It's fascinating to watch a Bush Administration, largely perceived to be proud, stubborn and unwilling to admit mistakes, being critiqued by established Big Media organizations guilty of the same.
UPDATE: And yet another in a long string of reasons why the U.N. is a big steaming pile of diplomatic horseshit.
I'm not sure why, exactly, but lately I've noticed an upsurge in the number of people who feel compelled to give me the finger.
Maybe it's spring fever.
Granted, I can be a fairly opinionated person, and some may even argue that I can be kind of a jerk. And, as such, I can understand that not a day will go by that I don't seriously irritate at least one person. Actually, I can kind of consider the day a failure if I don't.
However, over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed people giving me the finger for no apparent good reason. Take, for example, last night. I went for my routine five-mile run. I came up to a crosswalk, and the walk sign was flashing that it was okay for me to walk. Of course, I was running, but I generally tend to think they're the same thing, at least as far as the "WALK" sign is concerned.
Suddenly, an automobile tootled at me from my left side. Apparently, a carload of teenage motorists had attempted to turn right at the same time I jogged into the intersection which, you may remember, said it was okay for me to do so.
I looked to my left, and I saw the carload of teenage motorists, in unison, giving me their fingers. Wishing to further observe this phenomenon, I stopped in the crosswalk and stood there looking at them. This, in turn, led to even more dramatic finger-waving compounded with a menacing "VRROOOOM!" as the driver pressed on the accelerator as some sort of warning to me, I guess.
The problem I have with the finger is that, as a communicative device, it's kind of a dead end. When someone gives you the finger, they're both starting and finishing a conversation. There's really no room for debate once someone flashes the finger.
Oh, sure, you can respond with a finger of your own. But, again, you're not really saying anything by doing so. I mean, yeah, you're expressing your indignation at having been given the finger, but you're not bringing anything more to the discussion table than what was already tendered by the original finger-giving party.
As I've stated before on this blog, I just can't get offended by the finger because it doesn't take enough effort to develop. It's like a switchblade for the hand: sure, it surprises you when it appears, but from a distance it's not really that bothersome.
So, with a carload of teenagers flipping their finger switchblades at me from behind a car windshield, I wasn't particularly taken aback.
Well, with the "WALK" sign now flashing a warning red, I stopped observing the carload of finger-waving youths and continued on my run. The driver, angry and young and stupid, decided to express his youthful rage by screeching his tires and squealing around the corner and burning rubber for the next 25 feet or so.
The driver was, apparently, completely oblivious to the presence of a police car waiting patiently at the red light behind them. What transpired was one of the shortest police pursuits in history. The driver, noticing the flashing lights and the siren behind him, despite a haze of tire smoke, promptly pulled over about 200 feet from the scene of the peel out.
I jogged over to a spot directly across from them on the other side of the street, where I stood patiently until the driver noticed me, at which point I gave him a very happy finger.
I'm not sure, but I think I heard the police officer laughing as I continued on my run.
This is me, and my girlfriend, Melissa. We have sex, by which I mean I insert one of my important body parts into one of her important body parts. Personally, I'm just grateful that she gets naked in front of me.
Sometimes, I feel blue, so very sad.
Other times, I feel very angry. I feel so very angry, in fact, that I can't even be consoled by the presence of Precious Moments figurines in the background.
I'm a black belt in hapkido. I'm very proud of this. Being a black belt is helpful, because I can stand like this for minutes on end, which is great for airing out my nut sac.
I'm very artistic and creative. It took me almost two hours to build this snowman on a shitter.
Sadly, despite how great and wonderful I am, and despite the fact I'm a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness, some day I'm going to die, and apparently two other people are going to die right next to me. Those poor fuckers.
Did this work? Can you see my ass?
UPDATE: And, and to you people who are using the hand curser to poke at my bung hole. . . THANKS! Harder! Do it! That's it! Push it!
I'm not a grizzled veteran when it comes to journalism. I've basically been in the field now for six years or so, which isn't a whole lot, when you think about it. Regardless, there is one rule I've noticed when it comes to modern day journalists.
We are fucking LAZY.
This doesn't apply to all journalists, mind you, just the vast majority. There is a miniscule minority of journalists out there who aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves and do a little background research and put together a tightly knit story, complete with facts and figures and interviews and excerpts from other sources.
But, generally, journalists aren't interested in doing all that work. Journalists invest far more time and ingenuity into discovering ways to avoid hard investigative work than they do actually working. I can speak with a little bit of authority on this, because I've been known to do it from time to time, and I can recognize the familiar handiwork of journalistic reporters taking the easy road. If you know what to look for, it's really quite obvious.
Take, for example, James Lileks' Bleat today. Now, I don't typically disagree wholeheartedly with Lileks, but I think in this case he's kind of missing the point. Basically, Lileks is wondering why the big media engine is putting so much faith into everything that spews forth from Richard Clarke's mouth.
Oh, by the way, unless you've been living under a rock, in a cave, on Mars, with the stereo blaring heavy metal, you probably have heard of Richard Clarke. He's a former Bush administration counterterrorism guru, who the administration asked to step down and who recently published a book condemning the Bush White House for failing to sufficiently go after Al Queda and instead focusing on Saddam and Iraq.
The problem is, if you do even a little bit of research, you find out that Clarke is just dripping with credibility problems, because, in 2002, he was basically saying the exact opposite of everything he's saying today.
Lileks is wondering why the major media outlets aren't stressing Clarke's total and complete flip-flop on this.
I read a wire-story compilation today about the Clarke appearance - it gave no details of the background briefing tape. Let me quote:
"The charged political climate enveloped the commission as well. Key Democrats and Republicans on the panel dropped the neutral posture that had shown in previous hearings and were openly partisan in questioning Clarke and three witnesses."
Okay, keep that in mind. Dems and Repubs were openly partisan. We continue:
"Three GOP members of the group, for example, grilled Clare on his motivations, suggestion that he had been contradictory in his statements and dishonest about his misgivings about counterrorism policies."
This would be a reference to the background briefing and another appearance Clarke made. No specifics about the details of those conversations are given.
You see, Lileks is holding this up as media bias, and I just don't think it is. I see it as a classic case of media laziness. Really, it's no big chore to FIND pretty damning proof of Clarke's shameless waffling, but it's still a chore, even if it is just a tiny one, and that's just too damned much to ask of a reporter who wants to file their story and get to the local Starbucks and enjoy the rest of the day.
Seriously, if you look at the rest of the story Lileks is examining, you eventually see a familiar pattern:
"Former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, a Republican, took up the president?s cause inside the commission hearing. 'We have your book and we have your press briefing of August 2002. Which is true?' he challenged the witness."
"Former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, a Democratic commission member, asked Clarke whether Rice's recent statement that the Bush plan called for military options to attack Al-Qaida and Taliban leadership, ground forces and other targets, taking the fight to the enemy where he lived? was accurate."
"Clarke responded, 'No, it's not.'"
Did you catch what's going on here? No? Let me explain it from my view, and again keep in mind that I'm adept at sniffing out journalistic laziness.
