Monday, November 29, 2004

Any publicity is good publicity

...for the Nude Calendar Watch, not that it normally needs any. But since a billing snafu temporarily took the site down, I thought I'd celebrate that it is back up with this story about the only group of people who protest when another "nude" charity calendar comes out.
Daily Record | Get 'em On!
NATURISTS are demanding people who appear in nude charity calendars put their clothes back on. Organisations representing 25,000 naturists say sports teams, students and Women's Institute groups who bare all are giving naturism 'a bad name'.

They say the comical depictions of nudity - often showing intimate parts hidden behind objects such as cider presses and firemen's hoses - give the impression the naked body is something to be ashamed of.

Barry Pickett, director of the Association of British Naturist Clubs, branded the fixation with naked calendars as 'absolutely pathetic'.

He added: 'I'd like to see these calendars stopped. Enough is enough. It's gimmicky and it gives naturism a bad name.

'They always show people covering up behind cricket stumps or whatever, as if they are ashamed of their nudity.'

More than 100 naked calendars are published every year.
Really? I've only got 40 listed for 2005. I need to do some Googlin'.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Filler for the holidays

AP Wire (Myrtle Beach Online) | Study: TV Shows Gravitate to the Coasts
NEW YORK - As far as TV is concerned, much of the country outside of Los Angeles and New York City is flyover territory.

Those two cities account for just under half of the fictional settings for prime-time television shows going back to 1948, according to a new study by a media agency. California and New York state are settings nearly 60 percent of the time - even though those states make up less than 19 percent of the nation's population.

..."I knew a lot of shows seem to be in New York and L.A., but I didn't expect it to be so concentrated," said Rob Frydlewicz of Carat Insight, a company that studies TV trends for advertisers and conducted the research.

..."As much as many people don't like to be in New York and Los Angeles, they're fascinated by the people who live in these two cities," Frydlewicz said.
Now, I realize that many of the stories we see over Thanksgiving only exist to fill space between advertisements in the weekend newspapers. For that reason, I don't want to read too much into this. But it may say something about just how coast-centric the TV networks are no matter how you interpret this:
  1. they needed a study to tell them most shows are set in New York or L.A.
  2. they think that, after all this time, it's news to us that this is true
  3. they think that those of us in Flyover Country are no less than fascinated by Big City Life.
I guess I'll go back to Green Acres now.

Monday, November 22, 2004

I wish I were surprised...

...but no, it really isn't surprising at all that most of our Congresspeople didn't read, cover to cover, a 1,000 page bill rushed through in the closing days of a lame-duck Congress. Nor is it unusual. The vast majority of bills are read only by assistants and interns: Our Elected Officials get summaries prepared by their staffs. (Staves?) At this point, maybe the interns aren't reading them either.

Nor is it unusual, sadly, that "a provision allowing the chairmen of the House and Senate appropriations committees, or their agents, to examine the tax returns of any American" found its way into an "omnibus spending" bill. At least it's about appropriations: Most tack-on provisions have much less to do with the subject of the core bill. But this is such a monumentally bad idea that you have to wonder if it wasn't put there with the intent of derailing the omnibus bill.

The root problem here is that they're trying to do too much. If they were to restrict themselves to their Constitutionally-defined responsibilities, they could've been home for the holidays by now, and we'd all be better off.

And the finger-pointing begins. Sigh. Did you know that both of those committee chairmen who'll get to see your tax returns happen to be Republicans? (Well, they are the majority party, it's not unusual that they have a few plum committee chairmanships.) Look at the CNN quotes, beginning and ending with a defensive Frist ("Accountability will be carried out"? Doesn't sound too forceful, does it?) with a cream-filling of indignant Democrats (and McCain, an honorary Democrat) trying to sound resolute, trying not to admit they didn't read the bill either. And since it so obviously is a naked Republican power grab, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) plans to nakedly grab right back (although I'm not proud of that mental picture).
[Democratic Sen. Charles] Schumer said Pelosi told him she planned to hold up consideration of the bill in the House "until we find out who put this provision in."
Boy, if some Democrat staffer stuck it in there knowing it would reflect poorly on the Senate and House majority leaders and appropriations committee chairmen (Republicans all), well, that's just gonna suck, innit? Of course, I'm not saying a Republican might not have done it, just that it's a little premature to assume so.

