydra - republicans wanted to propose that it should be legal if one company wanted to own the entire radio spectrum? can you even imagine?? that one company should control the affectations of an entire spectrum of wavelength. one company with categorical ownership of an entire branch of physics! incredible. i can only imagine if, say, aol-time-warner were to buy the visible wavelength. "sorry - only blue light for standard subscibers. for $39.95 a month, though, we can introduce you to our newest customization - red!"

that's the shittiest part of it all - that clear channel can force everyone else out of the industy, and then pass off total shit as a product. that is fucked. blockbuster surely owns the largest after-theatre market, but they don't control in a structural sense what movies people are interested in. starbucks has been most influential in the rhetoric of coffee, engineering all that venti latte crema lingo, but i earnestly believe that people get not a lot more excited about a starbucks coffee than a folger's coffee. nike leads the shoe industry, but doesn't lead shoes in any significant way.

clear channel is a completely different beast. i would say that american idol -perhaps with simon as the only judge, and contestants forced to pay thousands just to walk in the door, and simon summarily executing every contestant with artistic tendencies or general talent, might be a decent metaphor....

Evil Corporate Villains Department

If you aren't up-to-speed already (which I am not), here is your homework. It's Salon's series of articles on Clear Channel, the media giant that has gobbled up the last vestiges of independent radio in America. Word on the street is that they are very well-written and quite informative. I defer to Kriston's comments/excerpts on the jaw droppingly atrocious corporate culture of Clear Channel. Read on:

i have never been for criticizing/regulating individuals or organizations for their moral content (eg, the Clinton administration) when what they produce generally has nothing to do with morality. but this sickens:

"What buttoned-down Clear Channel inherited, says Unmacht, were "basically good ol' boys from the frat house. They want to see who can be the rudest and crudest. Everything is done with the attitude of 16-year-olds in gym class, but with modern-day business smarts. They're definitely a rough lot." A few years ago Unmacht had dinner with an entourage of Jacor executives, including Michaels, at a Cincinnati restaurant, where they pointed out the still-visible stains from butter patties they had thrown at light fixtures.

That corporate culture extends down to the stations in various ways. It was given national exposure in the '90s when Jacor jock Liz Richards, working out of WFLA in Tampa, Fla., sued the company, including Michaels personally, for sexual harassment.

Interviewed on ABC's "20/20" program in 1992, Richards alleged that male co-workers dubbed her president of the "Cunt Club," that on the employee sign-in board someone drew a caricature of her with a penis ejaculating in her mouth and that a station manager falsely bragged to colleagues at a business dinner about getting head from Richards in a limousine.

Gary Kelly, a friend of Richards', appeared on camera to tell about the time he showed up at a station event to meet Richards and was told by her boss that the single mother of two was busy giving blow jobs in the parking lot.

At the time, Michaels was vice president of programming and an on-air personality at WFLA. Richards said he had a hand in setting the station's tone -- she told ABC he once roamed the station halls with a flexible rubber penis tied around his neck, accosting female employees.

Michaels would not be interviewed on the show, and rejected the charges.

Jacor's response? "We are going to be forced to make public certain things about [Richards'] behavior which are going to further tarnish her reputation," Dave Reinhart, WFLA station manager and close friend of Michaels, told the St. Petersburg Times. Richards' suit was settled out of court in 1995.

More recently, Jacor's Tampa stations were back in the news in February, when WXTB morning man Todd Clem, who has the on-air handle "Bubba the Love Sponge," broadcast the killing of a live boar from the station's parking lot. WXTB posted pictures of the blood-soaked stunt on its Web site. It was the third time in a year that an animal was killed or tortured on-air at a Clear Channel station."

-- terrible. this kind of shit is allowed to rise to the top?

