Saturday, January 12, 2002

What's your damage, Heather?

Damian Penny finds a --- does a --- ah, hell, just read the post.

My footnotes:

1) This explains why the Hawaiian island of Kona gets so many male Norwegian visitors.
2) The Canadian Orthopaedic Nurses Association is probably wondering why they get --- no, no, I mustn't.
3) They don't speak Norwegian in Newfoundland? Well, I'se the bise that learned summat new today, buddy.
4) You can buy cookies in Newfoundland called "Jam Jams" that have something like 220 calories each. That's a cookie that knows it's a cookie, by God.
6) We're still whoring for page views.
Really Dumb Greens, Call Your Office

In New Zealand, anti-GM-food (GM = genetically modified) radicals ransack a research greenhouse, destroying years' worth of research (full story here). The head-shaking aspect of this?

Dr Gilpin said she was devastated by the damage. "Ironically, our programme is studying genetic techniques to help us find better ways of non-GM potato improvement."

Well... yeah... but... it was, y'know, science and test tubes and stuff.
Blogs of Note

Mark Byron's blog has a great parody of a 'template for an investigative news story'. So funny it must be true. And "Sidewhomping Jointrot" would make a good name for a band.

And Will Warren's latest poem "Theories" is also hilarious. Go read it. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll become deranged and start stalking Ted Rall.

Speaking of poetry, allow me to introduce one of my favorites:

by Tyrone Green

Dark and lonely on a summer's night.
Kill my landlord. Kill my landlord.
Watchdog barking. Do he bite?
Kill my landlord. Kill my landlord.

Slip in his window. Break his neck.
Then his house I start to wreck.
Got no reason. What the heck?
Kill my landlord. Kill my landlord.

C-I-L my land lord!

You won't find a better poet in the entire federal penitentiary system.
The Economist and the Rocker

Pop star Bono will speak at a meeting of the Southern African Development Community next week. According to a Washington Post article:

"Bono and Harvard University economist Jeffrey Sachs want the southern African leaders to use money saved due to debt relief to fight poverty and AIDS in the region."

I can imagine some conversation from that meeting...

SOUTHERN AFRICAN LEADER #1: [I'm pretty dubious about using the debt relief money to fight poverty. I had originally planned to use it for street signs.]

SOUTHERN AFRICAN LEADER #2: [Well, you know, pop star Bono is in favour of the poverty-fighting idea.]

SOUTHERN AFRICAN LEADER #1: [Bono's down with it? Well, hell, why didn't you say so? Where do I sign?]

SOUTHERN AFRICAN LEADER #2: [Yeah. I wasn't gonna listen to the two-named economist dude, but mononomic Bono's OK in my book.]

SOUTHERN AFRICAN LEADER #1: [That's so true. He only uses one name, like many Afghans.]

SOUTHERN AFRICAN LEADER #3: [Bah. He ain't done nuthin' worth listening to since Joshua Tree.]

SACHS: Thank you for having me, gentlemen. Before I get started, I'd like to introduce a man who needs no introduction. Bono?


SACHS: Thanks, Bono. Now, if you'll direct your attention to this pie chart, you can see...

[2.5 hours later]

SACHS: ...and that is why what I'm proposing is sound economic policy. Now, I believe Bono had a few remarks he wanted to add... Bono?

BONO: Yeah uhuh uhuh weeee aaaahh!

SACHS: And so, in conclusion I would like to say that grade inflation at Harvard is a myth, and remind you that copies of "Sketches Of My Culture" are available from the merchandise table at the back. Peace out.

BONO: Eeeeeraaaugh huh huh!

SOUTHERN AFRICAN LEADER #4: [Did you understand a frickin' word the Irish guy said?]

SOUTHERN AFRICAN LEADER #2: [I think he said "gold is the reason for the wars we wage" about an hour ago.]

SOUTHERN AFRICAN LEADER #1: [You know, he kinda sucks without The Edge.]

HAPPY FUN SOUTHERN AFRICAN LEADER: [Pamela Lee Anderson. I just felt like saying that. I'm not whoring for page hits.]

Friday, January 11, 2002

Whoring for the Hits

There have been accusations flying around that some authors are writing intentionally provocative pieces in order to trigger more hits on their web site. We here at Happy Fun Pundit think this is inexcusable.

I mean, sure we could pepper this site with all kinds of references to Britney Spears' Breasts, or to Nude Gillian Anderson photos, but we won't. We are above that sort of thing. And only hard proof about the Face on Mars would get us to talk about it. We only want our site to be found by search engines when people look for legitimate subjects we might be covering, and not, say, the nudity of Sarah Michelle Gellar.

The same can be said for the Kennedy Assassination. No Kennedy Assassination stories here, bucko, even if mentioning it would trigger a zillion hits and help pay for Katie The Dog's two-bag-a-day Milk Bone habit. We are above all that. And we certainly don't want people coming here to try to DOWNLOAD FREE PORNOGRAPHY.

Did I mention we won't talk about Britney Spears naked?
Verb Watch

Politically Incorrect host Bill Maher's great contribution to "shaping the discourse" of the post-9/11 world may have been the establishment of the word "lobbing" as the verb of choice when discussing the use of cruise missiles, the example that caught my eye being in Andrew Sullivan's autopsy of The Clinton Legacy* as it pertains to terrorism.

