"Always do what you are afraid to do."- Emerson

Nota Bene

Commenting Is Off Temporarily

All commenting has been turned off for the immediate future. We'll see about getting it going soon.

Vanderleun @ 09:00 PM    |  QuickLink:Permalink

5-Minute Arguments

Stealth Hatred on the Web? What Else is New?

Here's a bit of surprising antisemitism hiding at Modern Marketing - Collaborate Marketing Services: FCUK Open Source

While following a link trail this morning, I called up the above article. A bit edgy that title. Flopping the UC to the CU.

What was disturbing, however, was not the title of the page, but the title of the link in the raw html address. This is (at least for now):


This company bills itself as "Our specialism is planning marketing campaigns that respect this new world. We mix traditional marketing activities such as design, PR and advertising with new digital techniques to create powerful communications programmes."

I've written the site to ask: "Do you think this file name is proper for your site?"

I'll be interested in their reply.

Vanderleun @ 08:01 AM    |  QuickLink:Permalink

Pure Products of America

Working It Out

Should you feel a sudden urge to get out of your chair and exercise, watch this cutting-edge fitness video and it will pass.

WARNING: The management of this site is not responsible for any lasting mental damage, permanent facial twitching, or incidents of spontaneous human combustion.

Vanderleun @ 11:47 PM    |  QuickLink:Permalink


In the Truck or Under It

I confess I'm not quite sure what Cobb is driving or driving at in The Vector but I have to admit I like reading the whole thing. Excerpt:

The difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives know the truck is always coming. They're looking for ways to escape - to get away clean. The liberals are trying to set up traffic lights and warning signs so that nobody gets hit. That's why liberals are so attracted to despair. They know the feeling, while trying to be nobody's enemy, of watching a fellow human splattered. Writings of despair could be shared by liberals and conservatives. Perhaps it is the proper nexus. It was despair that changed me.

I turned Republican when I realized that catastrophe is inevitable, and the only salvation is becoming larger than life, and pre-emptively thrashing your enemies. Capitalism is a great medium for this agenda. If you don't become larger than life, then you are stuck at the mezzanine of despair, of knowing that life is a giant highway and the trucks never stop running people down. The liberal never seeks to become the truck. Instead, they endlessly warn the weak and bury the dead. It's a state of mind I cannot abide. Despair cannot be my byline. I want to be sensitive, I cannot be jaded. Burying bodies, praying for the trucks to stop, coming up with new schemes and watching them all fail... I don't have the patience for that.

Have I "turned Republican?" I don't think so. Still there are tendencies, such as voting for George Bush, that certainly mark in some old friends eyes a fall from grace.

I like to think that whatever strange mid-life (Hey, after a certain age it's all midlife.) crisis began on the morning of September 11, 2001, but I've lately come to realize it most likely began in an automobile driving down the Post Road in Westport, Connecticut in 1989. Of all that and other things, more, probably, later.

For now, the trucks have it.

Vanderleun @ 06:03 PM    |  QuickLink:Permalink

Critical Mass

Inside Blogball: Unfortunate HTML Formatting of the Day

There's an arcanel dust-up going on today with Jeff Jarvis and the esteemed Doc Searls putting the smackdown on Seth Godin for his web-breaking worship of the "very special and they don't suck" PDF files handed out by ChangeThis.

Yes, yes, I know that's it is all just a bit too much "inside-blogball," but bear with me. Seth makes much of the muchness about why the Change This PDFs don't suck because "We spent weeks meticulously designing a PDF layout that is specifically designed to look beautiful on the screen. A layout that is a joy to read." He's right. But then again, he should be paying more attention to the Change This main page and its layout where today we see:

I trust Ms. Suitt is a calm person, otherwise I'm thinking LawSuitt.

I remain agnostic on the PDF vs. HTML issue, but I don't think this would have happened in PDF.

Vanderleun @ 03:39 PM    |  QuickLink:Permalink

American Studies

Adventures in Moonbatia Deserta

INDC continues its series of anthropological expeditions into the Heart of Darkest Moonbatia with the harrowing: Dances with Moonbats - Moonbat Xtreme

I suddenly snapped to, jolted to reality by smelling salts and the bizarrely intense stare of my loyal Algerian batman. Ahmed had fired several warning shots and pulled my unconscious form from the midst of the swarm, just as a pack of nihilistas had started to sniff my limp body and gnaw on my legs. Fortunately and contrary to popular mythology, one does not become a moonbat if bitten by them.