The first Hitchens offering I've seen since Krugman's column. Since his whole justification for the war has been to aid the Kurds and has used the success of the independent Kurdish region of Iraq as a positive example of a post-war Iraq, I've been eager to hear his response about the administration's willingness to sell out Kurdish autonomy to a helpful Turkey. But we get no such satisfaction here. His only mention of the Kurds is the following:

Saddam Hussein could have bought his regime a fresh lease on its ghastly life if he had been even slightly willing to "make nice," and the United States could have lowered its muzzle deep into Iraqi oil-wells on the same unspoken understanding. It is even possible that at the last moment Saddam will try the options of "self-preservation" that his fans believe he both possesses and understands. There would be those, some of them in high positions in Washington, who would be willing to dump the Iraqi opposition and the Kurds on just this wager. (It's barely possible to imagine anything more shameful, but those who hope for such outcomes must be prepared to live with what they desire.)

I assume he means that a shameful administration is one that would ignore the plight of the Kurds and back down from military action if Saddam acquiesces. I wonder what he thinks of an administration that does not back down, and sells the Kurds down the river anyway? His lips are sealed thus far, so we may never see him eat humble pie...

Monday, February 24, 2003

From a "glossary" of New York jargon:
Ejectile Vomiting (noun): A type of illness that results in your being kicked out of a cab after soiling the footwell.

Another useful word was:
Remnick (verb): To claim an anecdote is out-of-bounds for group conversation, based on two or more people having read said anecdote in this week’s New Yorker. E.g., ‘Did you read that in the New Yorker?’ ‘Yeah. You did too?’ ‘Yup. Oh well, this conversation’s remnicked.’

Friday, February 21, 2003

My goodness, I'm feeling blogalicious today! My output on my blog has surpassed my output on the job by an embarassing factor. Maybe that's because it's Friday, maybe that's because my job is boring, maybe it's because I would promise my first-born to anybody that could put a beer in my hand and a burger in my gullet post haste. Which reminds me for no good reason: baby sister will be 21 in May. May somethingth. She will surely have to call me and remind me. Twenty-freakin'-one. (I will not, I will not, I will not start the next sentence with "Why, I remember..." or "It seems just yesterday..." or "Crappy little internship/scholarship hog! You're one of the little beasts who is edging me out for every interview I want to get!" :) oops) So you'll have to come up to D.C. and let me buy you a drink. But I won't let you stick around too long because I'm sure if you're here two days, someone will come running to offer you gobs of cash or prestigious internships, or perhaps an ambassadorship or two.

Anyway, back on track! This enterprising chap has done a "Fight Club" number on the Homeland Security Dept's guide for Chemical/Biological attack preparedness. (was that a word before the terrorists starting doing bad things to us?) He adds his own little captions to their instructive pictures.
I can almost see this guy curled up on the floor with his hands clapped over his ears. And yet, he speaks for us all when he says:
Just Shut Up, Nobody gives a shit what anti-war or pro-war writers think. Really. So shut up. That goes double for poets. Shut the hell up, poets. Everybody just shut up.
Salon has an article on the small group of activists from America, Great Britain, Australia, etc., who are travelling to Iraq to act as "human shields." They believe they can achieve the end of all wars by placing their precious Western bodies in the path of American bombs. ("Hey, wait George W.! I'm white!!! Not brown! You can't drop that bomb on me! What are you doing? Didn't I just say I'm white?") This is irritating to me for many reasons.

Understandably, the Iraqis seem to think it's great. They've been gracious hosts, treating the idealistic protesters to "tours of potential bombing sites where the shields might station themselves." ("Here, kid, just strap yourself right to this baby food plant. That's it. Nice and tight. Yeah, I'm right behind you...")

As Salon reports:
The most scathing critics of TJP [the human shield organizing group] and the human-shield volunteers, though, are those who spent time as involuntary human shields during the last Gulf War. "There are no words to describe how naive these people are in my eyes," says Paul Eliopoulos, an American whose hellish four months as a hostage in Iraq have left him plagued with panic attacks, nightmares and depression.

One dipshit shield, who is surely doing Mother Nature's natural selection work for her, doesn't seem to believe that Saddam is so bad as all that. She discounts stories of prisoner mutilation, rape-as-torture, etc. as Western propaganda.

