Friday, December 31, 2004

What Blogging Is Good For

This is the best of the posts I've seen on the topic of how, immediately after the tsunami, the blogosphere managed to quickly and effectively "search for missing persons, transmit news and coordinate relief efforts" in a way that nothing and no one else did, or could, or probably ever has. I love this quote by a commenter by the name of profligatewaste:

Wretchard points out what most people with engineering backgrounds know: distributed systems perform better than centralized systems. They are robust, quick to respond, fault tolerant, self correcting, and in the case of the blogosphere, clearly illustrate how sclerotic the MSM has become; not to mention inbred.

There have been some particularly pathetic attempts to discredit the blogosphere as a generally bad thing, all of them pointless, defensive and revelatory of the depth of the author's ignorance. It is no more good or bad than a weapon is good or bad, which is to say not at all. Operators make the good and the bad, and there are enough bloggers and readers so that no one blogger or group can blot out others. I find even the bloggers I heartily disagree with are basically interested in helping others, finding and establishing the truth, and giving good ideas room to develop. Blogging is relentlessly democratic, and unsurprisingly not everyone is wild about that.

I'm sure many in mainstream media are terrified; imagine being on the job for years and then they put a camera in your office or vehicle to see what you're really doing (a terrible metaphor, yes, but I'm in a hurry to get to a New Year's dinner for God's sake) The loudest of the whiny attacks on blogs and bloggers by those in the MSM just points out major guilt on the part of the whiners, guilt about cutting corners and using publications for advocacy, and all the other little things journalists do because there's no one around to tell them not to. But what the blogosphere is really about is connecting millions of interested observers. And that's a great thing. In the case of the tsunami, blogs acted quickly and effectively because they could, and no structure or protocol existed to stop them. And that's a really great thing. Finally, there's not a question in my mind where I go when I really want to know the truth about something. And that's the best thing of all: that I have the choice.

No Blogging Today, I'll Get To It Next Year

I've got black eyed peas to prepare.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

A Taste of Mark Steyn

He's been on hiatus for forever, but here's a rumble from the master of Liberal Destruction about the attempt to purge Christmas:

Yes, the competition for the ACLU's silliest Santa suit seemed particularly fierce this year. In one New Jersey school district, the annual trip to see Dickens' ''A Christmas Carol'' was canceled after threats of legal action. At another New Jersey school, the policy on not singing any songs mentioning God, Christ, angels, etc., was expanded to prohibit instrumental performances of music that would mention God if any singers were around to sing the words. So you can't do ''Silent Night'' as a piano solo or Handel's Messiah even if you junk the hallelujahs.

This is nothing to do with Christianity. ''A Christmas Carol'' is a secular work -- there's no more God or Jesus in it than there is in ''White Christmas.'' And, if works of music that reference God are banned from schools, that cuts out a big chunk of the aural glories of this world, including the best of Bach and Mozart. Forbidding children from being exposed to Handel and Dickens is an act of vandalism and, in the end, will eliminate any rationale for a public education system.

But let's not obsess on New Jersey's litigious secularists. In Plano, Texas, in the heart of God-fearin' Bush country, parents were instructed not to bring red and green plates and napkins for the school's ''winter'' parties, as red and green are colors with strong Christmas connotations and thus culturally oppressive.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph long ago got the heave-ho from the schoolhouse, but the great secular trinity of Santa, Rudolph and Frosty aren't faring much better. ''Frosty The Snowman'' and ''Jingle Bells'' are offensive to those of a non-Frosty or non-jingly persuasion: They're code for traditional notions of Christmas. The basic rule of thumb is: Anything you enjoy singing will probably get you sued.

Delicious. Read the rest, it's as good or better. As much as he deserves it, Steyn needs to return from vacation ASAP, if only for my entertainment.

Creating a "nuance" where no nuance exists

From Little Green Footballs, an excellent essay by David Warren about the protests in Ottowa. I love the beginning:

"I am a sick man. ... I am a wicked man." This is how Dostoevsky's nameless anti-hero begins his Notes from Underground, the prelude to a series of five extraordinary novels on the fate of modern man.

Through the last decade, excellent new translations of the major works of Dostoevsky and Gogol have been coming from the (married) team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volkhonsky. They have been making clear what other translators, from whatever motive, had been making opaque.

Previous translators of, for example, the quote above, avoided the word "wicked", and usually put the word "spiteful" in its place. A moral assertion was thus replaced with a psychological one. But Dostoevsky is a moral, not a psychological writer, and the word he used in the original Russian, "zloy", does not mean "spiteful". It is the root of that word, and it means "bad, evil, wicked". The word for "spiteful" is instead "zlobnyi" -- and Dostoevsky, who had some idea what he was doing in the Russian language, did not use it.

There you have our post-modernity in a nutshell: an unthinking elision of the moral into the psychological, creating a "nuance" where no nuance exists. And by so doing, the previous translators externalized the evil that Dostoevsky's character had discovered in himself. The old Christian thing was to do good, in the knowledge that we are capable of terrible evil. But the "new man" believes that he is good in theory, and thus does not recognize the evil in his deeds. We make a desolation and call it peace. (emphasis mine)

Elision. I love it. Later, Warren points out the major problem with including the kind of people who protest the war in Iraq and Bush in the decision-making process: they're incapable of logical discourse and would be an even larger and more egregious drag on the world than they are already.

It is hard to imagine what President Bush or anyone could say that would please the many people in this county (or any other, for that matter) who truly abhor him -- but can't explain why without using parrot-like slogans, and referring knowingly to non-existent "facts". Who, moreover, would not even dream of formulating a coherent alternative to what the Bush administration is doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, or Dubuque.

Not that no coherent alternative could exist. There were intelligent, if finally rejected arguments made against each of Mr. Bush's decisions in turn; there is room for informed disagreement over every question of public policy, from persons of goodwill. But the world is constructed in a curious way: so that goodwill and coherence tend to leave simultaneously. The people on the streets in Ottawa yesterday, looking desperately for a way to harm the object of their hatred, were beyond mere argument, their conclusions having long preceded their premises.

I suppose the last thing I wrote before that quote is unkind and not entirely true, but I have nothing but contempt for people who can't find the line between part of the problem and part of the solution. They're mostly beyond help and the sooner we enrage them and get them to run off in search of art supplies and a place to gather, the sooner the adults can get to problem-solving. Or, in the words of a certain hateful lefty blogger, screw them.

I'd Say "Ouch!" But You Always Knew It Would Turn Out This Way, Didn't You?

Gerard does some Air America crushing here, and it is well-deserved. A couple of shysters ripped some credulous liberals off and got them to sabotage their own election in the bargain. Hilarious.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Good Lord

Some pretty awful news about the tsunami has been coming in, some of the worst here. When you risk lives in fear of a lawsuit, there's something wrong with your worldview.

Death numbers seem likely to break six figures, and the devastation will continue for some time. If you can, please donate here. Thanks to Michelle at A Small Victory for the time and effort of collecting these donation sites.