Anyway, better hurry, Ms P: The interim resolution that postponed a government shutdown expires on December 3.

Which leads me to the part that really grabbed my eye:

A military plane flew that resolution to Chile, where Bush was attending the APEC summit, so the president could sign it to avoid any disruption of government.
How have we reached the point where assigning a military plane to fly a few pieces of paper to Chile (and, presumably, back) doesn't sound outrageous?

LATER: So, it was a Republican. But he didn't mean it. Right. But if the wording in the bill isn't the wording he wrote, then who writes these things? Even the best possible interpretation doesn't make me feel any better.

Friday, November 19, 2004

It Isn't Censorship, chapter XXIV

Editor and Publisher | Drops Ted Rall's Cartoons is no longer running the cartoons of hard-hitting liberal Ted Rall. Rall said he thinks the site dropped his work because of a Nov. 4 cartoon he did showing a drooling, mentally handicapped student taking over a classroom. "The idea was to draw an analogy to the electorate -- in essence, the idiots are now running the country," he told E&P.
Interesting how Rall gets the first and last word, as well as most of the words in between, including dropping the "C" word.
The Universal Press Syndicate creator said "I don't think censorship is ever the answer," mentioning that he publicly opposed campaigns to fire or boycott conservatives Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlessinger for that reason.

Rall -- who said kept running him after his controversial cartoons about Pat Tillman (earlier this year) and "terror widows" -- hopes the site will reconsider "depriving readers of one of the most stridently liberal voices in the media at a time when liberal values are under ferocious attack."
*Heh* "Liberal values." I don't think I've ever heard that phrase before. Jeez, lose one election and suddenly you're "under attack". Chill. Drink less latte.

Anyway, I feel obligated to point out that what has happened here is that a newspaper editor has made the decision not to purchase a product from its author. It requires an awfully, er, liberal definition of "censorship" to take the word to mean that authors can force publishers to buy all of their work having once successfully sold them any of it.

"But you have to listen to me!" Well, actually, no, I don't. Your freedom of speech is not curtailed at all by the fact that I'm ignoring you. By all means, speak on.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

This doesn't help

NRO | Red-State TV
One of the election lessons for Democrats is that while the Left doesn't understand the Right, the Right can't help but understand the Left, because the Left is in charge of pop culture. Urban blue staters can go their entire lives happily innocent of the world of church socials and duck hunting and Boy Scout meetings, but small-town red staters are exposed to big-city blue-state values every time they turn on the TV.
I wish the rest of the article was as good as the first paragraph. Unfortunately, it's just as guilty of stereotyping "red-state values" as any "progressive" I've ever heard. I've never seen three of the four programs named (although my son has developed a taste for "Blue-Collar TV", but then he also watches "Steve Harvey's Big Show" and "Fear Factor", what can I tell you).

Why, whatever could he mean?

MSNBC/Newsweek | Can Mr. Bill Clean Up Your IN Box?
As much as three fourths of all mail sent on the Internet is spam—unwanted, often disgusting or fraudulent brickbats tossed in your in box. We waste hours deleting this stuff—or, if we have software to do the work for us, we worry about urgent missives mistakenly tossed into the garbage bin. But now comes a voice assuring us that not only spam but other infuriating digital maladies will be dramatically reduced. Who's saying that Viagra come-ons and Nigerian bank scammers will be rarer than white tigers? Bill Gates.

... Gates's upbeat outlook on security seems to reflect that of another leader who talks of continuing progress as the news contradicts him.
Oh? Who would that be?

(The Gods of Irony require me to point out that the text of this article was obscured by in-line ads when I first opened it in, of all things, pop-up-resistant Mozilla Firefox. And that the site is co-owned by Microsoft, who will...protect us from spam?)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

More Self-Promotion

The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company will be appearing at Onstage Atlanta (whose theater, unexpectedly, is at Suburban Plaza in Decatur) Friday night at 10:30pm.

This is our final night at this venue, anchored by Thomas E. Fuller's "The Last Dragon to Avondale", which is, coincidentally, the station where one would disembark to get there by MARTA. If you dare. (Bus route #125.)