Vanderleun @ 01:53 PM    |  QuickLink:Permalink

Military Affairs

Recessional by Rudyard Kipling


GOD of our fathers, known of old--
      Lord of our far-flung battle-line--
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
       Dominion over palm and pine--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies--
      The captains and the kings depart--
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
      An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!


There may well be even more terrible things to come in Iraq than what we have seen already, but there will also be far better things than were there before. And there will come a time, when all those who slandered the efforts -- the Germans, the French, the American radical Left, the vicious Michael "Minutemen" Moore, the pampered and coddled Hollywood elite, the Arab League, and the U.N. will assume that Iraq is a "good thing" like Afghanistan, and that democracy there really was preferable -- after they had so bravely weighed in with their requisite "ifs" and "buts" -- to the mass murders of Saddam Hussein. Yes, they will say all this, but it will be for the rest of us to remember how it all came about and what those forgotten soldiers and people of Iraq went through to get it -- lest we forget, lest we forget....
-- How Far We've Come, Let's Not Forget by Victor Davis Hanson

Vanderleun @ 01:30 PM    |  QuickLink:Permalink

Intellectually Insane

Dutch Do-It-Yourself Death-Cult Expands

Why wait for the demented death-cult among your Muslim population to kill your citizens when you can just do it yourself?

Dutch health officials are considering guidelines doctors could follow for euthanizing terminally ill people "with no free will," including children, the severely mentally retarded and patients in irreversible comas.

Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia -- ending the life of someone suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, with their approval....

Eric Van Yijlick, project manager for SCEN (Support and Consultation on Euthanasia in the Netherlands), said the Groningen cases involving newborns should be referred to as "life ending without request" rather than euthanasia, because that term indicates the dying party has requested the procedure.
-- CNN.com - Dutch ponder 'mercy killing' rules - Dec 1, 2004

Look hard at that last phrase, "life ending without request." Then try to comprehend that this is something that the "sensible" elements among the Dutch are actively discussing. Then understand the discussion go far enough and be sensible enough, "life ending without request" will be the policy and law of the state. Keep in mind that the Dutch are firmly opposed to the death penalty and still consider murder to be a crime.

But "life ending without request" will be different?

Really? How? If you are in a coma believed to be irreversible? If you are born with a birth defect that is "too much?" If you are retarded enough? Severely this year, not quite so severely next year, just a little retarded the year after that?

I like the Dutch. I'm part Dutch myself. I have relatives in Holland. I've spent quite of bit of time there. All that and more. But looking at the way they seem to have been allowing their insane intellectuals to run their policies and shape their debate, it looks more and more like Holland is heading to one big Jonestown Kool-Aid Festival in the coming years.

Too bad. They had some great cheese and greater weed.

HT: The Diplomad

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt goes deeper into the grisley meanings of this story inDeath by Committee: This is either a low point, or a point of no return. The establishment of "independent committees" to dispatch non-consenting humans is nothing but a death penalty committee for innocents.

Bill Roggio also sees clearly the deeper implications of this at the fourth rail: Managing Death

Parallels between the Dutch child and adult euthanasia programs and the Nazi programs of sterilization and euthanasia can be seen: government sanction, public apathy towards the infirm, the support of medical professionals, the creation of medical and legal panels with the power to decide on life and death, and the absence of decisionmaking powers of the families involved....

This is not to say that the Netherlands will be constructing death camps in the suburbs of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Their death camps have already been built - hospitals - and are well staffed with medical professionals eager to dispense their newfound skills.

Captain's Quarters remarks in The Protocols Of The Soulless Of Groningen:

Ladies and gentlemen, we have not just reached a slippery slope -- we have hit a greased chute, which is what depresses me more than anything else. Now that Groningen has commenced killing the undesirables and the world has answered with a shrug, we will now hear from the chorus of statists telling us that in an era of limited resources, we need to make these hard decisions for the benefit of the families involved and the greater good of society. That child who may never walk or talk will be such a burden on his family, they'll say; the parents are too close to the situation to make an informed decision, so we'll make it for them -- for their own good, of course. And the time wasted on keeping him alive could be used to save other lives. We'll all sound so reasonable while we march living human beings to their death, without their consent or desire, when inconvenience is their only crime.