Fred, You Sexy Bitch

Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Fred's no lady, but he is sexy and bitchy. He had a fantastic time at my parent's house over Christmas snapping at toddlers, yapping at everyone and everything, and communing with 15 people and two other dogs. Ollie was mildly taken aback and erupted into snarling warnings every time any other dog came close to my wife, on whose lap he slept whenever he could. He was friendly as always with the kids, Fred's the one who can't stand them. He wouldn't bite them hard, but he would bite. Which I think would be a good lesson for any kid, that dogs bite. Nice to learn with a dog who won't break skin.

Anyways, I think Fred was able to be King there, where here it's not so easy with the other dog hogging lap time. Ollie knows how to get in and stay in, which is the mark of a true dictator. The Glorious Maximum Leader Ollie Castro resists all attempts to remove him! But Fred's just cool. Even with a dented fro.

What My Brother-in-Law Should Be Working On

Things like this, since he is a scientist, man, as is the sister to whom he is married. She's a sassy bird by the name of Clare and there is something wild about her. Of my six sisters, she's the one I'd least like to fight. She married an English fellow named Stephen, who we call Fringy. I have not been given a satisfactory explanation for this name.

Anyways, he's probably trying to cure cancer or something boring like that. But really, what's the use in having a British relative if he's not going to be eccentric? Shouldn't he be working on toffee-scented Flubber or an invisibility ray? Or at least using genetics to finally make a real Bat Boy?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Wow That's Scary

Terrifying amateur tsunami video here from Wizbang. I sure hope the people who get swept away in it are OK.

Tee Hee

Charles at Little Green Footballs notices that Yahoo's photo selection algorithm chose a picture of a beached whale to accompany this story about Michael Moore. Good one, God of Small Things.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Hideous New Money

My God the new $50 bill is so ugly it's like I designed it.

Preparing for the Worst, Imaginable or Otherwise

A really fantastic piece over at Belmont Club about the Christmas Tsunami (an awful name in a number of ways), and other potential disasters:

In an abstract way, the information flows surrounding the Tsunami of December 2004 structurally resembled those preceding the Pearl Harbor and September 11 attacks. The raw data announcing the unfolding threat was there, yet the pattern so evident in hindsight was invisible to those who were not looking for it. But if tsunamis and asteroid strikes are rare events, they are comparatively more common than that still rarer object, the unprecedented event: the something that has never happened before. Threats like that can emerge suddenly out of chaotic systems, like WMD terrorism or new viral plagues. Against such events, specific precautions are impossible because no one can prepare for what cannot be foreseen. The real challenge is not so much to create a new dedicated network of staring systems against known threats but to tie current sensors to systems which are capable of cognition. The most valuable survival asset is situational awareness -- the ability to recognize threats you have never seen before and respond in an evolving manner -- and that capability has not yet come to the world as a whole. (emphasis Wretchard's)

Good stuff. Read it all.

UPDATE: I should have looked around a bit before finishing this post, great stuff from Boingboing here and here, and more at Captain's Quarters.

Possibly the Best Polish Joke Ever

I'm not a big Polish joke afficionado, but this is pretty good.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

That Explains a Lot

Finally, we know where Katie Couric came from. I don't know if she's still in the running to replace Dan Rather, but I think putting her in Rather's chair would complete the major media's slide into irrelevance.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Here Come Santa's Claws

Off to San Antonio and Christmas with the family, should be fewer than 20 this year which is a releif (I have eight brothers and sisters and am the second youngest). I really enjoy Christmas; love the Nutcracker, kind of like carols and caroling, love trimming the tree and opening presents, even egg nog. LOVE Christmas dinner with my family, everything just the way I like it (green beans but not green bean casserole, natural gravy, cornbread stuffing with onions, celery and mushrooms, and plum pudding of all ghastly things) and at the right time, around 12:30-noon so you can take a nap and be up making turkey fried rice (another family tradition) by six or so.

We're taking the dogs this year, and have managed to get placed in the outer office, which will give us our own bathroom and make it less of a drag for everyone else when we have to take the dogs outside in the middle of the night. I'm not sure if the pool will be heated but I'm not terribly interested in swimming this year, should be miserably cold throughout the weekend.

So Merry Christmas, or whatever, and be careful driving. It's Drunken Tragedy season, and you don't even have to drink to get involved.

David Brooks Says What Must Be Said

David Brook has some questions:

How did we get to this sudden moment of cautious optimism in the Middle East? How did we get to this moment when Egypt is signing free trade agreements with Israel, when Hosni Mubarak is touring Arab nations and urging them to open relations with the Jewish state? How did we get to this moment of democratic opportunity in the Palestinian territories, with three major elections taking place in the next several months, and with the leading candidate in the presidential election declaring that violence is counterproductive?

How did we get to this moment of odd unity in Israel, with Labor joining Likud to push a withdrawal from Gaza and some northern territories? How did we get to this moment when Ariel Sharon has record approval ratings, when it is common to run across Israelis who once reviled Sharon as a bully but who now find themselves supporting him as an agent of peace?

And some answers:

t was unfortunate that Bush gave that speech on June 24, 2002, dismissing Yasir Arafat as a man who would never make peace. After all, the Europeans protested, while Arafat might be flawed, he was the embodiment of the Palestinian cause.

It was a mistake to build the security fence, which the International Court of Justice called a violation of international law. Never mind that the fence cut terror attacks by 90 percent. It was the moral equivalent of apartheid, the U.N. orators declared.

It was a mistake to assassinate the leaders of Hamas, which took credit for the murders of hundreds of Israelis. France, among many other nations, condemned these attacks and foretold catastrophic consequences.

It was unfortunate that President Bush never sent a special envoy to open talks, discuss modalities and fine-tune the road map. As Milton Viorst wrote in The Washington Quarterly, this left "slim prospects" for any progress toward peace.

It was unfortunate that Bush sided openly with Sharon during their April meetings in Washington, causing the European Union to condemn U.S. policy. It was unfortunate that Bush kept pushing his democracy agenda. After all, as some Israelis said, it is naïve to export democracy to Arab soil.

Yes, these were a series of unfortunate events. And yet here we are in this hopeful moment. It almost makes you think that all those bemoaners and condemners don't know what they are talking about. Nothing they have said over the past three years accounts for what is happening now.

It almost makes you think that Bush understands the situation better than the lot of them. His judgments now look correct. Bush deduced that Sharon could grasp the demographic reality and lead Israel toward a two-state solution; that Arafat would never make peace, but was a retardant to peace; that Israel has a right to fight terrorism; and that Sharon would never feel safe enough to take risks unless the U.S. supported him when he fought back.

My problem with the liberal view of the Middle East conflict is that it doesn't distinguish between good and bad cultural, legal and governmental ideals. It presumes the problems our enemies have with us are our fault, and so are the problems we have with them, and we deserve to be brought low for the rape of the Third World anyhow. It's more important to be contrite than successful, so doing what it takes to win is always recast as barbarity (not to say that there hasn't been US barbarity in the WoT).

