September 17, 2004

Now Children, You Knew This Was Coming

Personally, I've always thought a picture was worth a thousand words, myself.

GOODBYE!

(Image from The Sims Resource.)

UPDATE 09/19/2004: I'll echo the comments of Margi (below) and just say that I love this game. But I'm definitely in the market for a new video card and would welcome suggestions/comments below. Game specs state an NVIDIA GeForce 2 or better (or other manufacturer equivalent).

Posted by Ilyka at 09:35 PM | Comments (13)

September 16, 2004

Not Entirely Unanimous

A quick reader survey at Powerline (via Absinthe & Cookies) demonstrates one respect in which renewed attention to Bush's guard service may have produced an unexpected benefit for the president:

Mrs. Rocket generally agrees with me on poltical issues, but sometimes for unexpected reasons. One opionion she has expressed that never would have occurred to me, is that the National Guard flap helps President Bush because they keep showing him in his National Guard uniform. I thought that was an eccentric view, but reader Shirley Camp agrees:

I don't know if anyone has ever pointed this out to you, but I think every time Bush is shown in his Natl Guard Uniform, is a plus for him because he looks so cute in it. His image is very appealing to women. I think this helps him instead of hurting him. What do you think? Maybe others can opine.

All I can say, Shirley, is that you're not alone. Maybe other readers will weigh in.

Other readers did, with this result:

We ask, our readers respond! And so far the response is unanimous. Every woman who has emailed us agrees that the photos of W. in his National Guard uniform are a plus.
(Emphasis mine.) Well, I was one of those readers who responded, and I'm afraid I was among the dissenters on this one.

Before I go any further, please note: By no means am I faulting Hindrocket for not including my response. I suspect I sent it after he'd already been flooded with replies on this issue, number one; number two, can you even imagine how much email these guys must be getting lately? As Kelly Bundy once said, "The mind wobbles."

But, in the "sisters are doin' it for themselves" tradition of which I'm so fond, I think I'll nonetheless present what I wrote to Hindrocket here:

Greetings, Mr. Hinderaker. You recently excerpted a comment by a female reader opining in part:

I think every time Bush is shown in his Natl Guard Uniform, is a plus for him because he looks so cute in it. His image is very appealing to women. I think this helps him instead of hurting him.

Having enjoyed your recent coverage of the forged documents scandal, I am in no position to disparage your readers, nor do I wish to; but my own opinion is quite different from Shirley's.

I do not vote for my leaders based on appearances. I vote for my leaders based on my perception of their leadership ability and character, first, and their positions on the issues, second.

One of the most grating attributes of the modern Democratic party, to me, is their assumption that they have the women's vote "sewn up" for such trivial non-reasons as, "John Edwards is young, fresh-faced, and handsome." Yes, and so was Dan Quayle--and even though I've voted Republican in more elections than not, I always thought Dan's looks were overshadowed by certain, ah, deficits in the intelligence department.

I wrote on my own site today several criticisms of statements made by Maureen Dowd in a so-called "women's forum" hosted by the New York Times. (I realize that was shooting fish in a barrel; we all know there's no limit to the idiocy of MoDo.) She said:

In New Hampshire, Kerry fans had a bumper sticker that said, "Dated Dean, Married Kerry," playing off the idea that while Howard Dean might be exciting, with all his anti-war, sweet-nothing rants, John Kerry was more solid husband, or presidential, material.

While I went for the smart remark in response to that particular bit of bimbosity, I find something I said in response to another "MoDo moment" of hers applies equally well here:

I will note that it would absolutely never occur to Maureen how belittling, condescending, and demeaning it is to suggest that the only thing women voters are after is a guy who "conveys strength." Holy cow, if a right-leaning male blogger said something this stupid I'd roast him alive. Figuratively, I mean.

I don't think it does any harm to note that George Bush, in younger days, looked remarkably handsome in his guard uniform (frankly, I think he looks pretty good even now)--but if he were advocating the terrorist-appeasing policies of John Kerry, I would not vote for him even if he were People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive.

Opinions vary, of course, and Shirley is certainly entitled to hers. But I think the right does a disservice to its many fine women when it echoes the mistakes of the left, and I am always leery of the suggestion that my vote can be swayed by how "cute" a candidate is. I consider voting both a right and a responsibility, and I do not intend to ignore the "responsibility" half of it. That means looking at something else besides a man's countenance; his record in office, for example.

I am hopeful other women voters this year will feel similarly.

And as Dennis Miller used to end his rants, "Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong."

Posted by Ilyka at 11:33 PM | Comments (8)

And Now a Break for Unrestrained Giggling

I. Can't. Stop. Laughing.

See, I guess the New York Times, as part of their ongoing mission to empower women everywhere--particularly women voters--well, I guess they--

Oh no. This is too easy. This is beyond shooting fish in a barrel.

Let me compose myself a moment.

Okay: I guess they thought it would be a grand idea to post an online discussion between Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, and . . . Maureen Dowd.

Oh, don't get excited: It's not as though they want the thoughts of any non-NYT-employed women or anything--

To submit a question for either Ms. Collins or Ms. Dowd, please use this form. Readers cannot post in this space.
Was I getting excited about the ostensible democratization of the media two posts ago? Yeah, so hold that thought a minute. But oh-my-my, oh-hell-yes, have I got some primo MoDo moments for you:

The more I think about it, the more I think men may be biologically unsuited to hold high public office.

Their penises get in the way of the pen whenever they go to sign a piece of legislation. It's really a problem.

I mean, what can we tell about a leader by which pizza toppings he likes? "I like everything on my pizza," Mr. Kerry replied. Uh-oh, I wondered. Was that a culinary, cover-all-his-bases, trying-too-hard-to-please, having-it-all-ways?

Christ, no, he absolutely never does that.

Ms. Elder says Mr. Kerry now has "no gender gap of note" and that his support fell off after the Republican convention. This probably happened because women are looking for strong leaders, and the Republicans were better able to convey strength at their convention, even if it was just movie-style "Magnificent Seven" riding in to protect the town.

As opposed to movie-style, "honorable soldier reporting for duty" type--look, this is literally too stupid; you finish this one.

But I will note that it would absolutely never occur to Maureen how belittling, condescending, and demeaning it is to suggest that the only thing women voters are after is a guy who "conveys strength." Holy cow, if a right-leaning male blogger said something this stupid I'd roast him alive. Figuratively, I mean.

Rene: As my pal Gail Collins has written in "America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines,'' society always sends mixed messages about the role of women.

By giving high-profile jobs to bimbos like Maureen, for one.

Teresa Heinz Kerry would be a fascinating, controversial presence on the trail if she were a male or female, because she is outspoken and vivid and, as with any billionaire, accustomed to having things their own way.

Just like Marie Antoinette, but I hear that ended badly.

Wait, I think I inadvertently ripped this off from somewhere . . . ah, yes, via here. Sorry about that, fellas. Long night.

Romance is often used as the best metaphor in campaigns.

Not when the candidate you've put forward looks like Lurch it isn't. Wait, she's not done explaining that metaphor. Pray continue, Sister Mo:

In New Hampshire, Kerry fans had a bumper sticker that said, "Dated Dean, Married Kerry," playing off the idea that while Howard Dean might be exciting, with all his anti-war, sweet-nothing rants, John Kerry was more solid husband, or presidential, material.

I have heard some sweet nothings in my time. None of them sounded like this.

Hey, and don't get any ideas about "fairness" or "balance" or, what the hey, "intelligence" or "maturity" in this (one-sided) discussion forum, either. Gail Collins is almost, but not quite, as bad as pal Maureen:

As far as I can tell, the gender gap is about the fact that women voters tend to be more emotionally conservative than men. In other words, they don't like to take chances.

Well no, Gail, you're right: Actually, I don't want to take chances that someone I know will be forced to jump from the 89th floor of a building because your preferred candidate waited to find out what the U.N. thought we should do about terrorism first. But I'm told I'm just particular like that.

Posted by Ilyka at 08:33 AM | Comments (2)

People Love it When You Lose

How did that song go again? "Kick up when they're up / Kick 'em when they're down?" Yeah, something like that:

``One of the problems in journalism . . . is we ask for transparency, and yet we don't demand the same from ourselves,'' said Ken Auletta, media writer for The New Yorker magazine. ``CBS still has a lot of great reporters and `60 Minutes' is still the best news magazine show. They don't deserve to be robbed of that reputation, but they risk (it) if they don't act.''
I could quibble about the verb "robbed" in that last sentence--it implies they didn't do this to themselves but were, you know "attacked"--but you know, it is just faintly possible that Dan Rather's given more people ulcers in his long career than we'll ever know about, so maybe that's who's being fingered as the culprit.
Posted by Ilyka at 07:49 AM | Comments (1)

Not Easily Silenced

Kate found a gem of an article over at The Scotsman. It quotes the usual "old guard" bloggers (and that's my only fault with it; Reynolds and Sullivan were very late to the game on this issue, with the bulk of the legwork being done by Charles, the Powerline guys, and Bill, to name just a few), but that is not why I liked it. I liked the clear-eyed conclusion:

The lesson of this week has been that, in America at least, the media has been democratised. In a dizzying, energising and raucous return to the pamphleteering days of the 18th and 19th centuries, the people have, through the worldwide web and easy-to-use publishing software, been given a voice. They will not easily be silenced.
(Emphasis mine.)

You all go on about Burkett and Kinko's and Abilene and pajamas--always with the running of the mildly-funny-the-first-dozen-times joke into the ground, yeesh. Me, I'm thinking tartans for fall this year.

Posted by Ilyka at 07:24 AM | Comments (1)

Well, That's Torn It

Jesus, Mr. Rather, you made Andrea Harris bust out the ALL-CAPS.

For like paragraphs.

Here's the wind-up:

Oh Ė but before I go any further, let me just mention what this alleged ďblockbuster revelationĒ of some evil misdeed perpetrated by Dubya CBS is all putting its existence as a destination for the nationís remote controls on the line for: George W. Bush missed a physical while in the Texas Air National Guard. Thatís it.
You go read the rest for the pitch.
Posted by Ilyka at 04:47 AM | Comments (0)

Them Heartless Conservatives, Part Fourventy-Quagillion

Let me see if I have this correct: The problem is not that CBS, wittingly or unwittingly, tried to pass a Microsoft Word document off as a 30 year-old memo; rather (I'm not doing that cutesy "th" thing, you can't make me, also please forgive the pun), the problem is that those pesky partisan operatives are ignoring the heart of the problem (see 09/15 08:09 PM post):

But on a personal note, I believe it is important to remember that those who have criticized aspects of this story have never criticized the heart of it, that George W. Bush got special treatment.
Ladies and gentlemen, Dan Rather--your source for completely fair and balanced reporting.

Look, I know the guy's plenty partisan himself; I know he's got a ginormous ego; I know he's getting on in years; but what that statement tells me is that Dan Rather has actually forgotten how news works. See, the way it works is, you make your claim and then you support it, and then your claim stands or falls on the basis of that support.

Which is why it's extremely unhelpful to support your claims with evidence that wouldn't fool a six year-old (though it apparently confuses Ken Layne, who wrote today that "there has been no earthshaking evidence to support any theory about these Bush Memos." Yeah, yeah, right, I said I wasn't going to bat him around anymore. Sorry).

Supporting your claim with bad evidence tends to ruin a little intangible that is nonetheless paramount to your news organization's survival: Credibility. You just can't expect your viewers and listeners to accept and stay focused on "the heart of the story," when you backed up "the heart of the story" with evidence that couldn't be less credible if you'd got it from the Tooth Fairy.

That was your screwup, CBS. Not your viewers'. Not George W. Bush's. Not the webloggers'. Yours.

Which is why, when I said I'd hate this whole thing even more if I were supporting Kerry this year, I meant it. Good, credible support--yeah, a campaign needs that. Rather's blustering and finger-pointing--NO campaign needs that. Is Clinton recovered from heart surgery yet? Could we maybe get him to have a talk with ol' Dan? (And they say conservatives have no compassion. That'd be the most merciful thing a soul could do, right there.)