"lob" suggests travelling in a high, rounded trajectory, with steep ascent and descent. I submit that this is a verb well suited to ICBMs and artillery, but not at all to cruise missiles, which have a relatively flat trajectory. The implicit tennis analogy is also mildly troubling, because it suggests the possiblity that the shot will be returned (unless the target is Anna Kournikova).

Happy Fun Pundit's Verbal Warfare Analysts, having considered the psychology of the intended recipients of the cruise missiles, suggest the following alternatives:

"serving cruise missiles": Keeps with the tennis analogy, but implies a more forceful delivery.

"slinging cruise missiles": Chock full o' charged associations... gunslingers, David and Goliath, yatta yatta.

"pissing cruise missiles": Look, I wrote my name in the sand!

"ejaculating cruise missiles": Let me get you a kleenex there, Osama.

Another suggestion was to rename the weapon in question a "crusade missile", just to stir the pot of 900-year-old indignation.

* I'm looking around for a small sound file to use as soundbite for the phrase "The Clinton Legacy"... I've been looking around for a little clip like "...the meaning of the word is" but haven't found anythinh yet. Any suggestions?

A Tribute to Buddy
By Katie The Dog

Last week Bill Clinton's dog 'Buddy' was killed chasing a car. Some wags made fun of Buddy, others made fun of his master. But I want to talk about Buddy.

I didn't know Buddy, but I know his type. He was a retriever. A good, faithful, sturdy dog who would happily dive into any stagnant swamp on a cold day and drag a dead carcass back to his master, and keep doing it all day. And why? Well, because, it's a retriever's job. We dogs take our jobs seriously. My job is to entertain a small four-year-old human and to help keep her safe. Buddy's job was to look after Bill Clinton. And while my job involves being dressed like a goddamn peacock and sitting in front of a picnic blanket surrounded by Barbie dolls, Buddy's job was much more difficult.

Being the dog of a president is no walk in the park. You never know if your master's affection is real, or whether the sneaky bugger is just giving you a scratch because the cameras are rolling. Some of them pick you up by the ears, and others relegate you to 'The Ranch' because you can't get along with the damned cat. And why should you? We aren't supposed to get along with cats. We hate cats. Don't try to make us like cats.

Now, I know a lot of people have criticized Bill Clinton, but he always struck me as a real dog man. I mean, come on. He's from Arkansas. He wouldn't have felt right without a dog on the porch of the White House. And he probably let Buddy stick his head out of the window of Marine One on the way to Camp David. And seeing as how he received Buddy a few days before the Monica thing broke, they probably spent a long time sleeping together in the doghouse.

Buddy did his time at the White House, and then retired with Bill to New York. His life was cut short, but at least he went out in glory, trying to strike a blow against the demon automobile.

So here's to you, Buddy. You stuck by Bill when no one else did, because that's what dogs do. And you attacked Hillary's cat, because that's what dogs do.

And then you tried to catch a three thousand pound car with your teeth, because that's what dogs do. I'm not sure why we do that last thing, because somehow it doesn't seem sensible. Oh well, I’m off to go scratch myself. See ya, Buddy.

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Tim Blair Rips 'em a New One

I just finished reading Tim Blair's Magical Pundit Insertion on his web site, and what can I say? It's funny. It's illuminating. It's mean. Inserting yourself into a transcript so that you can make curmudgeonly remarks is such a good idea that, well, I'm going to have to steal it sometime. It looks like great fun.

But what really made my lower jaw flap helplessly atop my desk was the sheer, utter idiocy of the real panelists. Now, I'm no Australian, but I'm pretty sure that they are normally equipped with the same number of hands, feet, and brain cells as the rest of us. So what happened to these people? And they fancy themselves Intellectuals? I am awestruck. A brain storm with that group could scarcely result in a light drizzle. I have seen deeper understanding exhibited by my goldfish, which after two years has finally learned to swim in a circle so as not to repeatedly bang its face into the glass.

For a long time, such neurally-challenged people have had a near monopoly on media access. Now that we webloggers are on the scene, it is our sacred duty to ridicule them. Nay, it is our duty to humiliate them, so that they will slink back into their coffee houses and read bad poetry to each other and never bother the rest of us again.

Think of the children.
Canuck Cultural Imperialism

The Brutally Harsh Winters (tm) in the Albertan spawn-hole of Happy Fun Pundit are, uhm, brutally harsh. Walking five blocks down Jasper Avenue in February would be enough to make tough Al-Qaeda guerillas cry like little baby girls, or at least switch allegiance to whatever group offered the warmest turbans. In response to the brutal harshness, the downtown areas of the two largest cities in Alberta are riddled with tunnels and above-ground "pedways" such that it's possible to travel several city blocks without ever having to go outside. It's kind of like a Habitrail hamster cage on a grand scale.

I mention this because I see that the Canadian-made film waydowntown is being released in the US market, more than I year after I saw it while visiting the Great White. The movie is about a group of twenty-something office workers who agree to give a month's salary to the one of their number who can go the longest without going outside. This gang lives and works within one of these Habitrail cities, so life-under-glass isn't wholly impractical. The film will inevitably be compared to Office Space but it's not a horribly apt comparison --- waydowntown also has points of contact with Brazil, the dystopian office in Joe Versus The Volcano ("He can get the job, but can he do the job?") and William Browning Spencer's "Resume With Monsters". Anyhow, it's original, funnier than hell, and Canadian --- so if it's not widely watched in America, it will be clear proof of 'national profiling' and 'anti-multiculturalism'. So go see it. Check here for more info and engagements near you.

