Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Well, if I'm the one to do it, they'll run their quill pens through it

One thing that's struck me about watching so much CNN is that the pundits seem genuinely angry about the RNC giving primetime slots to popular centrist speakers with cross-party appeal; they mutter darkly about the GOP hiding its true (implicitly racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. ad infinitum) colours. My response: so? It's a big tent. There's room for a lot of differing opinions on the minor things, but most everyone agrees on the big issues: terrorism, security, and foreign policy. Why does it irritate the punditocracy so? I'd argue that it's at least more honest than the Democratic Convention, where all disagreements on the necessity of fighting terrorism (which an arguably large segment of the Democratic core is vehemently against) were quietly downplayed in favour of "Reporting For Duty." I don't recall those same talking heads suggesting they were making the same cynical move towards the centre that Republicans are being accused of. We're also reminded every five minutes that many of the speakers and delegates are more socially moderate than Bush or Cheney, which is similarly implied to be some sort of daring betrayal of a strictly controlled party base - to which I'd ask which party kept a tighter handle on its most unpalatably bizarre members' appearance to the general public. I don't seem to recall any ultra-liberal speakers on the DNC's main stage. The media at large also don't seem to understand the nature of the American political spectrum. Republicans occupy more of the centre and less of the extremist fringe on the right than Democrats do for the left - but, somehow, to point this out is considered somewhere between gauche, and outright cheating. What Liberal Media? Oh, right...

Who will be strong and stand with me

The brilliance of Schwarzenegger's appearance, of course, is his personality, and the things only he can say. He's an immigrant who truly embodies the American Dream, as he pointed out multiple times during his speech - and is more qualified than most to talk about the terror of tyranny, which doesn't even compare to the tyranny of terror. But most importantly, when he makes a joke in the course of addressing a convention, it'll make front page news. Every Terminator quip is a reminder of who he is, what he is, and who he proudly stands behind. It must gall the liberal Hollywood establishment to see that on a daily basis, to say nothing of seeing it in support of such a crucial effort. It was also interesting to hear him invoke Nixon, and by association the spectres of Humphrey and McGovern - anti-war failures both, with pretentions of being competent Cold Warriors. The conclusion is inescapable, and more than a bit amusing - as Wolf Blitzer pointed out on CNN, this is probably the first time Nixon's been mentioned at a GOP convention since Watergate. Ditto his optimism; as the talking heads were musing, faith in the competence, goodness and strength of the common man used to be a liberal value, but is now solidly a Republican one. (Times change, guys; I doubt Frank Capra would want to call himself a Democrat today.) Overall, Arnold was fantastic, matching even the high standard set by Rudy Giuliani last night. The Bush twins, on the other hand, were just plain cringe-inducing. I'm uncomfortable seeing any political family members get roped into a campaign; it's tacky whether the college girls in question be named Bush or Kerry. Their saving grace was being rescued by the president's Stealth Address via satellite, which I enjoyed; it was a nicely synthetical manner of being there in person to introduce the First Lady without sacrificing the drama of Thursday night's address. Laura Bush was - well - enh. She was generically upbeat, good-hearted and charming, but not terribly inspiring. I was near tears multiple times during Schwarzenegger's speech; it was simply that achingly powerful and impassioned. The First Lady was a competent and stalwart well-wisher, but her speech didn't have the same vigour. Still, more or less a good night, and no one is going to blame the twins for their awkward moment.

Where there's never a boast or brag

Bush is speaking to the American Legion convention right now, and seems to be getting a genuinely warm reception from them, especially on their key issue of respect for the flag. No surprises there, obviously. Kerry, apparently, speaks to them tomorrow. What kind of welcome will they roll out for him, I wonder?

Burn with the splendor of the brightest fire

Wow. The new iMacs are pretty. That design also seems to explain the recurring rumours of Apple Tablet PCs that kept cropping up, too. I think it's now, perhaps, too good for me. I'd feel guilty owning one; it'd seem disrespectful to such a beautifully elegant piece of technology to keep it under the same roof as a PC, or fail to have spotless Scandinavian Modern decor to accentuate its nice clean lines.

And where the journey may lead you, let this prayer be your guide

NBC's Fall season starts tonight, with the usually-excellent (yet starting to get mildly inconsistent in its fondness for terrible guest stars) Scrubs, as well as the series premiere of Father of the Pride (previously suspiciously mocked here and here.) Knowing of NBC's propensity for offbeat and exceptionally precise primetime scheduling, I checked their main page - and for the first time noticed the official promo site for Father of the Pride. The character bios are mildly amusing, I'll admit - but suffer from an excess of topicality. Barack Obama may be an up-and-coming star of the Democratic Party, true, but such a gratuitous mention seems a bad omen. I believe animation should at least strive for timelessness of a sort; topical references shouldn't be overly specific. (On the other end of this scale was WB's Freakazoid!, whose animators were overly fond of randomly inserting Princess Diana, Bill Clinton, and Newt Gingrich into random scenes. But only they, again and again and again.) Consider the classic Looney Tunes short, "Falling Hare," (in the public domain, and freely viewable) which most may better remember as 'that one with the gremlin.' The punchline of one joke - "Say, could that have been...a gremlin?" "It ain't Wendell Willkie!" is utterly confusing to the average viewer today, who may know nothing of the 1940/1944 Republican presidential candidate. And that's to say nothing of the references to munitions quality control and gasoline rationing, mostly alien even now, despite another vital war raging. Or look at 1950's "8 Ball Bunny," with the recurring appearance of Humphrey Bogart's character from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre spoofing scenes from the same; current audiences may recognize the cariacature, but not necessarily the reference. However, these shorts continue to work despite their topicality, because they don't use it as a crutch; there's beautiful art to watch and broad humour to laugh at that doesn't exclusively rely on name-dropping. On the other hand, consider The Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror IX," from Halloween 1998: Marge: I can't believe it. Jerry Springer didn't solve our conflict. Lisa: And now he's dead. Kang: Anywho, this is your last chance. Turn over the baby now. Kodos: Or we will destroy all your leaders in Washington. Marge: [knowingly] Oh, you couldn't destroy *every* politician. Kang: Just watch us. [laughing menacingly, they board their flying saucer and take off] Bart: Don't forget Ken Starr! Marge: Suckers. The Ken Starr line was notorious even at the time for having obviously been added after primary production of the episode was complete; it plays, sped-up, over a frozen frame of the back of Bart's head. The gratuitous topicality, even for a personage who was topical for about a year, seems somewhat mystifying now. In another ten years, I imagine those watching the rerun will have to look up Ken Starr to understand the joke. That's the problem, you see. That's why I still have terrible suspicions about the potential quality of Father of the Pride; it can't possibly be as brilliantly lively in animation as the early-to-middle Termite Terrace productions, and it doesn't have the institutional weight of multiple seasons behind it to compensate for occasional inconsistency. I'll still watch it, of course. It's not like there's anything better on in that particular timeslot; Governor Schwarzenegger doesn't speak until 10:00 tonight. But I have the feeling it'll yet turn out to be another The PJs or God, the Devil, and Bob.

Monday, August 30, 2004

The Letter

Heh. Check out the title tag on every page of the RNC website. It's a cute touch.

Hizzoner

Rudy Giuliani is striking a much more - dare I say it - New York kind of a tone than Senator McCain. He's snarky, chipper, and jokey in parts, yet unquestionably direct and serious in his key points. He's the best possible attack dog of all - hitting every note dead-on, yet in a conversational and practical manner. This is the GOP with a cheerful face - the steadfast and serious adult with a grasp of history and highly developed sense of irony, who can nonetheless be passionate about the Right, the Just and the Good. I particularly love the comparisons to Churchill and Reagan. I think history will judge George W. Bush far more kindly than the present day, no matter what happens in November. Also regardless of this election, 2008 looks to be getting very, very interesting. I have never laughed and cried in such quick succession at any political speech before; Rudy Giuliani is a frickin' master of oratory. That was inspiring and powerful - and I think the media is going to have to work overtime to downplay the potential bounce from the one-two punch of McCain and he. I may have to accelerate my plans to emigrate, purely to volunteer for the Giuliani campaign.

No Surrender, No Retreat

Choice John McCain quotes from his primetime RNC speech: Americans have a rendezvous with destiny. Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war. This war will have its ups and downs; but we must fight. We must. War is an awful business [...] But there is no avoiding this war. We tried that - and our reluctance cost us dearly. Our choice was not between the benign status quo or the bloodshed of war; it was between war and a graver threat. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. What our enemies have sought to destroy is beyond their reach. It cannot be taken from us; it can only be surrendered. We're Americans. We'll never surrender. They will. Also interestingly, McCain's shot at Michael Moore ("a disingenuous filmmaker who would have you believe Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace when, in fact, it was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture, mass graves, and prisons") was telegraphed by the cameras, focusing on him (there as USA Today's convention commentator) about ten seconds early. The jackass seemed to enjoy the attention, too, despite the attention being about a minute straight of boos that turned into a chant of "Four More Years." Perhaps, as in his insistence of "what really happened" at the Oscars in 2003, he really can't tell the difference between a crowd's adoration and utter contempt for him?