But the punch line isn't even that paragraph up above. The punch line is the line before the quoted paragraph above:

"We will continue to report credible evidence."

Babyjowls, you can't "continue" to do something you never did do in the first place.

UPDATE: Apparently one brave guy actually watched the whole thing. Conclusion: "If Edward R. Murrow wasn't already dead, he'd kill himself." Of course, in Dan's world he'd deserve to, for ignoring the heart of the story like that.

Anyway, I didn't see anything on either CBS's site or Allah's to indicate that Treacher got his wish, just to update everybody on that part of the story (which is not the heart, remember).

Posted by Ilyka at 03:24 AM | Comments (1)

You Know, They're Not Entirely Stupid

CBS, I mean. Now everyone will tune in to see their follow-up non-story story on "60 Minutes" tonight.

Yes, you will. Don't shake your head at me like that.

Well, maybe you won't. But you'll hope someone else does so you can get your eyeballs on a quickie transcript.

Oh, yes you will.

If today should have taught us anything, it's that it's still Dan Rather's world. We just live in it.

How much longer that will continue is partly dependent on viewers like you, of course.

Posted by Ilyka at 12:26 AM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2004

"The Latest Attack"

I don't believe this. Dan just said his correspondent Wyatt Andrews has the story on "the latest attack" on the 60 Minutes II story.

Attack? Because hundreds and thousands of people could see they were trying to pass off a damn Word document as being 30 years old? You don't think that sort of thing makes people upset or anything, do you?

Oh, and sho'nuff, here's the secretary. And yes, it's the ol' "but the content of the story was true" defense.

Fuck it. Two plus two equals five.

Posted by Ilyka at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

Par for the Course: The CBS Statement

From Drudge--Andrew Heyward, CBS:

We established to our satisfaction that the memos were accurate or we would not have put them on television.
There's more. It's about as expected.

Oh, and I was wrong. Now see, I didn't find saying that difficult at all.

Posted by Ilyka at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

A Lame-Brained Prediction Because, You Know, Why Not?

My guess is they postpone it to the evening news tonight. At least, that's what I'm hoping, because I could really stand to get away from the computer and do a little cleaning up around here . . . .

Besides: Ultimately, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Ratings gold.

So listen, if it turns out I called this, what do I win?

Right. Sorry.

UPDATE, ONE HOUR POST ORIGINAL ANNOUNCEMENT TIME: Okay, now I'm all but certain. Evening news tonight. Definitely.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)

This is Not a Partisan Thing

Some guy in a comments thread today asked something like, "What about FOX News?" I think he was essentially claiming that, in order to be upset about Dan Rather and CBS and those so-obviously-fake-they-make-my-eyes-bleed documents, one first had to justify the existence of FOX News. Which only makes sense if you think about it, provided you think about it after imbibing a fifth of tequila, plus worm.

And then there was a thread I read recently that I apologize sincerely for not being able to track down now (there have simply been too many I've been reading lately, and by the way, the first person who codes up a solid comment-tracking app is going to do booming business) in which a commenter said, paraphrasing, that the first things conservatives do when you complain about a conservative media is (1) deny that it's conservative, i.e., FOX News, or (2) deny that it's truly "media," i.e., talk radio.

Okay, I can see the point with that. In fact, I'll concede that I find FOX News to be a little less than "fair and balanced." But then, I'm not really the best judge of it because, see, I don't watch it.

I don't have cable, see.

So maybe I just don't get how three networks vs. one cable-only news network equals this great imbalance in how we report the news, an imbalance so overwhelming that our lawmakers have to send letters of rebuke to FOX News and hint at legislative action against them.

(Fairness note: I don't support a congressional investigation of CBS, either, as I said rather angrily in the update here.)

As for talk radio not "really counting" as media, I've made that argument myself. Figure roughly how many people get their news from the wire services--AP, Reuters--and now look at the sidebar on this analysis of American listening habits:

The most popular source of news on radio is music stations
And you know what that means? That means most radio listeners are getting their news from the same root sources, the wire services, that eventually feed all the mainstream papers and all the network news outlets. Most of us are getting our radio news via the 5-minute wire-service reports that music stations run at the breaks, not via Rush Limbaugh.

This is usually about the point at which someone hollers, "yeah, but the audiences for this konservative krap on our nation's airwaves are friggin' HUGE."

Yes. Yes, as nearly as I can tell, they are. This page lists numbers from 2002, which isn't very current data; also, I'm a little wigged out by the organization providing this data. (You'll see what I mean if you hit up the home page.)

All caveats aside, you still wind up with numbers that qualify as "huge:"

The G. Gordon Liddy Show: 2.25 million weekly listeners

The Rush Limbaugh Show: 14.5 million weekly visitors

The Sean Hannity Show: 5 million weekly visitors

So yeah. That's a lotta visitors just from that small sample.

Here are the weekly viewers for the evening network news broadcasts in July 2003. I've added emphasis below:

The longtime anchor of the "CBS Evening News" averaged a paltry 6.5 million viewers last week, according to Nielsen Media Research - the smallest audience for the program in at least 10 years.

That put Rather 2.4 million viewers behind NBC's "Nightly News with Tom Brokaw," which led the race with 8.9 million.

And Brokaw wasn't even at the anchor desk last week: Brian Williams was sitting in for him. ABC's "World News Tonight" with Peter Jennings was also far ahead of Rather, with 8.2 million viewers.

So here we have the numbers for what is apparently one of CBS's bad weeks, and we're just slightly over the weekly numbers for three of the top talk radio hosts. 14.5 + 2.25 + 5 = 21.75 million weekly talk radio listeners. 6.5 + 8.9 + 8.2 = 23.6 million weekly network news viewers.

So I can see why some people object that talk radio "does too" count as "media." I mean, I didn't even add in Drudge's show, or O'Reilly's, or Medved's, or . . . I'm sure if you kept on going, you'd dwarf the numbers for the nightly news broadcasts easily.

'Course, that doesn't take into account how many people read the New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, Time, Newsweek . . . on a weekly basis.

Or how many viewers tune into 60 Minutes, Dateline, 20/20, or Primetime . . . .

But most importantly, it doesn't take into account that the talk radio audience knows what it's getting into when it dials up Limbaugh or Hannity. Talk radio isn't pretending to be fair, impartial, or objective. You know you're never going to hear Limbaugh fret about vanishing reproductive rights, unless maybe it's April Fool's Day and he had the extra-strength Vicodin that morning. You know when you tune in where the host is coming from.

This is why conservatives got the giggles so badly over Air America. Look, launching Air America was like going to a comic book convention and trying to sell Joni Mitchell albums there, all right? It's the wrong freakin' audience for that stuff. Talk radio is where conservative people go to get away from the kind of liberal insularity that they feel pervades the so-called mainstream media. Talk radio is where conservative people go to hear a story about a gun being used to save someone's life, not end it tragically. Talk radio is an outlet and a reaction to the kind of world that put Rosie O'Donnell on television (and thank God that nightmare's over).

You don't have to like it. I don't like most of it myself, if you want to know. Talk radio is not really my thing.

But you could quit pitching fits about it. That'd be very welcomed. Buck up, be strong, and console yourselves that at least you have virtually every other news source all sewn up. Hell, you even have something on cable to counter FOX News--it's called CNN. Conservatives used to refer to it as the Clinton News Network. Now either that was because (1) all conservatives who dislike the coverage on CNN are raving paranoid fruitcakes, or (2) maybe, just maybe, there was a little something to that.

I don't have to justify the existence of talk radio and FOX News to note that CBS has screwed the pooch with this one. In fact, I might just point out that if I were John Kerry or one of his supporters, I'd be even more furious about this. It reflects badly on all involved. And you guys who are complaining that Memogate or Rathergate (or whatever we're calling it these days) detracts from the "real issue" of Bush's guard service?--Bingo! That is about the only thing I've seen you get right. Because it certainly does do that. It's vastly more interesting to hear about a major network plunging its news division down the toilet than it is to wonder whether the President of the United States missed a friggin' physical. That's just human nature, fellas. That's how news is.

The sooner you acknowledge that, the sooner you could begin doing some good for your candidate and your party.

CORRECTION, FROM THE COMMENTS: According to a fellow named Mike, only mezcal includes a worm. I found this of interest, however:

In 25 years we have never met a palenquero who has offered a sip of his mezcal with: a Worm, a Lime or Salt. In our experience the only use of the worm besides a marketing gimmick is to mask the chemical taste of poorly produced mezcal.
There's some history included on the site that may be of interest as well.

Can I say "we report, you decide," now? No, you know, on second thought, I'd rather just stipulate that what I wrote was true in the larger sense.

Posted by Ilyka at 08:55 PM | Comments (2)

"All Vision is Mine"

I swear, there are too many days anymore when I would be downright pleased to have the world erupt into fiery chaos and mayhem if only it encouraged Treacher to post more.

In a stunning reversal yesterday, embattled CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather renounced his claim to the throne of the Space Unicorns, instead declaring himself to be the Bonnukarr, culmination of human evolution, sent back in time from the 857th Century by the warrior-god Kobaltine IV to prepare mankind for the coming Insect Wars.
See?--This is why you don't want me in charge of the world: Because eventually there wouldn't be one. I would sell all of humanity straight down the river for bits like this:

Don't click if you're offended by cussing, okay?

And then where would you all be, hmm? Not so worried about that late mortgage payment anymore, are you?

Posted by Ilyka at 10:35 AM | Comments (4)

I Told You

I told you to ask the secretaries (this former one, for example). I told you. But did you listen? No, you all wanted to consult the experts.

I dig you all, but honestly: Sometimes you are such . . . men.

(Drudge link via In DC Journal.)

Posted by Ilyka at 02:55 AM | Comments (1)

Please Shut Up Before You Say Something Else Stupid

I knew, eventually, the whole memo thing would devolve into one giant backslapping session, followed by extensive bloated analysis of What This All Means. The backslapping, I can take. Much of it is deserved (for example: I don't think anyone's going to tell Bill of In DC Journal that blogs "don't do any investigative reporting" ever again.) But couldn't we have skipped the What It All Means part? That would be the part that Old Media has been tacking onto stories as they wind down and lose steam for decades now. It sucks when they do it, and it sucks when bloggers do it.

Then again, I don't really consider Hugh Hewitt a blogger; I consider him a guy with a radio show who, because of his position in the Old Media, was able to proclaim one day, "I Have a Blog!" and immediately be welcomed with open arms to the New Media, kind of like every blogger Nick Denton's foisted on the unsuspecting online public. And just like the GawkFleshWankette crowd, the man got into this having nearly no idea what he was talking about:

Sure, a few hundred blogs seem to own a large share of the traffic, as N.Z.Bear's rankings by traffic shows. But there are tens of thousands of blogs each racking up unique visitors. If those blogs in the tail pick up a meme --say, "Dan Rather is a doddering fool and CBS is covering up for him"-- its spread across the universe of people using the web for information gathering is huge and almost instantaneous. And irreversible because a friend or colleague of Rick is much more likely to believe his analysis because he knows and trusts Rick than it is some knucklehead from CBS who is attempting to dismiss Rick as a pajama-wearing loon.
Yes, that's right: Everyone with a shitty Technorati (and never even mind the Ecosystem; it refuses to update my URL and so only ranks the old journalspace blog, making me look like the least-read weblogger out there, which is only somewhat true), all we "bloggers in the tail" are read primarily by our friends and family.

Oh please; this is to upchuck. Look, I can't pay my family to read this blog, and as for my friends, if I want to keep them I have to make damn sure they don't even know this blog exists, because yes, they're that kind of left, the kind that only tolerates you so long as it can assume you're voting for Kerry.

