Wednesday, December 24, 2003

The last threshold at the last minute

Next-to-last-minute Christmas shopping all afternoon Tuesday, probably more Wednesday, and housecleaning in between. It looks like blogging may get a bit thin the next couple of days.

I do want to thank you all for having been here, and for contributing to the now-six-digit hit counter reading. (Of course, I know it's those nude calendars that most of you are actually here to see.)

If I do miss a few days, I won't be gone long. Help yourself to the eggnog.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Those wacky PETAns

BBC | Give leather the boot, India urged
An animal welfare group is urging Indians to steer clear of wearing leather with an advertising campaign featuring singing cows.

"Do I make myself clear? Keep your hands off my rear!" croons a cow in the 30-second TV advert.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) hopes the lip-synched bovines will persuade Indians to boycott leather products.
I suppose this is no sillier than Chik-Fil-A's cows. But I thought cows were already sacred in India?

Oh, it's not just India? Well, I feel better now. (And this is ancient news that I'm just now hearing about. *Turns to the cow logo upper left* Is there anything you'd like to share?)

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Clues

Fox News | Albright: Bin Laden Comments Were 'Tongue-in-Cheek'
Albright was in the Fox News studio's green room waiting to appear on an evening program when she made the remark.

"She said, 'Do you suppose that the Bush administration has Usama bin Laden hidden away somewhere and will bring him out before the election?'" said Fox News analyst and Roll Call executive editor Mort Kondracke.
Is this how Democrats think?

Does this mean that she'd would have done exactly that if she were still in office?

Friday, December 19, 2003

Tell Mom she's a slut too

Your Mommy Kills Animals PDF
Boston Herald | Fur flies over flier: PETA targets ‘Nutcracker’ kids
Animal rights advocates will single out small children at performances of "The Nutcracker'' in the next few weeks by handing out fliers saying "Your Mommy Kills Animals'' to youngsters whose mothers are wearing fur.

"Children can't look up to a mom in a battered-raccoon hat or a crushed coyote collar,'' said Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "Maybe when they're confronted by their own children's hurt looks, fur-wearers' cold hearts will melt.''

The fliers include a color drawing of a woman plunging a large bloody knife into the belly of a terrified rabbit. The fliers urge kids to "ask your mommy how many dead animals she killed to make her fur clothes."
I heard this on the radio and assumed it was a parody. But the image at right comes from PETA's own "FurIsDead.com" website. The "comic" (actually a single-sheet handout) ends with this sentence: "Keep your doggie or kitty friends away from mommy—she’s an animal killer!"

PETA is brought to you by your friends on the political left, the party of compassion and tolerance.

That movie

Why in the name of Rosebud are reviewers playing coy about spoiling the end of The Return of the King? The book has been sitting on the shelves for fifty years. It's the most famous fantasy novel ever written. I think it's safe to say that anybody who cares already knows how the story ends. (Interminably.)

The Friday Five

This week's questions:
1. List your five favorite beverages.

Iced tea (Luzianne decaf); hot tea (the same); hot chocolate (Swiss Miss sugar-free); milk (these days it has to be 2%, sigh); 7-up.

2. List your five favorite websites.

9 Chickweed Lane; James Lileks; InstaPundit; Arlo 'n' Janis; the Obscure Store.

3. List your five favorite snack foods.

Cheez-Its White Cheddar; popcorn; Hot Tamales; Pringles original; Fritos Bar-B-Q Corn Chips.

4. List your five favorite board and/or card games.

Backgammon; Scrabble (when I have the concentration to play it)... Sorry, I play games so seldom...

5. List your five favorite computer and/or game system games.

Backgammon; Spider solitaire...

The Thursday Threesome

:: The Christmas Song, Part II ::
Onesome: Chestnuts - Okay, just which Christmas food won't you touch? I mean, even when Auntie Sarah is serving it up with a big smile!

Fruitcake. As dessert, it makes a great doorstop.

Twosome: Roasting - Then again, which Christmas food are you willing to risk life and limb for, even when Uncle George is between you and the platter?

Can't think of anything. I mean, I love Grandmother's chess pie, but in order to get it now I have to make it myself.

Threesome: on an open fire - Heh. This line reminds me of a joke! Do you have a favorite bit of holiday humor? How about it?

Bumper sticker on the back of Santa's sleigh: "If you don't like the way I drive, stay off the roof."

Runner-up: Disclaimer heard at the beginning of a Christmas pageant: "The part of the baby Jesus will be played by a 40-watt light bulb."

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Is it still news if CNN doesn't cover it?

Isntapundit | A Pretty Picture
Let the record show that on December 10, when thousands of Iraqis marched in the streets, demanding an end to Ba'athist terror, there was no coverage whatsoever on CNN's website. Even after two days of enthusiastic reaction and animated discussion at web logs throughout the political spectrum, CNN still did not take notice of the story.
Healing Iraq | A great day for Iraq
The rallies today proved to be a major success. I didn't expect anything even close to this. It was probably the largest demonstration in Baghdad for months. It wasn't just against terrorism. It was against Arab media, against the interference of neighbouring countries, against dictatorships, against Wahhabism, against oppression, and of course against the Ba'ath and Saddam.

We started at Al-Fatih square in front of the Iraqi national theatre at 10 am. IP were all over the place. At 12 pm people started marching towards Fardus square through Karradah. All political parties represented in the GC participated. But the other parties, organizations, unions, tribal leaders, clerics, school children, college students, and typical everyday Iraqis made up most of the crowd. Al-Jazeera estimated the size of the crowd as over ten thousand people.

You can find a list of some of the parties that we noticed there at Omar's blog. At one point it struck me that our many differences as an Iraqi people meant nothing. Here we were all together shouting in different languages the same slogans "NO NO to terrorism, YES YES for peace".

I spent most of the time taking pictures. heh, I really enjoyed playing the role of a journalist. Everyone was tugging at my sleeves asking me to take their photos mistaking me for a foreign reporter. Some people recognized a reporter from Al-Arabiyah station and they started taunting him. One old man shouted to him "For once, speak the truth".
Of course, for all we know this happens every day in Iraq...

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Homework

(You know, MediaRevolution, that URL field is intended for your URL, not a press release. HREF links do work within comments. But it's nothing to me, however you want to use it is fine. I'm used to seeing people who want to see the US lose the war not giving their real names.)

Homework? Certainly. I'll do some homework.
BBC | 12-23-98 | Oil-for-food scheme no cure-all
As United Nations humanitarian staff go back to work in Iraq after the US-led air strikes, serious questions hang over the UN oil-for-food programme which funds the distribution of desperately needed aid to millions of ordinary Iraqis.

...Under the programme, which began in December 1996, Iraq has been allowed to sell oil worth $5.2bn every six months to buy essential supplies for its people. About a third of the proceeds go towards the UN weapons inspection programme and a compensation fund for the damage caused by the Gulf War.

The programme's aim is to offset the shortages and suffering caused by UN trade sanctions which have been in place against Iraq since the Gulf War, pending the destruction by Baghdad of all banned weapons.

But the arrangement faces a number of problems:

* Because of a slump in oil prices, proceeds from sales have amounted to only about 3bn dollars in the past six months, well short of the 5.2bn dollar limit.

* In response to this, the US has proposed increasing the amount of oil Iraq can sell if there is assessed to be a humanitarian need for more food. But because of the poor state of Iraq's petrochemical industry, there are doubts as to whether Iraq would be able to produce more oil for export even if it were allowed to.

* In spite of the programme, serious deprivation and malnourishment are a reality in Iraq. A Unicef report in 1997 estimated that nearly one million Iraqi children were chronically malnourished.
Yes, I see how heartless the US is, allowing the UN to line its own pockets with Iranian oil money, and even proposing that the program be expanded to produce enough aid that it might actually get to the Iragi people, rather than insisting that the UN not skim a third off the top. Darn our enabling hides.

Yes, I are deeply ashamed of US complicity in UN operations. But, at least, it appears we have learned from our mistakes.