Because she doesn't believe Saddam is a monster, she doesn't worry about him forcing human shields to guard sites other than the ones they choose. "I don't think the Iraqi government would use us to that degree," she says. "I think they know goodwill gestures when they see them. I don't think they're that indecent."

Not surprisingly, the idea of staking one's life on Saddam's decency baffles and exasperates the human shields of 1990.
[Eliopoulos] has little patience for the shields' altruistic bravado. "The ones who say, 'I know I may not come back,' they have no idea what that means," he says. "They don't know what it means to be hurt, they don't know it means to be next to a person with their head split open, they have no idea what it means to defecate in your pants because you have dysentery. Dying is not the worst thing that can happen to you."

I've been Googlized!

I have to say, for a benign search engine, google seems to have a very poor impression of yours truly. is a site where you can enter in your name and find out "what google thinks of you!" Here are some gems from my results:

susan smith is a child murderer
susan smith is still scheming in prison
susan smith is innocent
susan smith is helping pc candidate wendy kinsella win a seat in the legislature
susan smith is committed to making indiana a better place to live
susan smith is no longer the woman who pushed her two children to a watery grave and calculated a story of a ruthless black carjacker to cover her tracks
susan smith is indeed a monster
susan smith is making deceptive statements and would immediately warrant further investigation
susan smith is no medea
susan smith is a freelance writer in quesnel
susan smith is found not guilty by reason of insanity
susan smith is smart in every area
susan smith is riding the wave of the newest trend in car accessories
susan smith is not your ordinary landowner
susan smith is guilty of anything
susan smith is doing remarkably well
susan smith is a greek tragedy
susan smith is entered in both the 400 metres hurdles and 100 metres hurdles and may decide to compete in both but the 100 metres event may be her choice
susan smith is asking for as much as $126
susan smith is obviously mentally unstable and the victim of sexual abuse as a child

Sheesh, a girl can't go out of her house anymore...

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Paging Tom Ridge...

Forget the duct tape--New Yorkers think big. When Code Orange warnings told them to buy duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal off rooms, one intrepid, forward-thinking citizen had a better idea. According to radio host Brian Lehrer of WNYC one listener suggested they just get Christo to wrap all five boroughs!
Joe Millionaire on Post-War Iraq Scenario

(no, that headline was not a mistake)
Semi-Millionaire golden boy Evan Marriott puts on his foreign-policy cap to come up with an innovative new plan for the troubled Middle East after a potential war with Iraq:

"I think we ought to turn Iraq into Arab Disney," the $19,000-a-year construction worker recently told an E! Online TV columnist named Kristin. "We got Japanese Disney, we got Euro Disney. ... What's wrong with Arab Disney? It'd be a great place for Aladdin."

And he and Zora could step in as "Beauty and the Beast" I guess...
Mesh truck driver hats are sooooooooo 2002

Commentary from the scene of a NYC fashion show (called Project Alabama) after-party:

The only real "Alabama" fashion on display was the ubiquitous "truck driver" cap—the baseball caps with the mesh backs and the foam fronts most popularly worn in John Deere green, with the actual tractor-company logo. I wish this stupid trend would die. I've started making mental notes of places spotted and number of occurances. Three at the Project Alabama show. Two at the Vice party at Sweet and Vicious for [That Band Whose Name I Can't Remember] that Natasha Lyonne left to go hang out across the street at Cafe Lebowitz with non truck-driver-capped people like Yoko Ono. And, of course, the daily infestations of truck-driver-capped hipsters in my East Village neighborhood. In other parts of the country people are unironically wearing the same hats as they gingerly place their Remington 700 rifles into the gun racks in the cabs of their four-wheel drive pickups, aligning them perfectly with the Confederate flag stickers that say "Heritage; Not Hate." This alone should make New Yorkers feel ridiculous about wearing them, but apparently it doesn't.

Or certain Austinites, for that matter....