If you look at it, you see that the reporter is basically just transcribing the hearings. There's no research going on here. There's no journalistic detective work taking place. The reporter just put their tape recorder on "Record" and sat back for a cat nap, and then transcribed the tape later, threw in some descriptive sounding items like "challenged the witness," slapped their byline on the story, and sold it as news. It's nice and easy and, shit, given the software out there today that can automate the process of putting the spoken word into text, the whole article probably took a massive hour or so to "write," thus freeing up the reporter's day for more important things, like a four martini lunch or something.
I think journalists all basically know, at least somewhere tucked in their brain, that Clarke at one time said totally contradictory things like:
The Clinton administration had a strategy in place, effectively dating from 1998. And there were a number of issues on the table since 1998. And they remained on the table when that administration went out of office ? issues like aiding the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, changing our Pakistan policy -- uh, changing our policy toward Uzbekistan. And in January 2001, the incoming Bush administration was briefed on the existing strategy. They were also briefed on these series of issues that had not been decided on in a couple of years.
And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, you know, in late January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings, which we've now made public to some extent.
But, see, to your typical lazy reporter, that's old news. And, what's more, it's old news that never really got much attention when it originally aired, so it's not really news at all. Besides, we're talking 2002. That's soooooo, like, almost two years ago. Reporters, by and large, aren't historians, so stuff in the 2002 archives may as well be ancient history to them. It just doesn't seem relevant. When a reporter is sent out to cover something like a hearing, that's what they do. That's ALL they do. And, while they're driving to wherever the hearing is being held, they're thinking up all sorts of ways to make their assignment even easier to accomplish.
And, additionally, factoring in contradictory information into an article is just really hard, and reporters just don't like "hard." Hard means longer office hours, and that's just not fun.
Therefore, a man like Richard Clarke, who should, by most reasonable accounts, right now be having his credibility questioned more intensely than than an O.J. interrogation is simply given a pass by the media.
It's just EASIER that way.
UPDATE: Oh, and there's this, too.
There is an unwritten rule in small town rural elementary school systems that says this: if a student lives in town, within easy walking distance from the school, there is an 80 percent chance that student will be asked to serve on the school patrol.
I fit all the school patrol criteria perfectly.
I honestly don't even remember being asked to serve on school patrol. I think I just got out of school one day and suddenly found myself standing at a busy intersection with a big STOP flag in my hand and a tattered yellow vest tied to my torso. It had all the earmarks of an alien abduction, now that I really think about it, except without any apparent anal probing. . . at least none that I recall.
If you're not at all familiar with the concept of school patrol, I think it can basically be summed up as early indoctrination into the world of law enforcement authority, except we weren't allowed to wear guns or arrest people. Basically, as a school patrol elite stormtrooper, my role was to escort children across the street by unfurling my intimidating STOP flag. For an elementary school student who routinely got beat up during noon hour recess, being on student patrol was an incredibly empowering experience.
Although we weren't allowed to wear guns or beat fellow students with nightsticks or anything like that, we did have the ability to report people. The "report" option was the most powerful weapon at our disposal. If you were a rambunctious youth who decided to test the mettle of the school patrol ranks, the most damning indictment you could hear coming from a patrol student was "I'm going to report you!"
Reporting a fellow student proceeded thusly: you'd dutifully take a mental note of the offending student and their perceived transgression and then, at the end of your shift, you'd go to the principal's office and make a detailed report to the secretary on duty, who would write everything down. The next morning, over the public address system, they'd read off names of students who had to report to the principal's office, and you could have heard a pin drop as they read off the names. It was as if they were naming the next batch to be sent to the gas chamber. Of course, come noon hour recess, the student you had the audacity to report would wrangle up a posse of his friends to beat you up, and the cycle would begin all over again.
The most super-biggest rush you could experience as a patrol officer was reporting a HIGH SCHOOL student. High school students who had their driver's license were, and probably still are, the biggest menace to elementary school patrol, because they thought it was funny to roar past just as we were about to escort some students across the street. When that happened, we would take down their plate number. I vividly recall taking down a plate number once, and then, a few days later, a high school senior came into my fifth grade class and apologized to me in front of the entire class. He was obviously not too happy about having to be there.
I, on the other hand, could just as well have been a god to my fellow classmates.
I've been on a Roman history kick now for a few years. I find ancient Rome to be absolutely fascinating. Romans were so advanced in terms of culture, technology, art and pretty much every other area you can imagine.
But, jeez oh criminey those people were brutal. The way Romans made war makes the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns today seem like chess matches by comparison. You want to talk about a culture of death? Forget Islamic extremism; the ancient Romans make suicide bombers look like pussies.
If you took aside a Roman emperor--say, Augustus--and you told him that Gaul of the Long Hairs was rising up against Roman rule, and you gave him the option of a precise, targeted strike to take out their leader, or a flurry of nukes to flatten the whole country, he'd choose option two without hesitation. People are so often impressed by Rome's artistic and technological achievements, it's often forgotten just how ruthlessly efficient and bloodthirsty they were when it came to making war.
And I'm not talking simply about killing non-Romans here, either. Romans had no qualms about killing other Romans. Heck, the term "decimate" comes from the Roman practice of going through the ranks of a Roman army that either revolted or fled from battle, and killing every tenth soldier as punishment. Gawd. How would you like to be part of the count off? Hey, buddy, I'll give you 3,000 sesterces to switch places with me. Then again, they weren't all that hesitant to do themselves in, either. I just finished reading a book about Roman history where the term "fell on his sword" was used so frequently, I started wondering if everyone in ancient Rome just naturally offed themselves in that manner. Oops, looks like it's going to be a crappy day; I guess I may as well disembowel myself.
I don't know why I'm so amazed by Roman brutality. I just find it fascinating to try and put it into a contemporary situation. If Augustus were leading the U.S. today, Iraq wouldn't just be a smoldering heap of radiation, pretty much the whole of the Middle East would have been given the nuclear treatment by now. Any perceived threat to the U.S. would be annihilated and any survivors would be rounded up and crucified upside down.
Seriously, those guys meant business.
Okay. So, I'm still in a spring mood. Sue me.
Back when I lived in Tokyo all those many years ago, one of my most amazing memories was of the cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms, or at least the trees, but, no, their blossoms, are so important to Japan, they're practically sacred. And they fall about this time, or maybe about a week ago, or more, I can't remember exactly.
But, I do remember walking along many parks and streets, in absolute wonder at the cherry blossoms, which, by the time I got back from my school trip from China, were basically raining from the sky and forming a blanket of petals under my feet.
Now, I don't like the color pink, but cherry blossoms are pink, and they're gorgeous against a blue sky. I'm not typically a spiritual guy, but cherry trees in Tokyo in spring truly constitute a spiritual experience: delicate puffs of pink against an eternal blue sky. . . and then the pink falls, allowing you to walk on it, however briefly.
Following WWII, one of the most poignant requests of America from Japan, was for cherry trees, because, basically, all of their cherry trees had been burned up during fire bomb attacks.
The U.S. agreed.
Minnesota has a bitch of a climate. Hell, Minnesota IS a bitch of a climate. Each year, come January and February, I start really questioning my own sanity living in this crazy state with its crazy weather.