David Epstein at As the Top of the World Turns hears a biblical echo with:

Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin

"Weighed weighed measured counted." The handwriting on the wall, interpreted by the prophet Daniel at Belshazzar's feast.

Interpretation: ""This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians." (Daniel 5: 26-28, PERES being a pun on "Persian.")

And supplies new links on the discussion of this ancient evil made new:

Vanderleun @ 11:43 AM    |  Comments (2)  |  QuickLink:Permalink


CBS Announces Dan Rather's Replacement

IN A SUDDEN TURNABOUT THAT SHATTERED MANY DREAMS AT CBS NEWS, LES MOONVES, HEAD OF CBS, today announced that the network has decided to replace veteran anchorman Dan Rather " with the only man in news broadcasting today that can repair and restore our credibility and ratings, Jon Stewart."

Mr. Stewart, host of The Daily Show on the Comedy Channel, brings, Moonves continued, "youth, truthfulness, and what we seem to lack most -- viewers and viewers who are young as well."

Asked if Dan Rather had any say in the selection of his replacement, Mooves commented "Dan reviewed Stewart's resume which was faxed over to his office and pronounced that document genuine. Beyond that Dan's made his last comment about anything. We want to move this story off of Dan Rather and onto the new line-up for CBS. Now, with the addition of Jon Stewart and CSI: Teaneck, New Jersey we've become the one to beat."

Outside analysts were unanimous in approving the move. William Safire of the New York Times remarked, "Jon Stewart who? Well, a baboon could do better. That Stewart show is past my bed time." Frank Rich, also of the New York Times said, "He's cute. Real cute. A Cary Grant for our time, but with firmer buttocks." Bill Moyers of PBS noted "Stewart has the uncanny ability to hold two different positions at the same time and John Kerry wasn't available so he'll have to do." Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, contacted by email replied, "Indeed."

Although veteran television news analysts at CBS were dumbfounded at being taken out of the running for Rather's slot, they failed to notice that this is the position the clever Mr. Stewart has been angling for throughout his career. One member of Mr. Rather's staff commenting on background said, "We should have seen it coming when Jon took that supporting role in Death to Smoochie, about the backstabbing that goes on at a children's television show. 60 Minutes has been a lot like that lately."

Reached by phone in Baghdad where The Daily Show is preparing to cover the upcoming Iraqi elections, Mr. Stewart would only say "Dan Rather is like a God to me. I am not worthy. Gotta go, we've got incoming..... "

Mr. Rather was unavailable for comment, but his office promised a statement from him "just as soon as Andrew can talk him down from the edge of the roof here at Black Rock."

UPDATE: Less than three hours after this announcement was made, an outraged Bill O'Reilly had to be escorted from the lobby of Black Rock by no less than three security men. Ask for comment, O'Reilly would only say, "Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine...."

[Originally published September 27, 2004]

Vanderleun @ 11:20 AM    |  Comments (4)  |  QuickLink:Permalink



Recommended Rest Stops on the Infobahn;

Vanderleun @ 10:56 AM    |  Comments (1)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

Nota Bene

Comment on Comments

Don't touch that dial, we've taken control of your comments

We're switching over to a new software for publishing [MT 3.01 for those that are interested], and in the transition theres a new comment spam filter in place.

For now, during the transition, comments to the site are marked for "approval" before being reflected on the post. This will change soon but for now bear with us.

If you post a comment, it will appear just as soon as I can run the approval script on it. Don't think that we didn't get it just because you don't see it. It will arrive -- unless of course you are an evil spammer.

Vanderleun @ 11:23 AM    |  Comments (3)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

Pure Products of America

That was *so* last year's gift


We interrupt your regularly scheduled content for a note from Mrs. VDL. Don't worry, Mr. American Digest will return tomorrow.

The December issue of Coast magazine (which is tossed on our driveway monthly for free) includes the obligatory gift guide for befuddled holiday shoppers. Just to show how culturally-savvy my dad is, one of the presents that he gave Gerard last year is featured in the magazine’s collection of this year’s hot-hot gifts.

Yes, I’m talking about Mr. Wonderful, and when I wrote about him last year, it was my first-ever post:

"The biggest laugh of Christmas morning came when my witty and urbane husband Gerard opened a large package containing Mr. Wonderful, a 12” talking doll that spouts off 16 different phrases when you squeeze his palm. He’s every woman’s dream come true, in plastic, anyway. Handsome, sensitive, and a good listener, he says things that women want to hear, but seldom do, like:
You know honey, why don't you just relax and let me make dinner tonight?