Friday, November 12, 2004

Forget everything else, explain this

Yahoo (E! Online) | Moore Fires Up "Fahrenheit" Sequel
"Fifty-one percent of the American people lacked information [on election day] and we want to educate and enlighten them," the lefty writer-director told Variety. "They weren't told the truth. We're communicators and it's up to us to start doing it now."
How, how, in the name of Saint Susan Sarandon, how can anyone believe that the reason the Democrats lost is that they didn't get their message out?

Monday, November 08, 2004

Divine left

I've been examining commentary sites from open-and-proud Kerry supporters.

I know, I know, some of my regular readers (well, actually, I don't have regular readers, all of my readers are superlative, but you know what I mean) may be skeptical. Some will doubt that I ever bother to expose myself to actual liberal thought, others will marvel that I would want to. (Some call the phrase redundant, others call it an oxymoron.)

(By the way, I mean actual thoughtful people like Andrew Sullivan and Joshua Micah Marshall and Patrick Nielsen-Hayden and John Perry Barlow, not the moonbat brigade that lazy conservatives like to point at.)

If you don't believe me so far, then you certainly won't buy my conclusions, so you may as well go read something else.

Still here? Thanks. I'm flattered.

Here's why Democrats are so apoplectic. It's not just because they lost an election.

Democrats enjoyed a largely undisturbed half-century of being the majority party in Washington. Most of the current crop of elected officials, and most of the electorate as well, cannot remember a time when that wasn't true.

Now the Senate, the House, and the White House are all dominated by the Republican party. The last time this happened was the 83rd Congress of 1953-55, under President Dwight Eisenhower. Before that you have to go back to the 62nd Congress of 1931-33 and President Herbert Hoover.

Republicans know how to cope with being the minority party. Democrats don't. They've never had to.

Democrats have been conditioned to think that liberal control of government is simply the natural order of things. Those who believe in such things might even say it is their Divine Right. The influence of Republicans, they think, is a transitory distraction they can afford to humor because it won't last long enough to make any real difference.

Except that this time it may.

This year's election wasn't a landslide by anyone's definition. (Have you seen Boing Boing's purple map?) But it was clearly not an aberration, either. And this conservative majority is lasting longer than the last two. If the President fulfills his promise to reform the IRS, Republicans will be national heroes. These "sad days" may last, oh, fifty years or more. What's a liberal to do?
Nicholas D. Kristof: "So Democrats need to give a more prominent voice to Middle American, wheat-hugging, gun-shooting, Spanish-speaking, beer-guzzling, Bible-toting centrists."

Mark Steyn: "H. L. Mencken said that no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people. Well, George Soros, Barbra Streisand and a lot of their friends just did."

Mark Morford: "You want a place, you say, that doesn't right this minute seem to be working heroically to make homophobia and born-again fundamentalism and pre-emptive isolationist warmongering and environmental ignorance a national religion. A place where SUVs aren't considered minor deities and where gay people aren't loathed for wanting to slice a wedding cake and where brazen heavily narcotized denial in the face of a veritable mountain of presidential lies isn't the national pastime."

Jeff Jarvis: "You'll never win an election if you make fun of people who go to church."
Once you get over your apoplexy, you can also get over your condescending preconception of who the typical Republican voter is. America needs a serious opposition party, not a caricature of one. If we wanted a joke, we would have voted for Ralph Nader.

John Perry Barlow: "I am compelled to admit that I am genuinely out of touch with half my country. I feel like I'm suffering the death of a loved one. I'm not sure which of the stages of grief I've reached at this point, but I'm pretty well past denial. I'm mourning a number of losses, one of which is the belief that 'my side' is actually a clear majority that would reveal itself if we ever shuffled off our disdain for politics and voted in any force."