Particularly this year, which featured temperatures, come those two crappy months, in the below zero range pretty much 9/10s of the time, with enough snowfall to reconstitute the receding polar ice caps. Seriously, come to Minnesota and live here in the winter and truly try to convince yourself of global warming. I'm not saying there isn't some truth to the theory and all that, but here in Minnesota in January and February, your breath would better be utilized puffing on your hands to keep them even a tad warm.
Then, one day, usually in late March, you emerge from the house to actual solar warmth. It seems like an alien experience at first. After months of experiencing the sun only as a really bright Sylvania bulb in the sky, it's kind of weird to actually feel the sun's presence on your skin, to really notice the soaking warmth of Ol' Sol radiating on your face. It's then that you realize that you're successfully completed yet another winter journey.
Today is such a day.
Today the sun is more than just a bright decoration in the sky. Today, the sun provides more than what you would expect of it on, say, the surface of Mars. Today, the sun speaks of spring. I stepped out of the house today, and I FELT the sun, instead of just seeing it. Seriously, it's as close to magic as you'll probably experience in a lifetime, except for maybe childbirth which, God willing, I won't have to worry about for, like, quite a few damned years (and, even then, it won't be me doing it, thank you Mr. Penis).
Spring's finally here, or at least it's right around the corner, which means I'll be an inifinitely happier person during the coming months. And that's a super good thing, because I'll be moving into my new house on April 17, which should give me plenty to be pissed about.
Well, there I was, logging on to MSNBC.com last night, and I saw that Ahmed Yassin (widely recognized as Sarumon) was targeted and killed by an Israeli missile strike. Yassin, who had gained quite a following as the religious leader of Hamas and was known for passionate speeches advocating suicide bombings by women and children in an effort to further the Palestinian fight to bring an end to the nation of Israel.
I really don't know what to think about the strike. Given the whirlwind pace of the cycle of violence in the Middle East, it's pretty easy to see that Israel had best be bracing for incredible retaliation. I mean, 200,000 Palestinians taking to the streets in mourning and rage pretty much ensures somebody, somewhere, is going to detonate. Despite all that, I can completely understand why Israel went after the despicable figure.
It's weird. There was a time, actually not that long ago, when suicide bombings on buses and in crowded marketplaces were viewed with a jaw-dropping jolt of horror. Now I read about "dozens" of people volunteering for suicide bombings and I think, "yeah, I can pretty much see that coming." Boom. More dead. More anger. More retaliation.
And then I read that Hamas retaliatory attacks won't be limited to Israeli targets. No, now the U.S. will be further tartgeted as well. And, once again, I'm left shrugging my shoulders in resignation, thinking "yeah, well, I guess that's just to be expected. Whatever."
I wasn't sure why I had such a resigned indifference to all of this. . . until this morning. It dawned on me that the Yassin hit is a microcosmic dress rehearsal for what we can expect when a missile finally does fly up the butthole of one Osama bin Laden. You think the death of Yassin is big news? Wait till bin Laden is atomized when a well-aimed missile just happens to fly into his cave resort.
None of this is to say that we shouldn't be going after Osama. We should obviously be going after him and all terrorists with everything at our disposal. But, we shouldn't for one second believe that the death or capture of bin Laden will inhibit future attacks. The long term effect of disposing of bin Laden will be a gradual de-mythification of the man and a loss of inspiration to those within al Queda and other terrorists orgazation . The immediate effect, however, will be outrage and resolve to carry out attack after attack after attack.
All we have to do is watch how the Yassin hit plays out over the next few weeks to gauge how the proven death of bin Laden will be played out to a much larger global degree sometime in the future. This should be both horrifying, yet instructive, to watch.
UPDATE: Why, yes, I did have "The Sistani Hit" as my header up there for awhile. I'm not sure why that happened. What would Freud have said? Best not to ask, I suppose.
UPDATE, THE SEQUAL: Please take the time to read Lileks today, too, because he has a picture I think you should see, and his reaction to it. I could only say "Ick." Lileks said much more, and far better.
It's word association this week at the Cheddar X, so I'll play along:
When I say:
Olympics, you say? = I'd like to screw Marion Jones
Politics = Oh, gawd, eight more months until the election. *groan*
John Kerry = Did you know he served in Vietnam? It's true.
George Bush = President of the United States
Osama = Yo Mama!
Same-sex marriage = Pretty gay.
Todd Bertuzzi = Todd what? Who's he?
Barry Bonds = Steroid slugger.
The Passion of the Christ = Cross my feet, you'll save a nail.
Beach = Hawaii.
Britney Spears = Bright future in softcore pornography. Hate to admit it, but I like that damn song "Toxic."
Paris Hilton = Bright future in hardcore pornography. Wait, what am I saying? Bright present in hardcore pornography.
Microsoft = Bill Gates is a billionaire, but my computer still crashes.
France = Cheese eating surrender monkies.
Hans Blix = Stooge
Linux = One of the big reasons I now currently have a job.
MTV = Moronic Television.
Outsource = Doomed to failure.
Hummer H2 = Good for the military; bad for the rest of the world.
Honor = Medal of.
Love = Myself.
Courteney Love = I'd like to screw Marion Jones.
One of the cruel genetic twists of fate dealt to me through the procreative canoodling of my mother and father is that, although the follicular fortitude of my cranium is found lacking, with the result being a horseshoe expanse of head desert by the age of 23, the rest of my body is fertile ground for vast amounts of post-pubescent hair growth.
In other words, there's no hair on my head, but there's plenty on my body, including huge eyebrows and excessively long and thick eyelashes.
The thing about my eyelashes is that I think they actually undergo a monthly menstrual cycle, and there's a few days each month when my eyelashes slough off en masse. And, typically, two-thirds of the eyelashes that parachute downward inevitably fall into my eyes.
There are few irritations that equal that felt when an eyelash welds itself to a contact lens. One second you're happily blinking away unhindered, and the next you're practically in tears trying to blink an eyelash off your lens, enduring a unique kind of minute pain that feels like you accidently jammed a pin into your eyelid, over and over and over again.
Once an eyelash has glued itself to a contact lens, you pretty much only have two options. You can blink into perpetuity and hope that, eventually, the deluge of tears flooding your eye as a result of irritated pain will wash the offending lash off the contact lens. Or, you can hightail it to the nearest bathroom, peel your contact lens off, and wash it with tap water. It's entirely up to you, of course, and it all depends on your tolerance for irritating pain. I tend to endure the blinking solution for roughly three minutes before making my way to the bathroom.
Today, as of 10:30 a.m., I have had to flush my eyes of no less than FIVE eyelashes, and I can't help but believe there are more on the way.
During my fourth year of college, I bought a futon to serve as my primary device for horizontal subconscious rejuvenation, otherwise known as sleeping.
I opted for a futon because the room in which I was living was roughly the size of a milk carton, so it was necessary to have compact furniture and a bed that could fold into a couch so I had enough room for other important activities, such as opening my door to get out of my room. Seriously, when my futon was in "bed mode," the door barely opened far enough to squeeze through. Such was the joy of living in a room that was most likely originally contructed to be a closet.
Following that fourth year of college, I continued to use my futon as my primary sleeping device, even though it was no longer necessary to do so in the name of space utilization. Unfortunately, futons of that bygone era six years ago weren't constructed to endure prolonged use in bed mode, so by the second year my futon had a decidedly distressed look to it. The metal frame had started to bend in places and the mattress itself had flattened considerably from the thick man-sized fajita it originally was.