I run anywhere between 100-200 unique visitors per day (currently Sitemeter's reporting an average of 165), depending on how frequently I update and, yes, whether the updates are crap or not. And for the most part, I have no idea who those visitors are. Some of them are sent by generous higher-traffic bloggers, but not all. Anywhere between--I'm estimating here--25-40% of them show up with no referrer information at all. Either they found me once long ago through the same generous linkage described above and liked it enough to keep coming back, or they . . . look, I have no idea how they got here. I have no idea what posts they like and what posts they hate. I have no idea, period. I just know they're not my damn "colleagues." They have no reason to trust me beyond what I can document and support.

Please, please, PLEASE can we stop fawning over these halfwits who get into blogging because it's the "done thing" all of a sudden. Please. Let someone who actually HAS a small blog tell me about the potential influence of smaller blogs. Don't let me read it from some dork who had to have it explained to him by the founder of Technorati. Please, don't make me have an aneurysm over this.

Make your minds up, bloggers: Either Old Media needs a whopping dose of humility before you could ever find it attractive again, or Old Media is only hateable right up until the moment it condescends to play with you in your sandbox. Do you know what this is like? This is like when the goth kids in school all sneer at the football team right up until the moment the captain asks out Lady Ophelia Darkenmore of Ravenwood. Then it's all, "Pray tell, Lady Darkenmore, what attire thou shalt don for thy evening promenade with Sir Jocky?" Christ.

I GUESS I'M TRYING TO CLOSE THE BARN DOOR AFTER THE HORSES ARE LONG GONE UPDATE: I forgot even to mention this imbecilic idea. Yes, let's have Congress investigate CBS. I'm sure that won't lead to any cries of censorship or anything; it's not like there's anything in the Constitution that prohibits the government from doing such things, right? Right? Who let this guy on the internet?!?

CALLING THIS "STRAIGHT-UP FREE REPUBLIC" BEHAVIOR IS AN INSULT TO FREE REPUBLIC UPDATE: Dude, don't go there. Just. Don't.

Posted by Ilyka at 12:36 AM | Comments (2)

September 14, 2004

Two Links, Scarcely Related

This is an EX-memo: Dan Rather gets Pythoned. Inevitable, really.

You know, I was thinking about it, and no one's really won anything on this deal, have they? Except, possibly, Bush. Complaints that forged documents distract from the "real" story about Bush's guard service are legitimate, sure--but only if you think Bush's guard service is the story in the first place.

It isn't for me, anymore than Kerry's Vietnam service was. Could we get back to issues, maybe?

I no longer give a shit about your Vietnam-era exploits. It doesn't matter to me if you were once a drunk-driving, cocaine-tooting mama's boy or if you were an effete BMOC. I worked my way through San Diego State, so your Ivy League, skull-and-crossbones homoerotic initiation service and secret handshake means little to me.
I just know someone's itching to type at me that Kerry made Vietnam the issue in the first place, what with that "reporting for duty" line, etc., but you know, I don't care. It all starts to sound like children screaming "but he STARTED it!" after awhile.

Roxanne's issues don't have to tally exactly with my own for me to recognize that at least she has issues, that we all do, and that focusing on what either candidate did or didn't do thirty-odd years ago doesn't begin to answer the primary question for which each candidate should be, by now, easily able to articulate an answer:

What will you do with the presidency?

Posted by Ilyka at 04:53 PM | Comments (3)

September 12, 2004

Partisans?

Ain't no partisans here, nope. Just us humble little members of the Pajamasphere.

So let me see if I have this right: If you're up-front about your politics and you write about them on the internet (while clad in your Armani or your pajamas or, uh, your housedress), no one should take anything you write about seriously. But if you're up-front about your politics and you're interviewed about them in a very objective book, you maybe have a shot to be a source for "60 Minutes?" Do you have to leave the sleepwear at home for that gig? Because if you do I guess I'm out.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

Remember Your Allies

A legitimate, somewhat poignant complaint from Simon about blog coverage of the Jakarta bombing:

Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit is the central blog of blogs, the divine linker. Like major media, his is the first amongst equals and thus usually the one who determines the agenda of the blogosphere in terms of politics. He has earned that position through respect, constant good work and interesting linkage. So it comes as a major disappointment that there is not a single mention of the Jakarta bombings on his site. Others such as Michele and the Command Post team did report on it but the major central clearing house of the blogosphere ignored it, as did many others.

. . .

Despite its unilateralists tendencies, America isn't alone. Just as that means receiving support from allies, it also means reciprocating. And support isn't always in the form of money, military might or men. Sometimes it's as simple as a link on a blog.

This is why I think it's a shame in many ways that so many bloggers have made Instapundit the "major central clearing house" of information. In fact, I'll bet Glenn himself finds that a pity; after all, he's just one guy. Expecting him to get it right every time with no missteps is like giving him a cape and tights and painting a big "I" on his chest.

That aside, if you're a blogger, do take a moment to show Simon that America remembers and honors her allies. Not to quote old Quaker Oats commercials or anything, but it's the right thing to do--and kudos to Command Post for recognizing that.

(Besides: We could all stand to take a couple minutes off from the typesetting discussions, right? Please tell me we could stand to do that.)

I should add that in the same post, Simon has as fine a roundup on Jakarta and its aftermath as one is likely to find out there. I think you could get caught up on what's happening in an hour or two.

Posted by Ilyka at 06:06 PM | Comments (4)

September 11, 2004

The Day of Turning Off

Like many people who weren't in Washington, Pennsylvania, or New York that day, I did a lot of turning on the television on September 11, 2001.

On that day and on subsequent days, I did a lot of turning off the television, too.

Sometimes it was because something hit me too hard and I couldn't take the grief anymore. Sometimes the sight of one more person being interviewed while holding a "MISSING: " poster was too horrible.

Click.

Sometimes it was because my amazement, my awe at how people were pulling together in the face of this destruction, was so overwhelming that I felt ashamed for not being more grateful for what I had. I felt ashamed for complaining about petty annoyances while firefighters, police officers, and volunteers--volunteers!--were working around the clock to put some order into the chaos.

Click.

Sometimes that flaming wreck in Pennsylvania was just--

Click.

Sometimes that enormous wound in the Pentagon just--

Click.

At first, these were the sorts of reasons I had to turn off the television.

Gradually it became something else.

Gradually, it became hearing one more panel of experts urging grief counseling while omitting one key stage of the grief process: anger.

Gradually, it became seeing the spokesperson for CAIR on, again berating the U.S. for its intolerance of Muslims, even as his organization displayed no such tolerance of Jews; even as I knew of no one not tolerating Muslims, even as I recalled that Muslims were also among the dead that day, even as phrases like "Wahabbist Islam" were entering the American collective consciousness.

Gradually, it became watching a poignant segment on one of the victims veer suddenly into a talking head discussion of how we could, and should, move on.

Gradually, it became listening to the neutered and spayed language all the time: We hadn't been "attacked;" we had been "challenged." We weren't "at war;" we were "victims." We weren't "trying to find answers;" we were "avoiding a rush to judgment."

Gradually, I was getting fed up. Gradually, it got easier not to turn the damn thing on in the first place.

The so-called "warblogs" came up at the right time for me--probably for many people. Nature abhors a vacuum. When the media refused to give people what they sought--information, however raw and personal--and devoted more and more of its time to nannying its audience to death, it was only a matter of time before--

Click.

I feel often, and especially today, that I owe a debt of gratitude to these writers for their voluntary efforts to get the information out, whether that information was personal, political, or an inspired mixture of both. I would like to thank some of them here, but I would like to do it without accusations of link-whoring, so I advise interested parties to Google those mentioned (or simply see the blogroll at left; most of them are still around and still going strong).

I have some ideological differences with him now, and he's often accused of not being a "real" blogger, but he was the first one I found. Through him I found all the others, and I enjoyed his writing immensely: Andrew Sullivan.

He used to race Instapundit to see who could rack up more posts in a day, and his enthusiasm and skill at weblogging were a joy to behold: Stephen Green, the Vodkapundit.

He writes every weekday. He writes every weekday at the end of the day, after housework and child-rearing and paid work, and he does it like nobody's business, and when I found my boyfriend reading a post on another blog that disparaged him I yelled, yes YELLED, at the screen, because to my mind you don't ever knock that quality of effort when it's both consistent and free: James Lileks.

She had the best blog ever. She put the heart and the soul into it and she took enormous grief for it and she kept coming back anyway, and she led drive after drive to help not herself, but others. When I read remarks by guys who essentially do nothing beyond linking an article in the Washington Post and tacking on a two-sentence, indifferent conclusion . . . when I read some guy opining that the "problem" with women bloggers is that they're "too emotional" or "too personal" in their writing . . . I think, She was better than you on her worst day. And I hope she comes back: Michele at A Small Victory.

I think that, sadly, there are many blog readers out there who don't realize how this guy got to be so beloved, who don't understand why he can go three weeks without a single post, then do up a short one, and be instantly linked by the high-traffic bloggers just like that. They don't know because they weren't reading him back then and the archives are largely no longer available, thanks to the malicious insanity of one real asshole. Some people have no idea, because they don't know how grateful people were for a laugh back then--or no, maybe they do know that, but simply don't know how brilliantly this guy delivered: Jim Treacher.

She was my primer for all things Israel and I've never seen her back down from anything, whether it was hurled at her from left or from right, and she always, always, always has her facts. You are not going to win an argument with her, so shut up; and maybe, if you're nice, you'll be blessed with a hilarious entry from the diary of Iseema bin Laden: Meryl Yourish.

I didn't have to read about the clean-up efforts at the World Trade Center in the New York Times. I read about them from a woman who volunteered there: Megan McArdle.

I don't remember what her blog was called back then. I only know that I follow it through all its iterations and I love it because on days when I am cranky, I can usually bet that she will be even more cranky, only it will be crankiness laid out beautifully, focused and woven into something almost elegant. It will be designer crankiness. If I am lucky, it will be crankiness directed at someone or something that's also been subtly pissing me off all this time, only I didn't know how to express it: Andrea Harris.

These people helped me very much. These people were mouse-clicks away when I could not take the television or the radio or the papers or, hell, my you-don't-know-what-it's-like-because-you-never-lived-in-a-Muslim-country-like-I-did-although-granted-it-was-a-heavily-guarded-American-compound-and-I-didn't-really-mix-with-the-locals-much coworkers.

When you are tempted to cynical put-downs of "big bloggers," remember that while they did not invent weblogs, they were instrumental in shaping the way political weblogs look today. And when you are tempted to blame them for the way political weblogs look today (what? Why are you looking at me like that?), try to mix some credit with the blame. And when you are tempted to sneer "link whore!" at the littler bloggers who link them, consider that maybe there's more going on there than just the desire for traffic. Maybe it's gratitude.

That is all I have to say today. Remember September 11, 2001, in a way that works for you.

And maybe remember those who helped you never forget, too, if you want.

UPDATE (via Kesher Talk): This is not how to remember.

Posted by Ilyka at 05:07 PM | Comments (3)

Call Me Wingnut

Don't even ask me how this evening went. Let's just say that when I said it was a parts story, and hinted that it shouldn't be a parts story . . . well, I would chalk that up to premonition if I couldn't already chalk it up to a rudimentary knowledge of human nature.

It is not easy, nor is it compelling, to relay a parts story.

Because anytime you spend a Friday night beginning sentences with "Look, it's not just the kerning that's at issue here--" and you're met with the response, "Would you shut UP about the fucking KERNING already?!?" well, you know you're in trouble. Also, you're probably not getting laid that night. Pardon me for not having the exact odds on that, but you're safe figuring them somewhere around pretty damn low.

Anyway, an aside: O dearest man of mine, do tell me why Roger Simon is calling for Dan Rather to be sent to Darfur. (What would that be? Gunga Dan: The Wrath of Sudan?)

No, you tell me. Tell me how a levelheaded guy like Simon started calling for action well beyond what your ostensibly wingnutted girlfriend would. See, I've done enough explaining for the night, thank you. And I've backed my explanations up with slightly more than, "Well, this one guy in the comments at Atrios says . . . ."

