The Weigh In

June 28, 2002


HAVE A NICE WEEKEND EVERYONE: Possibly some posting on Sunday...


MUST-READ OF THE DAY: Dave Barry rips the 2002 Farm Security Act a well-deserved new a--hole (Link via Juan Gato)-

'The purpose of the Farm Security act is to provide farmers with ''price stability.'' What do we mean by ''price stability?''

We mean: your money. You have already been very generous about this: Last year alone, you gave more than $20 billion worth of price stability to farmers. Since 1996, you've given more than a million dollars apiece to more than 1,000 lucky recipients, many of which are actually big agribusinesses. Some of the ''farmers'' you've sent your money to are billionaires, such as Ted Turner and Charles Schwab, as well as major corporations, such as Chevron, DuPont and John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance.'


THE 2002 AMY AWARDS: Zap2it.com's TV Gal reveals the results of the 2002 Amy Awards, comprised of reader categories and nominations. "Buffy" fans seem to have taken over the entire proceedings... and enough with the James Marsters ogling, please!


THE LATEST FROM PEGGY NOONAN: In her latest column she bemoans the amoral men who are damaging capitalism-

'Those who invested in and placed faith in Global Crossing, Enron, Tyco or WorldCom have been cheated and fooled by individuals whose selfishness seems so outsized, so huge, that it seems less human and flawed than weird and puzzling. Did they think they would get away with accounting scams forever? Did they think they'd never get caught? Do they think they're operating in the end times and they better grab what they can now and go hide? What were they thinking?

We should study who these men are--they are still all men, and still being turned in by women--and try to learn how they rationalized their actions, how they excused their decisions or ignored the consequences, how they thought about the people they were cheating. I mention this because I've been wondering if we are witnessing the emergence of a new pathology: White Collar Big Money Psychopath.'
Allow me to suggest another means of white-collar crime deterrent.


BABY BOMBER UPDATE: The family responsible says it was just a joke. Some f%-king joke.


WHAT WAR ARE THEY WATCHING?: James S. Robbins is irritated by America's pessimistic state of mind regarding the war on Islamists-

'Ten months into America's war on terrorism, with no major enemy attacks since September 11, the terrorists' host government in Afghanistan overthrown, the al Qaeda network disrupted, its leadership either dead or on the run, nearly half the American public thinks the war is at stalemate, and 14 percent believe the terrorists are winning. Which leads naturally to the question: Are you kidding me?'
Just another day in short-attention-span land.


FIGHTING FOR PEACE: Orson Scott Card has his reasons for supporting the ouster of Saddam Hussein; he also thinks that the Islamists are intentionally prolonging the conflict in Israel to delay a U.S. attack on Iraq. Sometimes war is the most effective way to negotiate for peace.


ON THE SCHOOL VOUCHER PROGRAM DECISION: I'm not very knowledgeable about this subject, but I do feel that a shift to greater privatization of the American school system (and hence more school choice) is a necessity, and this decision is a step in that direction. Off-wing Opinion has a thoughtful post on the ruling. Eugene Volokh also thinks the decision is correct.

And George Will thinks that "socially disadvantaged children had their best day in court since Brown v. Board of Education in 1954."


SEE TO BELIEVE: This is a photo circulating around the Blogosphere, found by IDF soldiers in Hebron-



UPDATE: Surprise! The Palestinians are claiming that the photo is a forgery.


WEEKEND AT OSAMA'S: Mark Steyn writes in his latest column that Osama bin Laden is dead. But, it suits the United States to believe he is still alive.

So he may be dead. Well, the masses in the Arab world aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer, as you probably know. Can't you see Al-Qaeda putting together another couple of videos in which a re-animated bin Laden is shown speaking to his foot-soldiers, praising Allah, etc., a la "Weekend at Bernie's?" I wouldn't put it past them...


I'M HOOKED: After watching 3 episodes of NBC's "Scrubs" last night, I'm officially hooked. What a riot. It's very kinetic, very unpredictable, much in the vein of shows like "Malcolm in the Middle" and even "The Simpsons." And how can you ignore a show that forces its writing staff to do homework? NBC is moving "Scrubs" to Thursday nights at 8:30 PM, after you-know-who. (Which raises a question: Why, instead of running 3 years of just awful shows in that time slot, didn't NBC just run repeat episodes of "Seinfeld," or "Cheers," or some other stud show? Are they legally prohibited from doing so? I wonder. The ratings would be there, I guarantee it.)


June 27, 2002


READING FOR YOUR MIDNIGHT SNACK: Bill Simmons of ESPN.com has a hilarious pick-by-pick recap of yesterday’s NBA draft. You have to read the whole thing. Here’s a snippet-

'7:51 p.m. Picking fourth, Memphis takes Drew Gooden, who was shut down by Holy Cross in the NCAAs three months ago (apparently all game tapes have been destroyed). With some luck, he has a chance to be the next Juwan Howard. Meanwhile, Dad and I have this exchange:

Me: "What do you think of that pick?"

Dad (staring at Gooden): "That suit has no buttons."'


THOUGHTS ON WORLDBOMB: Boy, have I read some interesting articles regarding the WorldCom book-cooking today. Daniel Gross of Slate.com discusses the accounting metric known as EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization), and how overreliance on it to gauge a company's financial health has led to the current accounting scandals.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution editors are quite angry at all this deception, calling for harsher punishments for white-collar crime. (Too bad these smug, pasty white men can't be drawn and quartered, that seems a reasonable deterrent. Don't mean to pick on old white men here, I'm sure most males in these positions of power would behave exactly the same way.)

Most provocative of all is Bob Hiler, from Beyond Value Investing, who claims that WorldCom was participating in a massive corporate pyramid scheme-

'In other words, accounting fraud is often just the last act of desperation by companies frantic to prop up a collapsing pyramid scheme. The core problem is not generated or caused by accounting fraud - it's caused by something entirely different, and entirely legal.'


I'M FINISHED WITH LIES: Jonah Goldberg is relieved that President Bush's outline for peace in the Middle East faces up to the truth - that Yassir Arafat is no man of peace. He also points out that we put up with Saudi Arabia more than anyone else in the Middle East. I will take great pleasure in watching that country's eventual demise.


STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES: Martina Navratilova criticized the U.S. and the Republican Party in a German newspaper yesterday. You have to read what she said, it's hilarious. This is why athletes are roundly stereotyped as idiots. Thanks to Eric McErlain for picking up on this.

Eric Olsen has a very interesting rationale for her behavior - "freedom fatigue"-

'I am prone to tread lightly upon, if not excuse Navratilova's statements because I think she suffers from an affliction common to many who flee repression for the good life in the U.S. of A.: freedom fatigue.

Upon exposure to the embarrassment of freedoms available here, it seems that the memories of truly horrifying repression recede and soften in the minds of some, and over time the inevitable results of the sheer exuberance of America's culture of freedom - consumerism, materialism, cacophonous speech - grate on those raised in a system devoid of such exuberance and turn otherwise intelligent, even brilliant people into babbling idiots.'
Yes, she was (is) a great tennis player, and a brave individual to be so openly homosexual, blah blah blah but I will stick to my original thesis that she's a moron. She doesn't seem to comprehend that she would be terrorized, beaten or killed for uttering such comments in other countries.

I also think that freedom fatigue might accurately apply to other anti-American attention-seeking clowns.


GLENN REYNOLDS IS RIGHT: In his latest FOX News column, he argues that we all need to trust the government more. But at the same time, the American people need to be kept in the loop regarding what is working and what isn't. This is where he grows pessimistic-

'Unfortunately, there is little reason to think we can expect such accountability. The FBI's record in the past has demonstrated an Arthur Andersen-like enthusiasm for keeping damaging information out of the hands of critics and overseers. Conspicuously absent among the many reforms introduced in the wake of Sept. 11 is anything that will address this problem.'


MORE ON SADDAM HUSSEIN: Mark Bowden has an Atlantic Monthly article on Saddam Hussein. Why we need to debate killing off this sick SOB is truly beyond me.


A POOR CHAMPION FOR CONSERVATIVES?: Salon.com wonders- do conservatives really want Ann Coulter as a spokesperson? I'm not sure anymore, to tell the truth. She's way too loud, angry and hysterical regarding some issues. She seems as frantic as the many liberals that she (correctly, I will add) condemns. Read this excerpt from her new book "Slander" to see what I mean.