But still I continued to call upon the futon as my sole sleeping source. Even though I could feel the metal frame pushing through the mattress like a "Princess and the Pea" fairy tale (just to clear this up: I am in no way saying I'm a princess; I am, in fact, a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness). I'm not sure why I clung so tenaciously to my beleagured futon. I guess, you know, it's like a good hunting dog: you just can't put it down because it slowed down a little in its old age.
So, for the past six years, I've been sleeping on a rapidly deteriorating futon which, if used for a few months more, would probably be considered a torture device by most world human rights organizations. Still, being the stubborn male hunk that I am, I steadfastly refused to capitulate and buy a bed. Why would I need a new bed when I have this horribly disgusting futon on which to sleep?
Well, as a birthday gift from my parents, they said they'd buy me a bed if it meant I'd finally relinquish my reliance on my aging futon. Given the combination of a bad back due to a broken down futon and the promise of a free new bed, I opted to do a little bed shopping.
Unfortunately, I opted to do bed shopping with my girlfriend in tow. Now, even though my girlfriend would not be the primary user of the new bed, that didn't stop her from promoting beds that best suited her preferences. Whereas I tend to favor harder sleeping surfaces, such as carpet over concrete, my girlfriend tends to favor softer sleeping surfaces that feature more give than a rock thrown into a bucket of mud.
Back and forth we went, with my girlfriend trying out and insisting that beds softer than warm chocolate were the way to go, while I tried to find the hardest bed in the store. She'd convince me to try out one of her human swallowing soft beds, and then I'd convince her to try out one of my oak-hard, spine straighteners. Neither of us liked the others choices.
Clearly, we had reached an impasse. The stalemate was broken, however, when I pointed out that it was MY bed, not hers, and that it was MY birthday present, not hers. Although I think she plainly understood the logic of both points, that didn't stop her from glaring angrily at me in such a way that promised I would be alone in my new hard bed for the foreseeable future.
I've always known that my futon was small when compared to actual beds, but knowing that hardly prepared me for the arrival of my queen-sized purchase. I dragged the broken carcass of the futon into the spare bedroom and made space for the new bed arrival.
Once I had the new bed in place, I was absolutely astonished at the sheer size of the beastly thing. I had purchased Mt. Bederest! It's surface is a full three or more feet off the ground. It requires ropes and grappling hooks just to climb aboard. For my girlfriend, who tends to lean to the shorter end of the species, climbing into bed is practically a workout regimen. She has to rest midway up the bed face to catch her breath and bring up fresh supplies for the rest of the journey upward.
Ultimately, it's a really nice bed, even if it is somewhat large. Still, I sort of miss my futon. I guess after six years of lower back torture, my futon kind of grew on me. Which is appropriate, I guess, because after six years, there are almost certainly parts of me growing on that futon.
I'm lazy right now, so I'll just post an old post that I think is funny. Plus, my foot hurts today, and that reminded me of this, so. . .
It's generally understood by myself and most of my old high school classmates that I was pretty much considered a geek. I was one of those brainy guys who didn't study but managed to attain the A honor roll any way.
Regardless of the obvious benefits in the real world, being a brainy guy in high school is a guaranteed ticket to being a social pariah. I was accused of "reading the dictionary" and "going through encyclopedias for fun," neither of which were true.
Despite my brainy designation, I was perhaps guilty of doing some of the dumbest things imaginable, which only contributed further to my geeky image and added to the verbal tauntings of my classmates. Perhaps no other act resulted in more mental high school trauma than the time I shot myself in the foot with a B.B. gun. This was a very stupid thing for a brainy guy to do.
My freshman year of school loomed before me, it was the weekend before football practice began, and I was out walking with my Crossman 10 pump air rifle firmly in my grasp. I believed myself to be the blackbird assassin, and with my trusty mutt, Ray, bounding playfully by my side, we were a daunting duo to say the least. I can't really explain the appeal of shooting birds with a B.B. gun, and the thought actually disturbs me today, but at 15 years old, I considered it quality time. My dog, also, seemed to enjoy the outings, although I suspect he was just happy to be outside, where he could empty his bowels without fear of reprisal.
Ray was an enthusiastic rabbit chaser. And, even though he possessed half the speed and one quarter the intelligence of most rabbits, he managed to come close once in awhile, with 20 feet being considered "close." On that particular day, Ray surprised a rabbit, and, judging by the startled yip, himself as well. The two spooked and confused animals started an awkward chase in which Ray actually had the edge, and I absentmindedly lowered my gun just over my left foot to watch the show.
In a surprise move, Ray managed to make contact with the rabbit, and I overreacted to the close call by pulling the trigger, initiating a series of events that ultimately led to a steel ball crashing through my shoe and lodging firmly in the joint of my little toe. And it really kind of hurt. I hobbled hurriedly homeward, where I explained my situation to my father. He gave me a deeply concerned look, which most fathers probably give sons who have committed acts so stupid, they can only be rewarded with deeply concerned looks.
Then, it was off to the hospital, where I was certain there would be a crack team of experts who specialized in the removal of B.B.s from the feet of stupid kids. Much to my surprise, my crack team of experts seemed genuinely unprepared for the task. They took a series of x-rays, which proved what I already knew, namely that there was a metal ball lodged in my foot. I was, however, surprised at just how well a B.B. showed up in an x-ray. You may be curious as to how long it takes a crack team of experts to remove a B.B. from a foot. The answer, in my case, was four hours.
For four agonizing hours, a doctor, whom I was convinced obtained his medical license from a box of Lucky Charms, dug unsuccessfully in my foot using a glorified tweezers. They brought in a special x-ray television monitor, which they used to navigate to the metal orb that they consistently couldn't remove. Finally, just as I was about to demand that they leave my foot alone, Dr. Mengele freed the ball from my toe and held it triumphantly for all to see. Then he threw it away. I was sewn up, given a pair of crutches, and sent on my merry little way.
Unfortunately, my crack team of experts didn't offer any advice as to how I should tell my classmates what I had done come Monday morning and the first day of football practice. Initially, as I crutched my way into the locker room, every face was etched with concern. That concern gave way to boisterous laughter after I told them what happened.
I think I told the same story roughly 50 times that day, mostly to people who didn't believe me the first 49 times. On that fateful day, I spiraled forever into the realm of geekdom, never to emerge. I was no longer one of the brainy guys. I was that brainy guy who shot himself in the foot with a B.B. gun. Even the other brainy guys shunned me.
I guess I should blame myself for the whole incident, but I find that it's easier to blame Ray for almost catching that rabbit.
My mind keeps coming back to this one house. I toured it a couple of weeks ago with Melissa and the father of a friend of mine, Mike, who tells me straight up what he thinks, so he's invaluable both as a wise voice when it comes to house hunting, and a strong will who can keep the sales-hungry realtors at bay. As it turned out, the realtor I chose, Debbie, is really great and isn't pushy in the least, and she's a total freakin' babe (trust me, the picture doesn't do her justice).