(judging from his insight into the life and psyche of mall security guards, I'm guessing that writer/director Gary Burns has paid his dues)
Politically Incorrect Joke of the Day:

Bil Maher: Well, homeland security chief Tom Ridge toured the proposed site of our new counterterrorism training center today.
It is outside Las Vegas.

I don't know why they put it there, but Siegfried & Roy are already in line for a strip search.


Yeah, I know. It's not that great of a joke. But trust me, it's pure gold compared to the rest of the dreck on the last few episodes. I've gotta tell you, this show is turning into a giant sucking black hole of stupidity. And not even the kind of stupidity that's fun to ridicule. It's more like a coffee-klatch of Oprah rejects, spouting inanities and patting themselves on the back.

But I'll keep tuning in, because I do not have much in the way of good sense when it comes to this sort of thing.

Why is Bush a Great Leader?

What makes George Bush so effective as President? Jacob Weisberg came close to an actual valid idea in his Hack Job in Slate, when he suggested that Bush was more likely to delegate authority. Of course, Weisberg believes that delegating authority is a sign of stupidity, which provides another clue to the puzzle.

The real strength of George Bush is humility. Not the sort of false humility that causes you to thank The Lord for your 3-point shot after the big game, but a real understanding that the complexities of government are too much for any one person, and that the complexities of the marketplace are too much for one central authority.

Big government liberals lack humility. They believe they can read a briefing paper and make better decisions about what an industry needs than can hundreds or thousands of people who have spent their lives not just learning their industry, but having to live with the consequences of their actions. What makes a president think that he can simultaneously have better judgement about the economy than professional economists, better judgement about military matters than the generals who serve under him, and better judgement about what the people want or need than the people themselves?

Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter who two very smart men who never understood how to delegate. Both micro-managed operations and policies on a regular basis, constantly overriding the advice of their chosen cabinets and other officials. They always thought they were smarter than the people working with them, and were therefore less likely to take advice offered.

And that's why George Bush is such a refreshing change. Here's a man who isn't afraid to admit that running a military should be left to military specialists, and that running the government requires delegation of authority to a ream of specialists who collectively understand a lot more than any one man can hope to. And that the government itself cannot hope to match the collective intelligence of three hundred million people pooled into the marketplace.

And that's pretty damned smart.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

...But a Fool and Your Money Are Buying DotComs

From The Times:

" accounting rules, introduced by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) on January 1, force US companies to declare any fall in the value of goodwill they paid for acquisitions. Goodwill is the premium paid for an acquisition over and above what accountants call the fair value of its assets."

Oh, is that what that's called? Here, I thought it'd be a fancy accounting term like

Shareholder Value Squandered On Buying Any Company That Had the Word "web" or the letter "e" In Its Name

Net Poor Judgement Capitalization

"Paying For Some Kid's Boxster That He Can Drive To the Next Business-Model-Free Startup" Allocation

The Times article continues:

"The fall in the stock market value of high-tech companies since early 2000 has resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars of this goodwill being wiped out..."

(it works best if you imagine the above read by Mr. Burns, and doing quotation fingers on the syllables "good" and "will")

For more information on this and other accounting terms, please see this online resource on dotcom accounting and acquisition practices.
Window, aisle, or next to the angry man with the gun?

Today's American Airlines AAirMail, AA's frequent flyer email update, omits any mention of their laudable new policy of not allowing armed assholes with improper documentation onto AA flights.

The world will never know peace until Western civilization understands that it is wrong to single out someone for special treatment only because they belong to an identifiable minority --- fargin' idjits, or, in PC hyphenetically-correct-jargon, Arab-Smith-Wessoned-Morono-Americans.
Blogger has Been Offline
If you've been wondering why there has been no new content, it's because Blogger is offline. They promise to have publishing back later today.

On the other hand, if you are reading this on your Pentium XXIV from the ruins of the metropolis, while the mutated blog-people roam around outside looking for human brains to eat, then it apparently took a little longer than we all thought.
Guest Rant - Pet Crimes of Passion

Alert reader Trish writes:

I opened up my local tabloid newspaper today (yes, I love the local tabloid, with the horrified love of a nun for a devastatingly sexy knife-wielding rogue with a heart of gold. Oh, sorry, that's romance novels) to find this story: Man charged in bird's death - Woman mourns beloved cockatiel.

For you devastatingly sexy knife-wielding rogues who never click on links (email me!), it's a story about a woman mourning the death of her cockatiel, who perished in her own hands, at her own hands but not really, sort of, in a domestic dispute at 3:30 AM. "I've had to bury four children of my own and this feels the same way," she lamented, shattering forever the respect and regard of newsreaders who have killed birds in their own domestic disputes at 3:30 AM and could relate to the wholly understandable nature of the incident.

I can scarcely count how many nights I've awakened in my suburban bed two hours before it's time to get up for work, roused the hubby, and engaged in some truly lively verbal and physical badinage resulting in the demise of a family pet. It's the sort of thing that could happen to anyone. But to liken it to the burial of four children? Now you've lost me. I have yet to see a dead child who could honorably be put to rest in a shoebox behind the dog's favorite shrub, for starters.

The real tragedy here lies in the fact that anyone who might be likely to make such absurd statements to the press was deemed competent to care for a cockatiel in the first place. Those things need feeding, you know.

The investigative journalists over at Daimnation! have uncovered a troubling fact: The Naked News is, in fact, Canadian. We are therefore guilty of "Yankee Cultural Imperialism". There are a number of problems with this claim:
  • We are not Yankees. In fact, some of us are Canadian.
  • The closest I get to a culture is when I scrape the gunk out of the inside of my mukluks.
  • The only time I feel even remotely imperial is when I'm eating margarine. The snazzy crown makes me feel all Kingly.