Band-Aid Solution

Heh. Some delegates are wearing Purple Heart Band-Aids to mock John Kerry's inflated medal claims. The Kerry campaign, of course, is demanding that Bush condemn it; his campaign has only noted that this initiative is not officially sanctioned by them. That should be enough for anyone, shouldn't it? Does Kerry really demand that individual Republican delegates not be allowed to express their own opinions about his vaunted biography? UPDATE: As of 11:35, the delegate handing them out has been asked to stop by RNC officials, and even removed his own. The Kerry campaign got what they wanted - but will they actually acknowledge it tomorrow, or use it as a talking point about "questioning our patriotism?"

They tell me to quit, they say to give up the fight

George H.W. Bush in a pretaped interview on CNN,to those going wobbly on Iraq: "We didn't like the loss of life in the war that Bob Dole and I fought in, either."

Yes, you made a little moment, and you stirred a little mud

One of the RNC's wackier protesters is terribly unhappy at NYC jail conditions: When I arrived in the Tombs, I was placed in a cell with around 30 other cyclists. They had spent the previous night in a location they were affectionately calling “Lil’ Gitmo,” a makeshift detention center on the West Side piers converted from a former bus depot. Lil’ Gitmo had cells sectioned off with chain link fence and razor wire, and a floor covered in motor oil, transmission fluid, and other toxic chemicals. The cyclists detained there were forced to sleep on this hazardous floor wearing nothing more than bicycling shorts and t-shirts. Consequently, several developed serious skin rashes the following day. After 36 hours most of the cyclists had been released with a pending court date. Oh, you poor thing! You purposely went out and protested in a manner that could quite reasonably be construed as vandalism, and were arrested for it - and got terrible skin rashes from dirty jail cells. Oh! It's just too much to bear! I have no sympathy whatsoever for this loser. Whether or not the messages written by his spray-painting bike-mounted dot-matrix printer wash off with water, he had to have known there was a pretty good chance of being arrested on vandalism charges. Here's an idea: Don't. Don't throw balloons filled with urine at police, or set papier-mache puppets on fire, or assault counter-protesters, or even - yes - paint anti-Bush messages on the sidewalk. Hold up a sign and chant a slogan if you want, don't taunt the cops, and be generally law-abiding, and you won't be arrested, and thus not get motor oil on your pretty little $50 bicycle shorts. Amazing, that.

There's a reckoning still to be reckoned, and there's going to be hell to pay

Damian Penny points out the bind France finds itself in at the moment: appeasement, apparently, hasn't worked. That's the problem with feeding that particular alligator - short of total surrender, there's always going to be something else radical Islam will demand. This week it's governmental acquiesence in promoting an obnoxiously forward show of faith; next, it'll be adapting the Code Napoléon to better reflect shar'ia law. At some point in the not too distant future, the demand will be recognition of Islam as the official state religion. I know it seems like mildly paranoid hyperbole at the moment, but I have no doubt of the latter. Unlike Damian, I wasn't against the headscarf ban at all. Though hypocritical in that especially French manner, it was a reasonable line to draw - if only for the individual-rights angle, attempting to prevent raised-ignorant Muslim girls from being pressured into making a public show of faith. There is something sick and twisted about the uniformity and submission demanded of women by Islam, and I see no conflict between religious freedom and disallowing the most visible sign of that oppression. Worship whoever you want, however you want; just don't try to say with a straight face that that worship actually requires manufacturing real-life Stepford Wives. There's a point where the right of the individual to be an individual trumps the right of a society to enforce cultural mores. The particulars aside, France is most certainly utterly screwed. Revoking the ban will hand the Islamofascists the same kind of symbolic victory as the Spanish election; unlike some of us, they're capable of thinking in the longer term, and can see the pattern of minor cultural skirmishes that could very well end in the defeat and subjugation of secular western civilization. Maintaining it will likely get the two kidnapped journalists killed, forcing the French intelligentsia to face up to the unlovely truth: all their machinations in opposing the US turn out to count for absolutely nothing to the mad and barbarous megalomaniacs. At the end of the day, maybe France will learn a painful lesson from this, and start cleaning up its own messes before snidely denigrating American efforts to reform and democratize the Middle East. But I doubt it.

To find the same face on both sides of the coin

You know, Canada's had a long national nightmare of "progressive conservatism" from which we've only recently recovered on the national level. The beast was finally, mercifully killed off by the resurgence of the plain, no-adjectives-needed Conservative Party. Conversely, the provincial parties have downplayed the "progressive" label for years. Please, please, let this oxymoron be the mere fancy of David Brooks, and not anyone else in the Republican Party's actual choice of policy?

They are all still standing in there; in the dark, in there, in the night

Ed Koch just claimed that the mayors of New York "have the magical powers of that young wizard, Harry Potter." We love Ed Koch.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Peace Through Victory

According to the AP, casualties of war are at an all-time low since WWII: For months the battle reports and casualty tolls from Iraq and Afghanistan have put war in the headlines, but Swedish and Canadian non-governmental groups tracking armed conflict globally find a general decline in numbers from peaks in the 1990s. Hey, wait...I could swear someone else was president for most of the 90s, which would mean George W. Bush isn't the Cowboy Chimp Warmonger Supreme responsible for historic untold numbers of senseless deaths his opponents keep claiming. Funny how the coffin-carrying protesters in NYC today weren't out doing the same thing back in 1996, huh?

They are crowding the stage of these hallowed confines

Still watching C-SPAN. Rudy Giuliani is speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition, and recounts his first thoughts on 9/11, echoing those I've had many times since: I grabbed the arm of [NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik], and I said, Bernie, thank God that George Bush is president of the United States. Amen to that. A President Gore might have been mildly competent or disgracefully ineffectual against terrorism; obviously, it's impossible to know for certain. But I believe there can be no doubt he wouldn't have acted as decisively and rapidly as was required.

Blind guides, blind fools

I wonder what it must be like to be as clueless as perpetual troll Robert McClelland. (Yes, I know I shouldn't feed the troll. But I can't resist; he's served up such a softball of easily-rebutted invective.) He cites myself as well as two other "right whingers" (his ever-so-clever term of derision, which tends to fall flat given that Canadian English typically pronounces the word "whine") as claiming "protests are bad." So sorry, Bob, you lose. I believe the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech are sacrosanct. I do not mind any non-violent protest. I will of course ridicule protesters whose motives I believe to be foolish, ignorant, or just plain hateful - but I wouldn't begrudge anyone the right to make a fool of themselves in public. Moreover, if you actually understand history, there's also just a bit of difference between the genuine tyranny of George III over the Thirteen Colonies, and any action or lack thereof of the Bush administration. The comparison is inapt at best, and senseless hyperbole at worst. I and many others would love to give protesters enough rope to hang themselves, letting them have the latitude to be at their worst precisely because it highlights the core of the extreme left: those useful idiots who violently claim to favour peace and hatefully claim to favour love. I want the public to see these barking moonbats, and be reminded: This is the face of Bush-hatred. I want them to see the rational adults inside Madison Square Garden, and be reminded: This is the face of the Bush administration. Then they can make up their own minds which they'd prefer to win this particular culture-clash.

Better than you, anyway

So I'm watching C-SPAN's coverage of the assorted idiotic masses in NYC. One particularly amusing sign (whose irony was, I'm sure, lost on the holder): "AMERICA IS BETTER THAN THIS." Why, yes; yes it is.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Wait 'till you see tomorrow; tomorrow you won't be ignored

Manhattan's DA estimates 1,000 arrests of rowdy protesters per day during the RNC: "We've been building this up, and we want to hit the streets hard in protest," said Flores-Williams, a law student and protest organizer. "There's a seething hatred for this administration, and we want to express that." Sweet Zombie Jesus, go right ahead, and seethe your hatred-filled little hearts out. By all means, go nuts! Really! There's nothing that'll hurt the chances of the Democratic Party as a whole more than being associated with sophomoric crazies rioting in the streets. Obviously no official Republican spokesperson can say the same in public, but the negatives unleashed from these protesters could be worth another month of hits to Kerry's personal credibility. It's delightful.

But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue

Instapundit links to a nicely detailed biographical timeline of John Kerry. A summary of his children, near the bottom, caught my eye: John Heinz IV, 37, works as a blacksmith and a teacher. Lives with his wife and child in Pennsylvania, where he runs an alternative school for teenagers. That'd be a stepson, of course, the son of Teresa Heinz-Kerry's first husband John Heinz III. The blacksmith thing is still fascinating, however. There's some good old-fashioned soap-opera melodrama there, I'm thinking. Or maybe just your classic antic disposition?

Friday, August 27, 2004

You'd see the truth, but you close your eyes

Oy. This is not good. It feeds the anti-Semitic paranoid fantasies of frothing loons both left and right. And we know where accusations of Israeli spying can lead in otherwise seemingly-sane countries. Not a good omen, not at all...