M Wisdom (in Barlow's reader comments, no direct link): "To non-Americans all around the world: ...If you visit the states (after being strip searched and DNA-tested), don't assume that everyone here in this country is a self-absorbed, prejudiced, fat, lazy, NASCAR fan with the I.Q. of a toaster. However, I do admit, the odds may be 51:49 you might run into someone like that. To the Conservatives, Republicans and Bush Supporters: Congratulations. You won. We lost. It's a shame the tables weren't turned, because we feel pretty confident that we're much better losers than you guys have ever been..."
Look, I'm not claiming that the left has a monopoly on self-delusion, I'm just saying this is beyond parody. The American left is facing emotional collapse in the aftermath of two elections that didn't go their way. If the right were such poor losers, there would no longer be an American right: Every Republican in the country would have slit his wrists when FDR was elected to a third term.

And let's not even discuss this. I mean, refighting the Vietnam War worked so well for John Kerry, by all means, let's reopen the Civil War too. What about 1812? What did Madison know and when did he know it?

Friday, November 05, 2004

At least they're not being subtle

Michael J. Totten has an enlightening roundup of liberal blog commentary. For every Andrew Sullivan...
George W. Bush is our president. He deserves a fresh start, a chance to prove himself again, and the constructive criticism of those of us who decided to back his opponent.
...there are several Tboggs:
I look at the big map and all of the red in flyover country and I feel like I've been locked in a room with the slow learners.
Fortunately, they're dealing with people who know how to be gracious in victory, and who don't threaten riots if they lose.

No, that was unworthy. Goodness knows there are plenty of people on both sides who aren't too tightly wrapped. Or who are too tightly wrapped. Choose whatever metaphor you like.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usYou know, I hate this. I promised myself I wasn't going to gloat, I wasn't going to snipe. And it's an easy promise to keep. I'm really not interested in stoking the furnace. It's not productive. I would have thought that would be obvious to everyone by now.

I don't have the heart to, not after hearing the heartbreak of Rep. Nancy Pilosi (D-San Francisco). "We have lost just about everything that we can lose," she said.

Everything? That seems a bit extreme. After all, Madam Congressperson, you haven't lost your job. If anything, you've gained a little influence. AFP describes you as "the top Democrat" in Congress now.

Even Senator Kerry hasn't lost his job: He, and Senator Edwards, get to go back to work with the new Congress as if nothing happened. (Here in Georgia, we have a pesky law that requires candidates for elective office to resign any office they may currently hold in order to run for another.)

(Speaking of which, although it isn't quite the same situation, I wonder who told Denise Majette that Johnny Isakson would be easier to beat than Cynthia McKinney?)

You haven't lost your party, although you're in the process of throwing it away. Some of your colleagues seem to have it in mind that there might be something you can do to better connect with all those red-state people. Usually, when they go "soul-searching", they reach the conclusion (or so I must assume from their subsequent actions) that where they erred was that they weren't strident enough, weren't forceful enough, weren't shrill enough in their insistence that Republicans Are Just Plain Evil. The self-proclaimed party of inclusion and tolerance is conspicuously intolerant of points of view to the right of itself.

Although this time may be different. They seem to be twigging to the fact that Michael Moore really doesn't play well in flyover country.

It might also be instructive to look at USA Today's county-by-county map of California. That "solidly blue" state is awfully red when you get away from the coastline. And even states as red as Georgia have some patches of blue. (Believe me, I know. I live in one.)

You haven't lost your voice. Campaign rhetoric to the contrary, John Ashcroft has yet to drag anybody into the Republican Gulags for the crime of being liberal. Even Michael Moore, a prime candidate for political silencing if ever there was one, is free to roam the streets, speak, and make films as he will--as he should be. (Perhaps he should make a movie about Salman Rushdie.)

Your life, your fortune, your sacred honor? All seem to be intact. (Cf. Theo van Gogh.)

If the Democratic Party needs a ray of hope, look at San Diego. Three weeks ago, Donna Frye (who currently sits on the city council) said "what the hell" and started campaigning as a write-in candidate for Mayor against two Republicans, one the incumbent. The counting isn't over yet, but if most of the write-in ballots are in fact for her (as they appear to be), she's actually going to win. (UPDATE: Still too close to call.)

Ms Pelosi, what does she know that you don't?

When I hear either party spoken of as "the enemy", and the suggestion publicly voiced (with apparent sincerity) that people should be rounded up and shot just for the way they voted, I know somebody has lost all perspective. I'm reasonably sure it isn't me.