European pols and the American and international press feel they must distance themselves from us, point out the Nazism of it all, partly out of fear of further terrorism and partly shame for being so craven in the face of real totalitarianism. When it comes to journalists, the truism that one who routinely accuses others of certain bad behaviors is often guilty of them in his or her own right is so true and applies in such an all-encompassing way it reminds me of when department stores hire really skilled shoplifters to catch other shoplifters. Some people really do become journalists to make sure none of the other people who are just as fucked up, greedy and devious as themselves get away with anything major.

But on the War on Terror, faced with real bad guys targeting civilians almost exclusively, they've largely punted because it's become personal; in George Bush's America, the US government really is the only bad guy, and past foreign policy failures that contribute to "root causes" are Bushitler's fault whether he was even alive then or not. The only thing that can help us now, liberal reporters (that's about 90% of them) believe, is being put in our place. An embarrassment in Iraq, some terrorist attacks here, then we beg the UN to save us and make some Peace In Our Time, and everything's right with the world.

And until then, it's about how it looks, not how it is. Being concerned about appearances and how one is thought of is utterly childish in high school, and unforgivable beyond. None of it has a thing to do with creating an environment that is conducive to peace and democracy, and yes, that is the goal, to democratize the world. Until that's done, we don't have a bigger, more important job to do.

Not sure to whom I should tip my hat as I saw this linked many other places, but the last one was Villanous Company.

That's Not Santa, it's Michael Myers

Creepy Santa
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Some silly pics of kids who have a fear of Santa here, and now that I've seen them, I'm afraid of Santa too. He appears to be either drunk or some sort of serial killer in most of them.

From Wizbang

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I Love Seemingly Useless Information

Like this map of the US divided by what people in different regions call soft drinks: pop, soda, coke, or otherwise. I'm fascinated by how language changes over time and why it does or doesn't, and for the record I call soft drinks the name of the drink, and I prefer anything from Mexico (made with real sugar and not corn syrup, like they used to be), then Coke, then Dr. Pepper, then everything else. Can't stand cream soda, not a huge fan of root beer, and I refuse to drink Mountain Dew or any of the extra-caffeine potions they're selling these days. And Red Bull? Please.

Dirty Custom Candy from the Mars Corporation

Check out what someone at Boingboing has gotten a candy manufacturer to make for them. Diabolically silly, I say, but fun.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Strictly Speaking, There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Book

Which is to say, of course, that there's a free book at American Digest, and it's a good one, "The Quotable Sherlock Holmes." Thanks Gerard!

And That's Why Regimental Pride Matters

Here's an interesting article on military units and the cohesion therein at Castle Argghh. US military units have been rethought more than once in an attempt to improve on the UK model, and John makes a fine argument on why the British may not have it so backward after all.

Dogsled Stroller

Dogsled Stroller
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
You can barely tell from my awful picture, but this is a friend strapping his dogs to his child's stroller, apparently in hopes that his child will be as desensitized to violent motion as he and those who ride in his car have become. As you might imagine, it worked less than perfectly and tended to strangle the poor child when the dogs switched places and caused the leashes to cross around his tender little throat, and the dogs wanted to run wildly over uneven ground while dragging the stroller almost too fast for the adult to hold on, and Lord knows what would have happened if they had managed to wrench it out of the adult's grasp . . . It worked nicely without the baby, but otherwise it is not safe for child locomotion. Adults, on the other hand, would have a great time, I'm sure of it.

Informational Ass Kickers

George W. Bush may be Time's Man of the Year, but Powerline is Time's Blog of the Year. Nicely done, gentlemen.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

A Fine Reason to Risk Anal Leakage

Ukrainian opposition leader Victor Yuschenko got poisoned by unknown (KGB) parties, and it appears the answer is Olestra. Remember the potato chips no one wanted to eat because you just might poop yourself? They clear PCBs, including Dioxin (a major problem in Viet Nam after Agent Orange) out of your system 10 times as fast as you normally do.

Just look at those two pictures from the first link. Wouldn't you risk crapping yourself to look more like the one on the left than the one on the right?

Thanks to Instapundit for the link

Writing Unkind Things about People I Don't Know

It strikes me that a better headline for this story might be "Man Wakes Up, Realizes Height of Music Career is Working with John Tesh and Celine Dion, Kill Self," but frankly depression is a very serious thing and lots of people love John Tesh and Celine Dion and they're entitled to that. But still, I wish I were in charge of headlines for all major newspapers. And it would be great if there were a position available for changing movie titles so they'll sound like porn or gay porn movie titles, which comes quite naturally to me. If you doubt my skill, leave a movie title in the comments and I'll change it for you.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Actual Data for Once

Check out this excellent article posted at LGF, some really good stuff about terror networks and real data about the kind of people we're dealing with. They're not what we've been led to believe.

Old Bones and Other Relics of a Forgotten War

Elena of the fascinating Chernobyl Motorcycle Saga has been digging in the Ukraine and has found some interesting things. I found this new collection as interesting as her other work, and you should check them both out. Especially you, Phillip and Skinny Bean . . .

Thanks to the Politburo Diktat for the link

Lingo Phone Service Sucks Ass

So I fell for the sales pitch, figuring that $19.95/month with no taxes or other fees for all available features, unlimited long distance to the US and Western Europe, and two free months was too good to miss out on. Boy was I wrong.

First, it took four months to port over my old number. That means I paid for two phone bills for two months (since they gave me two free months), which Lingo said was not their problem and didn't I read the fine print? Tech support is filled with morons, and the day before they finally ported the number over, my Lingo box stopped working. Every tech guy I talked to, for a total of aboutr 8 hours over three days, wanted me to unplug my lingo boxes from the router (they work off a cable modem) and put them various configurations (one in front of the router, one in back, then one in front of the cable modem and one between it and the router, etc.) while never considering the fact that their Lingo modem may have been programmed incorrectly. Eventually a tech supervisor appeared and fixed the problem in minutes, and of course it was just as I had been saying for three days.

Now I'm having more problems; dropped calls, noisy lines, an inability to flash back to the original caller after flashing to a call waiting, and the most annoying problem of all, wherein calls that go to my answering machine don't hang up after the caller hangs up, instead my machine records an endless "disconnected phone" sound that won't stop until I pick up and hang up the phone. I just spent 20 minutes on the phone with another tech support retard who decided that the problem was the Lingo voice mail, and if I just turned it off it wouldn't pick up before my answering machine, the same answering machine I had been talking about being part of the problem for 20 fucking minutes to this moron. That was his big solution, turn off the thing that doesn't even enter into it. Christ.

So don't use Lingo, ridicule anyone who does, and kill anyone who works for them. Now.

Remember how Thor and Daredevil Used to Solve Crimes with Hostess Products? You Do Now

Boingboing links to a guy who has scanned old Hostess ads from comic books, involving Batman, the Hulk, Daredevil, and other superheroes who shilled for the snack food manufacturer in single-page ads inside comic books. They are delightfully silly and shamelessly capitalist, which I kind of miss. We all knew it was bullshit even at that age, and you either liked Hostess Cupcakes or you didn't. No superhero testimonial would convince any kid smart enough to find comic books, but I'm sure that kind of ad would be forbidden today, or never written in the first place.