Fools, you have no perception

I'm looking forward to the RNC; I really am. But this seems like a painfully out-of-touch way to feign hipness. (The offhanded reference to MTV is something of a giveaway.) Please, guys; just be serious. Be the adults. Be the sensible, sane, sober candidates. The voters will see the screaming loons in the streets and know who they're against - and then draw their own conclusions.

I could listen to a babbling brook, and hear a song that I could understand

This actually makes it sound as if the next (and potentially final, depending on how the ratings go) season of The West Wing might be worth watching. Aaron Sorkin's Fantasy Democrats, of course, are like no real-life Democrat living or dead of the past forty years, which has always made watching the show an eye-rollingly exasperating experience. If John Kerry (or, for that matter, Martin Sheen) was as willing to use force after the failure of diplomacy to the same degree as the fictional President Bartlet, I'd have much less to criticize about the party. Indeed, the entire run of the series has been one long parallel-universe vision of the Clinton administration; politically, it was tiresome apologia back in 1999, and got very old, very quickly after 9/11. One recurring plotline of the last season involved the president ordering the covert assassination of the defense minister of Kumar (a fictional terrorism-supporting country apparently carved out of the southern coast of Iran, near the Strait of Hormuz). Would a Democratic president be willing to do that (say, for top Iranian officials) in real life? I have no idea. I'd support it. But I doubt many non-fictional Democrats of the current crop would. That's why West Wing is so disappointing for a foreign policy hawk like myself; every episode is a reminder that no, the Democratic Party isn't actually this serious and practical. Another annoyance is the show's tendency to cast notoriously liberal actors as scenery-chewing eeeevil Republicans - first James Brolin, as Bartlet's re-election opponent, and now Alan Alda, as the no-hoper challenger to the "real" competition happening across the aisle. The article claims Alda will play a fiscally conservative, socially moderate Republican in the Schwarzeneggar mould, but I'm not holding my breath. Also worthy of a derisive snicker is producer John Wells' explanation of the recent ratings falloff: “I think it's more to do with going from a period which presents an idealistic White House that wasn't having to deal with issues of terrorism and war. The challenge now is to make it relevant without demeaning real events … and not make political critiques about the current administration. … That's a difficult balance to maintain.” Say what? He thinks the show has refrained from being associated with political critiques about the current administration? Somebody had better tell Martin Sheen he's being too subtle; they're not comprehending his contempt out in Peoria. Finally, I wonder about the sense of going to the trouble to portray the fictional 2005 campaign season. I know Wells might be more than a bit distracted by his concurrent producer duties on ER, but has he really thought this plotline through? No matter who wins in November, I think everyone will be good and sick of primaries and polls by next January.

Funny; but by the end, bitter and serious and deadly

Kerryanalysis based on lessons learned from the Canadian election: ...I predict that we are witnessing the Stephen Harper moment of the Kerry campaign: the point where the momentum stops and the campaign begins its precipitous fall back to earth. Now that's an analogy I can love. The more I think about it, the more it fits, too - at least, from the pure perception-of-electability angle. Up until the very last week of the campaign, as my (and others') enthusiastic archives will show, it actually seemed possible for not just a Conservative victory, but a Conservative majority - and then it all went to hell. The mushy middle of the Canadian electorate decided to believe the Liberal intimations of Harper's vague, undefined scariness, and voted based on fears of a majority government led by the same. In Kerry's case, the accusations aren't just wild-eyed scare tactics, but increasingly detailed and well-reasoned amounts of genuine dirt. He's been proven mortal, and the shine is off the campaign. If it's all downhill from here, I...well...I don't want to jinx it. But I'd like to remember the last week of August as a significant point on the timeline, either way.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Do you feel that you've had the breaks? What would you say were your big mistakes?

And yet, if the 1st Infantry Division was dispatched to Sudan tomorrow to, y'know, stop the genocide, I suspect he'd be just as upset. There's no pleasing some people - especially those who think protesting in front of an embassy is actually a practical way to stop a war. However, I likewise have no doubt this'll be cited as part of the typical paranoiac's conclusion of an incipient crackdown against "enemies of the Bush administration." It's just too good a story that way.

You're a weeper and a wailer

Someone's more than a bit fed up with John Kerry: You sir, are a loser. You will go down in history as the man who made Dukakis look good. Ouch. I wish I was that confident about the election... (Via Instapundit.)

They're quick and slick, they're insincere

When crude oil prices consistently go up for four days in a row, it's front-page news. When they go down for four days in a row, it only makes the Business section. Funny, huh? One might almost think there was some sort of agenda at work, or some such thing. But that would be preposterous, no?

And have I fallen so far, and is the hour so late, that nothing remains but the cry of my hate

The AP searches far and wide, and lo, is amazingly able to find whiny anti-Bush protesters in NYC: NEW YORK - In case their discontent isn't already clear, protesters are spelling it out. "Stop Bush Now" signs and other anti-GOP messages are appearing throughout the city well before delegates arrive for the Republican National Convention, which begins Monday. [...] "We just hope that they'll look down and ask themselves, 'Why, why do they feel so strongly? Why is it that New York feels this way?'" said Genevieve Christy, who has painted more than 80 banners since thinking of the idea a few weeks ago. They don't seem to get it yet. This is a variation on "Why do they hate us," usually applied questioning the motives of terrorists. We do not care. Both radical Islam and the domestic left can think of dozens of reasons Why without America at large or Republicans lifting a finger. The problem isn't that either have actually wronged their self-proclaimed victims, but what they represent: immoral secular democracy on the one hand, a mature and competent foreign policy on the other. Neither pleader for empathy would ever be satisfied with any response but abject surrender. That the far left hates Republicans is not news. On the smaller scale, the thuggish tactics espoused by anti-RNC types continue to disappoint me. New York doesn't belong only to them, but to the whole country; exclusionary and bigoted rhetoric aimed at Republicans is just, well, petty. The actions of a rational loyal opposition would be to allow the convention to occur without protest. By all means, have the silly street theatre of public protest once it starts, if that's what turns you on - but stop pretending you and only you are the arbiters of what NYC means. Attempting to intimidate delegates into abdicating their rights to the freedoms of speech and assembly are shameful. "Hopefully," Isaacs said, "they'll get the impression that not all of America is with them." That will always be true. Only Stalinist dictatorships (like, oh, the former regime in Iraq) claim electoral support of 99.9% for the incumbent. Not being the political wing of a brutal police state, Republicans will have to settle for just enough support to win fairly. (Via BoingBoing.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

There's a face that we wear in the cold light of day

Our glorious leader has, to my surprise, had a number of takers on his dare to post high school photos. I may be pathologically shy to the point of blogging pseudonymously, but meh; I'm feeling social and foolhardy after recovering from the Cottage Trip of Doom. Plus, after seeing some of the others, I can't complain about my photo too much. Behold the geek that I was several years ago:
...As opposed to the not-terribly-different-looking geek I am now - which, no, you don't get to see. I didn't bother to keep any school photos, so that's scanned from one year's student ID card that's been kicking around my wallet ever since. Photoshop can only do so much with a tiny, scratched-up headshot - but that's probably for the best anyway.

Through a haze of noise and heat, and the smell of sweat and anger in the air

I don't pretend to know which candidate is going to win this election. But if what we're seeing today is indicative, I do know this much: If Bush wins, come November 3 we're going to witness the Mother of All Hissy Fits. I disagree - but only to call the situation much, much worse. If Bush wins, I think we'll see a major resurgence of the Downright Treasonous Left: those extremist Deaniacs and Kerryites and Chomsky-readers who actually have no compunctions about the use of lies, theft, sabotage, or violence (or whatever other means necessary) to cause as much FUD as they can. I fully expect domestic terrorism in the event of a Bush victory, and I only hope that police forces around the country are preparing for the possibility too. I also hope I'm wrong, of course, but I worry nonetheless.

Don't look up, and don't look down

It would seem my preemptory analysis of The Kerry Show reflects pretty much what everyone else thought too - and I was much kinder than some. The Kerry campaign is stumbling around without a clue. Perversely, the RNC next week may be just what they need to regroup and successfully redefine their message.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

They'll be standing in lines, for those old honky tonk monkeyshines

"I'm sorry," Stewart said. "Were you or were you not in Cambodia?" Fine; I was wrong. But only a bit: Stewart and Kerry then lean in and stare each other down over the comedian's desk before Stewart asks about some of the other things Kerry's opponents are saying about him. Oh, I see! Avoiding giving a clear answer on whether or not he was actually there is now a joke! And some people say John Kerry is a stiff, pompous bore with no sense of humour! More fool they, I say. The rest seems to be more or less what I expected - softball questions designed to let Kerry show off his vaunted Genuine People Personality. Probable net gain: I have no idea. Turning the central unanswered question of his service record into a punchline isn't particularly impressive, but it may deflect enough attention with charisma to distract the press at large, who aren't very enthusiastic about asking difficult questions of the Kerry campaign in any event. (Via Drudge.)