Why don't we go to the mall? Didn't you want some new shoes?

You know, I think it's really important that we talk about our relationship.

You've been on my mind all day. That's why I bought you these flowers."

The original post is here.

sheryl @ 08:58 AM    |  Comments (1)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

American Studies

Good Question on "Blackness" Seeks Good Answer

Blogger baldilocks relates an incident en route to a concert where a the blackness of Colin Powell and Condi Rice's thoughts were called into question. To illustrate she proposes a thought experiment at baldilocks: More Than A Notion . At the conclusion of the experiment she notes:

Simply consider why those blacks who have been accused of bad behavior or demonstrate questionable character do not have their "blackness" questioned, but those who are conservative and/or preach the virtues of hard work do.
I, for one, would be very interested to see a good answer to that.

Vanderleun @ 08:39 PM    |  Comments (6)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

Moving Images

Awww, Puppies .... (by Nintendo)

The utterly virtual but still cute and modestly amazing Nintendo Pups!


They cute too!

Vanderleun @ 08:02 PM    |  Comments (1)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

Pure Products of America

Fish Highway


"Imagine a means for fish to swim out the top of your aquarium, up to the ceiling, across the room and then down into another tank. That's a fish highway ."


Vanderleun @ 07:39 PM    |  Comments (3)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

American Studies

Democratic Dementia Rising: Victims in the Night

After the Florida Election fiasco of 2000, masses of the outraged losers at The Well [ better known as The Leisure World of Online Conferencing] descended into a depression that deepened into what can only be described as a political psychosis. The same elements we see now were born then -- Liberalosis, Bushophobia, Halliburtonhallucinogenia, Dumbmentia, MovingOutItus, Progressophrenia, and a tendency to froth at the mention of the word "Florida."

I'd been a member of The Well for over ten years at the time and, as the months dragged on, I became an increasingly unpopular member. Not that I didn't deserve it. My many issues with their manias grew apace. Nobody likes a person who, once insane, returns to his senses in the middle of the asylum and informs the inmates that they are stark raving mad. It's a buzzkiller and the inmates of the Well loved their BushBuzz more than life itself. Following the attacks of September 11, many of The Well's manias went into remission -- some for nearly 90 minutes before roaring back.

For some weeks now I've viewed the mental diseases previously held in check behind the conferencing wall of the Well metastasize into the general population of online political losers across the blogsphere. For some time I had hoped it was a temporary mania of the type chronicled in Charles Mackay's classic 19th century work, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds . In this tome, Mackay notes the subject of the book in the Preface:

In reading the history of nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.
Yes, I had hoped some "new folly more captivating than the first" would present itself to these sufferers and that they would, at last, "go gentle into that good night."

But this, alas, is not to be. The Democrats dementia deepens and darkens across the cyberscape.

Vanderleun @ 01:01 PM    |  Comments (8)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

Political Corrections

Soros Buys Kiev Holiday Inn for Inbound Contingent of Blue State Human Shields

Soros to Shields:"If I'm buying, you're flying."

In a stunning move to reverse the threat to democracy in the Ukraine George Soros wrote a check on Sunday to take possession of the Kiev Holiday Inn and Bali-Themed singles Bar in order the guarantee housing for some 15,000 Blue State Human Shields now inbound to the beleaguered Republic.

Working closely with the recently unemployed staff of MoveOn.org, Soros raised the money from himself during a tense, non-stop negotiating session at his wet-bar last Friday.

"I thought of all the angst and agita I've experienced over the last three weeks," said the reclusive billionaire at a press conference attended by Graydon Carter, Annie Leibovitz and the entire newroom of The New York Times. "What good is money to me when there are democracies to save? And after all, isn't MoveOn.org's motto 'Democracy in Action' ? It is. But what can a humble billionaire do in a world ruled by Halliburton?" Mr. Soros paused as Ms. Leibovitz made a few deft adjustments to his hair.

"Then it came to me. The Human Shields have been out of work and gathering rust and dust in the remainder bins of history for well over a year. The millions of depressed Democrats who have been considering relocation to a Bush-Free Zone have run out of gas long before the petroleum exporting countries ruled by Halliburton. Kerry isn't giving the $16 million back, and I don't know what to think about the rumors that Teresa is out buying a house and new suits for Obama.