I wonder where Saddam got his ready cash. Upkeep on presidential palaces is, you should excuse the expression, murder.
The Iraq Foundation | 10-7-2002 | U.N. Oil-for-Food Program Is A Windfall For Saddam
Mother's-milky though it sounds, the oil-for-food program has enough graft, mismanagement, and Saddam-strengthening patronage to turn one permanently against both oil and food. A real critique could occupy volumes -- and does, in fact, occupy much of an exhaustive analysis, titled Sources of Revenue for Saddam and Sons, recently issued by the Washington-based Coalition for International Justice, a group that monitors human-rights abuses around the world.
Ah. I see.
CBS | 11-21-2003 | U.N.'s Iraq Oil-For-Food Plan Ends
The United Nations oil-for-food program officially ends on Friday, seven years after the unique enterprise began feeding the majority of Iraqis. The U.S.-led coalition will take over the multi-billion dollar operation and continue supplying Iraqis with food until June.

Oil-for-food was the only humanitarian program funded entirely from resources belonging to the country it was designed to help, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said Thursday.
You mean, they're billing the people least able to pay for it? And they're proud of that?

"Are there no prisons?'' asked Scrooge. "And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation? The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then? I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course. I'm very glad to hear it.''

And now the US will run it directly? Seems appropriate: We've been paying the UN's bills all along, the food may as well have our name on it, not theirs.

But it appears, then, that the UN is closing the program not because the need is met, but in order to transfer its expense directly to the US in punitive retaliation for "starting" the war. That's OK. We can afford it. If we have to cut back, maybe we'll start with our UN dues.

Thanks for the suggestion: This "homework" has been enlightening. Not only is the UN ineffectual and obstructive, but they've actually been paying their own administrative expenses with Iraqi oil money--and, intentionally or not, paying off Saddam Hussein under the table as well.

"United" is just a name, it doesn't mean anything

AFP | Iraqi minister tells UN to stop sniping, start helping
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Iraq's foreign minister told the UN Security Council to stop bickering over the war that brought down Saddam Hussein and come together to help rebuild his shattered nation.

In a pointed address delivered with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on hand, Hoshyar Zebari said the United Nations had failed to stand up to Saddam to defend the Iraqi people, and called for a swift UN return to the country.

"One year ago, the Security Council was divided between those who wanted to appease Saddam Hussein and those who wanted to hold him accountable," Zebari told the 15-nation council, which was sharply divided over the war.

"The UN as an organisation failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny of 35 years," he said. "The UN must not fail the Iraqi people again."

Annan, who publicly opposed the US decision to launch the war after failing to win the support of the Security Council, said it was "no time to pin blame and point fingers" over the past.

"I think the UN has done as much as it can for Iraq," Annan told reporters. "So quite honestly I don't think today is the time to hurl accusations."
Then when would be a good time, Mr Secretary? There's some harsh words that need sayin', and you need to hear them. You let a lot of Iraqi people die over the last twelve years while you frowned sternly.

I swear, for two cents I'd break your lease and let you go looking for office space in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, as noted at Instapundit, the fact that the Iraqi Foreign Minister spoke to the UN at all passed beneath the notice of the BBC.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

More self promotion

Not that the Nude Calendar Watch page really needs any promotion, since most of my visitors were searching for information on one or another of them... But I've just posted a very special update: The first calendar I'm aware of from the Atlanta area. Here's the report from the AJC (which will probably disappear any day now).

Monday, December 15, 2003

Out of hand

(This was appended to the comment below: I just made it a separate entry. Sorry for any confusion I may have created.)

I didn't bother making an explicit response to the preceding comment because it never occurred to me that there could be more than one.

I'll say it: Hooray!

But it appears that a surprising number of people are sorry Saddam was captured. And not just the Palestinians. (Numerous bloggers report earlier drafts of that article contain this sentence: "The former Iraqi ruler was a hero to many Palestinians for his stand against Israel and its U.S. ally, as well as for helping families of Palestinians dead in an uprising." It took Reuters a few more paragraphs to acknowledge that those "Palestinian dead" were dead by their own hand--that is, suicide bombers.) Democratic Underground is at it too, but damned if I'll link to it. We can count our blessings that Indymedia is in the middle of a server upgrade and isn't allowing postings at the moment, but that can't last forever. (I wonder if they'll conclude there was a conspiracy to capture Saddam when they were unable to comment on it?)

And many who will not say they're sorry are coming up with ever more inventive ways to say it doesn't matter, Bush is the real evil.

Or is it Howard Dean? Ask Joe Lieberman:
If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power today, not in prison, and the world would be a more dangerous place.
And the BBC reporters' log reminds us whose side they're on:
The prime minister has just delivered a speech which he's wanted to give for a long time. Tony Blair is pleased not just with what's happened-Saddam's capture-but also how. We all imagined that if the Americans got a tip off they would just bomb somewhere off the face of the earth.

But he was captured without a shot being fired. He's looking healthy, he's not been tortured, he's being handed over to Iraqi justice.
LATER: I had completely disregarded the references to the Democratic National Committee's official...well, whatever it is. I've seen it described as a blog, but it's more of a message board. It isn't difficult to extract a quote out of context and paint a whole group (or party) with it, left or right, and I like to think I have better things to do.

Anyway, it is called Kicking Ass and the following comment, mentioned by Taranto at WSJ's Best of the Web, is not an isolated out-of-context quote, but actually reasonably typical:
Well, tha capture of Sadaam takes the 'failure to capture' issue off the table.

Now that the economy is picking up (mall was packed yesterday), Iraq is getting better, prescription drugs on the way, education spending at an all-time high, no further terrorist attacks——what is left?

Oh, yes, the capture of Bin Laden.

If that happens, we are completely sunk.
Don't believe me? Here are some more bon mots that'll make your jaw drop (or your skin crawl), from the same page:
I personally don't care too much that Hussein was caught - he never did anything to me, but a friend of mine died in 9/11 attack.

They are making the capture of Hussein into a big deal - but it still doesn't mean all that much to me.

You are right. Hussein's capture doesn't mean that much to me either. I know the Iraqi's must be breathing a sigh of relief though. It doesn't change that much of the real terrorism threat since he was contained to being a threat only to his own people.

Now if we can do something about GWB and remove that threat from the world, we will have accomplished something. I know I need to be patient until next November for that. The impeach Bush movement is rolling but unless they impeach his whole regime, we'll go from the frying pan into the fire with Cheney.
I have never been as confident that the Republicans will win an election as I am after reading what the Democrats have to say about this one.

Friday, December 12, 2003

The Friday Five

This week's questions:
1. Do you enjoy the cold weather and snow for the holidays?

No. I'm cold year-round these days and I'm sick of it.

2. What is your ideal holiday celebration? How, where, with whom would you celebrate to make things perfect?

I can't tell you that. This is a family blog.

3. Do you do have any holiday traditions?

I don't think so.

4. Do you do anything to help the needy?

Yes, but I don't advertise it.

5. What one gift would you like for yourself?

I want a PDA and a keyboard for it. (It would be handy taking ARTC minutes next year and much cheaper than a laptop.) There are a handful of other things I'd like, none of which I expect to get, but you said "one".

Thursday, December 11, 2003

The Thursday Threesome

:: The Christmas Song, Part I ::
Onesome: The - What is the "bestest" Christmas decoration in your mind? You know, the one that says, "This is Christmas!"

For a long time it was Rich's Great Tree. It's location atop Rich's downtown insured that anybody driving through downtown Atlanta would see it.
Now that the Tree is at Lenox Square, I never see it. I'm hard pressed to think of anything.

Twosome: Christmas - What style of Christmas ornaments do you like to see? Are you a glass ball person? ...or how about that bow thing? Maybe Christmas Muppet characters everywhere? Hmm?

Call me unimaginative. Christmas decorations are glass balls.
I'm not fond of the look of a tree full of licensed characters. If it were just me... well, if it were just me, I probably wouldn't have a tree at all. Or I'd make one out of green foil and hang it on the wall with a spotlight on it. But I like the look of a tree with all the decorations, balls and lights, the same color. Or all the balls one color (say, red) and all the lights another (say, white).

Threesome: Song - ...and your favorite Christmas Song? Is there one that just sets the season for you when you hear it? I mean, even when you're in a "Ho-Ho-Humbug" mood?

There are far more songs that put me in a "humbug" mood, songs that remind me of Christmas-as-promotional-tool.
But there are a handful that always lift my spirits. Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" and "Do You Hear What I Hear." Al Jarreau's cover of "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)". The Roches' fall-down-funny Long Island "Winter Wonderland." Jack Cassidy's "The Miracle of Now" (aka "Christmas Far More Glorious Than Grand", from "Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol"). And almost anything from "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

It's talk radio's fault

The Newsday | Car Accident Caught on Air
In a frightening moment when reality radio turned all too real yesterday morning, motorist Cheryl Picker of Shoreham was debating the Michael Jackson sexual-abuse case on the air when her sport utility vehicle was hit and rolled over on the William Floyd Parkway.