I bid on the house a couple weeks ago, but I was outbid by, like, $6,000, so I had pretty much given up on it. But, the people who outbid me ended up balking for piddly little reasons that I can barely believe, so the house is still on the market, and Debbie believes I can still get it for about $125,000. It's a steal, really, and yet I find myself wavering. The unknowns of home-ownership keep me unsteady, and following the nerve-wracking bid process from a couple weeks ago, I'm loathe to go through it all again.
But, I can't escape the feeling that the house is a absolute gold mine just waiting for a lucky soul to snap it up. It's huge, for one thing, with over 2,500 square feet of space, which would make my meager worldly goods seem absolutely paltry when the enormity of the space swallows them whole.
All the big ticket maintenance items have been taken care of: news windows, new roof, fairly new furnace. I wouldn't have to sink gobs of cash into the home once I bought it, which is a huge bonus.
Cosmetically, the house is a nightmare. Built in 1958, its decor hasn't aged a day. The woman who lived there since the house was built, was a meticulous house-keeper, so it's like a time-warp back to 1958 every time I set foot inside. Thick green carpet and thick green drapes are the first things you see in a gigantic living room. And that carpet, I tell you, was put down not a day after 1959. But, that carpet hides a secret: gleaming-as-they-day-they-were-tacked-into-place hardwood floors. All the upstairs rooms, through covered in frighteningly dated carpet, hide hardwood floors just screaming to be set free. Then there's the paint. There's a pink bedroom, and when I say pink, I mean PINK. Pink carpet, pink walls, AND a pink ceiling. It's like walking into a swirl of cotton candy. The kitchen is small and sports appliances that were no doubt state of the art in 1958, right down to the push button range that looks like a command console used by Capt. Kirk.
There also a porch, bigger than any porch I've ever seen, and it has more potential than should probably be legal. The basement is largely unfinished and features a maze-like hodge podge of half-completed projects, including an attempt at a family room that looks like the gathering place of a witches coven, complete with ancient gas fireplace adorned with a coat-of-arms and wall sconces that look the lighting of choice for the Crypt Keeper. But, again, the basement is huge and is just screaming to be remodeled and updated. And it's all cosmetic and not nearly time-critical.
Mike assures me I won't find another home for this price with all the big ticket items already taken care of, and of course Melissa is mentally already moved in and is scoping out paint swatches for every room in the house, and I have to admit I've taken quite a shine to the abode.
Now it's just a matter of getting past this allergic reaction I have to spending large sums of money and going into debt, and I just don't know if I can get past that, at least not yet. So, I toggle between wanting to call Debbie and set up a bid appointment and just swearing off home ownership completely and cowering in a corner to weep.
This just sucks. It's exciting, but it sucks.
Well, I'm going to be pretty damned depressed now for the rest of the weekend. Good movie, but. . . gah. And, for awhile, I had serious concerns that the movie had no intention of ending. I won't spoil the movie for those of you who have yet to see it, but Sean Penn looks and acts more like Al Pacino every time he gets in front of a camera. And why is it that Tim Robbins keeps playing characters that have been cornholed at some point in the movie? Well, anyway, on to the weekend.
The comment thread that follows the post is standard stuff, with some liberals feeling insulted that Michele painted with such a wide brush against "the left" despite a disclaimer explaining what she means when she says "the left."
I think it's easier to just say "The Angry Left," because that pretty much sums up those on the far left who hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, HATE Bush.
As Michele points out, there's a palpable glee that seems to radiate from the Angry Left when news of a soldier dying in Iraq hits the wire, or when a series of bombs rips apart trains in Spain. Every tragedy that happens in the world simply HAS to be tied to Bush and his misguided foreign policy becasue, you know, Bush is EVIL.
It will be interesting to see how the warfloggers spin this one. Just after 9/11 and in the run up to the Iraq war, every act of terrorism, even the DC area sniper, was pinned on "Arabic," or "Muslim" extremists.
Now, when such a designation might be very uncomfortable for their position politically and morally, I believe they'll automatically take Spain's word for it that this was an ETA attack, and minimize any possible link to Al Qaeda.
I, for one, am not uncomfortable thinking that the Spain bombings were orchestrated by Al Queda. If anything, it would underscore, yet again, that the WORLD is at war with TERRORISM, but I can see where Hesiod is going with this.
In Hesiod's tiny little mind, if the Spain bombings are linked to Muslim extremists, it will be proof that we're LOSING the war on terror. See? They're still attacking us! We're losing! Bush is losing! And, what's more, they're attacking SPAIN, a member of the coalition of the williing! Whoa be it to our allies!
There's no reasoning with this kind of thinking, if you can really even call it thinking in the traditional sense. For Hesiod and his ilk, it's always about how wrong everything is, and then, after spittle-flecked tut-tutting and and nutball wrong "I told you sos," he never offers up anything constructive. He's more than happy to tell the world what he thinks is broken, but he sure as hell isn't about to say how he would go about fixing things. Well, except for getting Bush out of office. That, apparently, will fix everything.
Or, we could journey on over to see what Atrios has to say, which usually isn't as ape-shit crazy as Hesiod, but is pretty nuts all the same. What is his response to something as horrible as the Spain bombings? Well, appeasement, of course.
That said, the primer should make it clear - the Basques have been fighting for their existence for as long as the Celtic Irish, to whom they are thought to be linguistically related (as well as the Georgians of Russia) have been. It doesn't make this right, but perhaps someone should start listening.
Yup, once the bodies are all buried, we should get right down to the serious business of "listening." That's a humdinger of a response policy Atrios has got going there. Under that reasoning, the next time someone robs a convenience store and shoots the clerk, we should stop and ask how much money the robber really needs and send them on their way.
Such is the thinking of many in the far left. Everything wrong with the world can be solved with heavy doses of listening and being sympathetic to all causes. So long as everyone is being listened to and their grievances are being aired, then all is right with world. Or, as James Lileks so aptly put it, it's all about adhering to the PROCESS.
As the strongest nation in the world, we are apparently required to do what the weakest ones want, lest we waste their most precious commodity: sympathy. It's a common theme for those who value process over results and admire impotent international institutions whose primary output is thick, creamy paper stamped with interesting signatures and lovely official seals.
These people would rather the United Nations spend five years "engaging" Iran on its nuclear weapons program, even if the end result is a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv. Better that than a unilateral pre-emptive strike, which would destabilize the international order that let Iran build a bomb in the first place. Better the process fail than the process be ignored.
Exactly. In the wake of terrorist attacks, we're apparently supposed to look forever and always to the U.N., forgetting, of course, that the U.N., with all its deliberating and failures over the years, shares plenty of blame for the current state of international terrorism.
But, what do I know? It's Friday, and the magazine staff is going on a movie day in about half an hour, and we're going to see Mystic River. I hope the theater isn't bombed, because that would really suck.
UPDATE: Whoops. I guess James Lileks already pretty much said everything I said here and, of course, as is usually the case, he says it all better. I suppose there are worse things than to be buzzing on Lileks' brain wave.
Back in my halcyon days of college journalism classes, where we learned big and important concepts like the Inverted Pyramid and human interest stories, I had a little rule hammered deep and hard into my skull.
Namely, you don't mess with direct quotes. If you're quoting someone in an article, it had better be accurate, damn it, or it could come back to bite you. Because I wasn't keen on committing libel, I took this quote rule very, very seriously, and it served me well through two newspaper gigs.