There are 10 of these ads on dude's site, and most of them are hilarious, especially number two, where Batman and Robin have to stop a villian named the Muse, who changes talented musicians into musical notes with his magic organ (seriously), specifically Rich Jaggard and Elfish Hipsley.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Let's Get Medieval

With the trebuchet game that has been pointed out to us by Cold Fury. Very entertaining.

That's an Easy One

For me at least, because I had a crush on one of them (the one on the right) and the other (on the left) reminds me a lot of my little sister. Which one do you prefer?

"Don't make my Vagina come into Washington and smack you silly"

That's only one of the many good parts of this post, a wonderfully smart and funny essay by the Anchoress about the Vagina Monologues. Thanks to Captain Ed for the link.

A Piece of Human Garbage

That's what I call UT Journalisms prof Robert Jensen, whose latest screed has been dismantled here. Jensen was one of the first to point the finger of blame at the US after 9/11, and I attended a "peace rally" on the UT campus just days after 9/11 and was disgusted to hear the student body president, the chancellor and a number of others use that platform to speak against any armed response to 9/11. Little concern for the victims, ultimate concern for the perpetrators.

Jensen used a bullhorn at the end of the rally to start a little anti-Americanism, although a friend and I chased him off with some pointed questions, prompting a number of idiot students to try to take us on intellectually about the Middle East. Sadly they were unable to contribute anything meaningful to the discussion and were run off as well. I suppose it was the best they could do with people like Jensen in charge of filling their little heads with knowledge, but my friend and I were shocked at the ignorance and kneejerk anti-Americanism so many of them parrotted. Sickened, really.

People like Jensen should be horsewhipped in the street for being so intellectually inadequate and advocating the defeat of the United States in war, and instead they write columns for US papers for pay, run around the country protesting the war and the administration, and spend little if any time on University business. He will never suffer for his views, but conservatives all over the country are discriminated against on campuses and in newsrooms daily. Some kind of weird anti-justice at work there, I guess.

If Jensen were anything but the typical gaunt, creepy Marxist with tiny commie glasses and a haunted look about him, I'd probably give him at least one good punch in the face, but it would probably kill him, and if it didn't, I'd spend the rest of my life in court wishing it had. I suppose violence is not the answer, despite the fact that pain has a way of clearing the mind. And Jensen certainly needs mind-clearing. His reasoning is the truly offensive part of it all, and my letter to the UT journalism department soon after his post-9/11 antics addressed the fact that what was offensive about it from a UT standpoint was not the political stuff, or even the anti-Americanism. It was the ignorance and anti-intellectualism inherent in his arguments, and the failure to build a convincing logical case for anything at all. Like so many liberals, Jensen has such strong feelings that he just knows he's right, if not why. That's not good enough.

Good News from Iraq, As Usual Not Available from the Mainstream Media

From Little Green Footballs points out a really fantastic piece over at Blackfive about how American civilians are working with soldiers to make Iraq a better place for its people. As Victor Davis Hanson says, the real humanists in this world today are wearing body armor in Iraq and Afghanistan, risking it all so people they will never know can live in peace and freedom for the first time in their lives. Worth the time it takes to read it, as Blackfive usually is.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Do Yourself a Favor and Read This

My grandfather on my mother's side once said that the two things one ought to study are history and physics, since history was the study of what has happened and physics is the study of how things work, and all else is frippery. Actually I'm quite sure the last part is inaccurate, but it just seemed to fit a story about what my grandfather once said. To these fine subjects I would add the study of logic and statistics, because they are used against you in so many areas of life you must arm yourself in self-defense.

Boingboing posts today about a Slate article about the biggest danger threatening stock market investors and other speculators, which is the average person's inability to distinguish between good behaviors and strategies and bad ones. People, as the article observes, are born suckers, and have to be taught to be as calculating as is necessary to do well in open markets.

Very good stuff. Read the whole thing.

Come to Paris, Where We Love Strangers

From Dissecting Leftism, an article about young Japanese women in Paris who suffer depression from the rudeness of French people. Why doesn't this surprise me?

Tiger and Snoop Make it Funky

Tiger and Snoop
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
More of this, please. I really like it when clean-cut celebrities and naughty ones get together. I can only hope Tiger got the whole Dogg Pound treatment, left the little Aryan wife behind for a night and got crunked up with Snoop and da boyz. Can't you just see Tiger fried to the gills, eating ribs in a hot tub with with a gang of hoochie mamas, nodding his head to some gangsta shit and having a the most fun he's ever had? I can. I don't care if Tiger never wins another tournament, he's done enough. Be a normal person now, Tiger, don't let fame turn you into MJ. Please.

Just the Way He Would Have Wanted It

Dimebag Darrell, formerly of Pantera and this mortal coil, got his wish and was buried in a Kiss casket, according to Gene Simmons. From Wizbang. I would like to be buried in a combination Van Halen/Oakland Raiders casket, driven by a hearse shaped like the Millenium Falcon. To the tune of "Movin' Out" by Billy Joel. Or something.

VDH to the Rescue

Right Wing News has kindly compiled the best of Victor Davis Hanson's quotes in 2004 here. Some of my favorites:

"Who would have believed 60 years ago that the great critics of democracy in the Middle East would now be American novelists and European utopians, while Indians, Poles, and Japanese were supporting those who just wanted the chance to vote? Who would have thought that a young Marine from the suburbs of Topeka battling the Dark Ages in Fallujah — the real humanist — was doing more to aid the planet than all the billions of the U.N.?"

"Our parents were terrified that, should America resort to military force abroad, they would be nuked; we are even more scared that our lethality will earn us the parlor disdain of the French and Germans. The terrorists are assured that the Western press is obsessed with Abu Ghraib, but not at all with Saddam's necropolis or their own slaughter of innocents. They suspect that those who endured Omaha and Utah or scaled Suribachi are long sleeping in their graves, and that a few thousand creeps in Fallujah scare us more than a quarter million in the Bulge did our parents."

"Instead, the elite Westerner talks about “occupied lands” from which Israel has been attacked four times in the last 60 years — in a manner that Germans do not talk about an occupied West they coughed up to France or an occupied East annexed by Poland. Russia lectures about Jenin, but rarely its grab of Japanese islands. Turkey is worried about the West Bank, but not its swallowing much of Cyprus. China weighs in about Palestinian sovereignty but not the entire culture of Tibet; some British aristocrats bemoan Sharon’s supposed land grab, but not Gibraltar. All these foreign territories that were acquired through blood and iron and held on to by reasons of “national security” are somehow different matters when Jews are not involved."