Picker had just finished telling radio talk-show host Curtis Sliwa, "Maybe those are the parents that are the pedophiles," when listeners to WABC/770 AM heard a loud crash, the sound of crackling glass, tearing metal and then silence.

"Cheryl, are you OK?" co-host Ron Kuby said. "Cheryl? Cheryl?"

A faint voice responded, "Please call the cops."
So what was she doing driving down the road talking to a radio show? She shoulda... No, wait, she was pulled over.

Maybe we could blame it on her SUV? No, her car wasn't moving. Someone else hit her. It's not like a Toyota RAV 4 is hard to see. And, in a dramatic reversal of expectations when normal cars encounter SUVs, the other driver is unhurt.

Suffering for their art

The Red & Black | 'Performance art' hits Wal-Mart
The Oconee County Wal-Mart was under siege Friday night by a guerrilla performance art project staged by University students for their Studio Art 2810 final.

The students, who call their group "Private Agenda," held a rave in the family bathroom and a fashion show in the electronics department before being asked to leave by Wal-Mart staff, who warned participants over the store's public announcement system that they could be arrested.

...The group documented their performance with photographs, video tape and audio recordings, and will put material on a Web Site for their final grade.

"It was an anti-control statement," said Sam Marks, a senior from Atlanta who wore a black dominatrix outfit Friday night.

Marks said her friends have been kicked out of Wal-Mart for things like hacky-sacking in the store.

...When asking students to leave, a Wal-Mart staffer referred to the event as a "feminist protest."

This may have been because of Natalie Gazaway, who wore a tiny white nurse's dress while being pushed through the store in a shopping cart asking people to take surveys.

"Would you try feminism even once?" Gazaway asked Wal-Mart customers with confused looks on their faces.
So, I'm guessing the assignment was, "See how disruptive you can be without actually doing anything you can be arrested for."

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Of course you know this means war

AJC | Lowe's to plant itself in Atlanta's core
The Home Depot store at Lindbergh Plaza will soon have a competitor across the parking lot. Lowe's is planning to build a store where a Kmart now stands.
..."We are at war," [Home Depot chief financial officer Carol] Tome said. "We will do whatever it takes to protect our turf."
"We shall fight on the garden shop. We shall fight on the lumber yards. We shall fight in the parking lot, and in the streets, we shall fight in the peach trees. We shall never surrender."

Monday, December 08, 2003

Ho Ho Ho

As Christmas approaches, I find I have less time to browse for items that inspire me to comment here.

Today, I'll plug the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company's upcoming Christmas show at Stone Mountain Park. We're part of their "Fruitcake Festival" this weekend, appearing at 2pm and 4pm Saturday and Sunday in Memorial Hall (directly in front of the carving, but then most of the park is). If you've seen us at Dragon*Con and said "Gosh, I wish I could get Mom to the convention, she'd love this", this is the show you can bring Mom to.

Friday, December 05, 2003

So that's what was under those helmets


Yes, children, this... is a Cylon.
Wired | Alien Sex! Bombs! Robots! Pathos!
"We realized the only way we could improve on the original is if the Cylons could have sex," quipped co-executive producer David Eick at Tuesday night's Los Angeles premiere. The chrome-domed "walking toasters" from the original TV series are succeeded by -- well, really hot blond chicks, who infiltrate human society to engineer its doom.
(Another story at RedNova.com. Make this image your desktop at the official site.)

Thursday, December 04, 2003

The Thursday Threesome

:: White Christmas ::
Onesome: I'm dreaming of a white Christmas - Are you hoping for a white Christmas this year, or are you somewhere you seldom see snow?

This is Atlanta: We don't generally get snow.

Twosome: With every Christmas card I write - Have you begun the cards? Do you write a personal note in each one, or just sign a generic greeting and your name? Or maybe print out the ol' yearly form letter to let everyone know what's new for you?

Cards? I'm one of those rude antisocial people who never sends Christmas cards.

Threesome: May your days be merry and bright - What do you do for the holidays to ensure they'll be merry?

Do? I'm lost at holiday time. I'm surrounded by people who have strong opinions about what we'll do and when. Not having any myself, all I do is go with the flow.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I knew you could buy and sell the police

AP | Ga. Police Bobbleheads Sold for Charity
The Covington Police Department is selling bobbleheads — complete with serious faces, shiny blue police uniforms and, of course, bouncy heads that loom over tiny bodies — of its officers to raise money for its Police Who Care Fund to help needy families.
There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that one has been chosen as the new Atlanta chief of police.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Opus returns

It was only a matter of time before this "not available online" comic strip was available online. (Thank Waxy.)

I hate to rain on the parade, but not only is it not particularly funny, but it isn't even the first time he's used essentially this same joke. Not a great beginning for the strip being hyped like the Second Coming. Message for the newspapers that paid big bucks for the priviledge of cancelling three Sunday strips to make room for this mistake: Cut your losses. Run Prince Valiant instead.

Friday, November 28, 2003

The Friday Five

This week's questions:
1. Do you like to shop? Why or why not?

I do when I have some idea what I'm shopping for. The only stores I go just to see what's there are bookstores and DVD stores.

2. What was the last thing you purchased?

Groceries. Not what you meant? Let's see, before that... Comic books. Specifically, Batgirl Year One, which I enjoyed.

3. Do you prefer shopping online or at an actual store? Why?

Depends on what I'm shopping for, but generally I prefer online. I dislike crowds.

4. Did you get an allowance as a child? How much was it?

No.

5. What was the last thing you regret purchasing?

A digital camera. I should have waited and saved up for a better model. I won't name the one I bought, because for the money it's a perfectly good point-and-shoot digital camera... It's just not what I really wanted.

The Thursday Threesome

:: Happy Thanksgiving 2003! ::
Onesome: Happy - When you think about being happy, what comes to mind? Is there something that always gives you a smile no matter how down you may be?

My family: What wonderful people they are, and how lucky I am to have them.

Twosome: Thanksgiving - In the US, it's Thanksgiving. But we can all be thankful. Tell us, what are YOU thankful for?

Same answer.

Threesome: 2003 - It's getting close to the end of another year. As you begin to reflect back, pick out a couple of good things that have happened this year. Yeah, we all have the bad, but today, just focus on the good!

I'm just glad I'm still here and able to talk about it. Last fall there was some doubt that I would be.

Way to go, Mr President

President Bush, center, holds up a turkey platter for U.S. troops at Baghdad International Airport Thursday, Nov. 27, 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq. Bush paid a surprise Thanksgiving day visit to American troops in Baghdad, flying to Baghdad from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, to visit U.S. troops station in Iraq for Thanksgiving holiday. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Thursday, November 27, 2003

I gave myself an early Christmas present.

I got it at the same place J. got his.

I haven't decided exactly what I'm going to do with it, so I guess in a sense you could say I haven't unwrapped it yet.

But I'll tell you what it is: It's a domain. All it does at the moment is redirect: purplemaster.com points at my main page, and purplemaster.com/blog points here. (So does blog.purplemaster.com, but I haven't decided whether I'll keep that yet.)

Who provides authorization...?

Washington Post | One Man Against Secrecy
Authorization for publication of material on our web site is contained in U.S. Constitution, Amendment 1.

www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Am1.

If you have other specific concerns, let me know.
Hee hee.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Mr and Mr Claus

N Y Times (free registration required) | You Better Watch Out
According to legend, New York lore and two major Hollywood flicks, Macy's Santa is the real deal. And tomorrow, to the delight of millions of little children (not to mention the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court), the Santa in New York's great parade will be half of a same-sex couple.

And guess who the other half will be? Me! Harvey Fierstein, nice Jewish boy from Bensonhurst, dressed in holiday finery portraying the one and only Mrs. Claus.
You. Must. Be. Kidding.

LATER: My, what a mess.

Is that good?