"I'm an entrepreneur who's always looking to make lemonade out of lemons, and this thing in the Ukraine seems to have more than its share of lemons. So I thought, hey, we could get the Human Shields back in the game, move MoveOn.org on, give the Democrats another chance of saving democracy, and show up that Boston bozo for the stiff that he is. On top of that, if it works out and democracy is actually saved in the Ukraine, I can flip my Holiday Inn for a nice appreciation ride. The left profile is my best, Annie. How many times do I have to tell you?"

Vanderleun @ 10:14 PM    |  Comments (4)  |  QuickLink:Permalink


My Personal Treasure Reviews National Treasure

What's this, a film review? Indeed it is. I'd once hoped to have a regular film reviewer for this page, but that person hasn't happened along as yet. Instead, I'll go with this insightful review of National Treasure by the one person I know who's not only quick to sum up a film correctly, but quicker still to find out what's really of value, my wife:

If you've read the reviews, which are pretty snarky for the most part, you might think Nicholas Cage's new quasi action-adventure movie would be a pass. But you'd be wrong. 

Because I was there, at the end of the movie, when a surprisingly healthy round of applause erupted. Gerard looked at me like, "What?" and I said, well, you know there's something to be said for a movie with no sex, barely any violence, and a body count of one (and that was accidental).

She's right. It is suprising how surprising a decent movie can be these days. Perhaps because there are so few of them. Maybe, given the success of National Treasure, there will be more. Read the rest at :

            Cheaper Than Therapy: "National Treasure" on a National Holiday

Vanderleun @ 02:49 PM    |  Comments (1)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

Grace Notes

Meditation for this Sunday

Until Then

[In Flash so it takes time to load but is well worth it.]

Homeward Bound

In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing and the sky is clear and red.
When the summer's ceased its gleaming,
When the corn is past its prime,
When adventure's lost its meaning,
I'll be homeward bound in time.

Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I'll return to you somehow.

If you find it's me you're missing, if you're hoping I'll return.
To your thoughts I'll soon be list'ning, and in the road I'll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing as my journey nears its end.
And the path I'll be retracing when I'm homeward bound again.

Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I'll return to you somehow.

In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing,
I'll be homeward bound again.

Words and music by Marta Keen.

Lyrics found by RickinVa @ Brutally Honest: Homeward Bound

Vanderleun @ 10:17 AM    |  Comments (1)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

Political Corrections

The Legacy of the Long Peace

The peace movements of the last 150 years have been animated by "wishful thinking," which helps to explain their often self-destructive behavior. But .... it's not merely a wish for, but a lust for peace that's the root of this evil. -- Demosophia: Lust for Peace

It isn't always the case that a politician's promise is the birth of a lie. More often than not, it just turns out that way. It turns out that way not because, I hasten to add, the politician lied at the time of the promise, but because the promises of politicians are most often descriptions of a future that can never come to pass.

The promises of our politicians are but articulations of our own fantasies about the future and, since we know in our bones these things can never come to pass, we hear the promises as lies, but go with them anyway if they reflect our own childish wishes. In the political theater of our days, each side gets the audience to chant, "I do believe in fairies," that Tinkerbell might fly. And Tinkerbell does, while all agree not to notice the wires.

The big lie of the bitter season just past was unusual in that, at the bottom, it was a promise not about the future (although both camps insisted it was), but about the past. The big lie promised a return to the lost lands of September 10, 2001 when all was calm and secure. The big lie was "We'll keep you safe."

Neither side wanted to go too deeply into the "how" of this in very specific terms. But a nod is as good as a wink to a willfully blind electorate, and we all knew "how" our candidate of choice would handle things.

Vanderleun @ 09:52 AM    |  Comments (2)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

5-Minute Arguments

The Lost Angeles Times and the Evil Within

Those of us who have cast the legacy media of printed newspapers behind can, for all the advantages of electronic news, miss out on certain crimes against the language that are being committed every day. Crimes so disgusting that I for one believe the perps should be sought out and given a long swing on a short length of knotted hemp.

This morning my wife, who for parenting purposes still believes in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and printed newspapers, brought a two disturbing examples of the Lost Angeles Times' continuing felonious assault on the English language to my attention -- a misdemeanor and a felony.

