Sunday, June 29, 2003
Shoulda Been Hell's Librarian
Uh-oh. I'm here at my mother's place in the Bay Area, and I figured it would be easier to blog from her new laptop rather than trying to log in from my own. But my system for retaining info for links isn't going to work on someone else's computer, so bear with me.
Anton recommended this test from the ever-fecund Quizilla, and I found myself catagorized as a Temptress. I demand a recount; I'm a married woman, for crying out loud.
But here it is (if the code works properly, that is--we all know I'm no computer savant):
You are a temptress
Which Ultimate Beautiful Woman are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Just remember: there's many a slip between the cup and the lip. And did I mention that I'm married?
6/29/2003 01:59:00 AM
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
I feel like I'm leaving the party waaaay too early--but I shall be back. Up to the Bay Area (Northern California, that is) to visit my mother and to pick up a proofreading job (a book-length manuscript). (Yeah, Baby: I'll read for my supper. No problem.)
Back circa 6/30-7/1.
6/25/2003 11:38:00 PM
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Oh, How I Love Blogger. (More on Moxie v. Moxie)
There may or may not be a post below this one about the Moxie flap. I attempted to delete it (intending to post an explanation tonight as to why I had done so)--but it appears that the post still displays on my blog. And since it no longer appears in Blogger, there's no way to update it. I think there's a bug in the program. (No! Wait! It's a feature.)
I was trying to make light of what I perceived to be a week-and-a-half-old blog issue, but since I wrote the post Jim Treacher has informed me that the second Moxie took her site down because she was fired from her job. Apparently one of the hysterical people who have been participating in the flame wars of Original Moxie vs. MoxiePop faxed an anonymous letter to MoxiePop's real-life employers. It spooked them enough that they let her go the same day.
If you read some of the back-and-forth posts it's clear that both sides were getting out of hand and threatening to take this dispute outside the web world. And then it happened.
The whole thing makes me sick. Sure: I have opinions about the original issue. But this particular escalation should never have happened.
It's a pretty sobering story about what can occur when people lose perspective, and I'm pretty upset that people would take a dispute about who uses what name over the internet to this kind of level.
If you've got a strong stomach, there's a summary here, with enough links to get you started. But it ain't a pretty thing to watch.
6/24/2003 08:59:00 PM
A Little Censorship with Your Tea?
So, the Supreme Court tackled porn in public libraries yesterday. Peter Lewis of Fortune, unhappy with this supposed infringement on the First Amendment, compared looking for internet porn with trying to find Dad's stash of Playboy magazines. Right. The material out there on the web these days is a lot raunchier than anything we were ever able to get our hands on as kids. And the filtering software is a lot better; it usually allows genuinely educational material through (breast-cancer discussion groups, to cite the usual example). I just don't see the infringement, here--particularly when adults can ask to get the filters turned off.
Have you ever clicked on any of the awful web porn that shows up in your e-mail in-box? I had to ask a young relative of mine to please please please stay away from that shit, pointing out that no matter how curious you are, it's not worth getting so turned off to sex that you'll remain a virgin until you're 30 years old (and of course I offered to send her good, life-affirming [yet hot] books and pictures).
The main problem with a lot of what's out there is that the same acts that were presented in a neutral way in the 70s (when I was 8 to 18) are now often depicted in a way that is terribly judgmental toward the women involved. It's no longer a question of "these people are all behaving out of the animal sides of their natures." The construct is more like "look at how stupid and evil she is, and look how I've tricked her into harming herself by participating." The main thrust--pun intended--is about as unsexy and puritanical as it gets.
In fact, if you look at the bulk of the material out there, it's hard to find any women or girls: there are only sluts and bitches. The male aggression and female putdowns aren't an undertone any more, but rather front-and-center in the material. The implication is that any woman who engages in sexual acts is worthless.
Now for healthy adult women this is a laughable notion, and I usually do get a giggle at the expense of the baboons who produce these cartoonish ideas about human sexuality. For kids it's a different thing: if their first glimpse of the sexual realm is so very sex-negative, it really could have lasting effects.
Go ahead and send me the hate mail. I still regard myself as mostly pretty libertarian (small "l," of course). But if it's only out-and-out porn that's being excluded by these filters, and it's only kids who have to live within those limitations, I can certainly cope with that.
And I'll do my part: I hereby promise to send the link for Clean Sheets to anyone over the age of 15--okay, 16--who asks for it. Just as a public service.
[Link to Peter Lewis courtesy of Glenn over at Instapundit, of course.]
6/24/2003 12:47:00 PM
Diversity--Like In a Pantone Color Book
Still reading on the Supreme Court's Affirmative Action decision. It sounds like they are saying it's okay to discriminate on the basis of race, provided you're a little subtle about it.