Posted by Ilyka at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

Terrific

I would just like to say thank you, thank you very much, to the guy who gave me that sex-of-author-in-question link. Because, see, then I threw a hissy fit. And then I wrote this.

And now I'm getting search engine hits for Adam Brody.

I want you all to know that at the time I wrote that post, I didn't even know who Adam Brody was.

("Hmm," says the detective, scribbling furiously in his coffee-stained notebook, "That is suspicious. May be a man after all? Possibly gay. Investigate this.")

I don't read girl rags or even women's rags. I don't know who the Sexiest Man Alive is supposed to be at the moment, and honestly, Brad-Pitt-is-Hot references are so tired anymore.

So I had to look for inspiration at the Teen People web site, which I was able to do only because vaguely in the back of my mind was this notion that "The O.C." was a halfway-popular show among young people, particularly young girls. And I probably picked up that idea just overhearing cell phone conversations in the damn mall or something.

Oh, you bastards. It'll be a long time before I'm over this.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:58 AM | Comments (1)

And Now, a 100%-Forged-Documents-Free Post

A young Estonian gentleman wants to know if it's always been this bad:

This is the first American presidential election I've really observed and I've got a question: has one side always been this unbelievably incompetent, stupid and self-destructive?
I think it's a question worth answering even if you don't agree that one side has been "incompetent, stupid and self-destructive" (and you'd have an even more interesting answer if you disagreed about which side it is that has been so).

So sally forth and tell the man what you think. And if you're a weblogger with more traffic than I've got--if you're nearly every other weblogger out there, in other words--by all means, give the guy a link and your answer, because the internet is never so interesting as it is when it generates cross-continent conversation.

Posted by Ilyka at 01:52 AM | Comments (0)

Lay it on the Line

Hey, dude at Daily Kos who's having a jolly time "debunking" the claims of the "wingnuts": Put up or shut up. No, really: There's money in it for ya.

Act fast, succeed in your quest, and you could donate it all to the Kerry Campaign! Now wouldn't that be something?

($10,000 reward offer--told you there was money in it--via Instapundit. Listen, if I thought there was a ghost of a chance of this succeeding, I'd be out canvassing antique shops myself right now.)

Posted by Ilyka at 01:10 AM | Comments (2)

A Parts Story

(NOTE: I'm doing here about the vainest thing any weblogger can do: Excerpting part of a previous post--with slight modification to make the excerpt a "standalone"--that is now badly butchered because I included information that has since been deemed erroneous. That faulty information, however, does not impact the following excerpt, which actually is the part of the post I wanted to emphasize in the first place. Like I said: It's vain of me to do this. I'm very clear on that much. Now shut up and humor me.)

*

Let me explain why I don't think historical and technical arguments about typesetting ultimately matter: Because they make this a parts story.

"But CNN is going to run it day and night," he said. "By next week, it'll be ancient history. We have to go with this story Saturday."

"Right," she said.

. . .

He spun back. "Go do it."

"Okay," she said. "Thanks, Dick."

"You sure you can put it together in time?"

She started collecting her notes. "Trust me."

As she headed out through Marian's office, she heard him shout, "Just remember, Jennifer--don't come back with a parts story! I don't want a fucking parts story!"

From Airframe, by Michael Crichton. If you've read it, you know why I think it's relevant (I hope).

If you haven't, here's the short version: The excerpted conversation above occurs between the producer of a news-mag style show (a la "60 Minutes"), and the reporter who wants to do a story about a recent in-flight accident that has left three people dead. (The line "CNN is going to run it day and night" refers to graphic home video footage taken during the flight.)

The producer doesn't want a parts story because he knows nothing will put people to sleep faster than a technical discussion of airplane construction and safety devices.

(Or, say . . . fonts.)

The producer wants what I'd call a "some heads are gonna roll" story. A story about how negligent airplane manufacturers are. A story about Terror in the Skies. A story about how You Could Be at Risk. A story about Evil Corporations and the Evil, Evil Ways in Which They Totally Neglect Your Safety for a Buck.

I'm sure you're familiar with the type of story I'm talking about.

All over the blogosphere, people are discussing fonts and typesetting and military style guidelines and, well, parts.

But the aspect of this that isn't a parts story is what's frightening. That a major news organization is willing to neglect its own credibility to further an agenda is frightening. That a major news organization assigns more value and emphasis to voter intent--ack, I'm sorry; I mean Lieutenant Colonel Killian's intent--than the actual votes--geez, there I go again! I mean Lieutenant Colonel Killian's actual statements--that disturbs me very much.

Gosh. Why do I keep mixing those two things up?

Maybe it's because they come from the same thought process: One in which what should have been true trumps what is verifiably true. Voters in Florida should have voted for Gore; therefore, it's within reason to spend months analyzing ballots looking for any indication, however slight, that they meant to vote for Gore.

Lieutenant Colonel Killian should have written that memo. He meant to write that memo. He would have written that memo, had he only found the time--oh, what the hell! He did write the memo. He wrote it in his mind, and Dan Rather divined it, and that's close enough, isn't it?

You've probably read it 100 times already, but read this statement by Kelli Edwards, CBS spokesperson, one more time:

CBS verified the authenticity of the documents by talking to individuals who had seen the documents at the time they were written. These individuals were close associates of Colonel Jerry Killian and confirm that the documents reflect his opinions at the time the documents were written.
See? He meant to. He definitely thought those things. He was going to write them down. He should have written them down. Does it matter whether he really did or not? He would have; he could have. Oh, let's pretend he did. We could get away with it. We will get away with it. No one wants to read about typefaces and kerning and superscript and date formatting . . . no one will care. By Monday, anyone who does care will be thoroughly sick of discussing it anyway. The rest won't remember. Let's run with this. We can do it.

And they did.

And I don't care who you're voting for this November: That kind of behavior from a major news source should scare the daylights out of you.

Posted by Ilyka at 12:44 AM | Comments (2)

Never Mind the Kerning

This is what happens when you wake up late and start slow: A large chunk of what you write is obsolete by the time it's posted. In DC Journal is now stating unequivocally that the suspect documents were not kerned. (I first note the statement here, but scroll down; I have a feeling there's plenty more.)

My bad, people. My bad.

Then again, it isn't as though there aren't 20 more indicators the documents were forged, now, is it?

Posted by Ilyka at 12:21 AM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2004

Something Bad Has Happened

Apparently my earlier pessimism was not unwarranted.

There will be no investigation. There will be no retraction. There will be no correction.

I titled the previous entry "Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy" with tongue in cheek. I don't generally ascribe to conspiracy what can be ascribed to simpler causes, to butcher an old saying. Thus, I find this quote from Bernard Goldberg, reported at Rather Biased, appropriate:

"This is the nature of bias in the news. no conspiracies. Rather never said, 'I know these documents are phoney, but I'll go with them anyway.' He would never do that. The problem is too much like-mindedness, too much groupthink. What happened was almost invevitable. Sooner or later, when you live in the bubble, something bad will happen."
I am not a gifted enough writer to convey adequately how bad I think this is. I am not devoted enough to spend the hours of my day countering all the gross incompetence on display in this article. Though, part of me wants to. Part of me wants to know why Hunter thinks anyone should believe such unsupported assertions as:

"typewriters were indeed available with Times New Roman typefaces." Really? Find it. Find me one. I couldn't find one 20 years later. I certainly couldn't find one 20 years later in government work. But maybe I'd believe you if you supported the assertion adequately.

"[The IBM Executive (a typewriter using proportional type--ed.)] was an extremely popular model, and was marketed to government agencies." Show me. Back it up. I find it sense-defying that a typewriter that required this level of effort from its operator to produce quality output:

Mike did the original ad on an IBM Executive typewriter after carefully measuring the letter weights and counting the spaces to create proper column justification.
. . . would have been at all popular among office clerical staff--and again, particularly not at military offices, where budget constraints are always a primary consideration in the purchase and upgrading of office equipment.

(Personally, I can say with assurance that any typing pool I ever worked in would have gone into open revolt if the boss had tried to saddle us with machines like that. If you're old enough to remember when offices had secretaries, you know that a roomful of angry ones makes the movie Nine to Five look like a goddamn fairy tale, and I don't mean the part where Lily Tomlin fantasizes she's Snow White.)

"So, as you can see, both IBM and Microsoft specifically obtained the typeface "Times New Roman" from the designers of that font; neither was the creator of it. And, as we said before, typeface includes not just the "shape" of the letters, but the size and spacing between those letters." Actually, he has a point that typeface includes more than just the shape of the letters; but the reasons his conclusion is ultimately incorrect are explained thoroughly here.

(MID-POST CORRECTION/UPDATE: The following passages about kerning appear to be irrelevant. Carry on!)

It boils down to this: Typewriters don't kern. Can't kern. Wouldn't kern if you threatened them with fiery destruction.

What's kerning? Well, there's a good definition, with examples, here. And here is my own example. This text was typed in Microsoft Word 2000, Times New Roman, 36-pt text, with kerning off. I have taken the liberty of adding a red dividing line between the characters for emphasis:

No kerning

This text was typed in the same fashion, but with kerning set "on" for fonts 36 points and above:

With kerning

In the kerned example, the space between the "T" and the "o" has been reduced; MS Word's kerning algorithm "knows" the lowercase "o" can fit more snugly against the uppercase "T."

The original of one of the suspect CBS documents is available in .pdf format here. I know it's fuzzy, but do your best to look at the characters.

Do you see any kerning? Do you any instance in which the spacing of consecutive letters overlap?

Do you know of a typewriter ever made that could predict the next letter you were going to type and automatically "snuggle" it part-way into the space already occupied by the previous letter? Because if you do, pass the pipe, brother. I want some of what you've got.

(END MID-POST CORRECTION/UPDATE)

And now let me say why I think none of this matters: Because it's a parts story.

"But CNN is going to run it day and night," he said. "By next week, it'll be ancient history. We have to go with this story Saturday."

"Right," she said.

. . .

He spun back. "Go do it."

"Okay," she said. "Thanks, Dick."

"You sure you can put it together in time?"

She started collecting her notes. "Trust me."

As she headed out through Marian's office, she heard him shout, "Just remember, Jennifer--don't come back with a parts story! I don't want a fucking parts story!"

From Airframe, by Michael Crichton. If you've read it, you know why I think it's relevant (I hope).

If you haven't, here's the short version: The excerpted conversation above occurs between the producer of a news-mag style show (a la "60 Minutes"), and the reporter who wants to do a story about a recent in-flight accident that has left three people dead. (The line "CNN is going to run it day and night" refers to graphic home video footage taken during the flight.)

The producer doesn't want a parts story because he knows nothing will put people to sleep faster than a technical discussion of airplane construction and safety devices.

(Or, say . . . fonts.)

The producer wants what I'd call a "some heads are gonna roll" story. A story about how negligent airplane manufacturers are. A story about Terror in the Skies. A story about how You Could Be at Risk. A story about Evil Corporations and the Evil, Evil Ways in Which They Totally Neglect Your Safety for a Buck.

I'm sure you're familiar with the type of story I'm talking about.

All over the blogosphere, people are discussing fonts and typesetting and military style guidelines and, well, parts.

But the aspect of this that isn't a parts story is what's frightening. That a major news organization is willing to neglect its own credibility to further an agenda is frightening. That a major news organization assigns more value and emphasis to voter intent--ack, I'm sorry; I mean Lieutenant Colonel Killian's intent--than the actual votes--geez, there I go again! I mean Lieutenant Colonel Killian's actual statements--that disturbs me very much.

Gosh. Why do I keep mixing those two things up?

Maybe it's because they come from the same thought process: One in which what should have been true trumps what is verifiably true. Voters in Florida should have voted for Gore; therefore, it's within reason to spend months analyzing ballots looking for any indication, however slight, that they meant to vote for Gore.

Lieutenant Colonel Killian should have written that memo. He meant to write that memo. He would have written that memo, had he only found the time--oh, what the hell! He did write the memo. He wrote it in his mind, and Dan Rather divined it, and that's close enough, isn't it?