Still, we don't want to give you Americans credit for a cultural innovation as important and uplifting as Naked News Broadcasting. So remember: IT'S OURS! KEEP YOUR GRUBBY HANDS OFF OUR NAKED NEWSCASTERS.

On the other hand, I have it on good authority that Celine Dion is American. You can have her back any time.
Happy Fun Pundit Charged

Happy Fun Pundit founder Dan (who, like many Afghans, only uses one name, which is "Chuck") was charged with "Crimes Against Humanity" after posting a controversial article which mentioned CNN and Naked News in the same paragraph. According to briefs filed by counsel, the plaintiff "read that thing he posted, and then I thought about Wolf Blitzer with no clothes, and I feel really bad and funny inside." The complainant is seeking unspecified damages and "a lot of liquor and porn."

Also under the cloud is suspicion is National Post columnist Mark Steyn, whose recent column brings to mind troubling naked images of skanky Canadian author John Ralston Saul.
When Good Hampsters Go Bad

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the Animated Rodent Satan known as The HampsterDance*. It was nothing but a stitched together animated GIF of a bunch of cartoon hampsters jiggling in strange and exotic ways. But what brought it all together was The Song. An eerie blend of the chipmunks and a freaky sidestep hoedown, The Song burned a fiery path through your brain, searing itself into your synapses indelibly so that you could be in a meeting a week later, and suddenly The Song would start up, and soon you're sitting there pretending to be listening to a presentation on XML while inside your head the Hampsters are going, "DEE DEE DEE DEE DA DA DA DO DO! DEE DA DO DO DO!". And then the image of the hamsters would slowly coalesce in your brain, with the dancing, and the jumping, and always the twirling, twirling, twirling...

Sorry. It almost had me there for a minute. Anyway, the Hampsterdance was one of those strange web phenomena that managed to get more hits with a crappy GIF than most of the flaming dot-coms** could buy with a twenty million dollar Madison Avenue budget.

So what does a self-respecting web site do when it has a bona-fide hit? Well, it 'improves' it, of course. Our lovable hampsters are gone, replaced by mutant offspring. Oh sure, the animation is better. Oh sure, they have cute product-friendly names now, and cute products with their friendly names on them. They have a CD. They even have a newsletter, no doubt chock-full of articles like, "The Dance Secrets of Vermin", "Spinning or Jumping: The Debate", and a letters section with readers writing in to say, "The Song! The SONG! It BURNS! Please kill me." So our Hampsters are now fully functional, economically speaking.

But the magic is gone. I was just over at the Hampsterdance web site (er, "Hampsterdance 2", to signify the snazzy newness), and the message board there is full of messages saying, "We Want Our Hampsters Back!". As do I. All the Flash and Shockwave animation in the world will never replace that goofy GIF and The Song. There's a lesson in here somewhere for web designers, but you'll have to figure it out for yourself because The Song has crowded out my capacity for rational thought.

Sadly, it appears the Hampsters are no more. But here's a web site that features The Song. How HampsterDance Stole My Soul appears to be operated by someone with way to much free time, and perhaps in need of therapy. But The Song is there, along with such promising dancing newcomers as "The Infectious Disease Organism Dance."

But beware - few have experienced The Song and managed to erase it from their memory. Listen at your own risk.

*Yes, I know 'hamster' is spelled without a 'P'. That's why these are Hampsters.

** "Flaming Dot-Coms" would also be a good name for a band.

Tuesday, January 08, 2002


This Telegraph story of US Special Forces teams directing fire onto bad guys, then directing more fire onto the bad guys who poked their heads up to watch the first bad guys get exploded, brings to mind a scene from "Uncommon Valor" where Blaster introduces the subject of demolitions with the immortal phrase:

"Few of life’s problems can't be solved with a properly placed charge of high explosive."

Paula Zahn, Hot News Chick

From MSNBC: UPI - Embarrassed CNN executives have yanked an on-air promotion that referred to anchorwoman Paula Zahn as “sexy” and was accompanied by the sound effect of a zipper.

Well, you knew THAT was going to happen, but let's not focus on what 'Embarrassed CNN executives' were yanking. Instead, let's step back a moment in time and listen in on that fateful meeting that approved the ad:

Marketing: Boss, have you seen the Naked News?

Boss: Oh, those topless Russian women? How disgusting. Sex and news do not mix, and it's a blight on our profession.

Marketing: No, it's American, and they are getting big ratings on the internet.

Boss: Bah. The internet. Buncha kids looking for porn. Only internet people would stoop so low as to make women take off their clothes to read the news. We are professionals here at CNN!

Marketing: They're coming to cable, boss.

Boss: They are coming to cable? You know, I was just thinking that Paula Zahn is HOT. Think she'll read the news topless?

Marketing: I think she'll rip that rug off your head and choke you with it if you ask her.

Boss: Okay, look: I've heard that Salon has a sex column with no sex in it. Here's what we do - we have naked news without any actual nudity in it.

Marketing: Uh, you lost me on that one, chief. And your rug is slipping.

Boss: We'll put an ad on TV that says she's sexy, and we'll put in the SOUND of a zipper coming down! The next best thing to nudity is the sound of someone getting nude, am I right?

Marketing: Uh...

Boss: Think Paula will go for it?