The Big Five Personality Test
Extroverted|||||| 26%
Introverted |||||||||||||||||| 74%
Friendly |||||||||||||| 58%
Aggressive |||||||||||| 42%
Orderly |||||||||||||| 56%
Disorderly |||||||||||| 44%
Relaxed |||||||||||| 42%
Emotional||||||||||||||58%
Openminded |||||||||||| 48%
Closeminded |||||||||||||| 52%
Take Free Big 5 Personality Test

The Big Five is currently the most accepted personality model in the scientific community. The Big Five emerged from the work of multiple independent scientists/researchers starting in the 1950s who using different techniques obtained similar results. Those results were that there are five distinct personality traits/dimensions. Here are your results on each dimension:

Extroversion results were low which suggests you are very quiet, unassertive, and aloof.

Friendliness results were moderately high which suggests you are good natured, trusting, and helpful but possibly too much of a follower

Orderliness results were moderately high which suggests you are organized, reliable, neat, and ambitious but possibly not very spontaneous and fun.

Emotional Stability results were moderately low which suggests you are worrying, insecure, emotional, and nervous.

Openmindedness results were medium which suggests you are moderately creative, original, curious, and imaginative.

Overall (of the Big 5 factors), you scored highest on Friendliness and lowest on Extroversion.
I don't think it comes as much of a surprise to anyone who knows me...

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

What else would you call it?

The County of Los Angeles has requested that equipment vendors avoid using the industry term "Master/Slave" in product descriptions and labelling.
The County has not offered an alternate term to clearly describe a unidirectional control of one component by another, for which situation this is the computer industry-standard terminology. I can't think of any that wouldn't be worse. I can think of some that would be dramatically worse.

(I heard it from Boortz [it's at the bottom under "Reading Assignments"], who linked to Snopes.)

I'm sure the "male/female" designation for wiring connectors will be next on their "naughty" list, once they think of it. I've always found that one a little disturbing. Makes me want to take my stereo out to dinner before I plug it in.

(Boy, am I going to get in trouble.)

LATER: Reuters reports.

The house of (other people's) ideas

Walt Disney, in its ongoing quest to remake everything that's ever been made before, has just acquired distribution rights (through its Buena Vista subsidiary) to the upcoming, updated Around the World in 80 Days.

Starring Jackie Chan as Passepartout. And, oh, by the way, some guy (SteveCoogan of "I'm Alan Partridge") is playing a character named Phineas Fogg, who may have a line or two. Also starring the Governor of California as Prince Hapi of Turkey.

No, really. I'm not, as Dave Barry would insist, making this up.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Forty years gone

And still, after all we've learned since that we didn't know at the time, Jack Kennedy (everyone's forgotten we used to call him Jack) retains his sainthood, remains the man who would have Made Everything Better if They hadn't taken him out.

Whoever They were. Or are. Or whatever.

I'm not here to throw mud at the man. He was a man, flawed but decent enough, lucky but savvy enough to take advantage of it. Unrealized potential is always a tragedy: The nature of his passing made it epic, mythic.

Nor am I arrogant enough to pick a theory. Vast numbers of people have decided that the Warren Commission's conclusion doesn't hang together. Reuters apparently agrees: Their story is less about the actual assassination than dueling conspiracies.
Dallas does not hold an official event to mark the day that, the official history says, Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository with a rifle he purchased for less than $20, gunning down Kennedy during a trip to Texas he was reluctant to take.
(Emphasis mine.) But as awkward as the Warren conclusion is, it still beats the alternatives.

I'm just thinking that after forty years, if we still don't know, then we're never going to know. There's almost certain to be another orgy of publicity on the fiftieth anniversary. Maybe then it'll be time to Let it Go.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Perspective

James Lileks | The Bleat 11-21-03
You know what? Michael Moore is right. There are many Americans who are ignorant of the world around them. And they're all TV news producers. Two big bombs in Istanbul, and what's the big story of the day? Following around a pervy slab of albino Play-Doh as he turns himself into the police. I was stunned to discover last night that Nightline not only covered the Jackson case in detail, but bumped coverage of the Whitehall speech, which was the most important speech since the Iraq campaign began and arguably the most important speech of the war, period.

...Yes, yes, Iraq, Britain, nice speech, hear-hear and all that, but what about Michael Jackson? That's the problem in a nutshell: the war and Michael Jackson are items of equal weight. The only question is which will get better ratings.


Mark Evanier | Waiting for Michael
Bush is in England, bombs are exploding in Istanbul and Iraq, killer storms are flooding the Eastern seaboard...and on CNN, the most important issue is whether The King of Pop is on a plane or in a van. Fill in your own snide remark.
When Entertainment Tonight was new, I thought it was... cute. A whole half-hour of entertainment coverage dressed up like news. Interesting idea. It'll never last.

Just shows what I know.

What I should have realized is that after show-business news adopted the trappings of "serious" news, the next logical step is for serious news to adopt the content of entertainment. Had television news been around in 1945, they would have foregone the Yalta conference to question the effect of the Andrews Sisters' "Rum and Coca-Cola" on America's youth.

The Friday Five

This week's questions:
1. List five things you'd like to accomplish by the end of the year.

I suck at planning.
Finish revising the Christmas scripts. Do some holiday shopping. Straighten my room. Reconfigure my home network. Get a PDA.

2. List five people you've lost contact with that you'd like to hear from again.

Many of the people I've actually lost contact with, I'm actively avoiding. :)
R. and A., the girls I had crushes on in high school. B., my second girlfriend from college. (I struck gold with the third, and let's not mention the first.) A. and S. from Psi Phi.

3. List five things you'd like to learn how to do.

Mix audio. Write CSS. Play piano. (Well, I sort-of do...) Make my network work (see above). Juggle.

4. List five things you'd do if you won the lottery (no limit).

Buy or build a house in the middle of nowhere. Rent office/performance space for my radio theater. Travel. Get a hi-res plasma TV and a TiVo/DVD recorder. Put up a big billboard in front of the U.S. Capitol where the legislators would have to see it as they entered, reading "It's not your money."

5. List five things you do that help you relax.

Read. Write. Play piano. Sing. (Alone, in the car.) Blog.

This is actually a Friday Twenty-Five, isn't it?

Thursday, November 20, 2003

"When pigs fly"

Elsewhere, when you say that, it means "never."

Here in Atlanta, though, for years it meant "Christmas". Now it does again.

pink pig


LATER: By the way, before anybody writes to correct me (Hi, Jake), I do realize that the Pink Pig at Rich's/Macy*s Lenox Square right now is not the Original Pink Pig, and a good thing too.

The Thursday Threesome

:: Holiday Sweets Recipe Exchange ::
Onesome: Holiday Sweets - What is your favorite holiday sweet? You know, the one you only really can get your hands on once a year?

Null set.

Twosome: Recipe - ...and can you get the recipe for it? ...or is this one of those closely guarded family secrets handed down mother to daughter. ...and hey? What about us guys? How are we ever supposed to figure out how to do this stuff? ...or should we even try ?

#DIV/0!

Threesome: Exchange - But if you do have that recipe and you can bear to share, why not stop over at the exchange and drop it off? Barring that: do you routinely exchange sweets at holiday time? Yeah? What kinds?

The server application, source file, or item cannot be found. Make sure the application is properly installed and that it has not been deleted, moved, or renamed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Okay, I'm stumped.

I'm getting a double-fistful of referrals from Radio Online: Can someone tell me why? When I try to follow the links back, I get password-protected pages I'm not allowed to see--and nothing I can see has convinced me I should pay to find out. Are there talk-show hosts all over the world calling me a pervert because of the Nude Calendar Watch page? Or is it something else?

(I should have known that something like Radio Online existed: Too many shows sound too much alike for there not to be a common source of news, soundbites, etc.)

UPDATE: At last I know: They have a ten-day free trial that, after a couple days of cogitating, they let me into. Of course, talk-show hosts may still be calling me a pervert and I'd never know, but at least PrepNet's entry is benign. I'd link to it but, of course, it won't let you in...

Monday, November 17, 2003

Because it needed to be said

Jeff Jarvis is pro-American.

Yes, he is.

The problem with blogs

Jennifer Howard has an essay in which she accuses bloggers of being an inbred mutual-admiration society. It can hardly be said to be obscure, since it was written for the Washington Post.

Had it been written for the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, though, it would still be national news on Planet Blog because it's been noticed by Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit. (See also Ralph Luker at History News Network.)
Washington Post | It's a Little Too Cozy in the Blogosphere
What began as the ultimate outsider activity -- a way to break the newspaper and TV stranglehold on the gathering and dissemination of information -- is turning into the same insider's game played by the old establishment media the bloggerati love to critique.