You've probably read it 100 times already, but read this statement by Kelli Edwards, CBS spokesperson, one more time:

CBS verified the authenticity of the documents by talking to individuals who had seen the documents at the time they were written. These individuals were close associates of Colonel Jerry Killian and confirm that the documents reflect his opinions at the time the documents were written.
See? He meant to. He definitely thought those things. He was going to write them down. He should have written them down. Does it matter whether he really did or not? He would have; he could have. Oh, let's pretend he did. We could get away with it. We will get away with it. No one wants to read about typefaces and kerning and superscript and date formatting . . . no one will care. By Monday, anyone who does care will be thoroughly sick of discussing it anyway. The rest won't remember. Let's run with this. We can do it.

And they did.

And I don't care who you're voting for this November: That kind of behavior from a major news source should scare the daylights out of you.

Posted by Ilyka at 08:52 PM | Comments (1)

September 09, 2004

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy

No, really, I'm not kidding. It's a vast left-wing conspiracy:

60 minutes ran a story last night about Bush's national guard service. New documents have been uncovered which indicate what may have happened for several months in 1972. However, there is speculation on the internet (I know I know) that these documents were forged...that they look like they came out of a word processor rather than a typewriter from 1972. I scoffed at first, but then thought I would compare one of documents from then with the same document typed up in MS Word, just 5 minutes ago.

They are for all intents and purposes identical.

See also Charles Johnson's experiment along these lines--and Bill from In DC Journal emerged from hibernation long enough to consult a document forensics expert. The expert's verdict? He's at least 90% sure that the document was forged. Among many reasons given, this one stood out to me:

Regarding the small "th" after the date, Dr. Bouffard told me that it was possible to order specialty keys that would duplicate the automatic miniaturization completed by word processors after a numerical date, but it was certainly not standard, and wouldn't make a lot of sense in a military setting. "That by itself, while suspicious, is not impossible, but in conjunction with the (font irregularity of the) number four, it is really significant," he said.
My mother went back to work as a legal secretary when I was six years old, in 1975, three years after this document was allegedly typed. She worked in fairly plush law offices, with, presumably, nicer and newer typewriters than would have been available to the military. (My own limited experience in government clerical work--three months in a summer temp position at an office of the FmHA, three years with the county government in Phoenix, Arizona--did not leave me with the impression that government offices devote much of their budgets to office equipment upgrades, and I'm sure any number of military bloggers out there could confirm it's no different in the military.) Anyway, I'd love to ask her if she ever used a typewriter with a proportional font back in those days. I'm betting even the nicest offices didn't have a cute little "th" key.

For my own part, I began my clerical, ah, "career" on the IBM Selectric. The type ball on most machines I used came with the Courier font, though I do recall one machine that used a sans serif font, which appeared similar to Lucida Console. But every machine I used produced monospaced type, not proportional.

Former secretaries who remember WordPerfect 5.1 may recall that its default font was Courier also. Monospaced fonts were compatible with the old dot-matrix printers, for one; for another, it eased the porting of previously-typewritten forms to word processor. With Courier, you had an easier time making sure all the blanks and checkmark spaces lined up.

Hey, Andrea Harris collects old typewriters. Is she on this? Give us your expert opinion, Andrea.

That all this should occur just as some guy at the Miami Herald is whining that right-wing "zealots" are making things difficult, so difficult, for his stalwart comrades in the press is just . . . rich. It's the icing on the memory-hole cake.

UPDATE: Neglected to mention that I found all this via Tim Blair. You can find an early draft of the Bush-is-AWOL memo linked, incidentally, in the comments.

WHAT THE HELL, ONE MORE UPDATE: I knew we'd hear from a servicemember with typing experience from that period eventually:

I had neglected even to look at the August 18, 1973 memo to file. This forger was a fool. This fake document actually does have the tiny "th" in "187th" and there is simply no way this could have occurred in 1973. There are no keys on any typewriter in common use in 1973 which could produce a tiny "th." The forger got careless after creating the August 1, 1972 document and slipped up big-time.
More, lots more, at Powerline.

NEVER MIND THE FONTS, HERE'S GARY KILLIAN UPDATE: "It just wouldn't happen," says the son of the author of the memos:

"The only thing that can happen when you keep secret files like that are bad things. ... No officer in his right mind would write a memo like that."
Via Drudge.

I can't be the only one who's disturbed by all this. Like it or not, more people watch 60 Minutes than read Drudge Report. This likely-false story is out to those people now; unless 60 Minutes runs one hell of a correction, there's no reason for me to believe I won't be having arguments about this story with lefty friends and family for months to come. With all due respect to the fine bloggers out there, there's only so much they can do to derail a bogus story . . . but then, I'm sure that sad acknowledgement was foremost in the mind of whoever created the forgeries.

ILYKA, QUIT BEING SUCH A PESSIMIST UPDATE: Had a fellow in the comments note that Drudge reaches more people daily than 60 Minutes, which only makes sense now I think about it. Only problem is, there remain so many people whose approach to these matters is, essentially, "It must be true. I saw it on TV." I don't know what you do about them.

I'm supposed to be working right now, but let me pack in a few other links real quick: He's crossed out that part of the post, but I still think Goldstein's Photoshop experiment is worth viewing, if only as an example of how easy it is to mock up a document these days; also via Protein Wisdom, The Shape of Days asks, "Now what?" I guess taking Dan Rather behind the woodshed for an unholy beating is out? I know, I know, there's no evidence Dan had anything to do with this--I've just always wanted to whale on him.

Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis bleats for everyone to stop the mudslinging, I guess so we can all focus on what's really important, like getting his elderly ass some free health care and fawning over all the Vanity Fair writers he's encouraged to start blogging--badly. Whatever. Listen, you people don't still read and link Buzz Machine, do you? Please don't do that. I would be very disappointed in all of you if you did that. As far as I'm concerned, Andrea Harris reads him so that no one else has to.

SHOCKED, SHOCKED UPDATE: Dan Rather is reportedly "shell-shocked" by the implications and CBS will perform an internal investigation, according to Drudge Report. I'd be more excited about this if I didn't remember a certain recount conducted by our beloved independent news organizations, the results of which absolutely no one remembers. Better than Dan possibly having to correct himself on air--not that I won't enjoy seeing it--would have been for the folks at CBS to have asked the questions asked by suspicious bloggers before the 60 Minutes segment aired. Still, it's a start.

BUT WE CALLED PEOPLE UPDATE: It just gets more and more unbelievable:

A senior CBS official, who asked not to be named because CBS managers did not want to go beyond their official statement, named one of the network's sources as retired Maj. Gen. Bobby W. Hodges, the immediate superior of the documents' alleged author, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. He said a CBS reporter read the documents to Hodges over the phone and Hodges replied that "these are the things that Killian had expressed to me at the time."
Again, via Tim Blair. To the statement by a CBS official that "journalistically, we've gone several extra miles," Blair adds, "You sure have. Straight down." But you know who did go "several extra miles?" Bill of In DC Journal, the man who consulted a forensics expert. That's going extra miles. Reporting what you're told over the phone?--That's just . . . just . . . why, that's my job. And it pays $0.075 per line. Sorry, CBS; no medals for you.
Posted by Ilyka at 11:25 PM | Comments (6)

Jakarta

I have been meaning to mention that Rachel Ann of Willow Tree is taking prayer requests. Well, here's one . . . or nine, rather.

Posted by Ilyka at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2004

I Have No Idea

. . . what this post was going to be about, because I just realized it's a really fantastic day outside. I mean gorgeous. Other locals can back me up on this. It's the kind of day where I don't even mind that I have all of $15 in the checking account. It's that good.

So why in hell I had to begin it by reading some wanker complain that a band of 14 year-old girls are "skanky" and "not in the good way," I don't know. I guess because I wanted to take that fleeting wow, what a beautiful day feeling and slam it into a wall of despair and disgust and wishes that God would just end this little science fair project right now and sure thing, of course I'll volunteer to go over the cliff first. No problem.

I'm all for putting whatever you want on the internet and I don't have kids, so parental controls aren't really my issue, and it's a wide wide world out there and whatever floats your boat blah blah blah, and I'm an adult and can generally get by without warning labels for content and why yes, in fact I do know how to just point-and-click myself elsewhere, thank you, and I am also skilled in the use of the shutdown function, mmm-hmm indeed yep . . . but there are times I wish parts of the internet came with a "WARNING: What you are about to read may make you want to die" sticker.

My excuse is the coffee wasn't ready yet. It's ready now, though, so adios.

Oh, here though. Go read something that doesn't involve 14 year-old girls and one sad clown's attempt to locate his prick long enough to beat it off to them before ultimately categorizing them as sub-par wank material. Go read . . . go read . . . go read Simon World. Simon World currently has the web design I'm most jealous of--yes even though I said I hate blue, shut up--and all the wit I was born without plus tons leftover.

Yes, go read that. Unless you're caught up on Simon World, in which case please go beg Hubris to post more. Hubris always cheers me right up.

Oh . . . or Little Miss Attila for you political junkies. Little Miss Attila recently compared me to a serial killer, but then she also compared me to Athena, so I have to believe she really meant the serial killer part in a good way. And besides, now if I ever become a cartoon, maybe I can bunk with Nice Pete.

DIE, PERVS, DIE UPDATE: While I'm bemoaning the exploitation of 14 year-old girls, Wizbang! is linking to video of an eighth-grade girl masturbating. (Read the comments and see background here.) Tell me again, O Conservatives, how it's actually gay marriage that's going to lead to more pedophilia. Tell me again how none of the folks in your camp ever has anything to do with the mainstreaming of this stuff. Tell me one more time. But then, what do you expect of a blog that would be halfway up the ass of Wonkette by now if she didn't have so much other crap jammed in there already?

Posted by Ilyka at 08:06 PM | Comments (5)

Keep Hate Alive

You know, there's a time to remember your history, and there's a time to just let the past go.

Time to remember: When someone suggests a bad idea that's failed repeatedly in practice before. That's when it's helpful to note that said idea has failed repeatedly in practice before, and, ah, not to be rude, but is there by chance anything substantially different about it that won't guarantee the same failures this time?

Time to forget: When everything around you gets tangled up in a no-win grudge match.

Gradually being lost in an orgy of multiculturalism in the U.S. is the acknowledgement that many people came to this country specifically to forget the no-win grudge matches; they were even willing to surrender some culture to do it. What this province did to that one in 14-what-the-hell-ever, versus what that country did to oppress this one in 16-ought-who-knows, versus . . . enough, said those lucky enough to get on the boat. Just enough. Leave all that Serb-versus-Croat, English-versus-Irish, this tribe versus that tribe stuff in the old country. Forget it.

It's instructive to remind yourself what happens if you don't let go once in awhile:

I had an 'interesting' exchange with an acquaintance of mine. He was saying something along the lines of "what the fuck are you people grieving for, they were goddamn russians". When I inquired whether he was actually insane, or just pretending to be, he replied: "did they grieve for us when Estonians were loaded on to cattle cars?"
Please, do not miss the priceless response to that query.
Posted by Ilyka at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

Oh, Oh Dear, Someone's Venting

The author of this article stops just short of prescribing a group hug and grief counseling:

Tens of thousands of people massed near Red Square on Tuesday to mourn the slain children of Beslan, while President Vladimir V. Putin vented his anger at their killers and, in unusually strong terms, at critics who call for a moderate response.
Which critics are those, I wonder? Hey, anyone bother reading Friedman anymore? Can anyone tell me if dear Thomas has proposed a Chechnya peace plan complete with laborious metaphors involving a grocer and an obstetrician yet?
"Why don't you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace?" he said, according to The Guardian. "You find it possible to set some limitations in your dealings with these bastards, so why should we talk to people who are child-killers?"
Remind me to tell you sometime about the Russian guy I hooked up with via a dating service once. It isn't intelligent or useful to take a handful of dates with one Russian guy and draw conclusions about the leader of the entire country, so I won't really do that here.