The misdemeanor headline can be seen online:

Bringing Serious Bling to Colorado Boulevard

But the deeper shame is on the continued or jump page from that story where the innocent and utterly unprepared reader is greeted with the overwhelmingly awful headline:

Rose Queen Will Bling in the New Year

I knew that there would be no stopping the penetration of the spoken language by "bling" more than a

Vanderleun @ 08:52 AM    |  Comments (2)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

American Studies

The Daughter That Disappeared

While I accept that there is a lot to value in having a son (After all, I'm one myself.), there is something even more special in having a daughter. At least that's how it starts and, for many I pray, how it continues. But not, I think, for me -- at least at this stage of my life.

My daughter has, for some years now, simply disappeared from my life and from the lives of my family. No, not the tragic disappearance where something unknown and possibly lethal has happened, but the more common abrupt fading into the shadows of her own self-involved life where a thought or a grudge blossoms into a denial of family in favor of a lifestyle believed to be, somehow, "better."

I know this because, when I was young, selfish, foolish and convinced of my own immortality and infallibility, I did the same to my parents. I worshiped "ambition," "intelligence," "cool," "sophistication," "money," and a politics and lifestyle that elevated self and self-esteem to the status of a religion.

For many years in my 20s my family, "so uncool and so unhip" was not so much lost to me as something I discarded and kept far away. What I "lost" in this was the "the good," and with that the compass that guides you through all the dark passages in life that, when young, you always believe you can avoid.

I'm thinking of my daughter who disappeared today. This is unusual since her disappearance, without a note, a nod or a word of goodbye, is one of the deeper wounds; a wound that does not heal over if looked at too often. I am thinking of it because of two small things that I've read in the past week.

The first is one of those offhand but striking passages that proliferate in James Lileks' daily online journal, The Bleat. Lileks is relating his very young daughter's first pre-school parent-teacher conference and reflects, in passing,

Confidence comes from experience, but self-esteem comes from self-regard, which isn't always the clearest judge of character. This goes back to the conversation I had with Gnat about goodness -- would Daddy rather someone said "She's so pretty" or "She's so smart" or "She's so good"? Pretty fades, smart can trick you, but good gives you a compass.
He's right. Good does give you a compass, but you need some other connections to make sure you don't lose it. Connections that tie it to you, a lanyard of sorts. And lanyards are often broken.

My daughter, back when I knew her -- what is it? 11 or 12 years ago? -- had "pretty," had "smart," and had "good." I believe she's still got all three, but what I've come to understand is that she lost the connection to her compass, that somehow her lanyard was broken. As a result she has lost that compass -- for now. Because she is my daughter I believe that she will in time find that compass again, and find it before it is too late for her to reconnect to the things that last in life beyond self, cool, and fashion. I believe this, but I cannot know it.

I can't know it because, for some years now, it has been impossible to know her directly. I only know of her life via distant signals, vague semaphores on a far horizon.

Her modus operandi in fashioning her first temporary self as a young adult in New York City is to reject and expunge all messages from this side of her family. Calls are screened and not answered. Messages are never returned. Letters and cards and presents remain unacknowledged. Instead of

Vanderleun @ 11:17 AM    |  Comments (11)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

Patriot Gains

Pat Tillman, Champion

I'm not a fan of online polls and am even less sanguine about "stuffing the ballot box," but Matt at BLACKFIVE makes a strong case for:

SI Sportsman of the Year - Vote For Ranger Pat Tillman

Patrick M. sends the link to Sports Illustrated's fan poll for Sportsman of the Year.

Background:  Sports Illustrated is conducting it's annual fan poll for Sportsman of the Year.  This year there is one athlete who stands out.  Tim Layden of CNN/Sports Illustrated lays it out for you.

I'd appreciate it if you took some time to go there, select Pat Tillman on the sliding window on the left of the site (he's second from the bottom and wearing a red football jersey), click on his picture, then hit the vote button.  Just in case you have trouble finding his picture, here is a screenshot of what Pat Tillman's ballot looks like.

Currently, he is in third place behind Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps.

I admire Lance Armstrong and am agnostic on Phelps, but it seems to me that this should be the year of Pat Tillman above all others. If you don't know why, click on the link above and find out.

Then do the right thing for this brave and nobel man.