*Honk* Hang on. How many unproven assertions can you pack into a single sentence? To pick just one, I envy her certainty regarding how and why blogs began: It's a subject of debate, sometimes intense, among long-time bloggers.
The more blogs you read and the more often you read them, the more obvious it is: They've fallen in love with themselves, each other and the beauty of what they're creating. The cult of media celebrity hasn't been broken by the Internet's democratic tendencies; it's just found new enabling technology.

Doubtless Professor Reynolds is too modest to point this out, but I'll say it:

If there is an 800-pound-gorilla Blog Media Celebrity, it's Glenn Reynolds. Ms Howard managed to get through her overview of What Blogs Are without mentioning his name once. How comprehensive can it be? You may suggest it wasn't meant to be comprehensive, but heck, she says she knows The Problem With Blogs:
The problem's built into the medium itself. Blogs are set up to be personal forums for someone's opinions. That's the point, the liberating thing about them. Bloggers don't have to get their copy past an editor, and they can sound off at any length -- no word limits in cyberspace. They're products of a seismic cultural shift that makes someone's hangover as newsworthy as the arrival of a Harry Potter novel.

That's not a bug, Ms Howard, that's a feature. Within the realm of People Who Read A Particular Blog, the author's hangover might well be the Big Story. (Parenthetically, I could argue that the release of a new Harry Potter novel is not "newsworthy", at least as I define the word. "News" would be if J. K. Rowling decides not to write the other two books. She's richer than the Queen of England now; she doesn't need the money. Lightning has struck five times. That's more luck than a lot of authors get: What if hers has run out? She could well decide that it's all downhill from here, hand her notes over to her editors with fondest regards, and retire to an unnamed Caribbean island. I know I'd be tempted. That would be newsworthy.)

The point is not that your average blogger can write better than an Old Media columnist, or is better connected, or is More Important (whatever that means). I'll pick the example I'm most familiar with: Myself. I have a strong enough ego to think that, on a good day, I can write a reasonably entertaining paragraph. It amuses me to try. The attempt forces me to put my thoughts in order in a way that woolgathering at a traffic light can never do. This process is important... to me. Whether it's important to my readers is something they'll have to judge. But writing is communication, and if I never show it to anyone, I might as well be sitting at that traffic light talking to myself. That's what this blog is for. I can't speak for all the others, but it seems to me that more than a few of them share my reasons.

I certainly don't flatter myself that anything I have to say is particularly Important, but it's a way to contribute, however modestly, to the Exchange of Ideas that civilization is. I don't do this to be a part of a (or The) blogging community, but to be a part of the human race. Exchanging thoughts is what we do. The medium is unimportant.

If blogs and bloggers are to have a profound impact on Old Media, it is not to "break the... stranglehold on the gathering and dissemination of information", but to contribute to the ongoing cultural discussions that define what is newsworthy -- in fact, that define what newsworthiness is.

Professor Reynolds and Mr Luker agree that neither of them had ever heard of any of the blogs Ms Howard cites, on which she presumably bases her blog's-world view. Neither, for that matter, had I. Does this mean they aren't representative? No. Does it mean they aren't any good? Certainly not.

Does it mean you can learn everything you need to know about the world in general, or Planet Blog, by reading them? The odds are against it.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Even in television, some acts are class

This is how it's done: When you screw up, you apologize. Preferably with a little humor at your own expense.
Canoe | Carol Burnett get apology for snub
Carol Burnett got a public apology after a tribute to her was left out of CBS' 75th anniversary special.

"I am sorry that during the excitement of a 'live 3 hour television event' the wonderful film piece we prepared that paid tribute to the 'Carol Burnett Show' was not aired," executive producer Gil Cates said Wednesday in an open letter addressed to "Dear Carol" and published in trade papers.

..."Sometimes 'goofs' happen. We all feel bad about that. I promise that won't happen on the 100th."

Ms Burnett, through her publicist, said that no apology was necessary. It's live TV: Stuff happens.

Nobody observed that, in the long and storied history of CBS television, Ms Burnett is one of a handful of people of whom viewers really don't need reminding who she is. Nor did anyone point out that, in a three hour show full of self-contragulatory prose, it might even be seen as a classy thing to simply appear without fanfare and wave to the crowd.

Friday, November 14, 2003

The Friday Five

This week's questions:
1. Using one adjective, describe your current living space.

Full.

2. Using two adjectives, describe your current employer.

Vague and uncertain.

3. Using three adjectives, describe your favorite hobby/pasttime.

Obscure, challenging and creative. (That would be radio theater.)

4. Using four adjectives, describe your typical day.

Cold, hopeful, chaotic, and long.

5. Using five adjectives, describe your ideal life.

Lucrative, creative, unhurried, sociable, and loving.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

The Thursday Threesome

:: Envision whirled peas ::
Onesome: Envision - How much television do you watch each week? Are you one of those who can you call up the nightly program schedules for the major networks (and a cable channel or two) in your head? ...or do you have to search the paper to find out when the Thanksgiving Day parade is? (Hint: It's on a Thursday.)

I barely remember we own a television.

Twosome: whirled - Oh, my! That holiday stuff is coming up soon! Are you ready for Thanksgiving? ...or are you going to be whirling around at the last minute?

I'm not sure what "ready" means. Neither family has decided where Thanksgiving is going to be.

Threesome: peas - Shine on the the healthy stuff; we really don't care if you eat your vegetables (okay, the mom's here on the Porch do ): what are you looking forward to eating on Thanksgiving that you just cannot get the rest of the year?

Nothing. I have no particular fondness for Thanksgiving dinner as such. It's just another meal.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

So, you're saying nobody built it?

11Alive | Franklin Dismisses Airport Privatization
"There is no local, county or state governmental entity in this region that has had the capability to successfully build and manage a facility with the magnitude of the economic influence of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport," she said.
This sounds to me like an argument for privatization.

Monday, November 10, 2003

It isn't censorship...

When CBS decides not to air a program.

To suggest that it is, is to suggest that individuals and corporations should be forced to buy a product they don't want. (If that link doesn't take you to "A Sad Day for Artistic Freedom", scroll up: The target link in the original document is misnamed. But who expects the author to know HTML?)

But everybody's on this one, so why am I even mentioning it? Because I plan to approach it from another angle.

Noted Constitutional scholar Barbra Streisand continued:
Of course, CBS as a company has the legal right to make decisions about what they do and do not air. However, these important decisions should be based on artistic integrity rather than an attempt to appease a small group of vocal dissidents.

Where did Her Highness get the idea that anything, anything, gets on television based on artistic integrity? It gets on because the broadcaster thinks it'll keep your butt on the sofa long enough to watch the commercials. That's all. The program is only a carrier for the advertisements. If there is any artistic merit to the show at all, it is an accident.

Oh, I don't deny that dramatic excellence is a way to attract attention to your program, but surely it takes no more than a casual glance at the television schedule to see that, far from being the only way, it isn't even the most common tactic.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Add it to the shopping list

What's the perfect companion to a ten thousand dollar television set?

Why, a combination TiVo / DVD-burner, of course.

The Friday Five

This week's questions:
1. What food do you like that most people hate?

I dunno, what do most people hate? Oh, I know: Krystal hamburgers. But I have to be in the mood for them.

2. What food do you hate that most people love?

Survey says... fried chicken.

Remember, I'm in Georgia. Restaurants that specialize in only one dish specialize in fried chicken. Or, if their specialty dish is not fried chicken, they serve fried chicken too. People having dinner parties who want to serve something everyone will like, serve fried chicken.

I detest it. I hate it so much that when I'm driving down the street looking for restaurants, I don't even see KFC and Mrs Winners because fried chicken doesn't register as food.

Do you hear me? Yes, I'm an Atlanta native and I hate fried chicken.

3. What famous person, whom many people may find attractive, is most unappealing to you?

*Jumping up and down* I hate fried chicken! Fried chicken! Fried...

C'mon, move on. It's only a stupid blog meme. There's another question here.

...chicken... What? Oh. Sorry.

Well?

What was the question again?

*Ahem* "What famous person, whom many people may find attractive, is most unappealing to you?" And don't make me do this again. This "talking to the editor" schtick gets old real fast.

Julia Roberts. I cheered when her character died in Steel Magnolias.