The thing is, when people talk to you, 2/3rds of the time they sound dumb as a stump. But, because it was THEIR words, I dutifully transcribed them as intact as I could, except for, of course, disposing of the multitude of "uhhhs" and "ummms" and other such verbal throw aways.
Here at the magazine I now write for, I exercised the same diligence regarding direct quotes. Even if an high ranking IBM exec sounds rock-hard stupid in some of their quotes, I left the quotes intact. Even though I know what they mean to say, I don't feel it's my place to interpret and fix their quotes. Then it wouldn't be a direct quote any more, right?
Well, because this magazine is basically a marketing tool for IBM and is beholden to IBM for much funding, we here at the magazine take a few liberties with the rules of journalism. Namely, after I finish writing an article, I send the rough draft out to the sources whom I quoted so they get a chance to "undumbify" their quotes. Not surprisingly, most articles come back to me awash with quotation changes and remarks that basically say they can't believe how dense they seem when they see the spoken word in print. That doesn't mean they're dumb by any stretch of the imagination. Far from it. I mean, I like to think of myself as a somewhat smart guy, but when I hear myself on tape or see me quoted somewhere, I think "Gawd, I sound like a gibbering proto-human."
Anyway, because my sources are the ones making changes to their own quotes, I really don't have a problem with them changing them. In the end, their quotes are still their quotes, even though they were allowed to pretty them up.
Well, today I got into a discussion with my managing editor about this. She was giving me a little crap, all in good fun, about having such high ideals, and that I shouldn't have any problem with doctoring quotes to make them sound better.
"But," I said. "Then they wouldn't be THEIR quotes any more. It would be me divining what I think they mean and making it concise and intelligent-sounding for them. I have a problem with that. That wouldn't be a direct quote."
"How is that different from them getting a chance to clean up their quotes?" asked Evelyn.
"Because, it's still THEIR quotes."
"Okay. But, let's say you clean up their quotes and then send them out for their review, and they return the copy and are happy with the changed quotes? Isn't that just easier for both you and them?"
"Well, easier, sure, but what's the point of even having quotes then? If I'm basically taking what they said, interpreting their words for them, and changing them as such. . . I don't know, it just seems as if the whole point of putting quotes in a story is misleading somehow to the reader."
"If you know what they meant to say, and you can make them sound better, and they want you to make them sound better, there really shouldn't be any problem. If we were a newspaper, yes, I'd say you have an obligation, morally and legally, to quote them as directly as possible. But here, we're in the business of making IBM sound good."
"I understand that, but. . . oh, nevermind."
I'm not sure why, but this has been twisting around in my head all day. Really, what's the point of using quotes if they're basically reworded versions of the original quote, authored by me? I can't accept that and, given the choice, I'll continue to allow the sources to clean up their quotes rather than making them sound smart for them.
I don't know. What do you people think?
Evelyn says: Bizarre article: http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/4655532.html
Ryan says: From what I understand of history, Rochester filed for, and received, exemption status from the Emancipation Proclamation.
Evelyn says: What?
Ryan says: Joke.
Ryan says: Commence laughter. . . NOW!
Evelyn says: Oh, sorry, thought you were serious there for a minute.
Ryan says: I gathered.
Excerpt: The U.N. is the only voice of reason and ordor (sic) in this world. It's a voice for peace when countries by themselves are intent on war. I'm curious how you can so quickly dismiss it offhand while your nation pursues its unilateral ambitions.
I'm called upon to explain my disdain for the U.N. with a regularity that would make Metamucil envious, mainly because I was once a staunch supporter of the U.N., almost to the point of lunacy. I mean, if you look at what the U.N. is SUPPOSED to represent, it's tough to really oppose it. After all, the concept of international law, and outlawing war, and enforcing the belief in basic human rights, and stamping out poverty, and on and on and on. . . it's all pretty damned convinving on paper.
On paper, the U.N. aspires to the ideal human experience of Star Trek, where poverty, inexplicably, is no longer a problem, and wars can usually always (I intended the "usual always," because it sounds funny, but anyhoo. . . ) be circumvented through the diplomatic skills of a bald French starship captain. I'll admit it: I bought into it. I love Star Trek and, by extension, I got sucked into the belief that the U.N. was somehow the U.S.S. Enterprise and Kofi Annan was Capt. Picard. It's easy to believe in perfect ideals such as that; it's much harder to face the cold hard glare of reality.
The reality? The U.N. has become ineffectual. The U.N. is corrupt, perhaps more than any "Dick Cheney Fellates Halliburton Execs" conspiracy theorists could ever imagine. It's hard to see, really, because I think most minds in the Big Media have a default setting that says "U.N. = Good" and they're not interested in questioning that nearly as much as they're interested in questioning whether Janet Jackson's nipple indicates the collapse of the modern American society.
For some reason that continually escapes me, when a country like Syria is put on a U.N. committee dedicated to fighting terrorism, most everything I read tends to have a slant that says "See? The U.N. encourages countries who disagree to come together," rather than, maybe, you know, exposing the appointment as Syrian window dressing to veil the reality that their third most lucrative export is terrorism. And, even in the case of humanitarian efforts, such as the "Oil For Palaces, er, Food" programs, the U.N. proved itself to be astonishingly corrupt.
In the months following 9/11, and the lead-up to the (resumed) war in Iraq, it became painfully obvious to me that the U.N., as a serious arbiter of world affairs, had become irrevocably incapacitated due to political machinations going on outside the U.N. walls. France, Germany and Russia all opposed military intervention in Iraq and, since France and Russia had veto authority, well, that was that. Never mind that high-ranking officials in all those countries had been doled out considerable bribes by Saddam and Co., to ensure Saddam's political longevity.
In other words, the U.N. looks less and less like Star Trek every day, and more and more like The Godfather. I'm reminded quite often that America is guilty of breaking international law, as set forth by the U.N. (including the U.S), and we're being criminally hypocritical in our pursuit of the war on terror. It sounds so awful, being criminally hypocritical. It sounds so awfully awful. But, then I see footage of 9/11, and I remember that the U.N. waffled while armed with the most damning of evidence, and I can't help but feel that that's incalcluably more awfully awful, like watching someone beat someone else with a baseball bat and doing nothing because that might somehow infringe on the attacker's right to carry a baseball bat and, by extension, beat people with it. Oh, and the attacker paid them up front for the right to initiate the beating, so there's that.
So, no, I don't have a lot of time for the U.N., by which I mean I guess I can stomach the headquarter's presence in New York and pay $1 billion in renovation fees and all that, but as the grand vision of world order and law that it was founded upon, it has failed miserably. Can it be fixed? I like to think so but, until it is, I refuse to think of it as anything more than corrupt, irrelevant and ineffectual.
It looks great, but only on paper.
UPDATE: For Joshua, who likes Saddam_oil_vouchers_040129-1.html">evidence to be linked.
Finally, somebody explains it.
By the way, Dave Barry has his own blog, and you should check it out just in case you're bored.
Driving to work this morning, the radio guy informs me, with great glee, that it was going to be over 40 degrees today and sunny, sunny, SUNNY! Booooo, to winter! Boooooo! Depart vile season of snow and cold! Begone!