"About this time 60 years ago, six weeks after the Normandy beach landings, Americans were dying in droves in France. We think of the 76-day Normandy campaign of summer and autumn 1944 as an astounding American success — and indeed it was, as Anglo-American forces cleared much of France of its Nazi occupiers in less than three months. But the outcome was not at all preordained, and more often was the stuff of great tragedy. Blunders were daily occurrences — resulting in 2,500 Allied casualties a day. In any average three-day period, more were killed, wounded, or missing than there have been in over a year in Iraq."

And finally

"Hitler, like bin Laden and his epigones, was the problem, not us. The only difference is that our grandparents knew that and we don't."

Read all of it, and Hanson's site as often as possible.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

We Are Slaves to These Dogs

Sleepy pigs
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Look at this. Having to use the computer with two large pillows on your lap in a certain configuration, with the arms of the chair a certain way and leaned back the right amount, only to be trapped under the whole mess and unable to use both hands at once. If you're actually trying to work and use the phone, it's a disaster.

They're maybe 22 pounds together, hot little smelly farting groaning monsters who stare at you reroachfully every time you disturb their sleep grabbing a fax or getting up to get a drink. Fred has some dignity about it, but Ollie just drapes himself any which way for hours, kicking and yipping through dreams sometimes, and stretching his feet down toward his curly tail and his little snout straight back when he wakes up from them.

Cats would visit for a few minutes, maybe even sleep for a spell, then move on to their business. I appreciate that about them. But dogs are so warm and sweet, so enthusiastically loving, that it's a rare cat who can come anywhere close to it. Patton was one of those cats, a joyful little guy who liked physical contact. But he was very rare in that, and when Oliver gets up every morning he pours on the love in such an ecstatic flurry that few dogs can equal. It's pretty fantastic, when you're not scared he's going to misjudge a playful snap of the jaws and take your nose off. Which is usually.

They require considerable time and effort and are shockingly expensive, but they've brought us a lot of happiness. The only thing I don't really like about them is their constant competitiveness. I'm not at all sure I wouldn't get one of each gender next time, seems like it might be better. But the size, which I was against, is pretty good now that I've lived with them for a while. Not shedding is great, and although they both get pretty smelly, it's nothing like having a large dog. Not even close.

Andrew Sullivan on the Barbie

Beautiful Atrocities points out a Belmont Club post that defangs some of the more regrettable Iraq War analyses going around, and gives Andrew Sullivan a beatdown as well. Which is good.

Where Would We Be Without Nerds

And endless source of fun and fascination is Boingboing, and I've missed a lot in a short week. First, we should have seen it coming but I sure didn't, the eyeglass piercing. Then super deadly quicksand, an eloquent ode to idleness that really should be read, amazing prisoner inventions, a skeleton guitar, the ramen museum, and making a computer out of Legos.

Nerds glorious nerds . . . if only they didn't tend toward anarchy so. I suppose they must, although it never fails to surprise me when those most fixated on logic in their professional lives dispense with it so quickly in political affairs. Maybe now the election is over them nerds will get back to work on that time machine. Hurry up, nerds.

Not So Popular In The Middle East, But A Good Time Almost Everywhere Else

Gerard at American Digest alternates between fun and deep/thoughtful, and today he's doing fun.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Animal Cruelty, Part Fifty

Tortured Fred
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
Poor Fred. I get him new stuffed animals as often as possible from the crane/claw games in supermarkets and restaurants around town (you have to find the good machines, ones with strong claws and nice operators who don't smash the animals together so you can't grab them) and one of the recent acquisitions was a Winnie the Pooh with a weird ruffled thing around his neck. Fred got it off and we made him wear it like this for a second, which he of course hated.

Fred really is an exemplary dog, and sometimes I regret getting another dog because now Fred is no longer undisputed Number One Son. He certainly deserves to be, but Oliver is such an awful little love/attention vortex and competes constantly for lap time and everything else. You can tell Fred knows it's bullshit, which it is, and he gets a little peevish at times, which is appropriate. And now that Patton's gone, it throws it even more out of balance somehow. Fred deserves better, and we do what we can, but for God's sake we have lives to lead too.

Sorry, Fred, you can't have everything. Brains, beauty and free food will have to be enough.

Come And Do the Psycho With Me

Ace posts this bit about a fascinating article about psychopaths, and how they are all around us:

Psychopathy may prove to be as important a construct in this century as IQ was in the last (and just as susceptible to abuse), because, thanks to Hare, we now understand that the great majority of psychopaths are not violent criminals and never will be. Hundreds of thousands of psychopaths live and work and prey among us. Your boss, your boyfriend, your mother could be what Hare calls a "subclinical" psychopath, someone who leaves a path of destruction and pain without a single pang of conscience. Even more worrisome is the fact that, at this stage, no one -- not even Bob Hare -- is quite sure what to do about it.

It's a fascinating article, and it confirms something I've always believed: most people are nuts, just not to a degree that you recognize them as such. I'm also beginning to suspect that I'm not so nutty after all, compared to everyone else, just more up front about it.

Hunt Sunset

Hunt Sunset
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
I keep taking the same picture every time I go out to the Texas Hill Country, in Hunt, TX, on the Guadalupe River. This is actually a shot from a canoe and not the low water bridge I usually shoot from, but it's the same view. Very relaxing.

Don't Make Enemies in the Ukraine

Or this might happen to your face. Wow that's scary . . . but it would make a great Halloween mask, wouldn't it?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Screw His Money, Appreciate Ben Stein's Thoughts

From Cold Fury, an interesting Op-ed by Ben Stein about discrimination in Hollywood:

A few minutes later, I was grabbing a shopping cart at How's Market in the Trancas section of Malibu when a sweet faced middle aged woman approached me carefully. Then she saw a young couple nearby and turned away. Moments later, she ran into me at the egg cooler, looked around to make sure there was no one looking or listening and said. "I love what you say about politics on TV. You're so brave. I'm on your side. There are some of us here but we keep our mouths shut."

"You don't need to," I said. "The election's over. We won."

"Yes, but it's not over out here. Can you believe they just had Michael Moore at the new Malibu bookstore and they've never invited you and how long have you been out here?"

"Twenty-four years off and on," I said.

"Well, anyway, when I see you and I smile at you, you'll know what it's all about. Go Bush," she whispered and headed for the fresh fish.

Earlier in the day when I had been doing some looping at a studio on Radford Drive in Studio City for a movie in which I have a part ("Son of the Mask" if you must know ), a man on a forklift came by and winked at me. "Keep giving 'em hell," he said softly. "There are more of us here than you think. Bush rules."

This is the way it is here. We meet in smoky places. We give the high sign, we nod knowingly. We are like members of the Maquis in Occupied France. Or early Christians emerging from the catacombs in Caligula's Rome. We are the GOP in Hollywood, and on the West Side of L.A. The culture here is so dominantly left-wing, PC, vegan, hate-America that many of us feel we have to behave as if we were underground.

At a self-help meeting where men and women confess to drug use, betrayals, thefts, homicides with cars, at a break, a woman stealthily came up to me last Saturday and motioned me into a corner outside the room in Malibu. "I want to tell you there are some of us who agree with you. We have to keep it quiet because we want to get our kids into the right schools, but we're there. We're there. And there are more of us every day." Then she scuttled off into the night. Slamming crack can be spoken of with a smile, but not voting GOP. That could be dangerous.