4. What famous person, whom many people may find unappealing, do you find attractive?

Uh... Sorry, I don't have an answer for this one. I'll think about it and get back to you. What do you want from me? I always thought Velma was cuter than Daphne.

Doesn't it always seem like the "goofy" or "kooky" friend who isn't supposed to be pretty is actually cuter than the one who's supposed to be the star attraction? Zelda was obviously what Dobie needed, not Thalia. (If only she hadn't turned out to be gay.) And, come on, who would you rather spend time with, Ginger or Mary Ann? Jennifer or Bailey? Buffy or Willow? (Well, except for that turn-evil-and-kill-everybody thing. And the gayness thing. Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

5. What popular trend baffles you?

Blogging. I just don't get it.

And Starbucks.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

You want fries with that?

Washington Post | NPR Given Record Donation
McDonald's Heiress Leaves $200 Million
National Public Radio will announce today the largest donation in its history, a cash bequest from the will of the late philanthropist Joan Kroc of about $200 million.

The bequest from the widow of the founder of the McDonald's fast-food chain both shocked and delighted people at NPR's headquarters in Washington yesterday. It amounts to almost twice NPR's annual operating budget. "No one saw this coming," said one person.

The nonprofit organization, which will disclose details of the bequest at a news conference this afternoon, called the donation the "largest monetary gift ever received by an American cultural institution" in a brief announcement to its staff yesterday.
This is me, heading for Burger King...

On the other hand...
ScrappleFace | PETA to NPR: Reject McDonald's 'Blood Money' Bequest
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) today called on National Public Radio (NPR) to reject a $200 million bequest from Joan Kroc, the recently-deceased widow of the McDonald's restaurant tycoon, Ray Kroc.

"NPR must turn away this blood money," said PETA spokeswoman Ingrid Newkirk. "We call on Americans to boycott NPR programs since they will be bought with the slaughtered carcasses of billions of sentient beings."

The Thursday Threesome

:: Keep The Back Porch Donate! ::
Onesome: Keep - What’s your favourite keepsake? Do you have something that has so much sentiment attached you’ll keep it forever? Tell us!

We had a house fire back in '99 that pretty well cleaned out anything we might have had any lingering emotional attachment to.

Twosome: The Back Porch - We’re named for Deb’s back porch, a place where people go to relax and wind down. Where’s your relax and unwind spot?

I'm sitting there right now.

Threesome: Donate! - Got a cause you donate to regularly?

Not really. My wife donates to a handful of charities on our behalf, including Food for the Poor, the Nature Conservancy, Colonial Williamsburg, and Zoo Atlanta.
LATER: And, as Ron reminds me, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

My home town

Creative Loafing | East Atlanta Village, Take Two
Business wise, it's been a good year for East Atlanta Village. The hipper-than-thou neighborhood, once the scrappy kid brother of Little Five Points and Virginia-Highland, has entered a pubescent growth spurt. Village pioneers such as Sacred Grounds coffee shop and the Heaping Bowl & Brew restaurant opened in the mid-1990s. They were followed by a handful of boutiques, bars, clubs and more dining spots, most of them geared toward Gen X-ers on a budget.

In the past year, however, a second wave of businesses has targeted the popular 'hood -- despite a flailing economy. And the businesses themselves -- an antique shop, three restaurants and, hopefully within the next year, the long-awaited Madison Theater -- show that the Village is growing up.

...Plans on file with the city show the Madison will be set up with row seating for some events and table seating for others. Rows will accommodate 352 seated patrons, tables 216. Maximum occupancy is 681, presumably for shows allowing standing room.

Reggie Ealy, who opened the former Yin Yang and the former Kaya, will run the Madison. He told CL in 2001 that he wants to stay true to the Madison's original design.
I have no use for a "hipper-than-thou neighborhood". The businesses I patronize in East Atlanta are all hipness-impaired: Ace Hardware, SunTrust bank, Long John Silver. I'm even looking forward to the big-box retail going into the old Atlanta Gas Light property at Little Five Points. I could stand to have a Barnes & Noble, Target, and Lowe's in the area. (That's what the sign says will be there, alongside a Best Buy and Kroger. Here's an information sheet in PDF format from the developer, Sembler.)

That said, I'm always happy to see a theater return to its original function: All the more so that it is in my end of town. My radio theater company is always looking for a good venue for live performances, and the Madison might be just the thing.

If the neighborhood isn't too hip for us.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Don't go there

Evan Goer's The Page of the Damned is a special kind of awful. It features that horrible <blink> code for those of you running Netscape, and the equally-abhorrent <marquee> code for those running Internet Explorer.

Did you know that Mozilla Firebird (the browser I'm running now) actually supports both of these wretched tags?

Neither did I.

I think I'm blind.

(Could be worse. Could be using Opera. Opera, unlike Firebird, supports both left-to-right and right-to-left marquee.)

LATER: Confirmed. As awful as it is in Firebird, it's worse in Opera. The page... writhes. It struggles to escape the screen and chase the cat around the house (if I had a cat). What did these pixels do to deserve this?

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Justice swift and sure...?

11Alive | 'DragonCon' Sex Trial Delayed -- Again
The trial for Ed Kramer, the founder of DragonCon who faces three charges of sexual abuse, has been postponed -- again.

A new trial date has yet to be set in the case which began in August of 2000 when Gwinnett County police arrested Kramer for allegedly sodomizing and fondling two brothers -- ages 13 and 15.

Late last month, police reported a third alleged victim -- an 18-year-old -- and brought a third charge of sexual abuse against Kramer. The 18-year-old claims Kramer abused him during a four-year period that began in 1996.
So, the man's life has pretty much been fnorked for three years, his health and (arguably) his reputation have been irreparably damaged, yet there's always a reason not to take it to trial.

Get on with it. Try him or let him go.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Hollywood hospitality

I realize that this is old news that everyone who cares has heard by now from other sources. Sometimes there comes a time when disgust simply must be expressed. This is one of those times.
Rocky Mountain News | Opinion 10-18-2003
A capitalist wolf in creep's clothing
Recently, a co-worker asked me if I had seen the movie Bowling for Columbine yet, I told her absolutely not! My answer surprised her, given the fact my son, Matthew, was one of the 13 murdered during the deadliest school shooting in our country's history. I explained to her that prior to the public release of the movie the families of the injured and dead were invited by Michael Moore to attend a preview screening. How thoughtful.

Our family and others considered attending because we were genuinely interested in his message to the public regarding gun control and school violence.

However, once we discovered he was going to charge us admission we refrained from doing so.

It's laughable that Moore attempts to portray himself as an anti-establishment liberal who is the voice of the common folk, when in fact he is no better than the greedy capitalists he shuns. Maybe now that he has made millions of dollars off the blood of our children he could toss a DVD or two our way to view.

Ann M. Kechter
Evergreen
Don't forget the Oscar, Mrs Kechter.

Southern hospitality

NY Times (registration required) | A Tab of Two Cities: Atlanta, Old and New
Bright, shiny Atlanta with its gleaming skyscrapers, roaring expressways and world-class shopping centers has become the unrivaled capital of the New South, a booming island of modernity anchored in a sea of Southern tradition. And though the New South has much to admire, on a weekend getaway on a $1,000 budget, I found old Atlanta, with its gracious, leafy neighborhoods, its smoky honky-tonk rib joints and an entire district devoted to the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., more intriguing.
It's actually a more positive story than I expected it to be. (But then, when a reporter from New York spends a three-day weekend in Atlanta for the express purpose of writing a story about it, I expect something of an "oh, look, it's like a real city, only smaller" attitude, for which I must apologize. It was an unworthy assumption, and I was pleased to be proven wrong.)

I'd like to know, though, how Mr Kirby decided which establishments to grace with his presence. I'm particularly curious what led him to believe that the hotel that would best deliver the New South ambience he was looking for... was Swissôtel. Not that I have anything against Swissôtel, nor in fact any direct experience of it at all, I'm sure it's a lovely place (at its room rate it had better be). But when I think of Atlanta...Henry Grady's "brave and beautiful city", home of Coca-Cola, Ralph McGill, and Maynard Jackson...I don't think of Swissôtel. But then, where would I send him instead?

But he didn't hold it against us, so why complain.

I'm amused that his satisfaction at the restaurants he sampled was inversely proportionate to the amount of money he spent there. I'm curious that he didn't point that out. His Saturday lunch at Fat Matt's Rib Shack ("The beamingly friendly woman behind the counter...called me 'baby.' Nobody in New York ever calls me 'baby.'") cost $15, and became the benchmark that almost every subsequent meal suffered in comparison to.