Come noon, there's a freakin' inch of snow on my car, with plenty more cascading from the skies. And, you know what? No sun! Of the sun, no rays are shining. Only cold, grey, unfeeling clouds, loosening their watery frozen bowels on the hapless Rochester inhabitants.
I actually got mad at the snow. I was in my car, skittering along the slippery roads (the road crews hadn't been out in force yet, because I'm sure they heard the radio guy and figured they could sleep in), and I found myself actually cursing the snow. I mean, I'm okay with a March snowstorm or two, or even three, but not when they happen right on top of each other. We had a massive dumpy-doo of snow on Friday, and a slight additional dusting Saturday night, so being greeted with MORE SNOW after the radio guy promised SUN, SUN, SUN, just pissed me off somehow.
Ah, but do the meteoroligical powers that be offer up retractions and apologies for their false hope? No! They just go on talking about how it's snowing out, and that caution is advised, and that the flurries could continue on into the evening. They just wipe the slate clean. No, they didn't make a mistake. Couldn't have. Forget what we said before; this is what's happening now. You see where we had the happy smiley sun up there? Well, we're just going to put a big old mean angry cloud there instead. You didn't see nothin!
Lousy, stinking snow.
It's pretty much been an Instapundit day for me, including this gem of a headline run in the Chicago Sun-Times: Rosie weds longtime girlfriend, slams Bush.
Well, some people are sticklers about waiting until after they're married to. . . well, you know.
My mom and dad live in Tokyo nine months out of the year, and that's a damn long time to leave an empty house back here in the states, so I go to check up on it once in awhile.
Well, one winter, every single time I went back, I was accosted by gnats. Gnats kept appearing out of some secret place, and they were EVERYWHERE. They would be in the sinks, and in the toilets, and on windows, and basically buzzing around every goddamned room in the house in truly staggering numbers.
I sprayed the entire house with RAID many, many, many times, but each and every time I came back to the house, the gnats had staged a triumphant comeback. I couldn't for the life of me find the source. It was driving me fucking CRAZY.
Finally, one evening, I was going down the basement stairs to check on the furnace, when I heard a rustling to my right, sort of like a plastic bag in a wind. I moved the recycling bins out of the way to reveal an old bag of potatoes, or they had once been potatoes, but they had, in the months that elapsed since my parents left town, devolved into a strange dark mushy potato sauce that was absolutely teeming with gnats and gnat larvae. . . and one dead mouse.
I tried to ever so gently pick up the bag without spilling its contents, but I wasn't able to prevent the bag from burping forth a gasp of the most foul-smelling air ever concocted. I never ever smelled a smell that smelled like that smell smelled. The smell actually scared me.
With my heart racing and my throat retching, I ran outside with the defiled bag of potato mush and threw it high into the air, and it landed smack-dab in the middle of the driveway, where it made a sad-sounding splat and ejected a massive plume of gnats into the cold winter air. The gnats quickly dispersed, apparently nonplussed at having been so cruelly ejected from their happy potato juice stink factory home into the cruel cold air that almost certainly meant their death.
I went back into the house and finished off the remaining gnats with another heavy spraying of RAID, and the gnat problem ended right there on that fateful day.
But, I still remember that smell. That's the type of smell that sticks with you until you fucking die.
At the risk of losing a valued reader. . .
Mr. Rhodes. I'm e-mailing you rather than commenting on your site because it would probably just become another chew toy for you and Joshua to pass back and forth until it doesn't even resemble the original argument. I read you for your humor content, but your political leanings just make me sick. How can you continue to support the Bush administration when their actions have so completely turned the rest of the world against us? How you can sleep at night knowing the blood of so many came as a result of U.S. action over the past four years is beyond me. It's almost enough to keep me from coming back and reading you. Almost.
First off, I should point out that I don't, in fact, support the Bush administration. Most of its domestic policies seem like they were found in an old trunk in an attic that hadn't been opened since 1930. Bush himself I find about as inspiring as a clod of dirt, with oratorical skills to match. But, ultimately, none of that really matters.
When it comes to domestic concerns, most of the hot button issues simply don't resonate with me.
I put money away for retirement on my own, because I genuinely believe that social security simply won't exist any more by the time I'm 65. I think that the generally indifferent actions taken by both Democrats and Republicans indicate that both sides are adopting a "let it slowly die" approach to social security. Does it bother me that social security is still taken out of my checks? No, because I'm perfectly happy knowing that the current generation of retired folks can at least rest a little easier thanks to monthly checks from the government. And, I live just fine without that extra bit of cash, so it's really a non-issue for me.
Education? I don't have any kids, so I don't really care at this point. Besides, my thinking right now is that home-schooling is more and more the right way to go, with the exception of athletics, which I strongly feel every child should experience, particularly wrestling.
Environmental policies? Feh. There was a time when it made perfect sense to me to think that the migration habits of Alaskan caribou would be destroyed by the presence of oil wells. Then, one day, I realized that the caribou will probably just find an alternative route to get to wherever they gotta get to. I mean, they may look dumb and all that, but they're not THAT dumb.
As for our overall dependence on oil, sure, it would be great if we finally discovered a cost-effective way to exact cold fusion, thus being able to fulfill 99.9 percent of our annual energy needs from a single glass of water. That would be super. But, I'm also realistic enough to know that you just can't chop the legs out from under an oil-based economic structure without sending the world into an economic tailspin. In other words, patience people. Patience. Weening is a process, not an amputation.
So, the domestic issues of today basically don't mean poo to me. I make good money, I'm in a job I enjoy, and I have health and dental insurance, and pretty much everything is just great for me on the homefront.
Except for those terrorist dudes. They kinda bother me.
I had a very vivid dream awhile back, and it scared the living shit out of me. In the dream, I was standing by a pool, outside of a hotel, talking with a group of people. Suddenly, there was a bright flash of light in the distance, and when I eventually looked up, I could plainly see a mushroom cloud pluming upward. My initial instinct was to run into the hotel and just keep finding stairs that go down, trying to beat the shockwave and seek whatever shelter I could from the radiation sure to follow. I remember thinking, as I ran, "oh my God, they actually did it; they actually did it" over and over again, and there was a terribly empty feeling in my chest knowing that humanity had basically been delivered a death blow.
And, the thing is, terrorists, given the means, actually would do that. They'd do it right now, if they could. Instead of planes, they'd use nukes. Absolutely.
Strangely, the rest of the world, or at least those nations not of the 20+ that make up the coalition of the willing, don't seem to understand that. Those that sympathize with the causes of the likes of Hamas and delve so minutely into the causation of why they hate us and why we should try to understand them and work with them to ensure world peace, seem utterly oblivious to the reality that terrorists and terrorist organizations would gleefully sign agreements with one hand and press a detonator with the other.
So, I'm not terribly distraught if France, Germany and Russia are busy tut-tutting us. As far as I can tell, their supine approach to stamping out terrorists and the regimes that harbor and support them illustrate everything that was wrong with American foreign policy leading up to 9/11. Ooh, we got a bloody nose in Beirut? We'll leave. Dead soldiers dragged through Mogadishu? We're gone. Embassies bombed? We'll send a couple cruise missiles your way, but that's it. Cole bombing? Little or no response. In other words, we continually refused to acknowledge just how far terrorists would go until it was too late, emboldening them, and then the towers came down.