But let's just say there's something in the force of Putin's words that is not entirely alien to me.

How cute is it that the Guardian and the NYT are shocked by Putin's "fury?" They forget, maybe, that they're talking to a man who runs the media in his neck of the woods, a man who has the papers writing puff pieces about how ladies love cool P, for crying out loud. (Can you imagine anyone in the press stateside doing that with G-Dub? FOX News doesn't count.) My point is, this guy's had the luxury in recent years of not having to deal with a media cross-examination . . . particularly not such a stupid media cross-examination.

(By the way: Does anyone note any familiar themes in this fine piece of handwringing? Note the "yes, it was horrible, BUT . . . ." structure of the piece. We've seen that before, yes? Is there like one basic outline they all pass around for this sort of thing?)

There's been plenty of recent discussion around the blog world over whether Putin is truly an ally of the U.S. He's no beacon of light and bringer of freedom to his country, and how much we should trust him I do not know.

But he's right on the money about the terrorists, and I'll wager he's right on the money about how to handle them.

And I don't think rectifying "root causes" will be a central part of his plan.

Posted by Ilyka at 06:46 AM | Comments (0)

Chicks for Bush

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter already. She's talking about the president.

Hey, as long as I don't have to pass the Gender Genie--and as long as we don't leave the selection criteria up to this guy--I'm in.

I resisted slapping a "this is a Blog for Bush" kind of label on this blog for a long time. Let's face it: I just don't love him like some of y'all love him. (We could start with things like this on the "turn-offs" list, for one.) But you have to choose your sides at some point, and frankly, this simply wasn't that tricky a choice for me.

Democrats nominated a tantrum-throwing, it's-MY-turn-to-be-president, elitist-pretending-he's-a-populist joker in 2000, and they did it again this year, too. It's like they never learn . . . well, just keep right on doing that, guys, because why on earth would you ever want a social liberal to, you know, vote for you? That's crazy talk!

Anyway. Check out the Irish Lass's proposal and maybe suggest some candidates for membership. The more, the merrier. There's plenty of room for more chicks in that--okay, okay, I'll stop, I know I have all the maturity of Beavis & Butthead, you don't have to be always reminding me like that . . . .

Posted by Ilyka at 01:39 AM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2004

Poem for Beslan

Gerald Vanderleun's "Child Care:"

Children are easy.
One gun will rule dozens.
Shoot one, the rest will obey.
What are you doing here?--Go read the whole thing.
Posted by Ilyka at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

Other Posts That Might, Just Might, Indicate the Author's Possession of a Vagina

But not necessarily because, as Rammer pointed out in the comments, I regularly confuse the Gender Genie. I ran the excerpted (blockquoted) passage from this post through it, and it identified the author of the passage as being male.

I did note at the time that this same algorithm that's expected to give results with "80% accuracy" was only batting about 63%, proving that guys who write algorithms are seldom as clever with them as they think they are, and possibly also suggesting that guys who write algorithms don't know dick about actual flesh-and-blood women; but then the popularity of anime among them proves that, doesn't it?

It has been observed that arguing with conspiracy-minded dolts--particularly, arguing with conspiracy-minded dolts on the internet--is seldom helpful.

But what the hell? It makes me feel better, and I'm what's important around here. Plus this way I get to recycle old stuff and don't have to produce anything new and--wait, I didn't mean to say that last part out loud.

Presenting:

Other Posts That Might, Just Might, Indicate the Author's Possession of a Vagina

In Which I Explain the Difficulties I Encounter, as a Woman, with Internet Erotica

In Which I Advocate Masturbation Via Bathtub Faucet for my Hypothetical Teenage Daughter, Not That I Would Know Anything About That Personally or Anything

In Which I Am Hit on by a Gentleman from South Africa Who Was Probably Way Too Homophobic to be Gay, Sorry; Also It Very Obviously Occurs in a Straight Bar, as No One in the Story is Depicted Dancing, Cruising, or Having Any Discernible Fun Whatsoever

In Which the V-Word That Actually Isn't "Vagina" Figures Prominently

SPECIAL NEXT-ISSUE PREVIEW!!! Coming next week: Ilyka Damen goes all fucking girly, featuring reviews of the most fab, must-have lipcolors for fall; the one thing your man secretly wishes you'd do in bed (that you probably aren't doing); candid conversation with The O.C. hunkster Adam Brody; Krav Maga or Pilates?--an in-depth comparison on how to get fit (and be the envy of all your friends during the holiday season!); shopping on a budget--where to go for off-the-rack impressions of your fave high-fashion designers; and so much more, all designed to make you feel dull, drab, insecure, and in need of an enormous fucking makeover!

Posted by Ilyka at 04:27 PM | Comments (9)

September 06, 2004

The Left and the Right, and I Don't Mean Politically

Now this is something I can figuratively sink my teeth into:

. . . almost everyone involved in the arts is liberal. Perhaps that's because the left, with all its hemming and nuancing, is more willing to accept imperfection and failure, which are inherent in art. Conservatives, with their definitive solutions and visions of Utopia and impeccable memories, are better at philosophy and political talk shows.
Via Tim Blair, who takes this apart in typically-destructive right-wing fashion, partly as follows:
(A couple of points: conservatives are perfectly willing to accept failure. Unlike the left, however, weíre unwilling to accept it two, three, or four times in a row. Socialism didnít work out? Letís try it again! The UN is a ruinous mess that only causes problems to become worse? More power to them! Castro still killing people? Give him another chance! And as for conservative visions of Utopia ... has Stein ever inspected the bumper-sticker dreams of the modern leftist?)
I don't get the "visions of Utopia" bit either, but it does tell me I probably read more conservative writing than Stein does. The closest thing I can find to a Republican getting optimistic about the human condition is this quote from P.J. O'Rourke:
Life is sweet. But you could spend a long time reading, going to the movies, and watching TV and not hear this mentioned. . . . History is on a roll, a toot, a bender.
And even P.J. doesn't stay optimistic for long; witness the very next sentence, and what follows to close out the above paragraph:
No doubt it will all come crashing down around our ears one day when a comet hits the earth or Sally Jessy Raphael becomes Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But, in the meantime, we should be enjoying ourselves, and we are not. Gloom enfolds the earth. Tales of woe reach us from every corner of the globe. Moans of "unfair," "unjust," and "poor me" are heard around the planet and are nowhere louder than in my own backyard.
Some Utopian, that P.J.

Now if Stein had described conservatives as having visions of "same shit, different day," he might have had a point. There is no shortage of grumpy old bastards on the right, and I note that as a good thing. Like it or not, the world needs grumpy old bastards. The world needs cantankerous old coots to grumble, "It'll never work," "We tried that already," "You gonna think this thang through logically or just keep talking out yer ass, son?" and that simple, perennial favorite, "NO."

Yet for all that I can see where Stein's trying to go with his observation, however flawed. Tim Blair puts it this way:

. . . [Stein] references a serious leftoid notion: all this hemming and nuancing proves that we are the intelligent ones! Where dull-minded conservatives simply demand solutions, the left calls for discussions on the etymology of "solution" and how that may relate to Engels, Foucault, the concept of objectivity, and the present conflict between reactionary religious forces on one side and brave anti-Bush dissenters on the other.
One nitpick: The left wants nothing to do with the concept of objectivity. That's a left-brain/right-hand dominant thing, objectivity. There's not a lot of room for nuance in objectivity--or as David Byrne once complained:
Facts are simple and facts are straight
Facts are lazy and facts are late
Facts all come with points of view
Facts don't do what I want them to
Yeah, the nerve of those facts.

Anyway, where'd this notion that one hemisphere of the brain is superior to the other come about? Because I think Blair is right, and I think, underlying both the Stein piece and this hatchet job from the head shrinkers at Berkeley, is the notion that it's better to be right-brained/left-hand dominant.

Bullshit. We have both halves of the brain because we need both halves of the brain to get along in the world. We need the holistic, visionary guy to dream of building the Golden Gate bridge, and then we need the analytical, linear-thinking guy to put the damn thing together. I've been pleased to know some very right-brained, creative, artsy people in my life, and I dig them--but I don't ever want them performing neurosurgery on me. Conversely, I don't want to attend an art exhibition of works by accountants.

The irony is, there's nothing (to crib from the cheat-sheet website linked above) "synthetic," "holistic," or "analogic" about lauding the right brain over the left. The very traits commonly ascribed to right-brain thinkers suddenly vanish when it's time to consider the usefulness to society of the traits of the left-brain hemisphere. You know, that "abstract," "analytic," "rational" guy might dress badly and be a real downer sometimes, but I bet he'd be of some help to you balancing your checkbook, fixing your plumbing, overhauling your engine.

I doubt conservatives will ever boast many sculptors, actors, poets, or performance artists. We're probably stuck with an artist's lineup that includes Ted Nugent and Bo Derek. Yes and so what? When's the last time a Frieda Kahlo gave us lasers, flight, air conditioning*--hell, hearts?

See: Two can play at the which-side-is-better game. But it's a damned stupid game.

*The air conditioning I consider critically important, and it is my personal favorite invention ever.

Posted by Ilyka at 09:49 PM | Comments (1)

One More Time: The Name and the Sex

The origin of the Stupidest Pseudonym Ever Born:

One thing I will clarify right now is the stupid, stupid name. It's a pseudonym. It's a bad, bad joke, too. It dates back to 1992 or 93, I forget exactly which, when I logged onto a little BBS called Tasty Petunia Vomit, hosted by a sysop who went by Nifty Corpse . . . .

I immediately began thinking of Nifty as my new best friend, and he immediately began thinking of me as a demented lonely lady who called his BBS from work a lot. The relationship has changed only in the sense that I'm a little less lonely these days and don't keep in touch with him as often as I'd like--but again, for all I know, he considers that a huge relief.

Anyway, I couldn't log into a BBS called Tasty Petunia Vomit, hosted by Nifty Corpse, without a handle of my own, so I chose "Ilyka Damen." Pronounced eye-LIKE-a da-MEN. I'll give you a minute to quit rolling your eyes and making that weird choking sound.

I quickly realized that no one got the joke. The most common assumption I got was that I was a Russian male. People, "Ilya" may be a Russian name, but "Ilyka" is nobody's name. Except mine when I'm online. Even the Bad Baby Namers couldn't come up with something that godawful. Something that bad takes work, I tell you.

Despite no one being able to pronounce it, laugh at it, or respect it in anyway whatsoever, I got used to using it as a handle, and find I can love no other. I'm a one-handle kinda gal.

One thing I've always been a mite touchy about--and I have no business being touchy about it; not after coming up with such an ambiguous handle--is the implication that I might not be, in fact, a chick.

Like I said, I have no business being touchy about it. But there you go. I think there's something about being told you don't sound like a chick, you don't act like a chick, you're not feminine like a chick, that always rankles a woman. I mean, in a way, it's a compliment. In another way, it . . . well, it hurts, if you want to know the truth. And I don't cop to having hurt feelings--particularly not hurt feelings over something written on the damn internet--every day.

Anyway, detectives in the house may feel free to request verification of my sex by emailing this fellow, this fellow, or this fellow; two of the three have met me personally, and the other has my full name from a receipt of payment forwarded to him (and he's done an excellent job of keeping that information confidential, for which I am grateful).

Or you can just sit around going, "Now, what are the odds that a girl would take three weeks off her blog to play computer games? Hmm," to which I can only say, "Better than you think, sir. Better than you think."

Incidentally, is that Gender Genie thing still out there? You know, that thing where it tries to guess your sex based on samples of your writing? Anyone know what happens if you run me through it? I've never bothered; I think those things are stupid and pointless, but maybe I'll try it 'cause now I'm curious.

I did once fool some questionnaire that tried to guess your sex based on your responses to the questions. One of the specific questions I recall in which I didn't register as "typically" female was, do you prefer a room painted white or a room painted blue? I happen to hate blue, but apparently plain-white rooms are a turnoff to many women, so my answer wasn't typical of my sex on that one.