ON THE NBA DRAFT: Stan McNeal of the Sporting News has analysis on last night's NBA Draft. It's good to see that the Knicks are actually unloading some dead weight.

UPDATE: Chad Ford of ESPN.com has graded all the teams.


MORE ON THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL PLEDGE: Instapundit has collected several bloggers' posts on this subject into one handy post.

Tony Pierce has an amusing screed.

The Wall Street Journal calls it "silliness." (registration required)

The Washington Post mentions the point I was attempting to make yesterday regarding the timing of the decision-

' If the court were writing a parody, rather than deciding an actual case, it could hardly have produced a more provocative holding than striking down the Pledge of Allegiance while this country is at war. We believe in strict separation between church and state, but the pledge is hardly a particular danger spot crying out for judicial policing.'
Here's some info on the history of the pledge.

Here is a short bio on the man who brought this case to trial. (He seems like just another snotty elitist Californian who has too much time on his hands.)

John Hawkins disagrees with the ruling, but I'm linking to him also because he has posted a copy of President Reagan's famous "Evil Empire" speech from 1982.

UPDATE: I liked Vodka Pundit's take on this whole thing.


ON "BUFFY": It seems the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences sent out Emmy nomination ballots earlier this month, but there was an all-too-familiar omission on the list of contenders for the drama writing category: the Buffy musical, "Once More with Feeling." Once more Buffy gets the shaft is more like it.

Elsewhere, Jessica of the Blog of Chloe and Pete (a very cool blog, I highly recommend a visit) referenced some recent Season 6 comments of mine (much thanks!), and provides her own analysis of this past season of "Buffy." I agree with her points wholeheartedly. (This past season was good, but watching Season 2 episodes lately in syndication clearly shows how superior the early years were.)


June 26, 2002


ON WAR WITH IRAQ: John Hawkins has another commendable post today on why we need to take out Saddam Hussein. I'm noticing more and more people against such a war without "clear evidence" of wrongdoing or aggression from the Iraqi dictator. That's sad, because there already exists so much evidence proving what a despicable and dangerous person he is. Here's just one piece.

Even more saddening is when I hear people actually referring to President Bush and his staff as part of an "axis of evil," as though the United States has committed more willful atrocities than Iraq, or Saudi Arabia, or North Korea. When is the last time you read about Iraq or Iran giving food or money to third world nations? When is the last time the United States government intentionally hoarded food or so that millions of its own citizens went starving?

Can you comprehend the absolute denial of reality necessary to compare freely-elected American leaders (regardless of their flaws, which are many) to proven dictators and mass murderers who kill indiscriminately and pillage their own nations? I can't. I guess that's why I'm labeled a "conservative."


UPON FURTHER REVIEW:

'A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and cannot be recited in schools.'
They may have a point; I don't understand why "under God" ever had to be included in the pledge to begin with (it was added in 1954 through an act of Congress). Just remove those two words and let's all move on. The timing of such a decision is very poor.

On a separate note, I was able to track down a web site which details the requirements for holding public office in California.


"THE ONION" IS ON VACATION: So I pulled a few of my favorites from their archive-

'Energetic Self-Starter Instantly Despised by Co-Workers'

'Columbine Jocks Safely Resume Bullying'
And one of my top 5 headlines ever-
'Area Bassist Fellated'


TAKEDOWN: PejmanPundit has a nice piece up at TechCentralStation pulling out the fact-checker on our favorite anti-American troll, Gnome Chomsky. Chomsky would make a great dictator - he can distort truths and enlist manipulable supporters with the best of them...


MUST-READ OF THE DAY: Joe Katzman has a great post detailing the "7 (or 8?) Signs of Loser States." As you can imagine, the Arab nations fare quite poorly under such examination.


"BUMFIGHTS": Is a new video being sold on the Internet, called "Bumfights," starring homeless men and women. Its contents?

'The tape shows a man setting his hair on fire; a man who smokes crack and then defecates on the sidewalk; a man who pulls out a tooth with a pair of pliers; and "Rufus the Stunt Bum," a man who voluntarily rams his head through fast-food restaurant signs, jumps off a building into a Dumpster and rides a shopping cart down a steep hill.'
Sounds delightful. (I'm being sarcastic, honest)


A HERO FOR ALL OF US:

'Gary Wilke didn’t set out to become a symbol of people’s frustrations when he used a sledgehammer to vent rage over his daughter’s dysfunctional computer.

But after he trashed the machine April 1 in the lobby of the Gateway Country store in Grand Chute, he got calls and e-mails from around the world.'


FIGHTING OFF TERRORISTS AT HOME: The Village Voice has an article describing unconventional ways that terrorists might strike in the U.S.

Paul Hsieh of GeekPress considers such possibilities a reason to allow Americans to carry concealed weapons as a deterrent.


A BIT MORE ON BUSH'S SPEECH: Bill Kristol thinks the president is effectively advancing the Bush doctrine. Michael Kelly has some predictions for the future.

Say what you will about the speech, or Bush in general, but at least he's trying something different, in an attempt to stabilize the region. For that alone he deserves a tremendous amount of credit.


I GOT INSTALINKED TODAY: Well, actually last night. Thank you Professor, thank you. I'd been hoping and working for a nod from the blogfather since I started doing this...

Welcome to all Instapundit readers, glad to have you. Please check out my extended piece on "the Zen TV Experiment," or if you like more linking and less thinking, I'll be posting lots today and there are plenty of links below.


CROOKS 'R US: This just makes me sick-

'In what appears to be one of the biggest cases of accounting fraud in U.S. history, WorldCom Inc. revealed Tuesday night it had disguised nearly $3.8 billion in expenses, after an internal investigation uncovered that the company's books were cooked.'
And guess who their auditor was?

If there is no deterrent to white-collar crimes like this (and trust me, there isn't), then it will continue to happen. I lost so much money through Enron, this just frustrates me to no end. Criminals and liars everywhere, running all these powerful companies. The entire tech stock surge was a mirage, almost all these companies seem to be duplicitous to some extent regarding their earnings and growth potential. The thorough purging of all this scum must continue before our economy can recover.

I wonder how long before this actually happens.


SAME SHIP, DIFFERENT CAPTAIN: Jonah Goldberg argues today that the 1990s were no better than the 1980s, but are remembered differently (italics are mine)-

'...what bothers me is the selective application of outrage. The excesses of the 1980s were unfair and cruel because a lot of people in New York, L.A., and D.C. thought the president was unfair and cruel. The excesses of the 1990s were simply excesses because the president cared about midnight-basketball programs.'


MORE ON THE ZEN TV EXPERIMENT: Matt Moore has some intriguing zen experiments of his own. Take that, Adbusters!


June 25, 2002


MUST-READ OF THE DAY: Outer space is not filled with majestic colors, this Space.com article explains.

'All Hubble images are created with black-and-white cameras. Ones and zeros are sent to Earth. Color is dropped in later with the popular Photoshop program.'
Even the immortal 1995 photo of the Eagle Nebula, also known as M16 or the Pillars of Creation, is not what it seems. Read this fascinating article.


THOUGHTS ON THE ZEN TV EXPERIMENT: At long last, as promised.

The Zen TV Experiment,” created by the Adbusters Media Foundation, is at heart an attempt to make television viewers more aware of the physical act of watching television, presumably with the result of lowering their interest in doing so. I have copied passages of the article, to assist in my analysis.

Here are the guidelines of the experiment -

1. Watch any TV show for 15 minutes without turning on the sound.
2. Watch any news program for 15 minutes without turning on the sound.
3. Watch television for one half hour without turning it on.

Sounds easy enough, right? (Famous last words…) I will break down this analysis of the experiment and of television viewing itself into three parts. The first section includes a brief discussion of the experiment, as well as thoughts on Adbusters’ depressing view of television. The second section is comprised of notes I took while participating in the experiment. The final section makes an argument in defense of watching television.

I. Watching Television

Adbusters has much to say about television, and none of it is positive. But much of it is true. They believe that television is used for

“(a) training us to shorten our attention span, (b) making ordinary life appear dull, (c) injecting a hypnotic quality into our ordinary awareness and (d) coercing us into its reality”

(Why this is done -- and by who -- is not considered in detail here. Such a discussion could fill pages and pages, and I will briefly revisit these questions later on.)

Television also serves as a surrogate companion to the lonely. It unrealistically shows all subject matter as entertainment. People schedule their lives, even build their living rooms, around the television set, where they receive one-way transmissions of information, sight and sound. Accurate, and damning.