That is: it's kosher so long as you don't place specific numerical values on race, or anything that flagrant.
Still reading. More later.
6/24/2003 05:37:00 AM
Monday, June 23, 2003
Better Living Through Annoying People
I sense my clock wants to go full-tilt vampire, and I must resist this.
Occasionally I resist with sleeping pills, attempting to slow the shift to night-owl hours with a little chemical assist. In order not to post something along the lines of:
gotaa remebro to red winnie poohs oon mabe somethig abot hunny? So yu rememer the one were hes stuck in rhe dor ar rabbts place?
I usually sternly remind myself that after downing an Ambien I may not enter the blogging program.
This, of course, leads to my perusing other blogs just as the chemicals kick in. So once in a while one of the other bloggers I'm fond of gets an e-mail that sounds something like this:
i jus thig your so smat I really lik youre insits into poltcs espcilly that post aout the electon. Yr on of the most ifluetall blggers rite now.
Fortunately, the other bloggers are a tolerant, congenial crowd. Smart, too. They generally manage to decipher my notes, and gently enquire about whatever remains unclear.
I haven't yet fully explored how antihistamines affect my blogging ability, though that's certainly an area ripe for exploration.
6/23/2003 04:51:00 AM
Fun with Google
Here are some of the recent searches that have led people to my door:
"little miss nations" (in the French version of Google);
"strap-on miss," and
"hot little fuckin" (this last one is especially interesting, since someone waded through three pages before finding, on the fourth page of the search, what they were apparently looking for all along: a parody of the dialogue in The Sopranos).
6/23/2003 04:37:00 AM
Sunday, June 22, 2003
Dear Abby . . .
What do you do about people who only take you seriously if you get mad? I had a roommate like that once; it was awful. I was forced to be a bitch about everything. Or, at least, anything I cared about.
And now I'm dealing with a friend who also takes the same tack. The problem: she goes one level beyond the former roommate, to a sort of "Catch-22" land. She has no time for me unless I'm mad. If I'm mad she doesn't want to deal with me.
I feel like Alice in Wonderland.
6/22/2003 03:34:00 AM
Saturday, June 21, 2003
The Bitch Girls are reminding everyone that today (Saturday) is National Ask Day. Check with the legal guardians of kids your own children play with: make sure there is a firearm on the premises in case of emergency.
If they don't have a firearm and aren't willing to acquire one, please don't take a chance: do not permit playdates at that home.
6/21/2003 02:26:00 AM
Frailty, Thy Name Is Attila Girl
You know how some women are. We want to like the nice guys. We really do.
Yet somehow, sooner or later, we find ourselves drawn to the dysfunctional. The irresponsible. The troubled. The somehow appealing, yet utterly hapless. Those who cannot behave appropriately. The charming jerks.
Just how it is, my friends. It's an old tendancy. After all, Lord Byron used to take this to the bank.
6/21/2003 01:30:00 AM
Freedom!--And the Good Things That Go With It
Pejmanesque has translated "Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!" for us. We now have the rallying cry for the upcoming Iranian Revolution: "Azaki! Arak! Eshgh!" There are also three versions of a possible new flag to rally 'round. Let's all have those displayed by July 9th, folks.
Unfortunately, those are probably all the same parts of speech, and this is regrettable: the charming thing about "Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!" is that it is two nouns with an adjective: non-parallel language that somehow sounds right.
6/21/2003 12:52:00 AM
Haven't done a Friday Five in a while. I'm late--by fifteen minutes--but if I lived near Kate I'd be on time. (As a matter of fact, I may simply claim to be running on Hawaii time from now on. This will make me early [rather than late] everywhere I go.)
1. Is your hair naturally curly, wavy, or straight? Long or short?
Wavy. Just past the shoulders, these days. For the first time in eight years or so. (For years it ranged between my jaw and the tops of my shoulders.)
2. How has your hair changed over your lifetime?
It started out blonde, and became simply "fair." I'd say it's medium-brown, at present, with some auburn streaks. Totally natural.
It's been curly (permed), strawberry blonde, and blonde-streaked (well-done highlights). When it was long in my teens there weren't bangs. In my twenties, there were bangs. Now I just have a lock of bang-like hair that I have to curl out of my way.
3. How do your normally wear your hair?
With that lock sprayed into submission and a few other random pieces curled out. Then it gets hot and I just put the whole thing back into a ponytail in the California heat.
4. If you could change your hair this minute, what would it look like?
I'd probably grab my snow cap and put it on, since it's chilly in here. I usually look pretty fetching, typing away at the computer in a knit cap with a fluffy ball on top that my grandmother made for me when I was 14 or whatever.