Tell me more, tell me more

Ouch. According to Drudge, Kerry personally tried on Sunday to - well, not quite apologize, anyway - but ask the Swift Vets exactly why they oppose him. Consider the implications of this. The trumped-up injuries for medals, the lies about Cambodia, the sweeping accusations of war crimes, the subsequent attempts to smear them as Republican-backed liars - any one of those is a fine reason in itself to dislike and resent John Kerry. Does he really not understand this? Has he been so sheltered by his aides and advisors that he didn't know? If this transcript from Drudge's unnamed sources is anything near accurate, he's also attempting to claim that the war-crimes accusations were conveniently meant about everyone else, not the particular veterans that are most loudly opposing him now. What a stroke of luck, huh? I wonder, now, how he'll spin this talking to Jon Stewart tonight. He could claim a willingness to negotiate and compromise, an attempt to make peace with the Swift Vets...and Stewart will no doubt go along with the theory, conveniently ignoring the fact that Kerry is now apparently pleading for the negotiation of several objective facts.

You're sittin' up there like a fool's convention

Kerry's been avoiding national media coverage for a few weeks now, since the Swift Vets debate really blew up. So what show does his campaign choose for a clearing-the-air interview? One likely to give him credibility in answering the tough and decidedly legitimate questions that have arisen in the past month, one might assume? Of course not. That would actually show some courage and character. He's getting some sloppy wet kisses blown at him on tonight's edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show. Imagine the derision that would have resulted if after, say, the service records-AWOL accusations hype, Bush had decided to grant an interview to (and only to) Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly - stalwart partisans of the party base. It would be rightly dismissed as desperation on the president's part, seeking out softball questions to avoid talking about the issue. Yet the WaPo seems to think that Kerry's forthcoming dalliance with Jon Stewart is some sort of masterstroke. I occasionally watch The Daily Show. It can be funny when not obsessing over just how eeeeevil are those damn Republicans, anyway jokes, I know; the week of the DNC, forced by current events to ignore "Mess-o'-Potamia" riffs and the like, was the most consistently hilarious I can remember. When mocking Democrats, they take the route that used to be extended to George H.W. Bush - gently mocking mannerisms and foibles. The vicious attacks on the current President Bush from Stewart and other comedians are another beast entirely. What bothers me most is that, as the WaPo article above notes, significant numbers of the younger demographic actually get their news exclusively from The Daily Show. After most of Stewart's attacks on Bush and other Republicans, I can usually rebut the argument (such as humourous monologues are) with actual facts; something fairly substantial is usually ignored for the sake of a snappier punchline. But what of those who don't know the full context, that assume that because Jon Stewart's lines are funny, they must be true? Without following the broader media at large, I can see how it'd be very easy to take a seriously skewed view of the world. This is a show whose audience applauds loudly for Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and Howard Dean alike. It doesn't even pretend, as most of the media does, to be objective. And that's why it's not going to help Kerry. No matter what questions Stewart asks, I highly doubt the answers will rectify the many inconsistencies in his Vietnam narratives, nor demonstrate any particular strength of character, nor answer the question of just why in the name of everything good and holy his campaign thought running entirely on a four-month naval service record was a good idea. This is playing to the base - those who already think it self-evident that John F. Kerry and a handful of others were the only decent men to serve in Vietnam, and that all other vets must be Republican conspirators. Playing to the base at a time like now just seems weak and desperate. If Kerry thought he had good answers for the serious questions his critics raise, he'd be appearing on 20/20, Dateline or 60 Minutes, not a show essentially a parody of all the others. But that's somewhat apropos for the self-parodizing candidate, isn't it?

If normal methods of persuasion fail to win them applause

International ANSWER and their allies have been denied a permit to hold their planned hate-fest in Central Park next week. Unlike other organizers of large events on NYC municipal property, apparently they felt it unnecessary to contribute any funds for post-event maintenance and repair. True to their childishly petulant principles, they also refused an alternate location. What are the odds they'll show up to trample Central Park anyway? Pretty good, I'm thinking. Those preoccupied with "Peace and Justice" tend not to have very much respect for property rights.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The rest of all possible worlds

I can't seem to find any mention of it on their site, but today I saw a Samsung ad during Olympic coverage on CBC Newsworld (Ew, obviously, but it's what all the televisions at the Y seem to be permanently set to at the moment). Most of it was generically our products are cool and empowering and whatnot, the very generic and generically set imagery one might expect of a tech firm sponsoring the Olympics. Except for one shot, which was of an unmistakably identifiable building - Rome's Palazzo delle Civiltà del lavoro, better known in English as the Square Colosseum. Which was, of course, built by Mussolini's Fascist regime as a showcase of brutal neoclassical order, and the supposed glory and superiority of fascism itself. I first became aware of it from Titus, a recent quasi-modern adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, where it's used to excellent effect as a backdrop for the incipient emperor Saturninus' quasi-fascist rally. It was unsettling to research the building itself, and realize: that was its original purpose exactly. It's no longer any such thing, of course; it's currently the Museum of Roman Civilization. But are the connotations of the place not sufficiently unpleasant? Is it really necessary to point out that it's built on a rather creepy and inhuman scale that doesn't lend itself well to inspirational cinematography? Are its origins not enough to disqualify it from such ads? In what universe would anyone think to use the similarly Fascist Neoclassical stylings of Berlin Olympic Stadium for a similarly upbeat ad for Korean-made personal gadgetry today? It's not quite the MooLatte debacle, as ad agency missteps go, but it's close.

Take the fighting to the far off sea

I enjoy the Alternate History subgenre of sci-fi. But works of alternate history tend to be more believable when making only minor fictional changes or assumptions, which is why I'm curious to read the explanation for the central conceit of Weapons of Choice - the aircraft carrier USS Hillary Clinton. I appreciate the blurb mentioning its mission - "tasked in the year 2021 with stopping ethnic cleansing by an Islamist regime in Indonesia", which shows an interesting degree of realism and foresight - but the timeline simply wouldn't seem to add up except in remarkably extraordinary circumstances. It would have to be assumed that Hillary be dead. Even for those few USN vessels named after living people, the most recently serving president on the list is George H.W. Bush - and the carrier named in his honour isn't scheduled for launch until 2009. The USS Ronald Reagan was only launched last year. Failing an October Surprise this year from the DNC, the earliest Hillary Clinton could possibly be president is 2009, which by comparative timeline puts a theoretical aircraft carrier named for her as far forward in commissioning as 2031. By comparison, the USS John F. Kennedy began construction a year after his assassination, and wasn't formally commissioned until 1968. Either way also assumes a spectacularly successful presidency from Senator Clinton, which I'm not entirely sold on (but certainly could be). I'm probably overanalyzing this, but does the author not seem to be engaging in some serious wish-fulfillment fantasies, as well as hoping for her to become the same sort of secular martyr as JFK?

He asked for trouble the moment he came

Hah. Hey, Senator? Try telling MoveOn, America Coming Together, Media Fund et al (plus Michael Moore, for good measure) that their Bush-bashing should have no place in the campaign. I dare you. Bush, with his graciousness, has come out as the better man here. The specious accusations of connections between his campaign and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth haven't been proved in the slightest; were they true, it'd be a pot, meet kettle moment for sure. Plus, it puts Kerry in the very tight spot of having to likewise be against all ads by 527s to appear reasonable - which likely isn't going to go over well with the DNC or its allies. Was this the Bush administration or campaign's best rope-a-dope yet? It looks that way.

Life in Hell

So I'm back from the deepest, darkest depths of Frontenac County. I suppose I had a reasonably good time, except for all the spiders, and the curious allergic reaction to something, either dust or pollen, that plagued me the entire time. More interestingly, I can't believe how clueless some of my friends are with simple tasks such as cooking. The original plan for food was chicken breasts with barbecue sauce, and mashed potatoes. I was shuddering at that. I tried to sell the others on the idea of hamburgers; what with the current halt in exporting beef cattle to the US, there's a glut of medium-grade ground beef on the market. It's a fantastic price, and making patties would have only required some onion, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and some kind of extender. However, the majority were apparently set on chicken. First of all, slathering a boneless chicken breast with bottled barbecue sauce is a terrible thing to do to innocent meat, especially for the price; bulk packages of breasts to serve nine would have come to $33 or so. I at least managed to redirect the host's attention on the trip to the grocery store towards bone-in thighs, which added up to only $16 in all. I also managed to whip up two nice marinades for them, in addition to a dab of store-bought sauce. Second, boiling and mashing flawless Yukon Gold potatoes is similarly a waste of good raw ingredients. I did them up in nice hearty chunks with onions in a soy sauce-olive oil-garlic marinade to roast in a grill basket. Both the potatoes and chicken came out fairly well, after schooling several of the helpful grill-watchers in how to use the damn thing - i.e. that a high temperature is far more likely to burn chicken before it cooks all the way through, pink vs. clear juices, the dangers of salmonella cross-contamination, and so on. It also made me realize that I'd never cooked for any large group of people more or less on my own - and that I'm really rather good at it. And that was pretty much the high point of the weekend for me. I went out canoeing a couple times, something I haven't done for years (and hope to avoid again in the future), roasted a few marshmallows, and endured the godawful dance-pop-electronica excreta of "Freezepop" (again and again and again). I now yearn for the days before their song "Plastic Stars" was forcibly drilled into my head. Ignorance of some things really is bliss. I appreciate having been invited; I really do. But between the bugs, the outside, my allergies, the cramped sleeping quarters, single bathroom, and abhorrent music, repeat attempts at cottaging with friends would certainly seem to be the fastest way to induce a nervous breakdown on my part.