But I put forward that television has some inherent good, if watched in moderation. This is an idea I will address later, one that the author seems to overlook altogether.
Adbusters wants television viewers to be more aware of “technical events” when they watch TV-
“What is a technical event? We've all seen TV cameras in banks and jewelry stores. A stationary video camera simply recording what's in front of it is what I will call "pure TV." Anything other than pure TV is a technical event: the camera zooms up, that's a technical event; you are watching someone's profile talking and suddenly you are switched to another person responding, that's a technical event; a car is driving down the road and you also hear music playing, that's a technical event.”
An excellent lesson to take from this discussion is that television does indeed manipulate the viewer, at the most basic level of cognition. Much like motion pictures use advancing still images to give the appearance of movement, television programming uses various kinds of special effects to create the appearance of narrative. Even the simplest television commercial tries to tell a coherent story, through the use of jump cuts, a close-up, etc. Technical events allow a two-feet high box of metal and plastic to produce an illusion of reality, of authenticity. So, according to the author, by focusing our attention on these technical events, we will be unable to follow along with the program’s intended story and can more actually notice what we’re doing when we watch television.
“When you focus on the technical events you can’t focus on the plot or storyline…either you watch the program or count the technical events.”
This idea is the basis of narratological theory, which studies not stories, but the significance of how we tell them.

But consider that in most (if not all) cases, we are choosing to be manipulated, choosing to watch other people’s lives on television for a time instead of living our own. Adbusters doesn’t think too highly of this either
“When we seek media confirmation we acknowledge and assume that our personal experiences are not qualified as reality any longer. We lose the drive to pursue direct experience as well as the drive to participate in co-creating reality. We no longer do, we watch, and reality is someone else's creation.”
I am again in conflict with this idea; while it is accurate, it is only unhealthy if taken to an extreme measure. And shouldn’t we marvel at such a technological invention, if just for a minute? Where’s the sense of wonder? What an astounding device, what a wonderful machine! The writer would have you think the television is conscious and malevolent, intentionally attempting to overthrow its human overlords.

So, now that I’ve provided a description of Adbusters’ views on television, as well as introduced my objections to them, I will detail my results from the experiment. (Please don’t fret, reader, the notes below are worth reading through)


II. The Experiment

1. Watch any TV show for 15 minutes without turning on the sound.

Sunday, June 10, 2002 - Watched NBC’s “Dateline” from 7:45 pm to 8:00 pm

My Notes:
7:47 pm- Counting technical events; very aware of time passing; no ability to participate or follow along with news item; trying to read lips, pick up on non-verbal cues

7:50 pm- Stopped counting technical events after 60 (and this isn’t even MTV); noticing lots more cuts, editing

7:52 pm- First commercial break; the commercial events have dozens of technical events, and that’s just the visual ones

7:57 pm- The silence is affecting me; what’s the damn point of watching television without it? Is Adbusters going to have a “Zen Book Experiment” where you have to stare at a blank piece of paper for 15 minutes straight? Would that mean that all books are useless as well?

8:00 pm- Made it through


2. Watch any news program for 15 minutes without turning on the sound.

Sunday, June 10, 2002 - Watched CNN Headline News from 8:00 pm to 8:15 pm

My Notes:
8:02 pm- The silence is really irritating; I’m getting fidgety; looking for recognizable faces in the news and television commercials

8:05 pm- Very aware of the time; watching seconds tick by, slow, plodding, thoughts meandering, why the hell am I doing this? It’s a test of wills now; I will make it through this

8:08 pm- Who gives a shit about these people? They’re no better than me; Another commercial break; commercials are like candy bars, a sugar kick, a snack between meals

8:13 pm- Approaching (now passing into) painful status; the next part of the experiment is going to be very difficult

8:15 pm- Two down, one to go


3. Watch television for one half hour without turning it on.

Sunday, June 10, 2002 – Watched a blank television screen from 8:15 pm to ??

My Notes:
8:17 pm- Very stupid; a waste of my time; would be better served staring at the walls, at least I could use my imagination

8:19 pm- Angry now, as expected (and as the article indicated I would be); who wouldn’t be? This isn’t relaxing, and I’m not learning anything

8:21 pm- Okay, say there’s no more television – would people read more? Exercise more? Quite possibly, these may be better ways to unwind

8:24 pm- 9 minutes… that’s it?

8:26 pm- I quit. I could continue, but what’s that self-discipline worth? 11 minutes, clock it.


III. In Defense of Television

The author of the article seems arrogantly bemused that subjects in this experiment grow angry and resentful at being made to participate; yet his explanation for this anger quickly dissipates into nonsense-
“One expression of this anger that comes up repeatedly is "I wasted 30 minutes of my time." Is it possible that this is a very valuable waste of time? Is it possible that "wasting time" is a very valuable thing to do in studying society? Pursuing this experience puts us smack in the middle of the infamous Protestant Ethic in a very direct and personal way…”
Making someone stare at a blank television screen serves no useful purpose to that person. Is there really more to it than that? I’m not uncertain that a person irritated at having their time wasted is suddenly on the verge of a great Zen truth, but I am sure that it would apply to many everyday situations beyond watching television. I again consider a “Zen Book Experiment” - if I grow angry when forced to examine a blank sheet of paper for 30 minutes, should I conclude that reading is a waste of my time? Of course not. Why, then, pick on television viewing in this way?

As my notes indicated, I was unable to complete the experiment. Here’s the main point- I feel I am not Adbusters’ target audience. I watch television in moderation; I watch a few hours per day; I only watch what I consider “high-quality” television – programs rich with information or cultural awareness, shows that challenge me to think or draw on past experience or knowledge (Don’t smirk – there are literally hundreds of pop culture references strewn about any episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” – keeping up with them is quite a challenge). I watch news programs. I watch an occasional movie, or sporting event. I’m not glued to the television. I don’t write fan fiction. The Zen TV Experiment would better serve those individuals who truly feel lost without their hours-long fix.

I’m not going to stop watching television. Already aware of its limitations, its blatant attempts to manipulate me, I readily disregard its corrosive factors because I see several genuine benefits to television’s existence, which I will briefly describe here-

1. Television remains the predominant medium for cultural literacy and news in our country. It presents the information in the friendliest format, requiring the least effort on the viewer. While the Internet is gaining ground, people still primarily turn to television for information and entertainment (especially humor).

2. Television affords people the ability to witness events that they could never physically attend or observe otherwise. TV viewers were able to watch a man land on the moon. See horrible images from the Vietnam War. Watch a World Cup match in South Korea. Switch between three college basketball games being played simultaneously around the country. Observe the eating habits of killer sharks. The list of unique phenomena that have been broadcast on television is endless.

3. Television is a vehicle for introducing new ideas and viewpoints. Yes, laugh if you must, but you can learn much about world history and science by watching A&E, the History Channel, Discovery, and a host of related networks. This doesn’t begin to cover all the political analysis and news shows.

4. Television can effectively serve as a companion to lonely people, if temporarily. Adbusters bemoans television aiding people in this manner, but I disagree. What’s so bad about a television as a surrogate friend? At least you can turn your back on a TV. People work through difficult times in strange and novel ways, and so long as their ultimate goal is to rejoin the world of humanity as quickly as possible; there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking the things you don’t have in your real life (the idea of a loving family, friendship, varied experiences) through television.

5. There are many highly involved, intelligently written, thought-provoking shows on television, if you know where to look. A small list for starters: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sesame Street, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, The Simpsons, and The West Wing. (And that’s just shows currently on the air- don’t forget to include Homicide, The Joy of Painting, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, The Wonder Years, and many more. And I haven’t even touched historical programs, science shows, cable miniseries and made-for-TV movies.)

6. Culturally speaking, television is just a baby. It’s barely 60 years old. It’s in a nascent phase of development. To consider it “evil” and write it off completely as a societal tool is hopelessly ignorant.

So that’s my case, with two final points to make. The main obstacle to higher quality, more instructive television lies with the companies that decide what types of programming actually make it to the airwaves. The information that is now being transmitted is increasingly uniform, lowbrow and overly vacuous. There are media conglomerates that can and do stifle or shut out altogether opposing views, independent thinking, and off-kilter shows and ideas right under our noses. (Just notice the proliferation of “reality” TV programs that came on the heels of the first “Survivor.” This sort of mimicry happens all the time.) Sadly, at this time there is more money to be made with this business model. More people will watch mindless entertainment. They want escape, but of a deadening kind.