Therefore, how can I sleep at night knowing the blood of so many came as a result of U.S. action over the past four years? Easy, because I'm fairly convinced even more blood would have been shed through U.S. INaction over the past four years.
Foreign policy and the war on terrorism are the election issues that matter most to me, and right now Bush and Co. seem vastly more qualified to keep making the tough decisions in that realm, whereas John Kerry right now seems more intent on making nice with everyone.
UPDATE: Then again, John Kerry may have a secret weapon with which to fight the war on terror.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe. . . . They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.
They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn't done enough for -- yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part -- something that we could correct.
And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.
The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason -- it is his reason, and not ours. -- Lee Harris in Civilization and its Enemies, a book I own but haven't yet read entirely, but was reminded of by Instapundit.
AND YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Instapundit is on a freakin' roll today. This gem by Tony Blair says it all and says it damn near perfectly.
I don't spend a whole lot of time worrying about the size and fullness of my penis. I'm genuinely happy with its overall form, function and size. It performs as expected or, as Data on Star Trek: TNG might say "It's functioning within established parameters."
I bring up Data and my penis in the same paragraph because I watch a lot of Spike TV, a cable station that ensures I can easily quench my thirst for TNG and Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. The thing is, though, that Spike TV, which touts itself as the first station dedicated entirely to male-oriented programming, apparently firmly believes that all the men of the world must desire "male enhancement." I say this because, on any given evening of Spike TV programming, you'll see that as much as 85 percent of its advertising is made up entirely of Enzyte commercials.
Enzyte, for those unfamiliar with the product, claims, quite repeatedly, that it is "The once-a-day tablet for natural male enhancement." I am in no way speaking ill of those men in the world who require supplements to get their old Evinrude's cranking. I understand that age can wreak havoc on bodily functions, and the penis is not spared the wrath of aging.
Rather, my problem lies with the commercials themselves. They just creep me out. There's this guy, and his whole acting requirement is to smile the most God-awful ear-to-ear smile, and he has to maintain it throughout the commercial. It's hideous and horrifying and most of all just kind of sad.
I hope that acting gig pays well, because after these commercials have run their course and mercifully die out, he'll be forever known as "The Enzyte Guy." No company would want him as their spokesman, and no sitcom would want him to try out for a pilot, because you just can't have the creepy-smiling Enzyte guy as a cast member. It would be too difficult for the audience to escape into the fiction of the sitcom, because in the back of their minds, they know that THAT'S THE ENZYTE GUY.
Oh, and I should also point out that a couple of the commercials thus far wallow in some of the most obvious racial stereotyping this side of Huggy Bear.
And, the worst part, THE WORST PART, is that one of those commercials features a little whistling diddy in the background that is just freakin' impossible to get out of your head. So, today at work, I keep finding myself whistling that damned Enzyte tune. Oh, yeah, there's also another Enzyte commercial featuring Japanese businessmen and, of course, THE ENZYTE GUY, and it, too, features an annoying little diddy that sticks in your head like gum to a table.
None of this, of course, would be a problem if I wasn't addicted to Star Trek: TNG reruns and Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. But still, I'm really getting to the point that I actually kind of hate THE ENZYTE GUY. That little dick.
POLITICAL UPDATE: To all those Deaniacs out there who encouraged Howard Dean to re-enter the presidential race after he handidly won Vermont last night, I feel I should really point something out to you. . . This is Vermont. This is California. This public service is brought to you by the good people at common sense and perspective who say, in all seriousness, you people are crrrrraaaaaazzzzzyyy. YEAARGH!!
I keep a notepad and pen next to my bed, just in case I wake up in the middle of the night with some profound thought that I think should be shared with the world. I do this a lot. My notepad is full of nocturnal scribblings. The problem is, roughly two-thirds of those freakin' scribblings are either illegible or unintelligible.
It's a crying shame, really, because I like to think I'm pretty intellectually gifted at 4 a.m. The world will never know, I guess.
Last night's musings, though largely unreadable, do consist of a few sentence fragments I was able to decipher, and I was eventually able to remember what the hell it was that was bouncing around my skull when I woke up to pee at 3:23 a.m. (or so I scribbled in the margins).
Last night, apparently, my fevered mind was in deep thought about shower cleaner. . . and Iraq. It makes sense, I suppose, because before I went to bed last night, I spritzed my shower and toilet with Scrubbing Bubbles With Bleach and then logged online quick to see what was new with Healing Iraq. Maybe the Scrubbing Bubbles fumes were playing with my olfactory nerves and eating away very specific areas of my brain but, for whatever reason, my brain conjured the following incomplete paragraph last night at 3:23 a.m.:
I'm sure there's something very important in there somewhere. That's the problem with hazy, half-awake thinking: all your neurons are still firing all at once, almost as if you're still in a dream-like state, and all your conscious cognitive functions are dedicated to trying to get you to shuffle successfully to the bathroom to relieve yourself.
Once you get to the toilet, with your arm braced against the wall (this only applies to males, and for a very select few females), your mind just doesn't care what kind of ancillary musings may be jostling for most-favored status. Therefore, you get a Saddamized toilet, and it makes perfect sense, so you write it down and drift back into slumber thinking you're a brilliant punster, when in fact you're really not.
29. Feels like 28, but it sounds more ominous. With 28, I still had a grace year at my disposal. Now, I'm disposing of that grace year. The big 3-0 looms like a gathering storm. Now, I'm in my 20s. Next year at this time, I won't be. It's like birthday purgatory, really.
Okay, I kid. I'm not nearly that bleak. Hell, I could be 50, and I'd still consider myself pretty dang young. Provided that, by 50, I've accomplished a whole lot more than I have up to this point. Well, that's not fair, either. I'm doing pretty well for myself. I have some money tucked away in the bank. I'm healthy as a horse. . . well, a horse with high blood pressure, but I always knew I was genetically programmed for that fate. I have a wonderful girlfriend who I love, who, despite all dictates of common sense, apparently loves me back. I have lots of friends. I have a great family. And I have a turquoise blog.
And, today, I go to see if I can secure a mortgage. It's sudden, I know. I toured a house this weekend and, for a raised ranch, it's HUGE (2,500 sq. ft.). It was built in 1958, and I don't think the decor has changed an iota since its construction. We're talking vast amounts of thick, green carpet, painted doors, a pink bedroom (including the ceiling), and a bathroom that screams "decorate me! Modernize me!" I want the house. If I strip out the carpet, revealing the beautiful hardwood floors beneath, paint the walls, and put in some new doors, we're talking a whole different home. And it features a porch so unbelievably huge, it would easily accommodate a hot tub AND an area for me to work out with my heavy bag and. . . and . . . and . . . I want the house.
Unfortunately, so does somebody else, and there are indications they're further along the process than I, so I'm scrambling today to go through all the unknowns of mortgages and prequalifying and God knows what other aspects of buying a home. It starts today, and I know nothing: tomorrow I should know more. Even if I don't get it, at least I'll have learned a thing or three.
Here's to 29 and whatever the year may hold.