They may have saintly looks, but they're sinners and crooks

Slate's recurring series on swing states continues with Julia Turner in Maine, and an observation on the state's peculiar method of determining electoral votes: Thanks to a quirk in its state laws, Maine does not award all its electoral votes (there are four of them) to the presidential candidate who gets the most votes in the state. Instead, the candidate who wins the popular vote gets two electoral votes. The third electoral vote goes to the candidate who wins the popular vote in the 1st Congressional District and the fourth electoral vote to whoever wins the 2nd. In a very close race, the state could split its electoral vote 3-1, which makes Maine the only swing state that can truly swing both ways. [...] At first, I thought this was a brilliant idea. Although vote-splitting sounds bizarre, it actually makes a lot of sense—it's a thoughtful way to ensure that the electoral votes Maine casts more closely reflect the wishes of its people. But then I found this Web site, on which sports statistics guru Jeff Sagarin figured out how the 2000 presidential election would have been decided if all states used the Maine method. Turns out Gore would have been whupped. Ah well. Perhaps there's a better way. Let's reform! Let's make the system more accountable! Greater democracy now! Oh, wait...Gore still would have lost? Never mind. A greater degree of democracy is only acceptable if it produces the correct outcome, no? I'm not one to favour wantonly opening up the machines of government to tinker with the gears, but this does seem like an interesting idea - and I'd say that even if it had produced a President Gore. Unlike the editors of Slate, I'm capable of favouring a reasonable evolution of process even if it doesn't necessarily help out my guy. Which is most of what bothered me about the 2000 election debacle, really. Bill Clinton won in 1992 without taking a majority of the popular vote - yet strangely enough, Democrats weren't raging against that particular quirk of the Electoral College system until the moment it wasn't working in their favour. Turner, sadly, seems to have been schooled in exactly the same hypocrisy.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Ain't nothing like the great outdoors to ease your soul

So I'm off until tomorrow sometime, on a lovely little jaunt out to the depths of hell. Which is to say, a friend's cottage, on the outskirts of Sharbot Lake. You must understand, I fear and loathe the outdoors with a passion. There are bugs. There's dirt. There's...well, mostly the bugs are what bother me. Spiders, especially. I was convinced to go under great duress, plus the implication I'd have a chance to cook a nice hearty stew. (Long story.) I plan to hide inside as much as possible, until and unless it can be proven to me that any boats, docks, chairs, or architecture outside are entirely free of cobwebs.

These are crimes for which the world shows little pity

That's a pretty risky strategy the Kerry campaign is undertaking. They surely know (or must at least have worried suspicions) that the Swift Vets have nothing to do with the White House, Bush campaign, or Karl Rove - it's genuinely a group of people that despise and are disgusted by John Kerry without needing to be paid off by some sinister Republican financiers. They're relying on the accusation of collaboration itself as the whole of their argument, and it looks like the media is willing to go along with it. If the FEC finds in a month or two that there's nothing improper going on, will it make the front pages? Of course not. Corrections never do. But on the other hand, the possibility exists for this to be substantially repudiated by the accused parties before the election - and that has the potential to make Kerry look like even more of a whiner, making wild accusations to deflect legitimate questions. Hey, I thought you wanted to talk about your service in Vietnam, senator? Hmmm? "Bring it on," or something like that? Hee.

Friday, August 20, 2004

An instrument of power, to enforce my iron rule

Rather than praising the ingenious recycling schemes conceived by Cubans forced to make do without access to even the basest of manufactured consumer goods, I'd condemn the brutal communist dictatorship that causes such hardship in the first place. But that's just me, I guess.

He said the record wouldn't have to be hot, and no one ever seemed to care if it's not

Teletoon, the sad, pale little imitation of Cartoon Network we in Canada receive instead of the real thing, has recently been advertising their second compilation album. (Not a direct link, due to terrible Flash interface; look for "Toon Trax 2," in the top left corner.) It represents Teletoon's contribution to a disconcerting trend in the soundtrack concept - an album that has almost nothing to do with the source material. It's tween-targeted pop, through an through, with a smattering of actual relevant tracks at the end, those few songs taken from Teletoon-aired-and-owned shows. Compare it to Cartoon Medley, CN's first attempt at the same thing. The first radical improvement, of course, is that the original productions Cartoon Network finances tend to be actually, y'know, good, and have similarly nifty theme songs. Add to that the classic H-B library they control, and there's more than enough for the perfect compilation of themes. But additionally, there's also several fantastic songs excerpted from the shows themselves. Plus the clever cover art, of course. Which seems to have had just a bit more effort put into it?

But to be fair, only the first disc of the Teletoon album is overproduced bubblegum-pop. The second disc of Toon Trax 2 seems to be a CD-ROM "interactive learning toy" of the sort that seemed revolutionary in 1997 or so, which mitigates the entire package's lameness to some minor extent. It's a fair deal, I suppose, for the 12-year-old with $20 to burn. But for the annoyed connoisseur of lowbrow animation who would so desperately love to see Cartoon Network without resorting to the grey market, it's just one more reminder: Cancon ruins everything.

This man's done no wrong, and he needs a doctor's care

If this is true, then by all means, the doctors complicit in prisoner abuse are just as due for punishment as Lynndie England and her ilk. But - though the Reuters article seems to attempt tiptoeing carefully around the possibility - the author of the journal article seems to have taken the Michael Moore approach to journalism: carefully cherry-picking damning quotes from any and all sources, whether or not they be relevant or credible, and issuing blanket condemnations. For instance, 'aid agency information?' Busybody NGOs paranoically forecast there would be a mass exodus out of Iraq, and prepared for millions of refugees that never came. Those same NGOs were also rather sadly willing to believe Iraqi propaganda about depleted uranium for the sake of demonizing American forces after the Gulf War. Professor Miles also makes something of an astounding leap of logic here: "Army officials stated that a physician and a psychiatrist helped design, approve and monitor interrogations at Abu Ghraib," Miles wrote, citing U.S. congressional hearings, sworn statements of detainees and soldiers, medical journal accounts and aid agency information. What I take from that is the understanding that a physician and a psychiatrist were part of the process creating the proper, non-abusive system of interrogation that was intended - not part of the corruption and degradation of that intended-humane concept that ultimately resulted in prisoner abuse. Concluding that this tenuous connection makes them latter-day Doctors Mengele is as flawed a reasoning as that offered by John Kerry in accusing all Vietnam vets of war crimes in 1971 - it just doesn't add up. It's smoke and mirrors, attempting to cast aspersions on a larger group by focusing on the decidedly non-representative bad apples. If any actual evidence should come to light that the doctors in question were complicit, then as stated above, I'm all for stringing them up on as many charges as can be found. Such horrors are not just wrong in the normal (which is to say, abnormal) way of unthinking brutishness, but a monstrous betrayal of the Hippocratic Oath.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Whether it's murder, mayhem or rage; Don't complain, it's a pain, keep it gay

Remember, kids: everything is always about Abu Ghraib. Even objects, events, and gestures that predate it by years. And isn't it a crying shame that no one has registered a hilarious domain name to create a site parodizing it? The one-tracked minds of some people are really slightly disturbing...

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Doesn't mean we go around committing hate crimes

Interestingly enough, this occurred to me independent of anyone else's analysis while passing by a Dairy Queen sign this afternoon. I'd be dumbfounded that it managed to get past the marketing department's doors, if I wasn't likewise oblivious until the third or fourth time I'd heard the name - hey, doesn't that sound like something else entirely, that it probably shouldn't? Now, if I'd only managed to blog on it before someone else did, and much better...

Do you hear the people sing

"Since we're both guests, New York City should treat us equally," said Aron Kay, who is also known locally as the Mad Yippie Pie Thrower. No, New York City should not treat both Mr. Kay and the average RNC delegate alike. The reason why should be obvious: sane, responsible, rational people don't have nicknames like "The Mad Yippie Pie Thrower." On a more practical level, smelly hippies may be coming in droves, but I can't imagine their spending will add up to that of Republicans, even with this silly incentive program. Either way, RNC delegates are coming for much nobler reasons than Mr. Kay's band of angsty juvenile troglodytes - and should be treated accordingly. (Via LGF.)

My philosophy's to travel hopefully

Tim Blair needs to write highly entertaining travelogues more often.