Marketing: I think she's going to make you another orifice for that rug.

CNN - "As principled as your protests force us to be."

Wanted: Your funny Email
If you come across a news story that you think would tickle our fancy, or if you have a witty, hilarious observation about something in the news, feel free to send us an E-mail. We'll post the best messages here.

What do you get for your effort? The warm satisfaction of knowing that you have made the world a little brighter for your fellow man.

'Cause we can't afford anything else.

Monday, January 07, 2002

Another Blog to Recommend
Balloon Juice, with a wonderfully grumpy host.

It looks like a nice new site, but truth be told I just wanted to type the words 'Balloon Juice'. Having a four-year-old daughter with a balloon fixation, I understand. I think.

If it means the other thing I think it could mean, I don't want to know about it.
Funniest Line From a Pundit This Weekend:
From this week's 'McLaughlin Group' year-end wrap up:

The subject: 'The Worst Political Theater of the Year':
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The worst political theater is Dubya dancing with Ricky Martin, Ricky rocking to the salsa beat, with his hips in full swivel; Bush, arms akimbo, working a freaky hoedown sidestep.

'Freaky Hoedown Sidestep', by the way, would make a good name for a band.
And Sometimes a Cigar Isn't...

And what is with terrorists and airplanes? If the Richard "Light My Fire" Reid incident had happened a year ago, the headlines would've been DEATH IN THE SKIES!. Today, they're more like DUMB GUY WITH MATCHES BEATEN SENSELESS. I flew on the first day of air travel after 9/11, and I flew the day after the Reid incident... on 9/14, air travellers were nervous and subdued (but, after having been stuck in Minnesota for four days, were willing to take any risks to get out). On 12/23, air travellers were joking about their foot odor being a chemical weapon, and making fun of Reid for wearing black suede shoes with khaki pants (you have to remember that I was flying out of the SF Bay area). Memo to terrorist guys: "Diminishing returns" - check a dictionary. That's the big book propping the door open at the madrassa.

In point of fact, the psychology behind terrrorist target selection is pretty obvious. First, observe that ol' Osama keeps his gun pretty close in all his photo ops. Notice his unhealthy interest in airplanes and skyscrapers. Is somebody feeling a little inadequate about something? I imagine there's an Al-Qaeda memo with comments on possible targets floating around:

WASHINGTON MONUMENT: Yes, yes, excellent.
CAPITOL BUILDING: I'm not comfortable with this. I think the roundedness makes it a poor target.
SPACE NEEDLE: Can you see a stream of infidels leaping from the top? Great choice.
BIG BEN: It's "time" this was finally destroyed! Ha! Ha!
TAJ MAHAL: Mixed feelings about this. Maybe the two outlying towers, but the main structure feeds my soul.
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE: Blowing this up would surely stop the flow of traffic into the bowels of San Francisco!
EIFFEL TOWER: Now this, I can sink my teeth into! Death to the Poor Hygiene Satan!

-- The Sheikh

PS: Guys, don't ever send me another picture of the Sydney Opera House. EVER EVER EVER.
Reporters Really are Neurotic
Blogger didn't seem to like posting my whole article below, which probably left some of you confused as to why I think reporters are neurotic. Hey, -I- didn't say it. They did. Here's the quote from 'Reliable Sources':

BOB FRANKEN: Possibly the most neurotic group of people in the world are the members of the press. We all absolutely love to throw the hardballs and throw the bean balls, but really don't understand it when somebody throws them back.

This admission came after they agreed that the press doesn't like it when their sources are questioned at a press conference.

What a concept. Reporters should actually do some REPORTING, instead of just firing made-up questions about how 'the feeling in Washington' is that the war is going badly. The type of question which, by the way, Don Rumsfeld chews up like a Rottweiler on crack.
Someone red... someone, like, oh...

What is it with terrorists and Satan? According to recent reports, Palestinian terrorists refer to the explosive found in Richard Reid's shoes as "the Mother of Satan". The same folks refer to America as "The Great Satan", though this might be justified as a too-literal reading of "bombs bursting in air". Israel is the "The Lesser Satan". Britain and France are "The Bad Teeth Satan" and "The Poor Hygiene Satan", respectively. Captured Al-Qaeda fighters have spoken of "the Wind of Satan" in the caves of Tora Bora, though it is unclear whether they're referring to fuel-air explosives, or the aftermath of Sloppy Joe night at the Tora Bora Cave-teria.

I'd be interested to know what word or words are translated as "Satan", which I believe comes from the Hebrew word for "adversary". Shouldn't using a Jewish word make a Muslim extremist unclean or force him to shave off all his body hair or something? Come on, guys, get your own noun.
Reliable Sources: Reporters are Neurotic, and Howie Kurtz Makes a Funny
This week's episode of CNN's 'Reliable Sources' (transcript here) is hilarious.

First, we have this 'witty' exchange between Howard Kurtz and Bob Franken, about the Pentagon's reluctance to announce to the press (and therefore, Al-Quaida) that the Marines are about to go on a mission:

FRANKEN: There's a difference between being misled and being lied to. It's fair game if there's an honor among thieves, there's also among press spokesmen and it is OK sometimes to obfuscate, OK sometimes to sort of cover an answer in fog in the hope that that's going to keep people at bay.

KURTZ: It's OK to obfuscate?

FRANKEN: Yes, it is OK to obfuscate.

KURTZ: I think you've been drinking the Pentagon Kool-Aid, Bob.