Second, watching hours and hours of the same kind of programming, showing the same types of people dealing with the exact same kinds of problems, creates the oft-mentioned sedative effect of TV. “Beverly Hills 90210” = “Friends” = “Jerry Springer” and so on. You really need to search to find television stations willing to broadcast challenging, thought-provoking fare, which would in turn make television viewing more productive to individuals, along the lines of reading, for example. But it does exist; there is a market for it. You have to want to think, to be challenged, in the first place.

Like anything else, television can healthily be viewed in moderation. There is no need or cause to make someone feel guilty for doing so, as Adbusters attempts to do.

Here’s an experiment I would ask members of Adbusters to try –
1. Watch any televised event for 15 minutes, preferably one broadcast from a foreign country.
2. Revel in the sheer thrill of viewing something that is taking place at this very moment several thousand miles away.

There’s your moment of Zen.

UPDATE: JunkYard Blog has some thoughts on television viewing.


ANOTHER INTERVIEW: Entertainment Weekly interviews Anthony Stewart Head, who stars as Giles on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." (Link via Fresh Hell)


STALKERS WELCOME: The Washington Post's "Live Online" has an entertaining Q&A session with John Flansburgh, one half of the amazing They Might Be Giants. Check it out. They will be performing for free on June 29th in Washington D.C.


ON BUSH'S SPEECH: Bravo, I say bravo. Any progress depends on the Palestinians growing up and acting like responsible human beings. And without Chairman Arafat involved. But can they do this? I'm still not sure how this plan will suddenly stop thousands of people from wanting to exterminate all Israelis.

Here's the text of the speech. Steven Den Beste has several long posts on this subject today, all worthy of a look. Check out VodkaPundit too. This the kind of stern language and leadership that has been lacking in U.S. foreign policy for at least a decade. Can you imagine "Blow Jobs for All" Bill Clinton dealing effectively with all this?

For a more pessimistic take on the speech, check out Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo, and also visit the Spoons Experience.

UPDATE: Daniel Pipes has doubts about the Bush peace plan.

And so does William F. Buckley.


UNKNOWN NO MORE: Thanks to Right Wing News, which has included "The Weigh In" as one of its "10 Best 'Unknown' Political Bloggers." Of course, I wish I wasn't such a small fish in the blogosphere, but I'm having fun no matter what...

John Hawkins has a consistently insightful and humorous blog. I can't recommend it enough.


June 24, 2002


WHAT WILL DIAPERBOY SAY?: Now that President Bush is calling for his removal. Arafat is meaningless now. It has become clear that Hamas and the rest of the jihave-nots are running things in the Palestinian terrortories. Sorry for all the puns.


SCRATCHING THOSE PLANS TO MOVE WEST:

'Across the West, 17 large fires were burning on nearly 722,000 acres in seven states on Sunday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.'
I will be praying for all the brave individuals who are battling these wildfires. The destruction and damage being caused is astounding.


AMERICA'S UNPREPAREDNESS FOR WAR: Stanley Kurtz has another excellent column today, worrying about our nation's readiness for war and again calling for reinstatement of a military draft-

'Politics or no, we are not prepared for this war. The attack on Iraq could set off any number of unexpected military problems that would tax our already overstretched forces beyond their limits. Last week, I mentioned a few. Last month, on NRO, Adam Mersereau laid out several more. So either we go into Iraq on a bet that there will be no serious complications, or we fail to invade Iraq for want of military readiness, without even acknowledging to ourselves that this is the reason. And if we do go in and suffer an emergency in which only a draft can provide us with combat replacements, will there really be time to pass the legislation, resolve the tough questions about deferment and women, train the troops, and get them to the field in time?'


"PRE-COG AMERICA": Andrew Sullivan looks to recent movies to help describe what he calls a "weird tension" growing in the United States.


BACK FROM THE DEAD: The Pets.com sock puppet is back! Who said that there are no second acts in American lives?


TOM HANKS WAS THE FIRST "BUFFY": The American Film Institute has presented Tom Hanks with its "Life Achievement Award" this month. He's the youngest person ever to receive it. But some of us remember him as "Buffy," one-half of the cross-dressing "Bosom Buddies."


YET MORE FROM THE "ISN'T THIS OBVIOUS" DEPARTMENT: The Washington Post editors wonder why our government and related organizations aren't informing individual citizens on how to react to specific terrorist attacks-

'California Rep. Jane Harman suggested that Americans ought to be as ready as are Californians when the ground starts to shake. "I think it is probably true that 98 percent of Californians know what to do in the event of an earthquake," she said, "and I think that's the kind of place we have to get to with this . . . to empower individuals to know what to do. If they know what to do, they won't panic."'


MUST-READ OF THE DAY: Eric Raymond concluded his excellent three-part series on radical Islam yesterday, discussing why Americans don't really understand the threat of jihadism-

'Americans have always had the odd parochial habit of assuming that, down deep underneath, everyone is basically like us -- sharing our historically peculiar mix of pragmatism and idealism; valuing honesty and fair dealing; tolerant, materialistic, freedom-loving, open-minded, tempting to value comfort and success over ideology. We reflexively believe that everyone can be reasoned with essentially in our own terms. Most Americans don't understand fanaticism and violent evil. We have a tendency to be `fair' by assuming that in any dispute there must be some right and some wrong on both sides. It's telling that we use `extreme' as a political pejorative.'
He continues by pointing out the bastard children of such thinking-
'The see-no-evil tendency in American folk psychology created fertile ground for the rather less benign dogmas of multiculturalism ("all cultures present ways of living that are equally morally valid") and postmodernism ("there is no objective truth"). Originally constructed by Marxists (and one ex-Fascist) as part of a program to ideologically disarm the West against the radical evil of Communism, these dogmas have both outlived their original ends and seeped into American pop culture. Their effect is that many of us can no longer bring ourselves to think of any political movement, religion, or culture as radically evil unless it is safely part of history (and, for political correctness, was run by dead white European males when it was alive and kicking).'
He later suggests some formidable steps that our nation will have to take to survive. You should read all three sections; the links to the first two parts are included in this third piece.


FUNDAY: Spent yesterday watching the Sci-Fi Channel's post-apocolyptic future movies marathon - "Mad Max," "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" (glowingly reviewed by Ebert), and (ahem) "Waterworld" (which wasn't that bad, honestly). The evening ended with a screening of "Willow." Went food shopping (the highlight of Lindsey's and my weekend), worked out, made my world-famous pizza, it was a good day. I'm so beat today- it's amazing how much energy you can expend watching television...


WE NEED HAND: David Horowitz argues that we need to understand our enemies, as it will help us to defeat them.


MORE FROM THE "ISN'T THIS OBVIOUS" DEPARTMENT: Jonah Goldberg writes about who the real Nazis are. And surprise, it's not Americans, it's the Arabs.

'In the West, in America, in "civilized" circles, there's a deep desire to deny the obvious out of shame or some other form of moral laziness. Sometimes the motive is to preserve Third World peoples as victims of the West. To these people "power" — specifically "Western" or colonial power — defines Nazism. But this is absurd. Power does not make you Nazi-like; if it did, America would be a Fourth Reich already — and again, it's not. No, what makes you Nazi-like is the worship of power, particularly the power to murder, especially when you don't have it. You don't have to commit genocide to be a Nazi; you just have to want to commit genocide. Does anyone doubt that if given the chance, there would be countless Arab groups or governments who would leap at the opportunity to wipe out all of the Jews? One need only take their word for it.'
I liked this column a lot, and will try to remember it when I hear some whackoff liberal refer to a U.S. politician or conservative as a Nazi.

June 21, 2002


IN NEED OF CHILL PILLS: Eric McErlain tidily sums up the tomfoolery that has been going on between Asparagirl, Matt Moore, PejmanPundit, and others (see Eric's post for links to what I'm talking about).

Methinks that the blogging community is starting to get a little too big for its britches. Yes, blogging's more popular than ever. Yes, some of you are getting lots and lots of attention (even me, for a brief period).

But everyone needs to calm down, take a step back, and realize that we are all just typing words into a computer. We're not saving the world. We're not fighting off the Middle Eastern scum. We're not even donning gear and protecting our families. We're just writing. I'm sorry, it's no more than that, whether you're getting 30 hits per day or 30,000.

Have a nice weekend everyone.