MORE: See also PhotoDude.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The above image (hosted at ImageShack) was created by Joe at American Leftist. (He doesn't give his last name.) If it isn't obvious, the President's face is composed of a mosaic of portraits of American servicemen and women who've died in Iraq. Here's what he has to say about it:
'War President' is meant to be a satirical commentary, informed by the whole project of using the dead as political props.
(It may be worth pointing out that in Joe's list, he gives examples in which faces [nor names] are not used, unlike his own work. In fact, he counts the administration's ban on images from their funerals as a Political Use. I confess I don't follow his logic there. And he doesn't mention the "shoe exhibit" at the Democratic convention, although there's a perfectly good reason for that: This image was created in April, well before the convention. If Joe has an opinion of the exhibit, he hasn't recorded it.)
...An image is like an empty room and any message that one reads in that room necessarily came in the baggage one carried when one walked in the door. If I made a mosaic of George Washington composed of images of the American dead from the revolution, would viewers likely take that image as an indictment of Washington? I submit that they would not. It would be viewed as a monument to the dead and a celebration of a great leader, a somewhat maudlin monument maybe but surely not offensive.
I agree. (Although surely it does matter that these young people have living wives, husbands, parents, and children? Families who weren't asked whether they approved of the use to which their love one's likeness was put?)

The trouble is, once you create an image and turn it loose in the world, whatever your intent, it's no longer yours to control. Ask the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, who have quite deliberately made no attempt to control the use of perhaps the most famous symbol of its time.

And sometimes events overtake art, which leads it to take on a significance its creator could not have foreseen.

There are a few additional points to be made about this particular portrait. One is that, by implication, it overstates the number of dead in Iraq. Joe has made no secret of the fact that he used some portraits as many as three times.

And I probably wouldn't be talking about it at all if Michael Moore hadn't chosen to remove every link on his site in favor of presenting this image, presumably intended as a statement of mourning for the lost Kerry campaign. (I can only guess: Mike gives no explanation. Nor does he credit the artist. Shame, shame, Mike.)

Never mind. Take your time, Mike. I know this must be a bad time for you. (Mike! Come down off that ledge!)

More from Michelle Malkin, who isn't nearly as nice as I am.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world

The Beat | Lessons Learned
Things The Beat learned on the road:
• You cannot buy hummus and pita bread in Flagstaff, AZ.
Why would you want to?

"Don't Panic" in big friendly letters

The 2000 election made Katherine Harris a household word. Ken Blackwell, Ohio Secretary of State, appears to expect the same in 2004. The closeness of the election in Ohio, plus an ever-rising estimate of the number of provisional ballots yet to be counted (funny how it seems to stay a few thousand ahead of the margin), plus Ohio law's requirement that those ballots be counted no earlier than eleven days after the election, all mean that we're going to be seeing a lot of Mr Blackwell over the next two weeks.

But don't misunderstand me. CNN suggests that Blackwell is enjoying the spotlight just a little too much, and maybe he is, but there's another aspect to that. He's ready for it. His job is to run a fair election: It isn't over yet. But it isn't chaos: it's a situation for which rules, standards, and procedures exist, and I'm certain they'll work if they're allowed to. Mr President, don't declare victory; just go back to business as usual. Senator, don't threaten to challenge the results until after they're actually announced.

And, ladies and gentlemen of the press, I realize that your job is to create drama and anxiety where none exists; Nonetheless, please try to resist the temptation.

I find Blackwell's advice--"Take a deep breath and relax"--to be reasonable and sound.

I'm going back to sleep. Wake me on the 12th. Better yet, the 15th.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A dialogue from the future (perhaps)

Althouse | Remember the President who won two wars?
Remember the President who won two wars, who overthrew two of the most repressive dictatorships in the world and then got run out of office for being a miserable failure?

Monday, November 01, 2004

Site update

Fifteen no, make it twenty-two new Nude Calendars posted today, and not a one sent a complimentary copy. Darn it. Er *ahem*, I mean...

For all that, the total number of calendars in release is down this year from last. Perhaps it doesn't seem like such a new idea now that Calendar Girls is on DVD. It still seems to be novel enough that it works almost every time it's tried.