Oh, my aching sides. Pentagon Kool-Aid. Get it? Uh, the Kool-Aid at the Pentagon makes you, uh, do something. So I guess you shouldn't drink it. Leave the humor to us, Howie.

Poor Howie Kurtz. He spent the whole episode trying to get his panel to agree that the press was being horribly mistreated, lied to, and in general not being spoon-fed everything they need to know. But the panelists were far more rational (in particular, Pam Hess from UPI). For example, this exchange caused me to blow about a half-gallon of milk out of my nose:

(Exchange starts with Kurtz whining that military won't tell them details about military operations)

BOB FRANKEN: Because the questions are asked, and the Pentagon knows how to not make news with its answers. Therefore, we have nothing to report.

PAM HESS: But that's our job. It's our job to go out and find out if these 52 people were killed. People can get in there. There are reporters all over Afghanistan, and we can independently confirm this information, and I don't think it's up to the Pentagon. It would be nice if they'd give us this information.

BOB FRANKEN: But they won't.

PAM HESS: But they won't. We don't have a job if they do.

1000th Visit Posted
We just recorded our 1000th visit. Thanks very much for all the support.

I was going to send the 1000th visitor a new car, but my dog ate the URL. Sorry 'bout that.

Scaled Composites
Once in a while, I'll be posting links to companies, people, and web sites that I think would be of special interest to our visitors.

The first company on that list is Scaled Composites, LLC. This is an aerospace company founded by engineering legend Burt Rutan. Scaled Composites is proof that you don't need large bureaucracies or governments to build exciting, innovative aircraft and space vehicles.

Scaled Composites started about 25 years ago as a small two-man shop making plans for homebuilt aircraft. Back then it was known as the "Rutan Aircraft Factory". Rutan's 'Vari-EZE' and 'Long-EZE' designs were unique, safe, and performed incredibly well. They became huge sellers, and helped to finance Scaled's move into bigger and more complex aircraft designs. Since then, they've never looked back.

Among Scaled Composite's accomplishments: They built the Voyager, the first aircraft to fly around the world non-stop. They built the structure and exterior shell for the DC-X VTOL rocket demonstrator. They built the prototype for the Roton rocket. They helped design and build the Pegasus satellite launch system (with Orbital Sciences). And they are helping to build the Raptor, which is the next-generation UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).

Throughout their growth, Burt Rutan has remained a staunch defender of free enterprise and private access to space. He is one of the prime movers behind the X-Prize, a $10 million cash award to the first private organization to put a person in space, land safely, and do it again in a week to show rapid turnaround capability.

This company will be a big part of man's future in space. Check out their web site for details on all of their programs. And when people tell you that only NASA can build really cool stuff, tell them about this company.

New Domain and E-mail
Our domain redirector finally kicked it, so now you reach this site by going to

And now that we have the domain forwarding set up, you can also E-mail us. Just send your mail to or (or for that matter, but remember - dogs aren't very literate. And they drool on the keyboard. Oh, wait. That was me. I must have had too much cough syrup this morning).

Sunday, January 06, 2002

He's a One-Trick Ollie
I just read Oliver North's latest Clinton rant, and all I have to say is:

HEY OLLIE! It's 2002! Our guy won! Honest!

Now look: We all know that Clinton has the ethics of a garden slug. But really Ollie, you're still ranting about Joycelyn Elders! Isn't that just a little pathetic? Next you can tell us how you feel about the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. And I think there's still some dirt to be dredged up on William Howard Taft.

Cheer up Ollie - life is good. Osama's running faster than Andrew Dice Clay at a NOW rally, Bush just passed the largest tax cut in a decade [make up your own joke], and the future is so bright my dog is wearing sunglasses. Here's my advice: Put up your feet, crack a beer, and watch some tube. And for God's sake, stop obsessively cleaning that .45.

By the way, have you got Joycelyn Elders' phone number? We could use her right now as a military consultant in the hunt for Mullah Omar.

If anyone can teach young men how to beat 'The One-Eyed Cleric', it's her.
Flashbackhanded Compliments 101

Somebody sent me this back on July 24th, complete with its authoritative 5% margin of error. Levenstein and Williams clearly neglected to consider the "moral certainty" and "delegation" factors in evaluating presidential IQs; FDR in particular performed a 100% delegation, which I don't feel is reflected in his score.

The Intelligence of our Presidents
Bakersville News Service
6-28-01 12:32 PM CST
by Jennifer L. Borenstein

The intelligence of our presidents has never been
seriously scrutinized any time in our history until
now. There is a widespread perception that President
GW Bush is not qualified for the position he holds.
That increasing awareness by the people has led to a
study of the intellectual ability of all presidents
for the past fifty years. There have been twelve
presidents in that time, from F. D.Roosevelt to G. W.
Bush. All were rated based on any scholarly
achievements, writings that they alone wrote, their
ability to speak effectively, and several other
psychological factors. The conclusions
of the study, conducted by an independent think tank
located in Scranton, Pennsylvania were surprising.

This think tank includes *high caliber historians,
psychiatrists, sociologists, scientists in human
behavior, and psychologists. Among their ranks are
Dr. Werner Levenstein, world-renowned sociologist, and
Professor Patricia A. Williams, a world-respected
psychiatrist. All members of the think tank are
experts at being able to detect a person's IQ from
the criteria stated earlier. After four months of
research, these learned men and women have determined
the IQs of each president within a range of five
percentage points. The IQs listed below are the norms
for each president.