If that's what New Yorkers think of when they think of Atlanta, well, I'm OK with that.

Friday, October 31, 2003

In need of perspective

Perhaps you've seen the photograph.




Yes, it's a wordy sign. On the other hand, it's far better grammar than the average English-language sign you expect to see on the streets of Tekrit, or Tehran.

Except that it wasn't spotted on the streets of Tekrit. It was on the Mall in Washington D.C.

Constitutionally protected speech it is, of course, and rightly so. It is precisely the most outrageous speech that requires the most diligent protection. The irony that the country he wishes to destroy protects his right to think and say such things is, I'm sure, lost on him. Such thoughts almost drive me to despair.

Almost.

But it's hard not to smile at a bunny, and I am no exception.

The Friday Five

This week's questions:
1. What was your first Halloween costume?

The first one I remember was a store-bought Casper the Friendly Ghost.

2. What was your best costume and why?

I suck at costumes. It was all downhill from Casper.

3. Did you ever play a trick on someone who didn't give you a treat?

No.

4. Do you have any Halloween traditions? (ie: Family pumpkin carving, special dinner before trick or treating, etc.)

Only a deep and abiding hatred of the holiday. It's irrational, I know.

5. Share your favorite scary story...real or legend!

"They", by Robert A. Heinlein. It's in "The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein".

Tom Selleck is Dwight Eisenhower

Yahoo! News | Selleck to Play Eisenhower in A&E TV Movie
A&E senior vp original programming Bob DeBitetto acknowledged the scant resemblance between the hirsute actor and the follically challenged general, but defended his casting decision.

"The fact that he isn't an obvious choice is a good thing," DeBitetto said. "What we wanted to avoid at all costs was a caricature or an impersonation. It's a character piece, and Mr. Selleck has the acting chops to bring out the complexity of the man."

Hey, I do radio theater. I'm well aware that sometimes the right actor doesn't look right.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

The Thursday Threesome

:: Cheap wax treatment ::
Onesome: Cheap - Cheap thrills? Are you and yours doing anything for Halloween? Parties? Trick or treating? Staying home with the lights out and an axe visible in the window?

Well, I considered putting in an electric fence, but I think there's something in the neighborhood covenant (if not the zoning regulations). I hadn't thought of the axe thing, though. As it is, I imagine I'll fend them off with Hershey's miniatures and a fistful of free comic books liberated from Oxford Comics. I'm not a party person.

Twosome: wax - Hey, are you a 'candle person'? I mean, is that one of your decorating motifs? ...or does this fall under something like the "No Sharp Objects" rule in your life?

What is a "no sharp objects" rule? Candles are useful if the electricity goes out and the flashlights are all dead. Otherwise, I have no use for them.

Threesome: treatment - Speaking of treatments: do you decorate for Fall? Halloween? Thanksgiving? ...or just pretend that deceased plant in the corner really just lost its leaves for the winter?

Decorate for fall? Do I look like Martha Stewart?

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Character assassination in 30 seconds

Have you seen Bush in 30 Seconds? This contest to create a television ad that "tells the truth about George W. Bush"? Probably so. I found it on Popdex' RSS feed, which means that thousands of people have already seen it and commented on it. I try not to join pile-ons.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized what the appropriate reaction has to be. Take this statement of purpose from their Why we're doing this page:
For the last three years, President Bush's policies have ransacked the environment, put our national security at risk, damaged our economy, and redistributed wealth from the middle class to the very wealthiest Americans.
Now, relax. Take a deep breath. They can't help it, all their friends at Starbucks all say the same thing, they think everybody believes that. You can't accuse them of avoiding disclosure. They've even put their names on it. But take that and add this, from their Rules and registration page:
MoveOn.org Voter Fund is a so-called section 527 political organization, and is prohibited from expressly advocating for the election or removal of specific candidates for federal elections. In other words, your ads can say lots of different things about George Bush and his administration, but you are not allowed to say that people should vote for or against him.
(I wonder why the "so-called" section 527 political organization?)

It's obvious.

Submit pro-Bush ads to this campaign.

They're obviously don't want them: They're looking for something good and embarrassing they can pay to have run in proximity to the State of the Union address (that's their grand prize). But the nature of the group and the laws that regulate it prevent them from outright banning such statements from the contest.

I mean, look at the judges list. Michael Moore. Donna Brazile. Janeane Garofalo. James Carville. How can you resist the temptation to send these people a 30-second film explaining why supporting the President is the right thing to do...that they have to watch?

And if all I got back for my trouble was an e-mail from Janeane Garofolo explaining how I "don't get it", well, I would treasure that. Wouldn't you?

Don't you hate when that happens?

I just discovered that my permalinks were broken. They're fixed now, I think. If you've pointed to a specific post, you will not need to change that link.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

What is civilization?

Lileks | The Bleat 10-27-03
I’m not crazy about “The Rite of Spring.” I find it fascinating, like a strange insect, but I don’t like it. I’m not sure I’m supposed to. It’s so alien, so primitive, yet so instinctively understandable: hello, here’s your pagan past! Here’s your club for killing the sacrificial victim, here’s your body paint, here’s your spear. Now you’re going to be in the crowd that stomps the ground to bring the rain, okay? Fine. Next!

I can see why people rioted. But there’s something else in "Rite of Spring" that unnerves me - the implication that we are just a hair’s breadth away from this sort of tribal madness, that all our civilization counts for nothing. Here is our true horrid heart! Speak for yourself, mac. Just because you can find modern events analogous to ancient rites doesn’t mean we haven’t progressed along the way. Evidence: Orchestras, recording studios, animation companies, continental distribution networks, electricity, high-power light emitting movie projectors, climate-controlled theaters, ushers in mass-produced uniforms, and critics for newspapers who type in skyscraper offices their bemused dismissals of a film that takes Stravinsky’s masterpiece and gives it to overgrown lizards.

It works better for lizards. Lizards have no soul. The music of “Rite” is the music of animals.

Of course it is. That's why it unsettles you.

Human beings are animals. We are "just a hair’s breadth away from...tribal madness". On the infrequent occasion I visit a mall department store and observe women "trying on" perfume, I can't help it, I think about naked savages mixing mud, getting just the right color blue before they smear it on their bellies.

Perhaps the mall is not the right place to look for proof of the innate superiority of civilization.

And don't get me started about men and professional sports.

Civilization is a new invention, and in some places the veneer is very thin. Some tribes are closer than others. I don't think I can be faulted for feeling superior to a tribe that has convinced itself it's OK to target another tribe's babies on purpose.

Civilization is worthy of celebration precisely because it is fragile.

So we need Stravinsky, who can throw our bestial heritage back at us and make us see that this, too, is what it means to be human. That while we can be proud of what we aspire to, we need not be ashamed of what we are. Hands that hold clubs are capable of building pianos and playing "Clair de Lune". Isn't it miraculous? Isn't it awe-inspiring?

Monday, October 27, 2003

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Just like Disney

Forbes | Entertainment assets of NBC-Vivendi merger
The merger of General Electric Co.'s NBC network with Vivendi Universal's Vivendi Universal Entertainment (VUE) creates a new entertainment industry giant encompassing a movie studio, cable and broadcast television networks and theme parks.

When did this happen?

Well, that's not what I mean, the article says when it happened, I mean, how did I not hear about this before now? Disney got crucified for buying ABC, AOL Time Warner got crucified for whoever bought whoever, but the NBC / Universal deal is passing without a whimper.

Maybe people thought they already owned each other.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Just what the music industry needed

More bad publicity.
Hollywood Reporter | Music Licenses Affect TV-To-DVD
Studios frequently have to replace the music heard during the original broadcast for the DVD release, largely because of the prohibitive costs associated with licensing the music, studio executives say.
...Warner is sitting on two TV series, which Baker didn't name, that were slated for release next year, all because of the cost of music clearances.

Now, I knew about Miami Vice, and I've read reliable reports that WKRP in Cincinnati is in the same boat: These series will likely never be released on DVD because the popular music used is too expensive to license and too ubiquitous to replace. In WKRP in particular, the script often refers to the particular songs being heard. The episodes being aired in syndication now have had their soundtracks "fixed", music replaced and dialogue redubbed by not-very-sound-alike actors. You young people discovering the series now might well wonder why anybody ever thought this show was any good. (Trivia: WKRP was MTM's first videotaped series. It was done that way because music clearance was less expensive for videotaped broadcasts than for film.)