FROM THE "ISN'T THIS OBVIOUS" DEPARTMENT: Peggy Noonan writes that we should all have the option to be vaccinated for smallpox.

'Just last summer the committee "knew" terrorists probably couldn't get their hands on smallpox. So they didn't move forward with a national vaccination program. Now they can't move forward because they don't "know" the actual risk of a bio-terror attack.

It makes me shake my head. Does it make you shake yours?

No one "knew" a year ago that people shouldn't work above the 50th floor of the World Trade Center. It was "unlikely" terrorists would slam a jumbo jet into the Pentagon--if indeed anyone thought of the possibility at all. That is the essence of our problem: No one knows.

No one knows if smallpox will ever be released into America. But if we have the vaccine (and we do; the CDC once announced we don't, but in March 2002 a drug company found 70 million to 90 million doses of vaccine that had been forgotten in some freezers in Pennsylvania, and since then the Bush administration has bought more) and people want to be vaccinated, and they are told of the dangers--smallpox vaccinations can make some people sick, and historically, as Sen. Bill Frist, a physician, has noted, the vaccine has caused one death for every million people who receive a first time vaccination--and they agree to sign a waiver saying they will not sue if the vaccination's outcome is unfortunate, then why not make it available?

Why not let people choose? Why not give them the freedom to protect themselves?
Because, Peggy, that would mean people in power actually using common sense. Our government is already frittering away its support by not engaging all of its citizens to do more to protect our country. I want to do something, anything, I just don't know what or how to organize it. A community watch group, a program to instruct neighborhoods on how to make citizen arrests, anything! There are so many things that we could be doing...


EVERYONE SAY "MODAFINIL": Why should I care about this new pill, you ask? It shuts off your urge to sleep. Read all about it here.


ENVY AND JEALOUSY, LIVE TOGETHER IN PERFECT HARMONY: Jennifer Grossman asks: Why is Martha Stewart so disliked? (registration required)

'Let's face it, there's something about Martha that clearly makes so many of us feel frumpy, unimaginative, and plain. But the real ugliness is not to be found in the relative droop of our dahlias or sourness of our sorbets. It lies instead in the age-old anti-rational impulse to destroy what we ourselves cannot create. It's the same nihilistic mentality that drives those who cannot build airplanes or construct skyscrapers to use them as blunt weapons against the freedom, civilization and life that gave them rise.'


FOR THE CLASS OF 2002: Dave Barry has some wisdom to dispense in his latest column.


GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: The good news is I'm almost finished with my piece on the "Zen TV Experiment." The bad news is that I'm not quite finished with my piece on the "Zen TV Experiment." I'm hoping to unveil it next Monday or Tuesday!


WORTH A READ: Rich Lowry supports the detention of Jose Padilla-

'...rather than have the Guantanamo Bay detainees getting relentlessly pumped for information — which has occasionally been helpful, for instance in catching the al Qaeda cell in Morocco — the Bush critics would presumably handle this matter entirely differently: detainees would all get lawyers and be afforded Fifth Amendment rights, and not have to tell us a damn thing except why we should have read them their Miranda rights more carefully (witness the Lindh trial).

This is no way to run a war. Intelligence is crucial to our fight, and interrogation is the way get it. Which is why Jose Padilla needs to sit in a military brig somewhere thinking he is going to have absolutely no recourse for the next 15 to 20 years.'


QUOTE OF THE DAY: From Douglas Adams, in his novel "Mostly Harmless"-

'A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."


PROBLEMS WITH BLOGGER: Are preventing the image I linked to below from being displayed. Further, Blogger is not letting me edit the post and remove the derelict image. FYI, I am a "centrist," according the the political quiz posted below.


THE WORLD'S SMALLEST POLITICAL QUIZ: Take it here. Thanks to Eric Raymond for this. Here are my results-


NO STATE FOR YOU, CONTINUED: Some more op-eds on why Palestinians have done nothing to deserve their own state- click here, and here. I hope the powers that be can envision what a bad idea this would be...


READ LILEKS TODAY: Right now. He's got a screed on the poll which stated that 37% of American students would attempt to avoid a military draft.


TOO LATE, DIAPERBOY:

'Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is prepared to accept a Mideast peace plan put forward by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton in December 2000, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Friday.'
What more can you say about this cretin?


ON THE MIDDLE EAST: Are suicide bombers cowards? I revisit that question with a disturbing piece from the Toronto Star (Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the link) which says that these killers ARE cowards because their death is quick and painless, as opposed to their victims'.

The New York Times has an article on the increasingly varied types of losers who are being recruited to kill themselves for no reason (registration required).

Mona Charen wonders if Colin Powell needs a look at the Daniel Pearl video to get his priorities in order.

Here's a study which posits that poverty doesn't cause terrorism.

Finally, here's a reason why I hate the Palestinians and the Islamoidiots with all my heart.


LOOKING FORWARD TO "MINORITY REPORT": It's been getting some rave reviews. Here's one from Roger Ebert, one from Salon.com, and another from James Berardinelli. Maybe a review to follow when I eventually see it...


DENNIS MILLER IN FINE FORM: On Tuesday's "the Tonight Show" he had some insightful things to say, including this gem (Thanks to Right Wing News for this)-

'“And you know something, the American Civil Liberties Union, when they come out and say you never profile anybody who gets on an airplane. I say we create a new airline, called the ACLA, the American Civil Liberties Airline where you don’t check anybody, you don’t ask any questions, and let those morons fly on that one, okay? The rest of us want to be protected.”'


DID YOU KNOW: An asteroid came within 120,000 kilometers of striking the Earth last week? That's 75,000 miles. (Link via Instapundit)


June 20, 2002


TODAY'S PARTING SHOT: Check out ESPN.com's Page 2, which has an archive of "separated at birth?" images. Some of them are quite startling.


BE PRACTICAL: How do you cure a case of hiccups? How can you improve your golf game? By reading the Onion, that's how.


WHAT MAKES THEM SO SUPER: Given the rash of superhero films being released or coming soon (Spider-Man, Daredevil, The Incredible Hulk), the BBC has put together an interesting look at "the Science of Superheroes". (Thanks to GeekPress for the link.)


DON'T YOU HATE LOUD SNEEZERS?: There's this putz in my office who sneezes really loudly and abruptly at least once per day. What an annoying habit; cover your damn mouth. I would love to sneak up on him and smash two cymbals together right in his ears...


BACK TO THE LIGHTER SIDE: Tony Kornheiser is ready for the World Cup, even though he's an American-

'Soccer gets a big run every four years, like the Olympics. We glom onto World Cup because we're Big Event people. When we're going good, like we are now, it creates an excitement the whole country can get lost in. But soccer will always feel like a foreign game here, because it is. Americans like sports where they can use their hands -- football, baseball, tearing into barbecued ribs. Did you ever see how Brits throw the tennis balls at Wimbledon? What a bunch of nancy boys. Americans have opposable thumbs for a reason -- to elevate us from kicking a soccer ball. My dog can kick a soccer ball, but she can't catch a 20-yard out. I rest my case.'
Mark Kreidler (of the Sacramento Bee) is jumping on too-
'Olympians like Jenner (or Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson or Marion Jones) provide the useful comparison here. Generally speaking, they can go years between American public acknowledgements, years of unsung training and of being celebrated at meets on the European continent while being almost wholly ignored at home. Then they pop up as the favorites in Atlanta or Sydney or Athens, and the U.S. collectively rides them like Secretariat down the home stretch.'


ARE SUICIDE BOMBERS COWARDS?: I have been thinking much about this subject recently, and I'm not sure how to feel about suicide bombers. Are they brave? Cowardly? Even more, I'm not sure I understand why we even need to understand them. Does every subject or concept have to be deconstructed or analyzed ad nauseam before we can make some kind of judgment regarding it? I never want to see or read about suicide bombings again- the whole idea upsets and frightens me. Unrealistic, I know. But that's my only solid opinion on the matter (And another thought: how would I feel about myself in the morning if I actually agreed with smug bootlicker Bill Maher?)

Eric Olsen has some thoughts (as well as links to some other people's thoughts) on this topic.

Asparagirl also had a very eloquent post on this matter today.


A BLOGGER ON A MISSION: Jason Samuel, an "old-skool conservative in a liberal puke of a world," is trying to help save Alan Keyes' MSNBC news show "Alan Keyes is Making Sense," which is being threatened with cancellation or a timeslot change. Keyes has been taking heat from pro-Palestinian groups of late for his unwavering support of Israel. Good man. Check out Jason's blog "Rightwing Nuts of Texas" to see how you can help.