But it's changing.

It should change. You can always tell a weak and worthless ideology by the vehemence of those who seek to shield it from discussion and debate. Modern liberalism is just plain pathetic. Let 'em have their little tantrums, Ben, neither you nor we need them. The failure of their entire worldview is their reward.

Or in the words of a sad little jackass named Markos Zuniga, "screw them."

Birthday Boy

I'm turning 40 next week, so I will be heading out to the Texas Hill Country today and won't blog again until Monday, after a couple more today maybe. Have a lovely weekend.

Aleister Crowley's Going to Be Pissed

A prominent atheist has decided, at age 81, that there is a God. Still not a believer in an afterlife, British philosphy prof Antony Flew has changed his mind about God's existence because "A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature."

I don't think you can establish the existence or nonexistence of God through logical means, but whatever floats your kayak.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

An Attitude of Gratitude Earned

This is one of the reasons you should read American Digest every day. Gerard is one poetic mofo, if you'll pardon the shizzlation.

Pardon the AA-themed title if you're a twelve stepper, it seems to apply across the board.

Why Don't You Shizzle It, Just a Little Bit

The Jawa Report links to my new favorite site (I say that a lot, but I'm a fickle fellow, if you must know), the Snoop Dogg Shizzolator. It translates any website you like into Snoop-talk. With the right site plugged in, it's frickin' hilarious.

Love that Coolgov

Whether you have a question only a scientist can answer or you're just interested in where all the fat people in America live, Coolgov has what you need.

There's Never Enough Time, Is There?

Blogging, already at a disastrously low level, will probably disappear altogether until tomorrow. That's just the way it has to be, baby, don't cry. I still love you.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

First Pat Sajak, now Mr. Bean

Looks like Gimli isn't the only one to find fault with Western ways of dealing with militant Islam. Good for Blackadder (I'm not a fan of Mr. Bean, really).

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Pearl Harbor Day

My wife bought one of the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's albums on Itunes a while back, the one with the "Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World," heard at the end of "Finding Forrester" and other places. It's a beautiful, haunting song that invariably makes me unbelievably sad, and I've never really understood why until about three months ago when I was in the Nimitz Museum in Fredricksburg, Texas, which is called The National Museum of the Pacific War these days and has a really extraordinary collection of Pacific war stuff.

I was browsing in the bookstore when I came across a book of Pearl Harbor photos, and while I leafed through the book, I heard the song in my head. That happens to me a lot, songs popping into my head that have something to do with what I'm doing or thinking about, often just in the title of the song, and I don't always figure out what the connection at first. It's a weird game my brain plays with me, I guess. Have you ever watched David Letterman and noticed that Paul Shaffer will play part of a song that is in some way descriptive of the guest coming onstage, but often in an oblique way (say for example Dude Looks Like a Lady for Rupaul)? Like that, sort of.

So I'm looking at the pictures of the horrible destruction at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere on Oahu, and I can't get "Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" out of my head. And I start tearing up like I sometimes do when I hear that song, and it hits me harder than ever, and I have to kind of wander over in the corner so I can avoid being a blubbering mess in the middle of a museum bookstore. And then I realize that when my wife and I visited Hawaii last June, I spent a long time on the plane there thinking about the attack on Pearl Harbor (my father was on Oahu that day in 1941, and spent the days afterward helping with the cleanup - think finding and moving bodies and body parts - and wondering when the invasion was coming). And the whole time I'm thinking about this on the plane, I'm hearing the song in my head. And at some point I notice that I'm hearing it, which I don't always do, and I decide that Kamakawiwo'ole is really singing to the men still trapped in the Arizona, and the soldiers and civilians who fell victim to both hostile and friendly fire that day, and really the whole wide world on that day in 1941. A poignant hymn of hope and happiness for those who would never again know such things, and a prayer for those who would suffer in the years to come.

So every time I hear the song now I imagine IZ in a boat in Pearl Harbor, singing to the Arizona Memorial on a dazzling Oahu day, and I think about what the men still trapped underwater 63 years later would have done had they lived, what they would have become, what their dreams had been before they awoke to America's first day of World War II. And tears come to my eyes.

Ho Hum

Roger Simon wants you to know about the kind of people who are most excited about anti-Americanism. Nothing to see here, just the largest fraud in history and despicable behavior from despicable people:

The point is you could be forgiven for thinking that opposition to U.S. policies in Iraq and elsewhere is a consequence of ideological or strategic disagreements. But there is no ideology any more. There's only anti-Americanism, scandal, and corruption. And of course stupidity: According to a survey of 4,000 Britons under the age of 35 reported in the Independent, 60 percent of them have never heard of Auschwitz, and of those who thought the name was familiar, three quarters really didn't know much about what had gone on there. At least they'll never forget.


Monday, December 06, 2004

Money Well Spent

Whatever the parents of the kids who put this together are paying to send them to Yale, it's worth it. It's not a new prank, but getting it done is not easy.

I Can't Get Enough Of . . .

Either this or this. Good old Ace. (imagine Motorhead's "Ace of Spades" while you look at his site, I know I do)

Death Defying

Ploesti Raid
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
I had always hoped to put a picture with this post,but somehow never did. This one reminded me of the parts of Jerry Joswick's book Combat Camera Man in which he described going on the 1943 Ploesti Raid, in which he was the only one of 16 cameramen to survive.

Joswick talks about the same thing other people I've seen or read mentioned about the raid, the way planes flying low over a target were sometimes engulfed in an explosion, which was often the result of delayed-action bombs dropped by other planes on the same raid. A plane with 10 men in it would be swallowed up by a fireball and nothing would come out the other side.

Joswick also mentions seeing a Liberator part a barrage baloon's cable with its wing but catch the next on an engine and spin in around the cable to an explosive end on the ground immediately below. The crews had been told they would fly right through barrage balloon cables, but it may be that nobody knew then that two in a row was too much. A lot of hard lessons were learned thusly, and many not learned at all but repeated often.

Bomber crew casualties, and aircrew casualties in general, were very high during WWII. Seems like a waste, doesn't it? That's what happens when you let crank ideologies gain too much acceptance and power - we all have to quit our jobs and go off to kill people, and get killed.

Don't Believe the Hype

Drudge links to a story about why Kweisi Mfume really left the NAACP, or rather was asked to leave. Apparently Mfume tried to reach out to conservatives, which is just not done:

Don’t believe the well scripted press conference where former President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Kweisi Mfume, announced his resignation. Mfume did not resign from the nation’s oldest and most prestigious civil rights organization. He was kicked out, following a long simmering feud with NAACP Chairman Julian Bond.

The two began feuding after Mfume nominated National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice for his 2003 NAACP Image Award. Furious that Mfume was reaching out to the Bush administration, Bond responded by nominating "Boondocks" cartoonist Aaron McGruder for his Image Award. McGruder had ridiculed Rice in his comic strip and later called her a “murderer” for her role in the war in Iraq.