Posted by Ilyka at 05:10 PM | Comments (18)

September 05, 2004

Sunday Blasphemy

I'm not kidding; don't click unless you want to go straight to Hell.

Laughing all the way:

Everything Malachi puts in our mouths is total character assassination. God enters the chat with "I have loved you," which seems nice of Him and a strong conversational opener. According to Malachi, you respond by getting all up in God's face, asking: "How have you loved us?"

You honestly want to slap Malachi for misrepresenting you so horribly. If I'd been given an audience with God, I'd like to think I'd make some small talk first before I lubed up any fastballs. "You look absolutely exhausted," I might say, or "That glowing robe has a really slimming effect on you." I doubt my first words to the Lord would be "I know you used to do shit for me, but what have you done for me lately?", is my point. It's God, fuckstick. He just told you He loves you a whole bunch. At least wait till the poor bastard sits down before you start cross-examining Him like Matlock.

Would you sell your soul for a laugh? Choose wisely.

Posted by Ilyka at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2004

Have Dignity

I swear, some people seem to be born just not having any:

Yesterday, I was parusing a link I read just about every day--a friend of mine--and she'd linked to an entry someone wrote wherein that poster just blatantly put out there that he wanks off in the shower to this friend, and another friend of mine as well. (And I'm not talking blog-friends here--I'm talking, personal connections on an offline level.) This entry was also very close to another entry wherein the poster mentioned his wife and infant son. It was creepy, in my opinion. I asked a few mates if I was over-thinking and was told unanimously that no, I wasn't, and that yes, it is creepy. So I commented saying so. The poster replied in his own comments that "That's what they get for putting their photos on their blogs."

Ex-fucking-scuse me?! That's what they get?! That phrase, to me, took him from creepy to predatory in the click of a mouse. It immediately reminded me of the common misconception that women make themselves targets for rape by doing various scandelous activities such as wearing lipstick or some sort of clothing that shows more skin than a full body cast would. You know, she wore a short skirt and she got raped. That's what she gets!

And you know what you get for having the that's-what-she-gets attitude around here? That gets your other blog--the one in which you attempt to play a normal person--delinked, baby. Deeeeee-linked.

See, I wholly second this emotion:

. . . it's probably relatively standard that people use masturbatory fodder. Hey--fine. Have at! If you want to think about the Queen of England while you go for it, that's your choice. But telling HRH the Queen of England this would probably not be received well. I've had someone tell me that I'm their masturbatory fodder. It grossed me out. Wank all you want. Leave me out of it. If that means you think of me and just don't tell me, I'm perfectly okay with that. I do not need to know. ...But putting it up on the internet--taking it that one step further? There are lines here, people. Lines of social norms and human decency. While society gets a lot of things pretty screwed up, I'd have to say that respecting these sorts of boundaries should be standard. Even if I was a fan of Brad Pitt (he's alright but he doesn't do it for me), I would never tell the guy over coffee that his face is synonymous with my favourite vibrator. I'm sure he doesn't want to hear it. And it's just... icky.
It's just icky. Exactly; but I guess the whole reason we have a word for "obvious" in English is to point out when something should be, but apparently isn't. Anyway: Have some dignity, as the cartoon cat says. It ain't actually all that hard to do, believe it or not.

UPDATE: Or, I suppose you could just delete the other, faintly-less-creepy blog, too. I don't know that this was exactly necessary, but whatever.

Posted by Ilyka at 07:21 PM | Comments (4)

Les Terriers Sont Mes Types Favourites

Terriers are my very favorite breed
They're cute and cuddly, easy dogs to feed
They'll bring you up whenever you are down
Terriers average 20 pounds
When I walk around in this terrier town
One thing that makes me down
Is when people put bandanas on their dogs
. . . Or worse.

Thanks, Lachlan.

Posted by Ilyka at 05:59 PM | Comments (1)

The Fictional Layne Was Not Nearly This Crazy*

It is the flaming wreck from which I cannot turn away. Yes, it's more Layne madness:

Bush supporters treated the news of Clinton's illness with the usual class, and as usual, Bush did nothing to suggest this was repulsive behavior.
You know Layne's descended to a whole new kind of sloppy when Oliver Willis--Oliver Willis, as partisan a man as you're likely to find on the internet; the Oliver Willis who claimed today that "The invasion of Afghanistan had as much universal support as any move by a government can have in the modern era," when a cursory check of news and weblog archives from October-November 2001 can easily disprove that notion (hell, I have a cousin quoted in the Guardian while attending a--guess what?--antiwar protest at Oberlin from about that time, not to mention I just dug up a bunch of crap on this yesterday; here's a favorite from that time)--

--anyway, you know it's bad when that Oliver Willis can fairly observe that the booing may not have occurred as originally reported (this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article certainly suggests it didn't), but Layne . . . look, what is Layne doing, exactly? He's certainly not acting much like the guy who said, "It's 2001, and we can fact-check your ass." That guy would've noticed that messages of support and well-wishes for Clinton, from righties, are all over his friend's blog, and maybe considered for a second the likelihood of the initial booing report. That guy might have done a little, uh, fact-checking.

I really try not to do that thing some bloggers do where they sort of adopt a pet from the other side of politics and poke it with sticks repeatedly. So before it gets to that level, I should just quit reading the guy . . . but damn. A change of opinion I can handle. A change of viewpoint I can handle. A change in the quality of work from better to worse, from cogent to crazy--no, not so much.

UPDATE 09/04/2004: See? It's not that hard to check around.

*Title reference. And mind you, that blog was pretty crazy.

Posted by Ilyka at 04:20 AM | Comments (2)

The Hate is Not a Change of Subject

The hate IS the subject--and it wasn't me who said so:

The trouble with Democrats, traditionally, is that we're not mean enough. Dukakis wasn't. I wasn't. I don't particularly like destroying people. I got into politics because of issues, not anger. But too much is at stake to play by Dukakis rules, and lose again.

That is the conclusion Democrats have reached. So watch out. Millions of dollars will be on the table. And there are plenty of choices for what to spend it on.

I'm not promising pretty.

So sayeth Susan Estrich (via Ace of Spades). Not that "we need to be as mean as they are" is an idea unique to Democrats; she could have lifted that first paragraph straight from David Horowitz. Compare:

Before Republicans can begin to change this situation [losing political battles to Democrats], they need to stop whining that life is unfair, that Bill Clinton "stole" their programs, and that Democrats do not play by the rules. They need to stop complaining that Democrats are unprincipled or that they follow a party line. (Of course they do. It's the politics, stupid.) They need to accept that Democrats are going to practice the politics of personal destruction and attribute to Republicans the sins they themselves have committed. They do it because that is the way they can win.

When Republicans complain about forces they cannot control, they behave like victims and give up the power to determine their fate. Democrats will be Democrats. They will be unprincipled and lie. Republicans can hope Democrats will behave better than this, but if Republicans go into battle expecting Democrats to be better than they are, they will only set themselves up for political ambush.

[Emphasis mine.] From The Art of Political War and Other Radical Pursuits, published 2000.

It is not that Democrats have traditionally failed to be "mean enough." Frankly, it isn't that Republicans have neglected meanness either. It's that when your side is going up against the incumbent, it's a harder road. The temptation to go low, play nasty, be mean, is always there.

And it often backfires.

Mind you don't burn your own ass with those matches, Susan.

There's an old Stuart Smalley sketch in which, for Halloween, he parodies the movie When a Stranger Calls. The sketch ends, "The calls are coming from inside the house. It's your father--and he's been drinking!"

That's all I could think of when I read this bit:

. . . Cheney is still drinking. What their records suggest is not only a serious problem with alcoholism, which Bush but not Cheney has acknowledged, but also an even more serious problem of judgment. Could Dick Cheney get a license to drive a school bus with his record of drunken driving? (I can see the ad now.) A job at a nuclear power plant? Is any alcoholic ever really cured? So why put him in the most stressful job in the world, with a war going south, a thousand Americans already dead and control of weapons capable of destroying the world at his fingertips.
Honeybuns, either you have the soy-flour cake OR you eat it. In a country with an estimated 17-1/2 million alcohol abusers, suggesting that Democrats be both the party that feels one's pain and the party that doubts any alcoholic "is ever really cured" strikes me as one hell of a dumb idea.

Yes, I know organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous, and alcoholics I have known personally, subscribe to the idea that alcoholism can only be contained, not cured, and I'm not disagreeing with them on that one. I figure they probably know better than I would.

On the other hand, I don't think stigmatizing people who struggle with alcohol by imposing restrictions on what jobs they may hold is any kind of solution; and if it is, ask yourself how you'd feel about sterilizing women who've had more than one elective abortion, or barring recovering addicts from driving a school bus. This whole "Oh my God, Cheney drinks" gambit opens up the Democrats to accusations of wanting to foster a nanny-state and therefore strikes me as an extremely poor line of attack. But then, I'm not Estrich, and thank God for that, because it seems awfully cold and lonely in her world.

Incidentally, I clicked over to Ace and read this Estrich thing shortly after reading a comment thread at Tim Blair's in which people, mostly conservative-minded people, people who really, really, really do not like Bill Clinton, were posting comments like this:

I'm not fond of the man, but I do wish Clinton a speedy recovery and a long life.
That comment is typical of other sentiments expressed in that thread as of this writing.

Make of the contrast what you will.

Posted by Ilyka at 01:49 AM | Comments (1)

September 02, 2004

Hold Me, Mommy, I'm Scared

Lately I've picked up, in the course of my blog-reading, a pretty nonsensical, faintly vulgar, and probably blasphemous little expression that the boyfriend has been begging me to delete from my vocabulary. I'm terrible like that: A phrase will often lodge itself in some part of my brain that finds it fun to say, even if the rest of me thinks it's a damned stupid and/or offensive thing to say; then I go through a phase where I can't stop saying it for awhile.

Thanks to Andrea Harris, I've just had occasion to utter it again. I couldn't help it. It fairly exploded from my mouth and I'm certain it came direct from the brain stem.

See, it seems the only thing we have to fear--we who cherish freedom of expression, right?--is Zell Miller making a speech at the Republican convention. Somewhere in his notes I suspect Welch has a list:

Top Ten Things Less Scary Than Zell Miller

10. Cockroaches. Cockroaches in your ears.
9. Impalement.
8. Hook on car door handle after late-night back seat makeout session in deserted park.
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street.
6. Demonic possession.
5. The Gulag Archipelago.
4. Zombies.
3. Jenna and Barbara.
2. Global thermonuclear war.

. . . and the number one thing less scary than Zell Miller . . .

1. BUSHITLER.

So forgive my extremely limited vocabulary while I revert to an old castoff vulgar expression I was once in love with but I mean, what the fucking fuck? Look, it clears my head to say it, all right. And the more I re-read the post and the comments the more I'm convinced it deserves no better response anyway.

(Aside: When I quoted Ken Layne's recent lament that weblogs have become "lame copies of the shrill, humorless and worthless American Monopoly Daily Op-Ed Column Left / Column Right pages," I had no idea he meant his own blog. Where do you even start with this? "Jeb calls it for his brother?" I'm becoming increasingly convinced that Jeb Bush could have hung himself--preferably after shouting, "Recusal? Recusal's fer sissies!" or something similarly horrifying to the Oh-my-Gawd-did-he-just-say-something-redneck? crowd--the moment the Florida problem became apparent, and some folks would still chant the mantra that Jeb gave his brother the presidency . . . as what, a housewarming gift? Again, what the fucking fuck? If you want to talk about how Katherine Harris, as a chief participant in W's Florida campaign, should have recused herself immediately, okay, fine, I'm with you on that. I can see the reasoning. But that's not nearly as fun to say as "Looks like Jeb done give th' presidency to his brother," I guess.)

Welch begins with some preemptive ass-covering, noting that he's tired and, besides, if he really went on about everything that freaks him about Zell Miller, it'd be a feature-length article. (Have I ever told you how much I love whining journalists? Remind me to tell you sometime. They are very near and dear to my humble lil' heart. Him works so hard, him does.) Welch's principal objections:

So, let's start off with an easy one:

President Roosevelt, in his speech that summer [of 1940], told America "all private plans, all private lives, have been in a sense repealed by an overriding public danger."