BASEBALL'S GREATEST ORGANIZATION: Why, it's the Yankees, of course. Joe Morgan writes that maybe George Steinbrenner isn't so bad after all.

'I disagree with the perception that Steinbrenner and the Yankees have bought championships. Sure, he has deep pockets and the Yankees have had baseball's highest payroll in eight of the last nine seasons. But what separates him from other owners is that he puts money back into his business, while many owners take money out.'
He points out some teams with higher payrolls than the Yankees who haven't won crap (see: Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers). One last thing he didn't mention: Derek Jeter has 4 World Series rings, and Nomar Garciaparra has none.


INSTAPUNDIT'S OUT FOR THE DAY: I wonder how his absence will affect the blogosphere's traffic.


THE BEST SHOW YOU'RE NOT WATCHING: TV Guide names "Gilmore Girls" as its annual "Best Show You're Not Watching" in the latest issue. Previous winners of this award include "Once and Again" and "The Practice."

"Girls" is very funny, fast-paced and smart. And cute. And not smarmy and self-important, like "Dawson's Creek" and similar crap. The show was placed opposite "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" this past season (Tuesdays at 8 PM), but I understand it may be moved for next season. Hope so, it's WB's best show. (And one more reason to watch: the random Grant Lee Phillips appearances.)


DO WE NEED THE DRAFT?: Stanley Kurtz writes in NRO that we need to reinstate a military draft, as we need more troops to deal with domestic protection, invading Iraq, and the possible destabilization of other Arab nations. His arguments are convincing, to be honest.


FROM JONAH GOLDBERG: The first impressive column he has written in some time takes on those people and groups (you know you they are) that have a "tendency to imbue current events with a larger meaning than they deserved."

'I got to thinking about all of this while dealing with the readers of my syndicated column who insisted that I must be some kind of Nazi because I think terrorist agents of foreign powers should not be accorded due process. I can totally understand how people can disagree with me. What I'm at a loss to understand is their granite-like conviction that if we deprive Jose Padilla of his right to trial by jury, we'll become a totalitarian regime. Sure, I can see how it might bring us a teensy-weensy bit closer to a less free society. But the distance between us and the Third Reich or the Soviet Union is hundreds of miles and we are arguing over inches.'
A very good piece, which highlights some of the hysterical thinking that dominates this country's self-anointed elites.


MUST-READS OF THE DAY: Joe Katzman at the increasingly-outstanding Winds of Change posts a guest column titled "They'll Quit When They Lose All Hope." You can guess who the writer is referring to. Great piece.

In addition, Joe linked to this great post from One Hand Clapping, "Western Law, Islamic Law and the Ordering of Society," which discusses the different ways that the West and the Islamic world create and implement law. Both are must-reads.


OH BABY I LIKE THIS: Thanks to Andrea Harris for creating this button, which hopefully will be popping up everywhere-


"THE BABY FACE OF HATE": This piece has been floating around the blogosphere, and given all my anti-Arafat and Palestinian state rants of late, I felt I should post it as well. It's an article from David Tell in the Weekly Standard, detailing a MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) translation of an interview with a 3-year-old Muslim girl. It's very frightening, infuriating, and ultimately pathetic. This entire region of the world is contaminated with a deeply ingrained mental sickness and aversion to reality. I honestly don't know how this can be changed or improved.


NO STATE FOR YOU!: Charles Krauthammer argues that Palestinians should not be given a provisional state-

'This rewarding of terrorism is not just a moral scandal. It is disastrous diplomacy. What does this provisional state say to the Palestinians? You can reject the state you were offered two years ago, start a war, murder daily, and then be re-offered a state--this time without even having to be asked to make peace.'
It is a horrible idea, a short-term solution, and will only embolden the Islamic world to continue its violent tactics.

Fred Barnes in the Weekly Standard makes a similar point.

So do the editors of the New Republic.


PEOPLE I DON'T FEEL BAD FOR: This person, and that person. Shame on them. May they be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.


POURING IT ON: The Yankees have been feasting on Colorado Rockie pitching this week. After scoring 10 runs in the first game of their interleague series, they scored 20 more last night in their 20-10 victory. Rockies baseball is back!

P.S. F--k the Red Sox.


June 19, 2002


OH BOY!: "Mr. Show with Bob and David" was one of the funniest sketch comedy shows ever. HBO aired it during the mid-1990s, before all their current hit shows were the rage. There's no way to properly describe its charm, writes Christopher Borrelli in the Toledo Blade, in celebration of the DVD release of the first 2 seasons.


MAC IS BACK: John McEnroe, my favorite tennis player of all-time, has just published an autobiography "You Cannot Be Serious" (complete with a James Dean wannabe cover)!

I always loved him, we have so much in common: we're both left-handed, we both have an animated, short temper, and we both strongly dislike Jimmy Connors. Check out this profile of the still-spirited icon in the Boston Globe.


REFRESHED: Took a few minutes outside, took a few deep breaths, feeling much better now. Couple of light-hearted posts coming up to close out what had been a dreary day...


POLITICAL LEANINGS: Take "The Political Quiz Show" test to see where you fall along the political spectrum. While I know the test is a bit dated (1994) and any such questionnaire is very limited in scope, taking it along with other people can at least give you some point of reference among your friends and family.

FYI, I scored a 27, which puts me fairly right of center.


PEOPLE ARE SCUM, PART II: Ronald Bailey reports in Reason.com of a recent study conducted by two British economists-

'"Are People Willing to Pay to Reduce Others’ Incomes?" "The short answer to this question is: yes," they report. "Our subjects gave up large amounts of their cash to hurt others in the laboratory."'
It seems that we may be hard-wired to envy others' successes. A very interesting article. I think it defines the Arab world, and the Palestidiots, quite nicely. The ultimate victims -- unwilling to work for their own success, eager to blame anyone but themselves for their situation -- spend their time and energy harming or destroying the successes of others.


SOCCER WORSHIP REVISITED: Over at Slate, Anne Applebaum presents an interesting counter-argument to my soccer post from yesterday - other nations take soccer so seriously because it is "the last acceptable form of nationalism." Worth a read.


BABY-WIPE ABUSING FREAK: Yassir Arafat is a congenital liar, writes David Brooks in the Atlantic. But the retarded frog-looking terrorist marches on, without any goal except to destroy Israel and suck his own people dry. And what's with the baby wipes? (Thanks to Little Green Footballs for spotting this trend)

UPDATE: Another suicide bombing has just taken place in Jerusalem; at least 3 dead...

'An arm and a leg were among the body parts scattered on the street. A baby carriage was overturned, and rescue workers covered it with a black plastic bag.'
Someday our children and grandchildren (as well as Israel's) will dance in the dust-coated lands once terrorized by Hamas and all those other Islamoidiot groups... maybe even the Arab nations will too, if they wake up and take action in time. I don't think they're noticing how angry the civilized and intelligent part of the world is getting...


FEEBLEMINDED SCUMPANY: Turns out that Ted Turner has some scumpany. "Not In Our Name" is an activist group that calls on all Americans "to resist the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration. It is unjust, immoral and illegitimate. We choose to make common cause with the people of the world." Signers of their mission statement include: Casey Kasem (!), Noam Chomsky, and others.

I don't understand how out of touch with reality one must be to come up with this nonsense. I'm not capable of it. I guess this is what sadsack losers and hasbeens do to get attention these days. I wonder if these people get physically aroused by the sound of their own voices. It would explain a great many things.


OLIVER WILLIS SETS IT STRAIGHT: The summer sucks.


WHAT HAPPENED TO CHRIS ROCK?: The movie career is in shambles, writes Renee Graham in the Boston Globe today. I wonder if HBO would take him back...


A PROBLEM FOR 10 YEARS FROM NOW:

'Over the next two decades, as many as 40 million young Chinese men won't be able to marry, settle down and start families. There won't be enough wives to go around.

Researchers say growing numbers of lonely men in migrant shantytowns and isolated farm villages will pose a threat to social order and could force the Chinese government to tighten its grip on society or even seek military conflicts abroad to keep the restless bachelors occupied.'
Don't say I didn't warn you.


WHAT IF IT WAS YOU?: This remarkable post is making its way through the blogosphere (I found it over at Eric Olsen's site)...Laurence Simon of File13's Amish Tech Support performed a thought experiment in response to the most recent suicide bombing in Israel. He first notes that most of the people killed / wounded on that bus were high school students.