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Winter Wonderland, Hellish Commute

Distance from Beginning of Susan's Bus Ride to Q Street: 1.19 miles
Time it took for bus 34 to travel this distance: 35 minutes
Total distance of Susan's daily commute: 4.1 miles
Total time it took for bus 34 to travel this distance: 1 hour 15 minutes
Minimum number of curse words overheard on bus 34: incalculable
Total number of minutes Susan was late for work: 26
Total number of curse words said by Susan: 3
Is Susan aware that it would have been far faster to walk: yes

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

It's official. From those in the know, D.C. has been deemed hipster-free. I could have told them that from day 2.

Friday, February 14, 2003

I think this guy sums the current terror craze up nicely, especially the way the media seems hell-bent on freaking everyone out.
My office-mate has family in rural Pennsylvania that are utterly convinced they are a prime target of international terror networks, and have been frequenting their local Walmart to stock up on supplies for their "shelter." Okay, yes, people are nervous, the threat is real, but can we all just BREATHE, please? Sheeesh.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Okay, maybe some bad news. I'm trying to adjust the comment feature so that it will appear automatically on all my posts. (right now I'm having to enter it manually and it's a pain in the arse.) This means, potentially, that I may lose all previous comments. I'm going to try and retrieve them, but not sure if it will work... Just be warned!
Whimper confirmed

A very exciting day for
Space Nerds. (and those of us who just think Space is Kinda Cool)

Some good news, for once. Congress regains a shred of faith from me by barring the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness program.

I love this guy's comments on Cassandra, er, I mean Camille Paglia's hysterical warnings re: the Columbia disaster = doom for invasion of Iraq.

"This, from a woman who had just finished grousing that "members of the current administration seem to have little sense that there's an enormous, complex world beyond our borders." If only Bush and Powell had Miss Paglia's gift for interpreting that "complex world!" If only they would replace their simplistic approach to foreign relations with a superstitious approach! If only they understood that the people who matter in world affairs are not a collection of capricious, bickering diplomats at UN Headquarters, but a collection of capricious, bickering gods atop a mountain in northern Greece! Why haven't other anti-war critics thought of this angle before? It's crystal clear -- the problem with Dubya is not that he doesn't consult the UN, but that he doesn't consult the College of Augurs!"

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Words of Wisdom from the Hitch

Hitchens commenting on the infamous girl-wrestling Miller Lite commercial:

"I always think girl on girl is a waste of a woman."
Excerpted from Scenes from the class struggle on Fox

The truly interesting thing about "Joe Millionaire" is the picture it paints of American middle- and working-class ideas about how the idle rich live. Watching the "millionaire" test his future wife's "character" by making the girls shovel coal into a steam engine and pick grapes in the freezing rain, I started wishing for a show in which the same girls vied for the assets of an actual scion. Imagine the tests he could subject her to! Can she shop at Barney's without being sneered at by salesgirls? Can she mistreat the help? Can she withstand the scorn of his friends and mother? How does she do in rehab? But "Joe Millionaire" floats along in a kind of Robin Leach-inspired fantasy, because both the heir and the gold diggers are blissfully unaware of just how exposed their bare classes are.

What kind of hot-blooded, messed-up American heir would hole up in a French château with an assortment of tarted-up office managers who lie about their ages, anyway? Where's the house in Ibiza? Where's the party? Where's the wounding ignorance of how the other 90 percent live? Where's the blithe sense of entitlement? Where, for the love of God, are the drugs?

You are right

Kriston--forgive my skepticism before about the government collecting information on private citizens. I was just reading about Ashcroft and the Justice Department's efforts to draft a "Patriot II" act that would allow them to do whatever the hell they want to private citizens, including stripping them of their citizenship if they are suspected of affiliation with a "terrorist group" as defined by Ashcroft and friends. The part that really gets my blood boiling is when they quote Ashcroft saying things like: "Let history record that we, together -- this people and this generation -- defended freedom in its hour of great danger." The Orwellian dimension of this boggles the mind. I was so riled up, I immediately whipped out my credit card and joined the ACLU. I've always wanted to be a card-carrying member of something.