147 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D)
132 Harry Truman (D)
122 Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)
174 John F. Kennedy (D)
126 Lyndon B. Johnson (D)
155 Richard M. Nixon (R)
121 Gerald Ford (R)
175 James E. Carter (D)
105 Ronald Reagan (R)
099 George HW Bush (R)
182 William J. Clinton (D)
091 George W. Bush (R)

The non-partisan researchers who evaluated the twelve
presidents determined that the six Republican
presidents for the past 50 years had an average IQ of
115.5, with President Nixon having the highest IQ, at

President G. W. Bush was rated the lowest of all the
Republicans with an IQ of 91. The six Democrat
presidents had IQs with an average of 156, with
President Clinton having the highest IQ, at 182.
President Lyndon B. Johnson was rated the lowest of
all the Democrats with an IQ of 126. The margin of
error is plus or minus five percent. This study was
initiated on February 13, 2001 and completed on
June 17, 2001.

This study validated the widespread feeling of people
about the sitting president. President Bush was rated
low because of his **inability to command the English
language, his lack of any scholarly achievements, and
an absence of anything authored by him that would
reflect an intellectual effort.

* Can a high caliber historian punch through the armor on a think tank? They build 'em tough down in Scranton, y'know. Also, shouldn't we be working towards the elimination of historians of high caliber? After all, they have no legitimate use other than killing.
** Fortunately, he has at least some ability to command the American armed forces.

Somebody check to see if Slate is getting the Bakersville New Service feed.
Backhanded Compliments 101
Jacob Weisberg at Slate has it figured: Being stupid is good for a wartime president. There you have it, folks. This is a master stroke of punditry: In one fell swoop, you get to admit that the president is doing well, while still slamming him for being stupid, and along the way painting the whole endeavour of fighting war as something better left to the simpletons.

According to Saleton, "moral certainty" and a "willingness to delegate" are qualities associated with dumb people. Quick, someone call Jack Welch and tell him he's a dumb guy.

Oh, but of course this doesn't apply to Democratic presidents who went to war. They somehow managed to find a way to delegate and take moral stances, despite the fact that we all know they were really bright guys.

Saleton is worried that some day some 'revisionist historian' will try to make the claim that Bush wasn't as dumb as everyone thought. You know, they might outrageously consider things like a Harvard MBA, SAT scores almost as high as Gore's, scoring in the top 10% on the officer's candidate test, learning to fly fighter jets, and a meteoric rise to the pinnacle of American Politics as somehow relevant. And in our worst liberal nightmares, they might even be objective.

Katie - The Cool Dog
Say hello to Katie, the coolest dog on the net. She's a 2-year-old border collie with a bad attitude. She has threatened me with a complete frisbee boycott unless I let her in on the action around here.

Why the bad attitude? Well, have you ever tried suing a dog? Can't be done.

Greta Van Susteren tried. Twice.

Once in a while, Katie will show up here to give us the all-important dog-in-the-street viewpoint on the political process or anything else that's on her mind. Which means you're probably going to be subjected to lots of stories about various butt smells, and plenty of reviews of dog toys and chew-flips. There's no reasoning with her.
Thanks for Showing Up!
Well, at the end of our first day as a blog, we had over 400 unique hits.

That's great. As Tom Waits said, it'd be real strange in here if no one hadda shown up.

I'd like to thank Glenn Reynolds over at InstaPundit. Over 80% of our hits came from his site after he made a short mention of us. Proof once again that he is the King of the Blog People. If you haven't visited his site (oh hell, you all came from his site...), just rush right over there. You don't even have to say goodbye. I understand.

Young People and Flying
Not long after the 15-year old pilot crashed this afternoon, the networks were trotting out the usual suspects wringing their hands over the fact that we let young people train in airplanes at any age. The assumption is that this is something that is unwise.

Anyone who thinks that children should not be allowed to train in airplanes should go forthwith to the EAA 'Young Eagles' web site.

What we all need is more kids getting interested in things like flying, instead of hanging at the mall. Programs like the Young Eagles are like scouting - they enrich the lives of kids and teach them values that are hard to learn hanging in Starbucks.

Not that there's anything wrong with Starbucks. I'm trying to be nice to them - by my calculations, the yeast-growth rate at which they are opening means I'll have one in the living room in a month.
Kill or Be Killed!
I wasted entirely too much time tonight playing around on Technosphere.

Create your own creature and set it free into the Technosphere, where it will hunt, eat, and make little creatures. Unless it gets eaten. That's bad.

Anyway, it's a pretty cool idea for a unique web site. Try it out.
Incoming Wounded
If history is any guide, sometime around 2020 network television should produce a wacky sitcom set during the Afghanistan war. After a brief flirtation with the name "Omar's Heroes", I settled on the title Muslim Asshole Subterranean Hideaway, or M * A * S * H.

Some script highlights:

The show's theme music, "Martyrdom is Painless", plays as the camera pans across the Afghan mountains. An F16 enters the frame, and the camera zooms in on it to shoot over the shoulder of the weapons officer. The camera zooms further to a bomb's-eye view display on the weapons console. We watch as the ground looms larger and larger; the bomb is falling towards a cave entrance. As it hits, the point-of-view moves through the ground and into a gloomy cave, where sits our show's anti-hero, MULLAH "HAWKEYE" OMAR, reading the Koran. OMAR looks up as an explosion jolts the cave, raising clouds of dust

OMAR: Crazy infidels... all the daisies are already cut!


OMAR: I'm sorry, but this bunker is already busted!