So he asks himself: What if it were his high school that was attacked?


DON'T BE CLUELESS: Visit Steven Den Beste's blog today, he's got a few excellent rants about the current (and future) difficulties that Israel faces in dealing with increased suicide bombings and general Palestinian turpitude.


PEOPLE ARE SCUM, PART I: Some more thoughts on Ted Turner's moral equivalence and outright stupidity, from Eric Fettmann in the New York Post and Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard. I know they're not saying anything novel about this piece of shit, and most people just ignore him, but I feel compelled to do what I can to bring to everyone's attention what a worthless sack of cancerous cells Ted Turner is. All that attention and power, and this is the best he can do with it. Pathetic.


"THE ZEN PARADOX OF THE MIDDLE EAST": Wonderful post by Joe Katzman yesterday, discussing what Israel's likely response would be to a biochemical attack by terrorists. It isn't pretty. Read it all.


WOULDN'T IT BE NICE:

'Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly has convened a grand jury to consider whether there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges against Cardinal Bernard F. Law and other leaders of the Archdiocese of Boston for putting priests in position to sexually abuse minors, according to law enforcement sources.'
A guy can dream, can't he?


REVISED POLL QUESTION: This morning, upon waking, a thought occurred to me- bees don't consume honey, they produce it. Therefore, my earlier poll question ("Who would you like to dip in honey and launch into a giant beehive?") was using faulty logic. Therefore, I have revised the poll question to state the following- "Who would you like to drop into an active volcano?" I think it effectively captures the intent of the previous question...

All of you who had previously voted, don't worry, your votes have been tallied and included toward this revised poll. Thank you for your patience.


June 18, 2002


D'OH!: Scientific American lays the smackdown to "creation science" by presenting solid arguments which show evolution as responsible for life as we know it today. I know that natural selection's case isn't airtight, but creationism supporters are gonna have to do more than simply nitpick at it; how about some evidence to the contrary?


WHAT DO BEN CURTIS AND CLARA PELLER HAVE IN COMMON?: They've been made famous by starring in television commercials. I was upset that this article didn't mention Stuart, the E-Trade slacker extraordinare.


GO BLOG GO: Fortune magazine has named Pyra Labs, the outfit that created Blogger.com, the "coolest media company" of 2002. Bravo.


IT'S NOT HAMAS, IT'S LAMEASS: Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has posted several videos of Palestinian children being brainwashed into hating Jews. Charming fellows, these Palestidiots are. (link via Little Green Footballs).

By the way, a Charles Johnson reader emailed in to say that Fox News is "the Israel of the news media." I like that.


"NETWORK OF FOOTSOLDIER MORONS": Who else but Mark Steyn could paint such a concise picture of Al-Qaeda recruits? He writes that Jose Padilla is not worth the attention he's getting, not when there are more powerful Islamoidiots still at large.


MUST READ OF THE DAY: Over at the New Republic, David Thomson reviews James Gavin’s "Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker." Yet another prominent jazz performer who couldn’t say no to drugs and self-destruction. Reading this article made me think of James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues,” one of the best short stories I’ve ever read. I couldn’t find a link to the story online, but if you can, please read it. The ending is magnificent. The whole thing is, actually. I cannot make it through the ending without losing it. It creates such a feeling of release, of hope... you really need to experience it for yourself.


"DOONESBURIED": I liked that title so much I co-opted it for my lead-in. Jesse Walker writes in Reason.com today about the rise and fall of Doonesbury, the political thinking man's comic strip.

P.S. Glenn Reynolds gives props to the 3 greatest comics of all time - The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, and Bloom County.


SCIENTIFIC ILLITERACY: Think you know your science? Most Americans (surprise!) do not.

Take this science quiz and see how you fare.

Your humble blogger scored 8 out of 9 correct; I missed question # 5. (Link via GeekPress)


DANG!: Now television programmers are censoring "Tom and Jerry" episodes!


IN DESPERATE NEED OF A LIFE: Mexico, whose citizens-soccer fans are in shock, distraught over their 2-0 World Cup loss to the United States (registration required).

'"I think that the United States always has seen us as inferior and it always has tried to humiliate us," said Alejandro Duarte, 41, an administrator at the National Polytechnic Institute. "And now they've really gone and done it."'
Um, yeah, that's exactly right. There's also this other thing going on, you might have heard of it, it's called a war. Yes, we're fighting for our lives over here. But don't sweat it. We've got lots of spare time and energy to devote to smashing the fragile Mexican psyche.

I can't tell if this article is serious or mocking. I'm not even sure which one I am.


I HAVE A QUESTION: If I performed my job duties as poorly as George Tenet has, would I still be employed? Apparently if I worked for the CIA, the answer would be yes.


NZ BEAR AGREES WITH MY DAD: In sum: First life, then liberty, then the pursuit of happiness. NZ Bear provides a more detailed analysis of how he arrived at that conclusion. A nice post, read the entire thing here.

By the way, thanks to NZ Bear for being the first blogger to congratulate me on the Weigh In milestone I achieved yesterday. He will get a syrupy, doting, yet honest, write-up on the topic of his choice.

(Yes, Lindsey and my father got to me first, but I need to take care of my fellow bloggers as well!)


POSSIBLE TERRORIST BOAT BOUND FOR LOS ANGELES: Kill 'em all, me hopes.

BY THE WAY, I WAS REFERRING TO THE TERRORISTS, NOT THE RESIDENTS OF LOS ANGELES. Whew!


I'M ANGRY TODAY: And here's another reason why. This op-ed in the New York Times that points out how women are treated in shitholes like Pakistan. (Please keep in mind that I'm paying no attention to the author of the piece or the argument he's making, even though I agree with it. I'm using this piece to highlight the horrible situations that women face in other countries and cultures)

'Her husband found her, tied her to the bed, wired a metal rod to a 220-volt electrical outlet and forced it into her vagina. Surgeons managed to save her life, but horrific internal burns forced them to remove her bladder, urethra, vagina and rectum. Her doctor says she will have to carry external colostomy and urine bags for the rest of her life.

At least she survived. Each year about one million girls in the third world die because of mistreatment and discrimination.'
All you men and women who aren't interested in women's rights or are simply are too soft and civilized to deal with how women are treated outside of the West, I urge you to wake up. There's a world around you that isn't as comfortable as yours.


SCUMBAG ALERT:

'Ted Turner, the billionaire founder of CNN, accuses Israel today of engaging in "terrorism" against the Palestinians, in comments that threaten to lead to a further decline in the news network's already poor relations with the Jewish state.'
Meanwhile,
'A Hamas homicide bomber blew apart a crowded passenger bus in Jerusalem Tuesday morning, killing 19 people as well as himself. Forty people were wounded.'
Ted Turner you scumbag, pull your head out of our f$8king ass, will you?

June 17, 2002


UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN: Check out CultureDose.com's review of one of the best books I've read in the past few years, Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad, Poor Dad."


IT CAME IN KICKING AND SCREAMING, BUT... THE WEIGH IN HAS TOPPED 10,000 HITS!

The first person to email me congratulations will win a free, fawning write-up on this blog for whatever topic they choose...


THE RICE IS RIGHT: U.S. national security advisor Condoleezza Rice (can pinup girl Condoleezza Rice be too far behind?) told the San Jose Mercury News that "the Palestinian Authority, which is corrupt and cavorts with terror . . . is not the basis for a Palestinian state moving forward." Yassir Arafat is not smiling anymore. I like when our leaders speak with some conviction, I wish there was more of it.

William Safire writes in the NY Times on why the creation of a Palestinian state is a "lose-lose idea." (registration required)


VIDEO GAMES OF YORE: Salon.com profiles the classic video game "Pac-Man" as the next installment in its "Masterpieces" series. Damn, I miss coin-operated video games. But why would anyone make them when all the loot is found in home entertainment video game systems? Remember how state-of-the-art "Altered Beast" was? Oooooh, you had to pay 50 CENTS to play it. I am officially old.

Did you have an Atari 2600 game system when you were growing up? Or Colecovision, as I did? Or perhaps even Intellivision? I still consider one of the defining moments of my childhood was when the Atari 5200 came out. It was so sleek. The graphics were so advanced. Well, "defining" at the time anyway. And I never owned the thing either.