A new trend in creative eyewear? Architect chic.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Sorry, this is just too funny. This website is trying to give Big Brother a taste of his own medicine. Admiral John Poindexter, of Iran-Contra infamy, is currently the head of the Total Information Awareness project. The worthy aim of this effort is to protect us from terrorism by closely monitoring and compiling every scrap of information available on private citizens. Well these guys are letting the admiral see how it feels.
Persuasive anti-war insight

Forget my previous complaint that anti-war pundits are short on viable, convincing arguments. While Camille Paglia's recent Salon interview doesn't offer an alternative to military action other than increased inspections, she does contribute to the dialogue an airtight case against invasion:

As we speak, I have a terrible sense of foreboding, because last weekend a stunning omen occurred in this country. Anyone who thinks symbolically had to be shocked by the explosion of the Columbia shuttle, disintegrating in the air and strewing its parts and human remains over Texas -- the president's home state! So many times in antiquity, the emperors of Persia or other proud empires went to the oracles to ask for advice about going to war. Roman generals summoned soothsayers to read the entrails before a battle. If there was ever a sign for a president and his administration to rethink what they're doing, this was it. I mean, no sooner had Bush announced that the war was "weeks, not months" away and gone off for a peaceful weekend at Camp David than this catastrophe occurred in the skies over Texas.

No, that wasn't Sheryl Crow On Foreign Policy. That was Paglia, the "high-profile thinker and writer " who has "no qualms about torching the Parisian academic trends then enthralling Ivy League humanities departments." Puh-lease.

And then sometimes, Christopher Hitchens doesn't let me down. From his March Vanity Fair column:
"I'll be 54 in April, and everyone keeps asking how I do it. How I do what?...I hope they mean how do I manage to keep producing books, writing essays, making radio and television appearances at all hours, traveling all over the place with no sign of exhaustion, teaching classes, and giving lectures, while still retaining my own hair and teeth and a near-godlike physique which is the envy of many of my juniors. Sometimes, though, I suppose they mean how do I do all this and still drink enough every day to kill or stun the average mule?"

Friday, February 07, 2003

Another key ally passes an aggressive, unanimous resolution against the war. Without support of their troops, weaponry, and logistical capabilities, our ability to successfully wage an effective war in Iraq is severely crippled. Bush needs to re-think his diplomatic strategy to try and bring such important allies back into the fold.

Kristof's NYT editorial today is a fine example of many recent offerings that have supremely frustrated me. I should know better by now, but each time I see a lead-in saying "President Bush and Colin Powell have shown that Iraq is hiding weapons, but they did not demonstrate that the solution is to invade Iraq," I eagerly follow the link, thinking: "Finally! Somehow has an idea, a suggestion, an alternative! Lay it on me!" But this morning, as with all other recent columns (the exception being the debate between Hitchens and what's-his-name where what's-his-name actually does offer alternatives), all he can summon is a whimpering endorsement of "containment." I mean really, he almost seems embarassed by his own answer. It is so poorly supported and completely unelaborated. He of course doesn't use the word "inspections" since those have been thoroughly debunked. So what does containment mean? What does it look like? How would it work? He offers as an instructive example Reagan's containment of Libya. Well I'm young and have no sense of history and I thought we had bombed the hell out of Tripoli, so how 'bout some explanation? If you've got a good case, if you've got a good idea, now is the time to push it hard and not bury it in frustrating rhetoric of "containment." Are all the anti-war columnists bluffing, or does somebody, somewhere, have an ace?

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

America's Future Foundation, Part III (I'm going to stop reading these, they're just making me angry...)