ZAEEF: What a morning! It's only ten, and already America's heartless bombing has killed three million Afghan children!


ZAEEF: And if you believe that, I've got some prime Manhattan real estate I'd like to sell you.


OMAR (suddenly somber): I hate this war. I just want to go home to Kandahar. Did I ever tell you about Kandahar?

ZAEEF: Only about a thousand times.


OMAR: Good ol' Kandahar. Did I ever tell you it's the spiritual center of my Taliban movement?

ZAEEF: You may have mentioned it.


OMAR: When I was a kid in Kandahar, we used to chant the Koran twelve hours a day, then ---

ZAEEF: --- go stone infidels?

OMAR: Yeah, how'd you know?

ZAEEF: Lucky guess.


OMAR: Well, I don't know about you, but I'm about ready for some illicit fun.

ZAEEF: You wouldn't be talking about --- THIS?

ZAEEF produces a tape player from under his bunk with a dramatic flourish

OMAR: I would indeed. Mrs. O, do your stuff!

ZAEEF presses a button, and a horrible squealing noises issues forth from the boom box. He and OMAR lie back contentedly

OMAR: And the beauty of it is that Yoko Ono isn't really music, so it's not a sin.

ZAEEF: I wonder how Allah feels about Cornel West's rap?

LAUGHTER. Suddenly, OSAMA bursts in

OSAMA: What in the name of Allah is going on here?

OMAR: Well, if it isn't ferret-face!


OSAMA: You guys know as well as I do that the Koran, Allah be praised, forbids music!

OMAR: Oh, lighten up, OSAMA.

ZAEEF: Yeah. Ever since your beard went white, you look like you have a chinchilla growing out of your chin!


OSAMA: Allah have mercy on you... you... you GUYS!

ZAEEF: Well, I guess he told us!

OSAMA: You're not going to get away with this! I'm going to report you to the chief!

He stomps out in a huff, with OMAR and ZAEEF looking after him curiously

OMAR: How *does* he gets his long flowing robes so white?

ZAEEF: Beats me.

OMAR: Only with a steel cable!


OSAMA is kneeling on a prayer rug, bowing and ringing his hands as he rants

OSAMA: And for another thing, your name be praised, they have, power be to you, an unauthorized tape player, may your name be praised! I demand, as your hand smites the infidels, that some true Muslim law, blessed be Allah, be enforced in this cave!

He sits up, crosses his arms and stares expectantly into space

OSAMA: Are you listening to me, as you always hear my prayers?

As he agains stares expectantly, a shaggy, unkempt figure sidles up behind him. It's SULEYMAN AL-FARIS ABDUL HAMID WALKER-LINDH, whom everyone calls RADAR

OSAMA : RA ---

RADAR (interrupting him): Yes sir?

OSAMA starts, then turns to glare at RADAR

OSAMA: Haven't I told you never to sneak up on me like that? Allah be praised, you're worse than those Delta Force guys!

RADAR: Sorry, sir. There's a call for you on the satellite phone!

He holds up the phone to OSAMA, who looks at it peevishly

OSAMA: Didn't I tell you to leave the satellite phone turned off?

RADAR: Well, yes, but it's only one call, what could possibly ---

A sudden explosion rocks the cave. When the dust settles, OSAMA and RADAR are covered in dirt and debris. RADAR is holding out the skeletal remains of the phone

RADAR: --- happen?

OSAMA: (sighing) Did you happen to find out what the call is about?

RADAR: Yes, sir. It was Noam Chomsky. He's coming for a visit in two days.

OSAMA: Noam Chomsky --- is --- coming --- HERE?

RADAR: Yes, sir.

OSAMA: In --- TWO --- DAYS?

RADAR: Yes, sir.

OSAMA: Allah have mercy! We only have two days to get this place shipshape!

Another explosion rocks the cave. OSAMA and RADAR look up at the cave roof then at each other

RADAR: This is pretty noisy for a silent genocide.

OSAMA: All right, all right, let me think. You get together a work party to dispose of the stinking bloated corpses of the glorious martyrs, Allah be praised, while I deal with Omar and Zaeef!

ZAEEF is praying on a mat. OMAR enters.

OMAR: Oh boy, Mohammed Klinger's at it again.

ZAEEF sits up.

ZAEEF: What's he up to now?

OMAR: He's trimmed his beard to less than one fist's width.

ZAEEF: What? Osama will throw him out of the cave as punishment!

OMAR: It's not going to look good when Noam Chomsky visits our cave tomorrow.

ZAEEF: Chomsky's coming here?

OMAR: Uh huh.

They both pause for a beat.

ZAEEF and OMAR: Where's the beard trimmer?


They resume praying. Suddenly OMAR sits up.

OMAR: Wait a minute... what's that sound?

ZAEEF sits up and listens intently.

ZAEEF: I don't hear anything.

OMAR: That's just it. The bombing's stopped!

ZAEEF: It must be Ramadan!

Suddenly the lights go dark and an loud explosion is heard. When the lights come back on, ZAEEF is buried under a pile of rock

OMAR: On the other hand, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.


ZAEEF: Would you shut up and help me get these rocks off?

OMAR: (raising eyebrows) What would Allah say about that?


But you get the idea. Just add Mullah Mulcahy, Hotlips Mohammed, Colonel Mohammed, Sergeant Mohammed, Mohammed Able, and Mohammed Baker, and you've got yourself a recipe for eleven years of weekly zaniness, becoming increasingly preachy and irritating as time goes on.