CHECK OUT THE BIG BRAIN ON JUSTIN: Readers, I’ve added a new feature for your viewing pleasure – “Where It’s At.” Located just below the Weigh In poll, it will link to books that I’m reading, recent movies I’ve seen, music I’m listening to, and other general popular culture items worth a look. I'll be building it up over the next week or so... Hope you enjoy!


FUNNY BUT SAD BUT TRUE:

'A man was arrested after an HBO documentary showed him encouraging his teenage children to take drugs. Scott Myers, 43, who was featured on the April 28 program "Small Town Ecstasy," using drugs with his children and going to raves, was scheduled to be arraigned Friday (June 14) on child-endangerment charges.'


BRINGING THE WAR TO OUR ENEMIES: Heather Mac Donald writes in City Journal that there are too many people who still don't get it-

'Now that the U.S. has foiled a plot to detonate a radioactive bomb on U.S. soil, any chance that the New York Times, Amnesty International, the ACLU, or sundry crusading judges will grasp that we’re fighting for our survival? Probably not.'
Meanwhile, over at OpinionJournal Robert Bartley notes that preemption has superceded containment as the primary American foreign policy against its enemies.

Jeff Jacoby's all for being proactive as well.


MUST-READ OF THE DAY: JunkYard Blog has quickly become the authority on the possibility that Jose Padilla is actually John Doe # 2 from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Visit his blog and read, read, read.


HUSSEIN IN THE ASS: Vodkapundit argues (correctly I think) that the CIA won't be ousting Saddam Hussein. But with the ever-increasing calls for his removal from power (including none other than Margaret Thatcher (registration required), I hope this thing gets done soon, before Hussein can plan some horrific going-away party...


BY GEORGE, HE’S GOT IT!: Compiled by your tireless blogger are the results of the latest Weigh In poll question, “Who’s just phoning it in lately?” -- the winner by a landslide, punch-drunk on his own power, Mr. George Lucas!

Here are the final results (percentages are rounded), with 46 total votes cast -

George Lucas- 25 votes (54%)
NBC- 4 votes (8%)
Aerosmith- 3 votes (6%)
Jennifer Lopez- 9 votes (19%)
Krusty the Clown- 5 votes (10%)

Thanks again for voting!


A NEW WEIGH IN POLL: Please check out the latest poll question, on the left-hand side of the page. The results of the previous poll will be posted shortly...


MOVIN' ON UP: NZ Bear has updated his blogosphere ecosystem, and the Weigh In is movin' on up! I'm now a lowly insect! Check it out.


NUCLEAR ATTACK, REVISITED: In the New York Times, Bill Keller writes a thoughtful follow-up piece to his frightening Times Magazine article on the threat of a nuclear attack in the U.S. (registration required)


SOME MORE THOUGHTS ON PADILLA: Some more op-eds regarding the incarceration of Jose "Jackoff" Padilla (see the links); I love how all these liberal pundits and attention-sucking lawyers are throwing such fits about Bush and perceived executive branch "tyranny," but when a left-leaning judge actually overrides or simply ignores the rule of law to grant more rights or lenience to a criminal, it's reported breezily as extending individual freedoms. Imperial government is okay when liberals are the ones bending the laws.


June 14, 2002


NO POSTING THIS WEEKEND: Well, maybe one or two... I'm hopelessly addicted. I’ll be in transit for Father’s Day weekend. But please check out the posts from this past week, including the growing stable of extended pieces in the “Free Beer!” section.

Highlights for next week include:
-- Results of the current Weigh In poll, as well as a new question!
-- My thoughts on the Zen TV Experiment!
-- And more!


WITH GREAT AWARENESS COMES GREAT MORBIDITY: Much has been made (by my family and friends) of my propensity to be curmudgeonly and unhappy a good deal of the time. I can’t argue. I often find my ideal existence, even my ideal day-to-day mood, in stark contrast to reality. A great deal of frustration develops as a result. There is additional discord brought on by a sometimes overwhelming lack of faith in humanity. I see so many people hurting others, cheating others, ignoring others. I understand that human beings are flawed, but the length to which many people will go to take advantage of others, to serve only themselves, is startling. Even when you’ve seen it countless times. With great awareness comes great morbidity.

As it would be far too easy to compile a list of all the things in this life that I dislike, I have created a small list of those experiences that I do enjoy, just to remind all of you that there’s a human being under my angry, conservative exterior. So, without further ado-

Some Things I Love

Hating people. (Just kidding! Seriously, just kidding.)
My fiancé Lindsey.
My dear family.
Watching The Simpsons, especially with Lindsey.
Peeing after I’ve held it in for a really long time.
Blogging (obviously).
Dazed and Confused screenings with my friends (which have unfortunately gone the way of the dodo).
Listening to Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” over and over.
Reading USS Clueless.
It’s a Wonderful Life.
My homemade tacos and world-famous pizza.
Cool, breezy autumn days where the temperature never tops 60 degrees.
Wearing a long-sleeve tee shirt (untucked) with khakis.
Butter that has melted enough to spread easily.
Listening to Howard Stern.
Anything written by Kurt Vonnegut.
Playing UNO (birthday suit variation).
Using a dustbuster to clean around my house.
Driving really fast on the highway (yes, everyone says that, but for a reason).
When people are punished for committing a crime.
When people are repentant for committing a crime.
The cacophony of sneakers squeaking across a hardwood floor during a basketball game.
REM (especially their first 4 albums).
Reminiscing about my time in college.
Rice Krispie treats with raisins in them.
The Onion.
Spending time around people who are more intelligent than I am.
Christmas Eve.
Mystery Science Theater 3000.


WHO'S YOUR DADDY!?!: John Derbyshire makes excellent use of the 'cargo cult' science phenomenon in his latest column, on why the Arab world is short on democratic governments (Hint: It's America's fault, of course)-

'Why, then, do so many people seem to believe that "It's all America's fault!" I think there are a couple of things going on here. One of those things is that we are the Daddy nation: big, strong, rich, and dominant. A lot of the world is in the same relation to the U.S. as a difficult teenager is to his father. It's not just our size, our wealth, or our strength that drives them crazy; it's our very existence that can barely be tolerated, and the knowing how much they still depend on us.'


ALMOST UP TO 10,000: No, I'm not talking about the Dow. The Weigh In will soon cross the 10,000 hit barrier! Sometime early next week, possibly sooner. Not bad for 2+ months' time. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has visited my blog. It is a modest project that I have come to be very proud of. Please continue to write in with comments and suggestions for improvement.


A LIVELY DEBATE ON DETAINING PADILLA: Over at Instapundit. Check it out. How on earth do these people have the time to write such long emails???


FOR THE BEST ANTI-DRUG ADVERTISEMENT: Just watch "The Osbournes," Jonah Goldberg writes today.


TOM DASCHLE, SCUMBAG: While the House of Representatives voted to end the "marriage penalty" yesterday, providing some relief and common sense to a blatantly unfair and inexplicable tax law, the measure is unlikely to be taken up in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. Daschle had this to say-

'"With all the work we've got to do, I think it would be difficult to anticipate another tax debate along the lines of what the House may be proposing."'
I wish nothing but ceaseless constipation on that hick old white man. Starting this year, I have to pay more money in taxes because he can't use his pigeon brain for a change.


READING IS BELIEVING: Even the L.A. Times is publishing op-eds pointing out that the Constitution "can't be a cover for our enemies."


WEIGHING IN: There's an engaging debate going on in one of the comment boxes below, regarding my recent post on terrorism and racial profiling. Check it out if you have the time.


I'M AMERICAN, AND I DON'T GIVE A S%*T ABOUT SOCCER: And Jonathan Last thinks that's okay. He writes in the Weekly Standard today about the soccer snobs who crawl out of the shadows every four years to scold America for not caring a whit-

'America's indifference to soccer is simply unacceptable to the soccer scolds...

To them, soccer is just a proxy, a cry for attention, a way to strut their dissent and difference.'
Got that right. I'm gonna watch nothing but baseball games all weekend.


MORE ON THE PADILLA INCARCERATION: I don't understand the knee-jerk reaction to holding him in custody. What exactly does he know? Shouldn't that be considered before he is released and disappears from sight?

John Podhoretz says that this situation could be our "first glimpse into the future of anti-terrorist law enforcement."

Jonah Goldberg thinks it may be okay for Padilla's rights to be violated.

The WSJ carries an op-ed today which argues for ways in which President Bush could more effectively deal with U.S. citizens working with/ for Al Qaeda (registration required).


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