The rift grew as Mfume continued to reach out to the Republican Party. Mfume realized that by reflexively voting Democrat in every election, the black voting populace has given away most of their political bartering power. After all, what incentive is there for either party to go out on a limb for blacks, if it is taken for granted that blacks will automatically vote Democrat? In effect, the black voting populace has created conditions that make it very easy for both parties to take them for granted. Mfume rightly reasoned that by reaching out to the Republican Party on issues that they already agree with -- like empowering faith based charities, supporting school vouchers, etc. -- the black voting populace can send the message that they’re no longer willing to blindly support the Democrats. Faced with the prospect of fleeing voters, the Democrats would be forced to make new overtures. This competition, in turn, would instill both parties with a sense of urgency for addressing those issues that black Americans routinely rate as their chief concerns. This competitive pressure would provide the black voting populace with increased political options -- and increased bartering power. Somehow this point was lost on Bond, who dug in his heels with mind numbing intransigence. Over the next year and a half, the rift became unmendable.

Being a dull sort, I can't imagine why you'd want to honor a bigoted, hate-mongering cartoonist who is completely detached from reality (if his work is any indication) over the first black National Security Advisor in history. Then again, I don't understand why anyone thinks the two most successful blacks in American politics, ever, should be the object of so many black peoples' scorn. Anyone?

Boingboing Does Not Disappoint

Whether you want to know what cartoon character skeletons would look like or you just need a selection of porn soundtracks of the "Wakka Chikka Wakka Chikka" variety, Boingboing is the place to be. You know it's interesting over there if I keep going back despite their unabashed and often deeply silly liberalism (if I'm not mistaken they're still flogging the stolen-election story, like that pompous moron Keith Ohlbermann).

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Mike is Slacking Off

Blog production has slowed considerably all about the blogoshpere, and I'm no exception. Since the election I can't get as riled up as I was, although you never know when that will change. Blogging is fun and doesn't take up too much time (not may people seem to understand that, but I type fast and I read the news fast) but everyone has their limit, and some of the best bloggers have either quit entirely or taken long breaks due to burnout. I will continue but probably make this blog more about me and less about current events. Sound cool?

Very Sad, but Kind of Funny

Brian at the Peeve Farm reminds us that there are worse things than bashing one's shins on a coffee table.

Dirty Stuff

I don't usually post naughty bits, but frankly images from the new Pirelli Calendar aren't that dirty. They're not nearly as naughty as I was led to believe, and most of the naked breasts are fairly egregious, like they posed a shot and at the last minute yelled, "Quick, pull your boob out!" One question: why couldn't they get the criminally hot Adriana Lima (the dark-haired girl from the Victoria's Secret ads) to pose any better than this? My wife gets 50 VS catalogs a week, and Miss Lima makes them worth scanning. How did Pirelli get such a plain shot? Weird.

Also, I must confess to catching the most recent episode of the New Gilligan's Island, on which Rachel Hunter is continuing to be the sexiest mom I've ever seen while managing to be less of an asshole than the rest of the contestants, which is probably a chore. The teaser (literally) for next week's show is a shot of her sunbathing topless with her hands over her boobs, so I may have to see that one too.

Can you tell my wife doesn't read this blog? You can now.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Enemy Country: Your Local College Campus

Instapundit links to this interesting Economist article about the lack of diversity on US college campuses. Political diversity, that is:

Evidence of the atypical uniformity of American universities grows by the week. The Centre for Responsive Politics notes that this year two universities—the University of California and Harvard—occupied first and second place in the list of donations to the Kerry campaign by employee groups, ahead of Time Warner, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft et al. Employees at both universities gave 19 times as much to John Kerry as to George Bush. Meanwhile, a new national survey of more than 1,000 academics by Daniel Klein, of Santa Clara University, shows that Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one in the humanities and social sciences. And things are likely to get less balanced, because younger professors are more liberal. For instance, at Berkeley and Stanford, where Democrats overall outnumber Republicans by a mere nine to one, the ratio rises above 30 to one among assistant and associate professors.

“So what”, you might say, particularly if you happen to be an American liberal academic. Yet the current situation makes a mockery of the very legal opinion that underpins the diversity fad. In 1978, Justice Lewis Powell argued that diversity is vital to a university's educational mission, to promote the atmosphere of “speculation, experiment and creation” that is essential to their identities. The more diverse the body, the more robust the exchange of ideas. Why apply that argument so rigorously to, say, sexual orientation, where you have campus groups that proudly call themselves GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and questioning), but ignore it when it comes to political beliefs?

This is profoundly unhealthy per se. Debating chambers are becoming echo chambers. Students hear only one side of the story on everything from abortion (good) to the rise of the West (bad). It is notable that the surveys show far more conservatives in the more rigorous disciplines such as economics than in the vaguer 1960s “ologies”. Yet, as George Will pointed out in the Washington Post this week, this monotheism is also limiting universities' ability to influence the wider intellectual culture. In John Kennedy's day, there were so many profs in Washington that it was said the waters of the Charles flowed into the Potomac. These days, academia is marginalised in the capital—unless, of course, you count all the Straussian conservative intellectuals in think-tanks who left academia because they thought it was rigged against them.

This is the single most discouraging thing about American life, in my estimation. The single greatest crime against our children that I can think of, more destructive than video games, candy, MTV, rap, drugs, sex and body modification put together. It must be changed, and a great way to start is to support the Academic Bill of Rights and David Horowitz's work at

Astounding Surprise #547: Barry Bonds is a Steroid User

So the guy who looks more like a steroid user than any other Major League Baseball player has admitted to "unknowingly" using steroids given to him in the forms now infamously known as "the cream" and "the clear." This is an old story, and Bonds has been at the center of it for some time. I don't like Bonds because he's a selfish player who's soft on defense (I blame his fielding as much as anything else for the loss to the Angels in the 2002 World Series), and he's a dick who has never understood that the rewards and stature of his position come with a price.

But now he's giving us the R. Kelly treatment, and he wants us to like it:

Prosecutors confronted Bonds with documents dating to his record-setting season of 2001 that allegedly detailed his use of many drugs, including human growth hormone, steroids and insulin. He said he believed he only used legal products to treat arthritis and fatigue.

Bonds danced around questions, saying he couldn't explain a calendar with the name "Barry" on it; he had never seen a bottle that says Depo-Testosterone; he had never heard of the drugs Clomid, modafinil and trenbolone; and he couldn't pronounce EPO.

Bonds testified that he didn't think any of the substances worked but kept using they out of loyalty to Anderson. He also said he never consulted with the Giants about what Anderson gave him.

"No way ... we don't trust the ball team," Bonds said. "We don't trust baseball. ... Believe me, it's a business. I don't trust their doctors or nothing."

Sheffield also testified to the grand jury that Bonds arranged for Anderson to give him "the clear," "the cream," and another steroid from Mexico, but also said he did not know they were steroids.