This one's almost beneath contempt. This brilliant theorist has discovered why none of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Oakland Raiders voiced their opinions on the impending war with Iraq during Super Bowl time, while professional actors/actresses spout off all the time about it. Is it because they're professional athletes--historically maybe not the most politically engaged group in America? Or maybe because they kind of have other stuff on their minds, like, I don't know, the most important game of their professional careers? Nope! Are you ready? It's cause athletes are conservative. Yep. And why are they conservative? Well that's easy too. It's because they *worked* for their money. They *earned* it. They didn't just have a bunch of it thrown at them for being whiney, emotive leeches on society. They know sweat, and the value of a buck! In summation, this writer "would rather take [his] political cues from men and women whose livelihood is grounded in the real, tangible world [he is] familiar with where hard work equals productivity—and ignore the screams of so-called stars who earn their cash in a world of fantasy and make-believe." Wow, if this guy is familiar in the real, tangible, grounded world of Shaq, Kobe, and Warren Sapp, maybe I should start hanging out at the American Enterprise Institute more often! I could pick up some tips on how the working man lives and get some autographs at the same time.

Why I'm not a republican (America's Future Foundation part II)

Speaking of the America's Future Foundation, here's a recent editorial by one of their writers. Boiled down to the essentials, he argues that liberalism's sense of justice is its flaw. Liberals want to right wrongs, but their cures are often worse than the disease. He gives the Florida recount in the 2000 elections as an example. (But I didn't quite follow how spending time counting ballots to determine the people's will is worse than the specter of an unelected president...) And therein lies the problem. He says that "some injustices are not reparable. Some may be, but the cure is worse than the disease." Even ignoring the odious implication that government should simply preserve the status-quo and do nothing about injustice, the problem with this message is--who decides? Where do you draw the lines between which injustices are irreperable and which are not? Because conservatives draw that line at poverty, inequality, access to health care, (even ballot recounts!) and other issues that I believe are not only reparable, they demand attention. I doubt it is much consolation to the people suffering these inequalities that they are at least escaping excessive government legislation. In my world, it's nothing short of monstrous to believe that such a cure is worse than the disease, and it's a cowardly basis on which to excuse yourself from action. I'll cast my lot in with the envelope-pushers and the reformers any day.
America's Future Foundation, Part I (what happened to the Hitch?)

Very disappointing performance by my Chris Hitchens in this interview. By the end I can almost see claws and fangs bared. He accuses others of flippancy and moral idiocy and then flippantly wishes disease upon those he disagrees with. Tongue in cheek, maybe; unflattering and unnecessary, definitely. And I do hate to see him become the plaything of a noxiously conservative group with a name like "America's Future Foundation." Breaking with the left is one thing, but do you have to jump into bed *so* eagerly with the fascists? (oops was that flippant?)

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Anarchy and Abs?

Punk rock is officially dead.


After reading that Ireland was going to ban smoking in pubs, I shot off a quick condolence e-mail to Monica in Galway, pub expert and proud bearer of black lung. Here was her reply:

Girl, what the hell are you talking about!?! No smoking in Irish pubs? Yeah, and I just got elected President of the U.S., move over Georgie Boy! What report were you reading? I have never heard anything about this, granted my social life is not what it was, but I think i would have heard that one! I do remmeber that one pub tried that once here, but it went quickly out of business and the issue has not been raised least to my knowldge!

I do hate to be the bearer of bad news; here's hoping old Mon can keeping puffing away.
It never ceases to amaze me how easily journalists fall into the trap of the "Texas myth." Over Christmas, it was the Economist waxing poetic about lonesome cowboys and whatnot, and now it's the Washington Post reporting on the search for space shuttle debris in the woods of East Texas:

Here is Texas in its primordial sense -- sylvan, damp and spooky -- and visually unlike the Texas of songs, presidential ranches and movie cowboys. Here, too, are Texans themselves at their most empathetic, in a part of the state where almost anything is interpreted as a possible message from Jesus or a visit from a UFO or, more often than not, another Piney Woods mystery that can't be fully explained.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Most Likely to Be Somebody's Thesis Topic

Not a particularly fascinating article, but the best title I've seen in quite a while:
The moral vision of SpongeBob SquarePants.

Okay Kriston. I think I've added comments to this thing. So now you can sass back at me. And if I ever tell anyone else that I have a blog, maybe they will too. You know, there's a way I can make this a "team blog" and you'd be able to post as well. You want in? All the kids are doing it....