Vanderleun @ 08:47 AM    |  Comments (0)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

Myths & Texts

Five Pictures in Search of an Explanation

One of my tasks to prepare for my mother's 90th birthday last week was to create a "memory wall" out of photographs spanning her life. My brother went through her albums and brought me some sixty old pictures, in varying degrees of preservation, to have scanned and printed.

One of the pictures he brought for scanning was this one (reproduced at approximately the size of the original):
Mom & Dad, just married, Los Angeles

It would have been taken in the mountains above Los Angeles on some day in either 1943 or 1944. Like a lot of the others it had dirt, scratches and smudges, but I was sure I could clean up the image. Then I started to look more carefully at the smudges in this shot once it had been scanned.

Here's a section of that shot blown up from the scan and sharpened with the contrast boosted:

And a closer section from the shot, blown up even more and enhanced:

Vanderleun @ 05:38 PM    |  Comments (6)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

American Studies

Blog? Vat is dis ting called blog?

Excuse me, can I get to the blogsphere from here? Butter up the popcorn, grab a beverage and settle in for two classics.

First the cutting edge,

NYblogs - The Movie,

and then the ever-popular

Digital Convergence - 1994

completes our Thanksgiving double-feature!

Vanderleun @ 04:34 PM    |  QuickLink:Permalink

Space Patrol

The Clouds of Titan

Cassini continues to amaze as this item called Hovering Over Titan shows.

"A mosaic of nine processed images recently acquired during Cassini's first very close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on October 26, 2004 constitutes the most detailed full-disk view yet made of the mysterious moon...." -- Ciclops

The image above echoes in the mind. We know it is impossibly cold down there. We know the atmosphere is a lethal smog of nitrogen, methane, and ethane. We know that the seas shimmering in the faint light of the distant sun are liquid methane.

All these things we know and yet, from this image sent back to us by our instruments, there is somehow the shock of recognition. Unlike any other planet or moon we've seen in our brief glimpse of the solar system, this image and this image alone sends an echo. It resembles, despite what we know about it, nothing so much as the Earth itself, and that resemblance alone causes the soul to rise. For if a moon of Saturn can resemble our own planet, it signals that somewhere, perhaps very far away or perhaps not all that far, there is another planet where the resemblance is more than an echo, but a mirror image.

Vanderleun @ 03:04 PM    |  Comments (3)  |  QuickLink:Permalink

Grace Notes

Two by Ted Kooser

In January

Only one cell in the frozen hive of night
is lit, or so it seems to us:
this Vietnamese café, with its oily light,
its odors whose colorful shapes are like flowers.
Laughter and talking, the tick of chopsticks.
Beyond the glass, the wintry city
creaks like an ancient wooden bridge.
A great wind rushes under all of us.
The bigger the window, the more it trembles.


After Years

Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer's retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.

Ted Kooser is America's new Poet Laureate

Vanderleun @ 10:28 AM    |  Comments (1)  |  QuickLink:Permalink
G2E Media GmbH

Nota Bene

RELEASE .O :    "For me, anyway, release means letting go of the past in every moment. And letting go of my illusion of control. Release means meeting people that you're not quite sure of why at the time. Release means allowing yourself to be guided. Release means trusting your creative process. Release means knowing that whatever you might have planned you are open to incredible unforeseen alternatives shifting everything around at the eleventh hour. And release means following your heart even if your head is a doubting Thomas." -- Crossroads Dispatches: The Industrial Age was About Control, the Creative Age is About...


QUIP OF THE DECADE (SO FAR): What's not to like about a writer who can come up with

"The Franco-American alliance is quite robust and likely to last a long time. The French have always been there when they needed us."
-- Wretchard at The Belmont Club

Analog World



in which he even jumps over another player on his way to the dunk.

Heroes & Hustlers

TOY COMPANY CONTINUES TO PLAY WITH ITSELF: Given the fact that 1) the core software of Technorati fails to function a significant amount of the time (although it does improve s l o w l y.) 2) The tecnorati laughably named "help desk" cannot seem to return simple emails, and that 3) Weird behavior persists in its lagging results page, it is always a thrill to see that they continue to squander time, capital and energy on really dinky stuff like these really minor "favelets".

We've been using them internally for a while, and it really makes a difference in my web browsing experience to get a quick view of what people are saying about any particular article, web page, company, keywords, or blog post. -- Sifry's Alerts: New Technorati This favelet for IE, Mozilla, Firefox, Safari, etc.