There's no way you wouldn't notice if you had been taking steroids inadvertently, but Barry has never given a crap what anyone thought about him, so we needn't feel insulted by such a glaringly obvious lie. I'd imagine most MLB players have taken some sort of illegal performance enhancing drug, and why wouldn't they? The league and player's union are completely uninterested in stopping them because home runs increase viewership and attendance, and although reasonable arguments have been made that extra muscle isn't the culprit, it sure doesn't hurt, and neither do shorter recovery times in a 162-game season.

This next quote tells you what kind of a guy Bonds is:

Bonds said he never paid Anderson for drugs or supplements but did give the trainer $15,000 in cash in 2003 for weight training and a $20,000 bonus after his 73-homer season.

Bonds said that Anderson had so little money that he "lives in his car half the time." Asked by a juror why he didn't buy "a mansion" for his trainer, Bonds answered: "One, I'm black, and I'm keeping my money. And there's not too many rich black people in this world. There's more wealthy Asian people and Caucasian and white. And I ain't giving my money up."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

We Should Have Killed Him When We Had the Chance

Marc Rich, not Osama bin Laden. Well, both, I guess. But we definitely need to kill Rich, who you may remember as the dirty SOB Clinton pardoned at the end of his tenure because Rich's wife Denise gave the Clintons an enormous wad of cash. Ace of Spades posts about his involvement in the Oil-for-Food scam, by far the largest incidence of fraud ever on this planet. Death penalty all around, I say. Kofi Annan and his kid Kojo, Rich, and let's just cap the whole UN while we're at it. The US media sure doesn't give a damn about this story, so we're going to have to make them care, just like with Dan Rather. Oil-for-Food is the crime of the millenium, and we must not let it go unpunished.

The Current State of Art Criticism

Boingboing has a post about what has been voted the most influential artwork of the 20th century by British art: a urinal signed by Marcel Duchamp. I have been ignoring art and art critics ever since modern art turned into a contest of who can be more shocking than the rest. In some ways I think the reaction to Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" was about the crassness of people who think juxtaposing vastly different concepts is the same as being an artist.

To pick a toilet that an artist found, signed, and put on display over the works of Matisse, Picasso and so many others is just stupid, and insulting. I have to quote the whole story below, because it's just so unbelievably moronic:

A white gentlemen's urinal has been named the most influential modern art work of all time.

Marcel Duchamp's Fountain came top of a poll of 500 art experts in the run-up to this year's Turner Prize which takes place on Monday.

Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) was second, with Andy Warhol's Marilyn Diptych from 1962 coming third.

Duchamp shocked the art establishment when he took the urinal, signed it and put it on display in 1917.

"The choice of Duchamp's Fountain as the most influential work of modern art ahead of works by Picasso and Matisse comes as a bit of a shock," said art expert Simon Wilson.

"But it reflects the dynamic nature of art today and the idea that the creative process that goes into a work of art is the most important thing - the work itself can be made of anything and can take any form."

Picasso's Spanish Civil War painting, Guernica, came fourth, while Matisse's The Red Studio was fifth.

Duchamp has influenced many contemporary artists, including Tracey Emin - her unmade bed was inspired by the French artist.

Her fucking unmade bed? My unmade be was inspired by getting up too late to make it before work. Am I an artist too? I guess so, since "the work itself can be made of anything and can take any form." My view of the modern art world is easy to define, in the words of Chip Morningstar: a "constitutional inability to adopt a reasonable way to tell the good stuff from the bad stuff." Or in the words of H.L. Mencken, "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." Amen, brothers.

A Fine Idea

I love this idea. Mixing brand-name cereals and adding toppings like fruit and candy is a great idea, catering to health nuts and sugar bingers alike. And I bet you can get in and out pretty quickly, considering there's not much cooking, if any.

I'm one of those people that some other people hate to go to a restaurant with, especially if I've been to that one before, because I know what I like and it's rarely on the menu exactly the way I like it. For example, I love fajitas, and I especially love beef fajitas in an enchilada. I've found maybe three restaurants in Austin that make fajita enchiladas, but you can generally get them elsewhere if you ask nicely. Which I sometimes do. Another example is Vietnamese food: I love vermicelli with grilled pork, but I hate it when they put lettuce in it, and I really hate fish sauce. Plus I really like peanut sauce and a little bit of the beef broth they make Pho with. And I like the sprouts but on the side, and the same with the cucumbers and carrots. So instead of ordering a #42, it takes me a while longer to express what I want in a way that will ensure it showing up the way I want it.

I am regularly ridiculed for this behavior, but I think the whole world's an omelette bar, and if we can't have exactly what we want, what are we eating out for anyway? My wife tolerates this behavior much better than my other annoying habit of asking waiters and waitresses what they think is the best dish in the house, which rarely gets a declarative answer. They should have an answer to that, if only to name the most expensive dish, shouldn't they? Mostly I get a "Uh, well, I don't really . . . " which is followed by "eat meat" or "know, because I just started" or even "care, because I'm so consumed with the desire to get the hell out of here that I'm just phoning it in until the end of my shift. Now order something, you asshole."

Some people just don't know how to solicit a big tip, I guess. Thanks to Boingboing for the link.

Barry Bonds, You're Next

Jason Giambi of the Yankees has admitted to steroid use as recently as 2003, using injections, oral drops and creams provided by Barry Bonds' weight trainer to pump up his abilities artificially. If you've observed baseball in the last couple of decades, it wasn't hard to see how much bigger people like Bonds, Giambi, the Astros' Jeff Bagwell, the recently deceased Ken Caminiti and others suddenly got some time ago, and how much smaller almost all of them but Bonds and Giambi are these days. Caminiti, having wrung his body out for long, hard-partying years and admitted steroid used during his National League MVP year in 1996, died of a cocaine overdose earlier this year, and many of the people interviewd about him during the next week are obvious former steroid abusers.

I am thoroughly disgusted by Major League Baseball's unwillingness to squash this nonsense, but the rise in home runs over the last decade has been so popular, and done so much for baseball attendance and viewership, that I guess the league just figured we wouldn't mind the fact that all those records are so much bullshit, products of creative chemistry and not human effort. Experts often say that extra power isn't enough to hit home runs regularly, and it isn't. But an occasional shot of human growth hormone will make a warning-track out into a home run every time. If you've already go the eyes and the wrists, more power gives a real boost in performance.

So I view recent home run records as non-events. They didn't happen. And I won't watch baseball until I can look out on the field and not see relatives of the Incredible Hulk in baseball uniforms. Robots, sure. But not steroid-pumped humans. No thanks.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

America, Gosh Yes

Not much blogging today, errands and dog parties and even some Chipotle burritos. Strange that in Austin I'd choose a MacDonald's subsidiary chain for burritos, but they're pretty good, and they have both habanero salsa and corn/green chile salsa, both of which I love, especially together.

Anyways, from The Jawa Report, someone has made a music video to go with the song I couldn't get out of my head for a month after seeing "Team America: World Police." Very dirty lyrics and even a touch of semi-blurry porn, so be careful where you watch it.