This is what the British population calls an elementary education

As an unexpected second boost to my day, the assignment of professors for fall term courses is now finalized, making informed last-minute timetable shuffling possible. RateMyProfessors.com, while very occasionally misrepresentative (due to the odd bitter comment from failing students), is on the whole greatly informative on the demeanour and teaching style of instructors. There's a part of me that abhors such subjective, anonymous bitching - but another part of me knows far too well how an uninspiring, vague, or just plain offensive teacher can ruin the most fascinating material. I'm very much looking forward to the prof for The History of Britain, 1800-Present - and more than a bit worried about who I seem to have drawn for Children's Lit. Ah, well; that's why it's handy to know these things two weeks before classes actually start.

You can't stop the beat

Sweet Zombie Jesus, I'm employed again. That certainly took a long time, but I finally apparently managed to parlay my inherent massive geekery into a job at a nearby Radio Shack. (Nearby nearby, too; about ten minutes away, which is the best job I've ever had in pure proximity-to-home terms.) I think, too, that from now on I'm going to avoid gambling on any summer-only positions until I'm finished at least my undergrad degree; as it's been so well illustrated for me, that way lies only madness. Or, at least, months of low-grade depression, and sufficient poverty for one to start making one's own bread and cooking with variety meats. I've been getting really sick of curries made with chicken hearts. Happy happy happy...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Happy talk, keep talkin' happy talk

An unusually good editorial on incoherent government attitudes from The Globe and Mail: In a free country, even the most horrendous views should be tolerated unless they contain direct appeals to violence against clearly identified individuals or groups. Whether a society tolerates unpopular, even ghastly, opinions is the only real test of its belief in freedom of expression. Unfortunately, in practically every part of Canada, the tradition of civil liberties has disappeared in favour of a "human rights" approach that rests on a different philosophy. At the heart of the problem is the Canadian inability to measure the worth of freedoms over rights - and where either stop.

Damned if I'll yield at the end of the chase

The latest episode in the epic tale of Abdurahman Khadr, Canadian Jihadi: "I know a lot of people that are living in the West and are living in Canada, and that live their everyday life now and are not under arrest or anything, that have been to [al-Qaeda training camp] Khalden," Mr. Khadr testified at a July 13 hearing in Montreal. Keep in mind: He's explaining this as justification. Why, it can't be wrong to jet over to a terrorist training camp, practice bombing the Great Satan, and then come back to Canada if the authorities aren't going to make any arrests, right? And, besides, a compliant media and political elite are more than willing to defend Khadr's right to express himself in the only way he knows how: funding and materially supporting the murder of Americans and Israelis. This country is doomed.

At the end of the day, they don't mean what they say

Walter Cronkite finally retires, the old jackass, and makes some parting shots as he goes: [Cronkite] said he values the Internet as a research tool, but he finds some stories published on the Web -- scandals especially -- play too fast and loose with the facts. "I am dumbfounded that there hasn't been a crackdown with the libel and slander laws on some of these would-be writers and reporters on the Internet. I expect that to develop in the fairly near future," he said. Yes, how dare we? How dare we, the uneducated, journalism-degree lacking masses? Only Serious Journalists like Walter Cronkite, with the trust of a whole nation rather than an audience of similarly independent-minded geeks, are allowed to play fast and loose with the facts. The high holy religion of sacred liberal journalism is collapsing, and he knows it; best to take a few shots at his sucessors' credibility while he's still revered, rather than when his own is sapped. "The decent newspapers try to be fair and present both sides of a disputed story in the community and our nation, and that is the essential of our history," he said. "It is where historians go to do their research. This is an absolutely vital link in the chain of culture that we call our democracy." I would be very interested to know what he thinks of as 'the decent newspapers.' I highly suspect the NYT and its ilk rank very high in this deluded old hack's mind for fairness. This is the dupe that personally, substantially contributed to losing in Vietnam with his nationally-viewed naysaying - and attempted to plant the same seed of morale-sapping doubt in Iraq too. Journalists who claim objectivity, despite all evidence to the contrary, are a very special kind of despicable hypocrite - and none more so than that high priest of the nattering nabobs, Walter Cronkite. (Via Instapundit.)

Monday, August 16, 2004

Cut the confessions, forget the excuses

This is a metaphor for something. I'm just not entirely sure what. (Via Fark.)

Caught inside that flickering light beam

Two animated series notes: Huh. Maybe Father of the Pride won't be as bad as I thought: Don’t expect something as blisteringly foul as SOUTH PARK, but it seems more gleefully naughty than THE SIMPSONS or KING OF THE HILL. [...] Julian Holloway and the always-hilarious Dave Herman voice [Siegried and Roy], and one of the coolest things about the show is the way these two are depicted. You’d think that because they officially sanctioned the series, they might be treated with kid gloves, but they are played as deeply eccentric loonies, pampered and pompous and self-indulgent and hysterical. I saw one full episode and bits and pieces from several others, and Siegfried and Roy consistently made me laugh out loud. Hmmm. That could be the faux-wackiness of poseurs, rather than the genuine hilarious insanity of a Sealab 2021 or Aqua Teen Hunger Force - on network TV, I'm more than a bit inclined to suspect the former. And let it not be forgotten that Drew McWeeny was Ain't It Cool's chief cheerleader for Fahrenheit 9/11, a fact I will weigh against his opinions for the rest of his days. It sounds like it'll be a subjective thing; I'll just have to wait to see it for myself. I'm still not impressed, but I'm less hostile, I suppose. On the other hand, the formerly spectacular Justice League seems to be definitely going downhill in the episodes not yet run in Canada. That's just sad. Granted, YTV only runs it once weekly, so it's hard to catch the multi-part arcs anyway, but I appreciate their existence; I appreciate the idea that WB Animation is (was) trying to do something bigger and better with the half-hour timeslot than merely aping spastic tween-targeted anime. On the other hand, it's not like they haven't pulled this kind of thing before - changing the brilliantly noir and stylized Batman: The Animated Series into The New Adventures of Batman and Robin and finally Batman: Gotham Knights, for the sake of increased kid appeal and toyeticism. I miss Gargoyles. I really do. UPDATE, 08/09/05: Drew McWeeny writes me to point out that he's just about the only regular contributor to AICN that isn't a raving lefty, and in fact had gave a decidedly lukewarm review to Fahrenheit 9/11. I don't even remember why I thought otherwise at any point, now. Regardlesss, mea culpa. I think I'll chalk this mistake/sloppy misattribution up to heat-of-the-moment election-season jackassery on my part, and leave it at that.

There is a bear in the woods

Every so often I browse a bit through The Living Room Candidate, a wonderful archive of campaign ads past, but have never thought to actually watch any large number. Today I watched those ads from 1984. I agree with Myrick - the RNC needs to resurrect the Reagan campaign's "Bear" ad, and how.

Up jumped the sky pilot, gave the boys a look

I hesitated to link to or speculate on the accuracy of the latest development in the John Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia story - that the most vocal of his "band of brothers," those few pro-Kerry veterans, might not have served with him at all - mainly because I couldn't possibly believe the campaign could be so ineffably stupid. Tone-deaf and cynically calculating, maybe, but I couldn't imagine any political strategist trying to get away with actual fraud. As it turns out, the Kerry campaign is at least as clever as I gave them credit for. However, that was a distraction anyway; the main story itself - with all its inherent questions concerning Kerry's character, consistency and honesty - has been picked up by more and more major outlets, if only in columns. That he isn't fighting back would seem to be a bad sign for Kerry supporters; every day, the implications gain more traction. I very much doubt, as ever I have, that this could be what brings him down. But it's certainly helping to plant that seed of doubt. (Via Brian.)

I'm inclined to think half mankind thinks the other half is blind

Glenn Reynolds on the state of the book market: I hate to buy into a theory as seemingly simplistic and cynical as "if it makes Bush look good, it'll be buried" -- but I can't deny its explanatory power. I can't speak for anything but my own personal experience, but I think that's certainly interesting enough on the subject. As I've mentioned before, I worked at a bookstore for most of the last year. I was partially responsible for organizing and restocking the Politics section of the store. Sadly, our stock was just about the same as Lileks' anecdote of a Minneapolis Barnes & Noble last week: The store had many tables of Current Events and Politics, and if I can sum them all up: Bush Needs to Be Dismembered and Fed to Jackals Who Will Barf Up The Chunks For the Maggots To Consume, by Garrison Franken. I’ve never seen anything like it. I tried to rectify the situation, and requested to order in some conservative (or at least reasonably centrist) titles, just for the sake of balance. The best I was able to do was reorder sold-out David Frum, and then only because the manager recognized him as a newspaper columnist. Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rich Lowry – all turned down, because our head office buyer in Toronto thought they were “icky.” She favoured ordering crateloads of Michael Moore (which, unfortunately, sold - this is Ottawa, after all) and Noam Chomsky and Al Franken (which, thankfully, didn’t - much). Even worse, from the tone of her memos to the stores, it really seemed as if she thought she was providing a balance. Her token centre-right titles were Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations, Bernard Lewis’ several works on Islam and Shake Hands With the Devil (possibly not well-known in the American market; a local favourite, possibly because Gen. Dallaire often stopped by to sign copies). Those don't add up to much, compared to the front-and-centre display of Moore, Franken, Ivins, Corn, Huffington et al. My complaints tended to be gently humoured; often, my order suggestions were rebuffed at the store level, so as not to frighten the buyer too much. Imagine if she'd known there was someone in the store who noticed and resented her remarkable selection bias, someone who saw a pattern in the shipment after shipment of Bush-bashing bile that arrived every week like clockwork? Heavens! At least I got the satisfaction of moving the displays around to put these two side by side. I hope eventually someone noticed the irony in contrasting them – Democrat + War = Hero vs. Republican + War = Evil – but I doubt it. I really do. Update: Nifterrific - an Instalanche! I feel all special, n' stuff. Welcome, all.