Why do they spend their time dicking around like this between meetings and conferences? I don't know. Maybe it really is the best they can do.

The Technorati concept certainly seemed like a good idea at the time, but it has continued to lag far, far behind its promise for a very long time now. I used to think the problem was in the software and the scaling difficulties. No longer. It is institutional. If there really was a business to be made out of what Technorati is supposed to do, I'd hope that someone who knows how to do it comes along. But since Technorati is now obviously just a core dump for excess capital from clueless inverstors, I don't hold out any hope any longer. More and more it just looks like a bunch of people who've gone from heroes to hustlers in nearly no time at all.

Ironic that the Blog Ecosystem from Truthlaidbear.com, a labor of love by one person with almost no money, provides much more useful, accurate and up-to-date information than whatever time, effort and cash has been hoovered by Technorati.

At this point, it seems that the only real achievement by Technorati has been to establish itself as the go-to source about blog growth by MSM reporters who have no idea about the actual service Technorati purports to offer. That's probably all they have to do to continue to raise money from sources that are either clueless about technology or deep in the O'Rielly karass, but it really is a shame otherwise.

Too bad. I think that I remember that they once had some high ideals. But maybe that was all just part of the hustle.

Obsessed & Confused

MAHER "VICTIM" OF SERIAL DATIST: Denying an ex-girlfriend's legal claim that he used racial slurs and assaulted her, comedian Bill Maher has fired back at the woman, describing her as a would-be extortionist who launched a campaign to embarrass and humiliate the HBO star after the demise of the pair's ten-month relationship. In the below Los Angeles Superior Court filing, Maher--described as a "confirmed bachelor, and a very public one at that."
-- Maher Claims Ex Is Serial Shakedown Artist - November 29, 2004

"I never promised to have this woman's children or buy her a house in Bel Air. I think."

Squawking Points


Political Corrections

PLEASE, DEAR GOD, MAKE IT SO: As we speak, Deaniacs are reconstituting in their yoga studios and organic juice bars, plotting -- in their benevolent, cheerful but fundamentally misguided way -- to make Dean the leader of the Democratic Party....

NO, NO, WAIT! PLEASE, DEAR GOD, MAKE THIS SO: Unless, of course, the alternative is Hillary Clinton. OK, maybe she wouldn't be worse than Dean. But she surely would go down in flames if she won the nomination in 2008. President Bush owed his victory in large part to cultural division. If there's anybody who incites cultural divisions, it's Hillary Clinton....

CHECK THAT! PLEASE, DEAR GOD, GO WITH THIS ONE: Probably the only worse option than Dean or Clinton, short of nominating Paris Hilton, would be to renominate John Kerry, who, reports have suggested, inexplicably harbors ambitions of running again in 2008.

-- Dean, Clinton and Kerry: No, No, No for 2008

No, no, no? Yes, yes, yesssssss!



Arafat to be Open Sourced by Palestinian Authority; move is criticized by Microsoft.

BY atomicbomb.com

Tinfoil Brigade

THE THINGS THEY CARRIED: The TSA has found knives disguised as lipstick, a radio with a handgun inside, a loaded gun stuffed into a teddy bear. Several people have tried to bring chainsaws onto planes. A U.S. army sergeant was kicked off a flight after an inert landmine was found in his checked luggage. One man packed gunpowder and a fuse for his hobby of shooting golf balls out of cannons. --Canada.com

That's it. I'm never complaining about taking off my shoes again.



This is a ______ _____.

Give up? Answer Here

Fish Barrel Bang

JOE KLEIN ON HIS JOB DESCRIPTION AS THE NEW HEAD OF CNN NEWS: "I've been given an awfully long leash," he said. "There is no gun to the head." -- Atlanta Journal Constitution

Analog World

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? ASKS DONALD SENSING OF THE MEDIA. As for the news media, I ask you: which outcome do you want? It is not possible to pretend neutrality here, for the power of the media to frame the public's debate is too great to claim you are merely being "fair and balanced." There is no neutral ground here, no "God's eye view" of events, and hence no possibility of not taking sides. One way or another, what you print or broadcast, what stories you cover and how you cover them, what attention you pay to what issues and how you describe them - all these things mean that you will support one outcome over another. Which will you choose? How will you support it? These are the most important questions of your vocation today. But you seem not to be facing them at all. -- One Hand Clapping


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