The current rights-holder to the series is Fox (having acquired MTM's assets), so I suppose it's possible they might decide it's worth the expense of licensing the music in order to release the series in its original form. But the odds don't look good.

I'm just appalled that (1) this happens, and (2) more importantly, the packaging doesn't bear a disclaimer when the content has been edited from that which originally aired.

Home video simply wasn't an issue when these programs were produced. I had no idea this could affect series as recent as Dawson's Creek, Felicity, and Smallville.

Trivial

Try the Dolphin Stress Test. You'll understand why I passed it along.

Diana Rigg's taste in clothing has changed since The Avengers.

Will somebody please run down to the corner drugstore and refill whatever prescription Garry Trudeau has just run out of?

Whatever happened to the Elongated Man? It's about time DC issued a trade-paperback collection of the Gardner Fox / Carmine Infantino run that started in Detective Comics #327.

(There's no Friday Five this week.)

Thursday, October 23, 2003

purple cow Wonk note

Those of you whose browsers support it (that is, current versions of MSIE, NN, and Mozilla Firebird) will now see my friendly Purple Cow icon in your saved favorites and in the destination window. I think it's pretty cool.

Those of you who can't see it, well, never mind.

(You could upgrade...)

The Thursday Threesome

:: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner ::
Onesome: Breakfast - It's the most important meal of the day. Do you eat it every day? What's your favorite breakfast?

I eat it most days. My favorite breakfast is Shoney's breakfast bar--but I shouldn't do that very often. Usually, as I think I've said, it's a bowl of store-brand Cheerios, a couple of microwave link sausages, a glass of milk and a glass of V-8.

Twosome: Lunch - Where's your favorite place to to go out for lunch? Or do you brown bag it?

When I go out, it's usually to Long John Silver.

Threesome: and Dinner - Do you cook at home or prefer to grab burgers on the way home from work? What's your favorite meal?

We cook at home whenever possible. These days, with five work/social calendars to synthronize, it often isn't possible. I don't really have a favorite meal.

Gee, just like the real one

TalkingPresidents.com | Ann Coulter Talking Action Figure
Below are only a few of the 14 different phrases that the Ann Coulter Action figure says when you press her button.

I, on the other hand, am speechless.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I know just how she feels

Reuters | Bored to Tears, Woman Hurls TV Out Window
A 25-year-old German woman enraged over another Saturday night of boring television programs and dull re-runs hurled her TV set out the window of her fifth floor apartment window, police said Monday.

"There was nothing decent on so I just threw the thing out the window," the woman identified as Veronika K., told Bild newspaper.

...She later calmed down and watched another television with her children.

Fun's fun, but Jerry Springer is on...

Labor-saving devices

The Bleat by Lileks | 10-22-2003
I banged out the column on the Mac, saved to Word, transferred to laptop, edited, saved to flash memory card, and now I’ll transfer it to the PC laptop, open in PC Word, convert to the ancient ATEX program, and send it to the office, where they’ll edit it in ATEX, convert to PC, send to the design people, and lay it out on a Mac.

How many of those steps could we eliminate? Why, NONE, of course.

Of course.

Well, you could work on a machine that's actually compatible with the network you work on, I suppose. How primitive. What an absurd suggestion. We shouldn't have to do that.

Some days I find myself in awe of the things we're able to do. Other days I notice the hoops we make ourselves jump through to do them. It happened gradually, one step at a time, and each step is perfectly reasonable taken on its own merits.

But is there any other machine we would tolerate the Blue Screen of Death from?

What if your windshield went opaque blue in mid-drive (general car fault), and the only fix was to turn the car off and start it again? No way to find out what happened: No way to prevent it. You know whatever caused it is still there, waiting for the proper alignment of circumstances, but the necessary conditions happen at such a fast pace, on such a small scale, that you cannot possibly see it coming.

Some days, I'd rather walk.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Some assembly required

This set contains all that you see here.

The philosophy of inclusion

AP | Atlanta Airport to Honor 1st Black Mayor
Atlanta's airport will be renamed to honor the city's first black mayor, Maynard Jackson.

The city council voted 12-2 Monday to name the sprawling complex Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Jackson's widow, Valerie, told reporters, "This proves that Atlanta is living by the philosophy of inclusion."

Funny, I thought it proved that the Atlanta City Council is still being held hostage by the Jackson family.

The effort to add Jackson's name to the airport began almost immediately after his death in June.

"Not yet cold in the ground," I believe, is the cliche...

Ah, I'm not that upset, really. But you know that only the press will ever call it Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

AJC | ...Jackson blocked the airport expansion until 25 percent of the construction contracts were awarded to minority-owned businesses.

Atlanta Business Chronicle | ...From Maynard Jackson's ex-wife to the widow of former Mayor William B. Hartsfield to the ex-husband and grown children of mayoral candidate Shirley Franklin, the relatives of Atlanta's leading politicians have done business at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport.

It started in 1980, when Tollie Hartsfield, Hartsfield's second wife, opened a video arcade in the airport's main terminal. In fact, one of her partners was Maynard Jackson's ex-wife, Burnella "Bunnie" Jackson Ransom.

Later, in 1994, Jackson and his daughter, Brooke, founded Jackmont Hospitality Inc., a food service company that operates a T.G.I. Friday's at Hartsfield's Concourse B. The term "Jackmont" stands for "Jackson's Mountain."

Today, the woman who very well could be mayor after the Nov. 6 city elections
[Note: she was elected] has an ex-husband, David M. Franklin, and two grown children, a son, Cabral, 27, and a daughter, Kai, 29, working in the airport concession business.

What am I trying to say? Just that the airport has been a political football for as long as it's been there, and this latest field goal for the Jackson team really isn't a ...departure.

Jeez, talk about mixed metaphors.

Here's an interesting document about the history of the airport, originally named Candler Field after Coca-Cola's Asa G. Candler, on whose land it was built.

Monday, October 20, 2003

A new traffic magnet

Skyscraper.com | Atlanta's tallest new building in 11 years to begin construction
With financing in place, the site at 14th Street and Peachtree has been fenced off and demolition work has begun.

...At 198 metres, Symphony Center Tower will be the tallest building built in Atlanta since 1992, when Atlanta's two tallest buildings, Bank of America and SunTrust Plaza, were completed. Plans also include a new symphony hall for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and a possible second building of 12 stories.

Just what Midtown needs: Another skyscraper.

This picture says it's "looking northwest from Colony Square", but that's wrong: Colony Square is itself visible at the right. We are indeed looking northwest, but I'd say the point of view is actually from the 14th Street Playhouse, at Juniper. The street that curves away to the left of Symphony Center Tower is 14th: The cross street just visible in the lower foreground is Peachtree.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Want to feel old?

Electronic Gaming Monthly sat nine kids down (age 10-13) and made 'em play the games we wasted quarters on. I laughed until I cried.

Pong: "It takes this whole console just to do Pong?"

Tetris: "This is boring. Maybe if it had characters and stuff and different levels, it would be OK. If things blew up or something or—"

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: "[Points to lava lamp on TV stand] That thing's more interesting."

Space Invaders: "But you can get this game on a cell phone. Why would you want to pay for it in an arcade?"

The Friday Five

This week's questions:
1. Name five things in your refrigerator.

Milk, Coca-Cola, iced tea, cream cheese, and leftover Chinese dinner.

2. Name five things in your freezer.

Pizza, ground beef, tater tots, chicken thighs, and Hallowe'en candy.

3. Name five things under your kitchen sink.

An ant, another ant, another ant... No, wait. Dishwashing detergent, powdered cleanser, liquid soap, extra pot scrubbies, and a small sink plunger.

4. Name five things around your computer.

Not counting peripherals? Cascading Style Sheets for Dummies, alarm clock, pencil sharpener, clipboard with legal pad, and a 128mb USB drive. (It's not currently attached to the computer, so it counts.)

5. Name five things in your medicine cabinet.

Too easy. I'll even handicap myself and leave out the pills I take every day (which, come to think of it, are on my bedside table and not in the medicine cabinet at all). Aspirin, petroleum jelly, cotton swabs, acetamenophen, and panty liners.

Any more personal questions?