Can you see how this sentiment, intended as a useful comparison to our current times, might give a libertarian-leaning fellow some pause?

Indeed I can--indeed, I think even a schmuck like FDR could, which I think is why the sentence contains the caveat "in a sense." As in, don't take it literally? Yeah, but what do I know from reading comprehension. Moving right along:

I want the government to take important steps protecting us from terrorism, even going to war if absolutely necessary, but I won't have my private plans, let alone all private lives overridden in that cause's name.
Do not you dare fuck with Matt Welch's private plans, government, you hear me? Matt Welch's private plans are very important. Matt Welch's private plans are way more important than your petty concerns about "terrorists" trying to "kill people," or "whatever."

I know my private life is pretty all-fired important. Yours probably is too. Thus we should all keep sticking it to The Man and not let him, I don't know, make us take our shoes off in airport security lines or whatever it is The Man likes to do to keep oppressing We The People . . . I'm not exactly clear on that part on account of not feeling particularly oppressed lately. Anyway:

When the government "ovverrides" us in the name of war, then the terrorists truly have etc.
The terrorists should also truly surrender control of Welch's "v" key.
Also, I might add, this is neither required nor remotely effective, and the fact that the party of limited government (snicker) finds such twaddle appealing -- and has in fact used similar justifications for any number foolish power-grabs, from expanding government secrecy to placing detainees in legal limbo, is both scary and topical.
So we've got a Democrat quoting another Democrat, and that leads to the inescapable conclusion that Republicans are the chief party of government power-grabs. No amount of insomnia can explain this paragraph.

More Welch-quoting-Zell, now:

there is no better example of someone repealing their "private plans" than this good man [Wendell Wilkie; Republican nominee in 1940]. He gave Roosevelt the critical support he needed for a peacetime draft.

First of all, there have been plenty of greater sacrifices made in history than a presidential candidate agreeing with the incumbent about some issue. Pat Tillman strikes me as having sacrificed a good deal more -- for instance, his multi-million-dollar football career, and his life -- than losing a political campaign he was likely to lose anyway (though, for old hacks like Miller, it's not surprising that losing an election is somehow worse than death).

Okay: "No better example" is an unfortunate choice of words if the point of Miller's speech was to rank and quantify sacrifices made in times of war.

If, however--now stay with me here--if the point of Miller's speech was rather to remind people how, in days gone by, partisanship could be temporarily laid aside in favor of demonstrating a little unity in the face of a common threat . . . you see how that works? It's called demonstrating verbal comprehension at an adult level, versus nitpicking modifying phrases like "no better example." This is better known colloquially as "getting the point."

Well, we soldier on, with apologies for using scary, militaristic words like "soldier," of course. Grab your binky if you're feeling terrified:

More importantly, this is a friendly contemporary reference to a war draft, which is an idea I hope never regains one inch of traction in this country. If, as the Republicans have been saying all week, the WoT is just like WWII and the Cold War, why, after all, shouldn't we be applying the same policies? I'll answer: Because I don't want the government forcing its citizens to kill strangers, period. Again, this is also a lousy way to win wars.
"Lousy" is right. I mean heh-indeed-exactly.

But you know, I'm not sure I'm in favor of bringing back the draft either--nor (again) is that the point. The point is that people used to cross that partisan divide and now they don't much anymore (and oh yes, we can point fingers at the Republican side of the aisle for this problem too, but again: Not the point. Hey, did you notice it was called the Republican convention?) and Zell wishes they would. Okay? That's the point. If you want to read the resurrection of the draft into that you go right on ahead but then, you know something?--It's no wonder you can't sleep.

Which reminds me: One of the reasons I periodically have to quit reading the news and the weblogs and anything remotely political, really, is there's so much projection going on, by both sides, and it drives me crazy. Though they're underrepresented on the blogroll (that thing's grown way too big for my tastes; could some of you maybe take up other, nonwriting hobbies?), I do read a fair number of left-leaning blogs, and I don't mean Michael Totten.

One of the ideas I come across all the time on that side--and in the mainstream media--is that Republicans speak the language of fear. Republicans want you to vote for Bush out of fear, they're trying to make you afraid, they're trying to terrorize you . . . .

. . . I mean, can you see, then, how some lefties jump from this framing-everything-in-the-context-of-fear idea straight to "Bush is the real terrorist?" It's not that great a leap, really. The it'd-be-funny-if-it-weren't-so-damn-sad part is, no one I know on the right is terrified, and I don't use terms like "all" or "no one" lightly. I literally do not know one single (pick yer adjective) conservative, Republican, or hell, I don't even know any left-leaning hawks who are terrified. Let's dig up the old Lileks quote on this one:

The words TERROR ALERT: HIGH on the TV crawl annoy me, because Iím not terrorized. Iím wary and pissed off, but Iím not terrorized.
Exactly. If Bush is playing the fear card, it isn't working very well. Thus my conclusion that when some on the left speak of Bush creating a climate of fear in the U.S., they're really articulating a warped projection of their own fears of a Bushitler police state.

But maybe that quote isn't relevant. After all, it's from long ago, from back in the days when Welch wasn't seeing nightmare visions of the man his buddy Layne called "that nigger-hating piece of crap"* under every bed, around every corner, through every window OH MUMMY MUMMY MAKE THE BAD MANS GO AWAAAAAY . . . .

Where were we? Right. Welch on Miller's assertion that "our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrat's manic obsession to bring down our Commander in Chief":

More importantly, his embarrassing hyperbolizing of what the other mainstream presidential candidate has done -- has he really torn apart this nation? -- has the consequence and direct intended effect of shutting down criticism of the Commander in Chief. Again, not something to be welcomed, and again, something that is directly deleterious to the War on Terror.
Here's the deal: I don't think Kerry's torn apart the nation. He'd have to have much bigger hands for one, hardy-har-har. But look, I try to spend time, occasionally, in reality-land, where I sometimes stumble across all kinds of ugly that I can't ignore, like:
The Portland, Ore., chapter of Indymedia.org posted the news of Tillman's death accompanied by this headline: "Dumb Jock Killed in Afghanistan." Some who posted comments suggested alternate titles for the piece, like "Privileged Millionaire, Blinded by Nationalist Mythology, Pisses Away the Good Life," "Cottled Sports Star Allows Nationalism to Foster Jingoistic Irresponsibility Resulting in His Death," and "Capitalist Chooses to Kill Innocents Instead of Cashing Check."

. . .

In 2002, the left-leaning Ford Foundation gave Indymedia $50,000. The Tides Foundation has donated $376,000 to Indymedia, according to Frontpagemag.com. Two of the biggest donors to the Tides Foundation? George Soros, who has given over $15 million to Democratic causes during this election cycle, and Teresa Heinz Kerry. Ralph Nader is one of Indymedia's biggest supporters; his group, Public Citizen, is listed as on Indymedia.org as an "ally."

Indymedia is no small-potatoes venture. Aside from its Web sites based in 50 major American markets, it also has Web sites located in five chapters in Africa, 13 in Canada, 39 in Europe, 15 in Latin America, eight in Asia, and nine in Oceania.

The Indymedia list of allies is impressive as well. It lists groups like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Adbusters, ZNet, the Institute for Public Accuracy, and Corporate Watch.

I know what you're gonna say: "Indymedia isn't the mainstream media!" Well, for a group that isn't "the mainstream media," they certainly do have their share of mainstream supporters with fat bank accounts. I mean, the Ford Foundation?

An argument of some duration that was never really resolved erupted once between myself and a family member. I said Democrat criticisms of the war would gain more traction with me if they'd tone down the hateful rhetoric; he said bitching about the hateful rhetoric was merely a Republican tactic used to stifle debate, to shut down all criticism of the war. The hate, he said, was a change of subject.

I could not ultimately convince him that I was not consciously employing a tactic. I could not ultimately convince another human being that actually as a matter of fucking fact if something I read gives me an ulcer, I'm less likely to read it. I mean it was like the concept of "it's not what you say, it's how you say it" just up and died. It was like marketing never made it to this galaxy.

The hate is not a change of subject to people like me. The hate is what cost the left its credibility way back when, back when most members of the mainstream media gave their full support and encouragement to the war in Afghanistan . . . .

You guys don't get it, do you? You blew it then. I was tired of the hand-wringing and the what-iffing and the Chicken-Littling and the jumping at things that go bump in the night three years ago. And what has the response been since then? What has been the response to people largely ignoring this excessively-fearful behavior?--Turn the hate up louder until those ignorant war-crazed creatures have to listen. Turn the hate up to 11.

I'm not saying Welch is hateful. I'm saying when Miller talks about Democrats "tearing apart" the nation, he's talking about the Soros and the Sontags and the Boyds and all the other loyal little pieces of the Democratic propaganda machine who never waste neither a dime nor a minute savaging All Things Bush/Cheney. And if sometimes a few dead soldiers and terror widows get in the way, why, they're just collateral damage.

That was the point.

Look, I'm almost done. Swear. But I can't miss this, Welch's response to Miller's assertion that "it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech:"

This, my friends, is militaristic bullshit, and if any of you applauded these lines, you ought to be embarrassed.
Yeah, how dare anyone applaud someone giving his life for his country. Tres tacky.
It is the Constitution that gave us freedom of speech and assembly,
No, actually that was the Creator, and I'm sorry if I've just upset any no-God people in the house but really, you gotta take that one up with the Founding Fathers, not me, because that was their idea. The Constitution merely attempted to restrict government from infringing on those unalienable rights, and do I even need to mention that this is something one should grasp before being hired by Reason?
not our great servicemen and women,
If you put words like "great" in front of "servicemen" then it balances out your observation that they're not nearly as cool as "reporters, poets, agitators and protesters." Welch learned that in Fairness 101.
and any politician who doesn't understand that -- while looking back fondly on the military draft, attributing peaceful revolutions to American military buildups, and murmuring with approval at "overriding ... all our private lives" -- should be voted out of office with gusto, and forced to do late-night cable shows with Arianna Huffington.
I'm pretty sure Miller understands the importance of the Constitution as a document restricting the power and reach of government. I'm pretty sure he gets that. What I'm not sure Welch gets is that it's difficult to exercise freedom of speech at gunpoint, or aboard a plane bound for the North Tower, or at the point of an Exacto blade; which is why the abililty of the military to point guns back at the people who first pointed guns at us does much more to secure and protect those rights than walking around Manhattan with a "God Hates Bush" sign does.
So, this is why I found it frightening. The phony and monstrous world of militaristic government expansion that Miller conjures up is one I would refuse to live in, though thankfully it won't come to that, and the fact that national politicians who currently run the free world find it persuasive makes me shudder with revulsion.
"The phony and monstrous world of militaristic government expansion" is one Welch has conjured up, not Miller. You've only to read the transcript to see that.

Unless you're very tired, very fearful, and very prone to projection.

UPDATE: I'm cheered to see Reason's RNC blog becoming more reasonable by the minute--hahahahaha! I looked long and hard for the "occasionally funny" commentary promised in the lead, but in the end I was merely reminded that drunk people are never as funny to sober people as they are to each other; I had to content myself with laughing at them. But it felt crummy, like laughing at the guy who vomited in your friend's car that one night.

*Seriously. He said this. Because, you know, there's nothing that says "True Renegade (TM)" more than a white man busting out the n-word.

Posted by Ilyka at 08:03 PM | Comments (14)

Why Bother?

Things making it hard for me to get back in the weblogging saddle again that are actually not computer game-related: Headlines like this one.

So there are political conventions that don't feature "fulsome praise" for the party's nominee? In what universe? Insert standard partisan whining about absence of similar headlines about the Democratic convention, blah-diddy-blah-blah-blah. Now out of my way; I've got Sumerians to go kill.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:06 AM | Comments (1)