Making me feel glad that I'm not you

This would seem to be long overdue. It's still smart, nonetheless: redistributing needed military assets on the basis of today's anti-terror strategy, not the anti-communist strategy of 1948. Plus, there's the brilliant double-whammy bonus of kicking the domestic economies of erstwhile allies in the teeth, as well as impressing upon them the need for greater military spending of their own. I don't think there's ever been a more poetically just occasion to feel schadenfreude.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

A Model of Decorum and Tranquility

This is why I avoid the Olympics completely. I used to resent the Olympics for pre-empting regular TV programming. Thankfully, I'm no longer quite that shallow; now, the all-too-typical shenanigans of the "international community" are more than enough to turn me off.

Friday, August 13, 2004

To scatter us away, in a flood of wind and rain

Random hurricane-related prediction: Someone, somewhere, is going to find evidence of a conspiracy in Jeb Bush asking the president for federal aid and disaster relief for Florida. I don't know when, or by what logic; I'm just sure someone will.

Look around and you will find, no one's really color blind

Targeted advertising annoys the hell out of me. Seen on the New York Post's site, presumably because my IP address is Canadian:
...Yes. Of course. Those are my favourite foods! Brilliant! However did you guess, Weight Watchers? First of all, if you mean poutine, say poutine, not "fries & gravy." I think I've eaten a beaver tail exactly twice, and one of those times was done in highly ironic fashion at the Canada pavilion at Epcot. And while I enjoy maple syrup on pancakes, as is an acceptably generic North American habit, I can't remember ever eating or making maple cookies. What bothers me is the decidedly unironic undertone of ethnic stereotyping; would Weight Watchers target those with a German IP address with a banner ad questioning if their favourites are sauerkraut, schnitzel and liverwurst? Or maybe one for the French market announcing that one could eat all the frogs' legs, escargot, and camembert one likes on their diet plan? Or how about a special version for addresses tracing back to Detroit or New Orleans announcing the newfound possibility of continuing to enjoy fried chicken, watermelon, and pig's feet while still losing weight? If it's a ham-handed and offensive marketing concept for any region, it's ham-handed and offensive everywhere.

Unbelievable, yes, an unethical mess; Nonetheless no one's very contrite

Well. That wasn't unexpected, I guess. John Kerry seems still not to have grasped the essential difference between real life and a movie - in real life, you can't just go back and rewrite a key scene because it tested badly in focus groups. That's fairly shameless spin, as spin goes, and awfully convenient. If the supposed secret mission to Cambodia in January can be concretely disproved, will the date change again? This seems to be fairly indicative of a key and somewhat creepy aspect to the Kerry character - he's incapable of admitting to being wrong. But the campaign, instead, has missed another opportunity: Imagine if Kerry apologized. "Yes, I did lie about being in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968. I was never in Cambodia. Like many veterans throughout history, I inflated my service record to make myself appear more heroic than was actually the case - and what's worse, I didn't do it to cadge free drinks at a bar or impress my grandchildren, but to lend myself added credence in a nascent political career. I am deeply sorry for this shameful braggadocio, and wish to apologize to all those I served alongside in Vietnam, for tarnishing their good names with the original lie as well as my campaign staff's attempts to embarass and discredit them on standing firm in upholding the truth. Now let us speak no more of what happened thirty years ago, in a confused and confusing war, and instead concentrate on the real and chillingly immediate issue: the war we fight today against an implacable and murderous foe, who would see all Americans dead given the slightest opportunity." Of course, he could never say that; too much time and effort has been sunk into building the campaign's Vietnam mythos. To admit that Kerry's veterancy was inflated for political gain (and is rightly a non-issue in the here and now) would return the Democrats to square one, and without a lot of screen time to start building a new persona until the debates. But imagine if he did. I'd have a lot more respect for him, anyway; it would prove a real seriousness on the part of the Democratic Party, rather than cynical strategizing to rely on the mere perception of seriousness. As Instapundit notes, the NYT and WaPo still haven't picked up on this story, and seem instead to be holding out for the official campaign rebuttal before they're willing to raise the issue at all. Fine; with the latest change to the narrative, barring the arrival of a new witness who can disprove the new details, the game is now stalemated. But I think the Kerry campaign must understand by now that the damage is already done; the candidate has been effectively exposed as a self-aggrandizing braggart with a faulty memory for somewhat important details. If nothing else, perhaps it'll discourage him from relying so heavily on his service record for the rest of the campaign.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Where Your Eyes Don't Go

La la la, can't hear you, move along, nothing to see here. The mainstream media seem to be going to great lengths to distract attention from criticisms of Kerry: Maybe it's naive to assign the disagreements to the inevitable fog of war. But it does not make sense to re-fight one man's actions in a confused war when there is legitimate debate about whether the anti-war activist Kerry overstated claims of widespread atrocities committed by American soldiers in Vietnam. This latter point is what makes some Vietnam veterans seethe the most. Note the sleight of hand here - come on, everyone, let's just move on from the Swift Vets thing - to jump ahead to John Kerry, heroic anti-war activist. Kerry defenders feel safer there, I'm sure; that's a debate that actually has two sides, and the anti- side has long since forced themselves to be acknowledged and even praised for their despicable moral relativism. It's a lot harder to be embarassingly proved incorrect when arguing ideology, rather than concrete facts like geography. Opponents should be able to fill in the blanks of legitimate questions left unanswered by candidates for the highest office. But who decreed that the questions be so vitriolic? I wonder about that myself sometimes. This even manages to be tone-deaf, as well - who's more vitriolic, between the Swift Vets and their critics? Yes, this has been a dirty, dirty campaign, and will likely get worse. But using that fact as an all-purpose excuse to distract from what are fair criticisms is dishonest and a bit obnoxious. But there's more tone-deafness to come (or, rather, as a boilerplate preface to the money grafs above): This is a bipartisan scold. This column previously denounced a New York fund-raiser for Kerry in which various singers and actors profanely labeled Bush a dullard willing to sacrifice young Americans for his own political purposes. It took Kerry some time, but after saying these entertainers represented the "heart and soul of America," he distanced himself from the left-wingers' invective. The difference is that these vapid celebrities performed at a Kerry event. They were vetted by the campaign, and only in retrospect, when their ignorance and hatred became embarassing, did Kerry try to distance himself. Conversely, the Swift Vets aren't associated with the Bush campaign. They're their own interest group, with the sole objective of preventing Kerry from being elected; they were also in favour of other Democrats during the primaries, for the sake of that goal. They are not Bush cheerleaders in the same manner that Whoopi Goldberg and her ilk are for Kerry. Nor do the media at large seem to have put much effort into specifically discrediting Goldberg, Chevy Chase, Paul Newman, Jessica Lange et al. To shiftily attempt to change the subject here, and now, is suspicious at best. What Liberal Media? Oh, right...

There ain't nobody got spies like us

Would it even be possible for a new CIA director to be named that wouldn't give Al Gore an excuse to complain? This, to me, seems to be the best evidence yet that Porter Goss is an adequate choice for the job. Not because Gore, as official representative of the paranoid wing of the Democratic Party, claims otherwise; I'm not that spitefully contrarian. No, it's that his criticisms are so vague and unserious: [...] Gore called a Goss, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee since 1997, a "partisan ally" of Bush who is "experienced in bitterly criticizing the Democratic nominee on the subject of the war and on the subject of intelligence-gathering." "Is that the best person to come in and fix all these problems that the 9/11 commission told us about - when he's been out there as a partisan advocate dividing people on the subject of war and on the subject of intelligence?" Gore said. Partisan? Is that the best he could come up with? I would certainly hope a member of the House is partisan. If he's the best candidate for the job, it shouldn't matter - presumably Goss is professional enough to, should he be appointed to a nonpartisan position, perform its duties in such a matter. Ah, but that's not the point, is it? What burns Gore is the reminder that he's not the one making the appointments. I suspect Gore would have no problem with a prominent Democrat being offered the job. Nor would I; I'd expect the same commitment to impartiality from a member of either party. It is disingenuous in the supreme (and more than a little condescending) to claim that Goss is automatically disqualified from a position such as CIA Director merely because he (horrors!) defended the intelligence gathered justifying the war. Let us not forget that George Tenet also maintained the veracity of that intelligence ("slam dunk" maintained) - and yet, mysteriously, was a Clinton appointee. I don't recall any complaints from Democrats at the time of that appointment...

I know their ways, fought their wars, served my time

Here's something that's been bothering me lately: When did John Kerry first start bringing up Vietnam in the context of this campaign? I realize he's been riding the one character-defining achievement of his life (and I use that phrase loosely) for political advantage since 1968 - or, at least, started the process of preparing it for use as political currency in 1968 - but how early did the meme become part of the mainstream conversation? I remember exchanging mocking conversations on the subject ("He served in Vietnam, you know." "Really! You don't say. Tell me more!" "Oh, yes, he rarely mentions it, but he's a war hero.") with my roommate last spring, I think. But it's been nearly a year and a half since then, and constant mention of Kerry's service record has been a running joke at least since the primaries. But when, exactly, did "He served in Vietnam" become so definingly self-parodic for the man?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

You've a better reason to be anti-them than me

I knew there was something I forgot to do yesterday. I'm mildly surprised at the high turnout, actually. Ottawa had thunderstorms all day, increasing to a tornado watch by the evening. Also interesting: It made the front page of the National Post, but not the Globe & Mail, nor either of the local papers. Is the defense of freedom of speech not valuable enough to display front and centre? The Liberals seem to be resting safe in the assumption that a strong CRTC is good, because they'll be in power forever - not an entirely unwarranted conclusion, actually, but still; supposedly nonpartisan government boards shouldn't be this determinedly political. If the pendulum swings back the other way (and that's a pretty big if), the CRTC could easily suppress speech on the left. I'd be equally against that, but it seems the opinions of citizens at large don't matter against the monolith of governmental whim in the broadcast industry now; why would that change? The powers that be would do well to remember the words of Gerald Ford - "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have."

Great men don't grow on trees

So Kerry actually thinks of his life experiences as being like Apocalypse Now, but more so? That explains a lot, actually. He's been directing the movie of his life since the day he arrived in Vietnam, and had long since mentally merged the real and fictional narratives into one incongruent memory by the time of his first election to the Senate. The more of this story comes out, the more incredibly self-absorbed John Kerry seems to be. Is the mainstream media going to be able to cover that up all the way until November?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I am frightened by the crowd

BoingBoing links admiringly to this summary of means protestors plan to use to disrupt the RNC. Some of the commentors attempt to bring up (but are ignored or shouted down) the best reason why these are terribly bad ideas - because they assume a basically anti-democratic, anti-free speech stance. Who the devil do you think you are, that you can say with utter moral certainty that X, Y and Z are not allowed to speak, nor express an opinion, nor congregate publicly to do so, merely because you disagree with them? That's even setting aside the many practical reasons why the whole scheme is utterly shameful, such as the undecided centre perhaps wanting nothing to do with a candidate whose most vocal supporters are willing to commit acts of vandalism and violence in the streets for their cause. It's just wrong. You want to have a debate, and tell me all about why Bush is Hitler, and Ashcroft is Goering, and if you sorta squint right, you wouldn't believe it, man, Rumsfeld looks just like Goebbels? Fine. But I get to rebut your nonsense as the mindlessly angry, unserious and self-indulgent frippery it is. You may not win the debate by shouting over me loudly enough I can't be heard. That's not the way freedom of speech works. "Peaceful protestors" are setting more and more dangerous precedents all the time in their (self-declaredly permissible) political actions - and eventually, in some manner, they will come to regret it.

Easy to be Hard

How desperate are Kerry supporters, to pull another bit of juvenile sabotage on the sellers of Unfit for Command, within a day of the first one? Pretty desperate, I'm thinking. It won't surprise me at all if we start hearing of brick-and-mortar retailers suffering similar vandalism perpetrated against copies of the book - covers ripped, displays knocked over, "accidental" spills, and the like. After all, they deserve it for not refusing to carry a work that tells such wicked lies about Kerry, right? I'm now more than a bit worried over this whole thing. How far will the defenders of Kerry go? Are these kinds of strongarm tactics and culturejamming pranks a harbinger of what we're going to see at the Republican convention, or indeed during the election itself? If they don't get the results they want, will there be escalation? (Via Instapundit.)

Monday, August 09, 2004

Celebrity Jeopardy

I'll admit it does get depressing hearing self-absorbed singer after self-absorbed actor after self-absorbed director mindlessly pontificate on politics. But on the other hand, it then becomes all the more encouraging to find an actor who isn't in fact a flaming moron - such as the excellent Adam Baldwin, formerly of Firefly and Angel. He seems to be surprisingly more on the ball than the fans he's addressing: The onus for the need for administrative change in the middle of this wartime (WWIV), is squarely on those who would advance the theory that administrative change, at this time, would be beneficial to U.S. national security. At this juncture... I, for one, remain thoroughly unconvinced, and (by way of Kerry's hard-core liberal, anti-war, anti-anti-communist, anti-defense senatorial voting record) that to change administrations now would gravely harm our security and cause terrorists to think that they had been handed a victory. Kerry's self-described ideological penchant for Euro-Chiracist internationalism is most troubling indeed. After ignoring it completely in its initial run, I've been casually watching Firefly lately - a topic for another post, when I've seen enough to make the conclusions about it I'm inching towards - but this just made much more likely I'll see the feature film, Serenity, and on opening weekend if possible. (Despite auteur Joss Whedon's disqualification for the 2004 Definitely Not A Loon Awards.) (Via Inoperable Terrain, who gets all sorts of points for having a page design incorporating Old Glory, a Bush banner, the Israeli flag and a cockatiel.)

Now couches, oh, they're much worse

Am I imagining it, or does this couch look like it should be a promotional tie-in of some sort? You know, grab your torch and pitchfork? (Via Gizmodo.)

They trampled on what was divine

One has to wonder what the thought processes of the Kerry supporter hacking Barnes & Noble's cover photo of Unfit to Command were. Was it momentarily funny for the perpetrator? I have no doubt. Did it affect anything substantial? Well...at an outside stretch of the imagination, perhaps the mismatch of cover and jacket copy confused one or two potential buyers into passing it up. Perhaps. But if nothing else, it's given the story even more media attention; it's made Drudge's front page, again. I suspect this latest addition will also make the entire story too good for most newspapers to avoid, at the very least, sticking it in the back pages of section A. Plus, it's such a strange twist, it'll likely also turn up in the "Oddly Enough" category of local radio and TV news - places a campaign-related relative non-event might otherwise be excluded. To pull a prank that calls attention to issues the candidate would desperately love to bury is a fairly lame and self-defeating Profound Political Statement. (Wait a day or two for coverage to increase and the stupidity of the thing to be made plainly evident, and I guarantee at least one lefty blogger will start making specious allegations that it was all a Republican setup.) Moreover, it returns to the same theme I think Democrats generally and the hate-filled left specifically are going to be, albeit unconsciously, pushing this year: We cannot be trusted. We are immature, ignorant and disrespectful of others' property, as well as the right of others to exercise their own opinions and freedom of speech. Only the free speech we deem correct is allowed. You will be punished for straying from goodthink. That's not a winning message, guys. That's the message of teenage whiners: angsty Goths and pampered suburban "revolutionaries" who wear Che T-shirts and spiked collars, listen to Rammstein and Anti-Flag, spell their nation's name AmeriKKKa and think Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky are just freakin' brilliant, yo. Is that where the Democratic Party wants to be going? If not, I hope some of the adults step in soon. (Via Instapundit et al.)

The street that wears a fancy label, that's glorified in song and fable

Huh. Flickr actually uses keywords on a global database scale, rather than just for each particular user: Flickr "tags" are user-created keywords that describe their photos. If two or more users hit on (or agree upon) the same tags, all photos with a common tag are grouped together. That's pretty cool -- a kind of Wiki-style serindipitous metadata thing. It is. My caveat: Well, dang. If I'd known that, I'd have made some effort to label my photos with tags that actually matched existing ones in the system, instead of just which streets I was walking on that day. Or marked them all with the "Ottawa" tag, at least. And I'm lazy enough I doubt I'll go back to fix older entries. It's a fantastically spiffy feature, but it kinda needs to be promoted a bit more, I think; the greater number of users take advantage of it, the more useful any given tag will be.

Strange Bedfellows

Whatever happened to Fay Wray, that delicate satin-draped frame?

That's a shame. I have nothing worthwhile to add, actually. I just couldn't pass up a chance to quote the most eminently appropriate lyrics. I'm thinking that probably makes me a terrible person, but only just.

It isn't very hard to tell; evil's a distinctive smell

Smile a wretched smile, fill someone's glass

Miramax is preparing to lay off about 35 percent of its work force this week in an effort to scale back costs and improve efficiencies at the New York-based movie studio, The Post has learned. [...] The planned layoff is more drastic than had been anticipated. Earlier this summer, Miramax was understood to be considering eliminating roughly 90 jobs. This announcement, as the article notes, comes after a year of fantastic success with Kill Bill (punching above its weight by virtue of two separate releases, of course), as well as Cold Mountain. Yet the number of jobs lost in the downsizing plan increased over the course of the summer. Maybe Fahrenheit 9/11 wasn't quite as profitable as they expected, hmmm?

Sunday, August 08, 2004

You'll see at a glance, sir, my school is the answer