5. Ever had a hair disaster? What happened?
I was out of work and had to figure out how to trim my bangs myself. It was stunningly, amazingly awful at first. Subsequent trimmings were merely regrettable.
6/21/2003 12:30:00 AM
Thursday, June 19, 2003
East Coast Appetizers
Here's another charming blog, just recently redesigned. I thought the excerpt on NZ Bear was promising, and found the site itself quietly lovely. Posts on art, food, Macintoshes--what's not to like? And a slice of life in our nation's capital. Just a peaceful, smart little blog.
(UPDATE: The permalink is dead, so I've substituted a link to the main page for that blog, rather than the post submitted to the showcase. Please do let me know in the future when there's no apparent link where one ought to be: in this case it seems to have indicated a problem with the archiving process at the other site--which is one scary thing on occasion with Blogger. Sometimes my archives don't come up, and there's this "oh, no--is it lost?" moment.)
6/19/2003 11:54:00 PM
Summertime, and the Living Is Clean
The June Gloom is here, and it even rained a little.
But it's just a dip in the rising temperatures as summer comes to Southern California.
I got out my shorts and tank tops weeks ago, and tucked the turtlenecks away. I left out two long-sleeved shirts, since I knew the chilly weather wasn't over yet. ("Chilly weather" is a relative term, I understand: I think I mean anything below 65 degrees.)
But mostly I'll be watching the climb up the thermometer, till we peak at 100 or so (90 in my shaded garage area).
And as it warms up I find that I want to organize, clean the house, get things in order. I think it has something to do with being a schoolteacher's daughter: I used to wake up on summer mornings and some cluttered area would be reorganized. Or the kitchen would have been mopped. Or some other long-neglected thing would be done. Sometimes the house would seem to just shine with my mom's efforts.
And, unlike some other single parents, she didn't get mad at us because she was doing this. A former roommate of mine hated to do any kind of housework because she'd been abused over the issue. In fact, she hated the idea of me doing housework because her mother would clean on Saturday mornings until, irate, she'd order my friend out of bed to help her. Somehow this roommate anticipated I'd do the same, and it was inconceivable to me. Is there anything more invasive than telling someone not just what to do around the house, but exactly when they have to do it?
One thing about my brother and me, though: we always pulled our weight. If our mother got cranky and suggested we weren't doing enough, there was always plenty of ammunition we could fire back at her. (When my brother was in college--or perhaps just out of it--I went up to the Bay Area to visit him and took a bath. The tub was spotless, which I realized was an expression of his hedonism, in a way: bathing and showering is such a pleasure that there should be no dirt, hair or grease in the tub to get in the way of that delight. Afterward I remarked to him, "Cleanest bathtub in California. That's my brother." He grinned and said nothing.)
I think the association between summer and cleaning has worked its way into my personality on some deep, biological level. It just feels appropriate when there's heat and light that things get tidied up--and I'm cleaning as I go, of course.
I read a survey several years ago that suggested spring cleaning had become a thing of the past, and that most thorough housecleaning is done in the fall, as people anticipate holiday entertaining, and even--yipes!--houseguests. That makes some sense to me, but as the year is wrapping up there are so many extra tasks already that it seems like a terrible time for the additional burden.
No. It's just as I'm taking my shoes off and running around barefoot that I start to hanker for pristine floors. And as I anticipate the rich-but-simple bounty of summer food--fruit, fresh corn, grilled chicken--I want gleaming counters to prepare them on.
"Hurry up, please. It's time."
6/19/2003 12:53:00 PM
Guns, Food, and other Good Things
Here's an amusing little comparison between the dangers of unfettered access to food vs. those of readily available guns in our society. Including a few tart words about faux-mockumentary maker Michael Moore. Yes, this is more of my linkage to fulfill the terms of NZ Bear's contest, but it's still a cute entry.
(Actually, given that Christopher Guest, who was involved in Spinal Tap and the driving force behind Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind doesn't care for the term "mocumentary" anyway ["we're not mocking people"] I'd say we should just reserve the term for Moore's efforts to obfuscate. And if the "repeal the Oscar" effort doesn't succeed, I'd say there's every reason in the world to nominate A Mighty Wind as a documentary this year.)
6/19/2003 11:42:00 AM
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
So, there's a new contest over at The Truth Laid Bear. This one is partly a "make-up" for those of us who have entered in the past and flopped. The rules on these things have evolved since the last time I played--now, apparently, each contestant has to "vote for" (link) at least three of his/her competitors. This is a fine, cool thing, since last time I was in one of these showcases I wanted to vote for others . . . but I also sort-of wanted to win. My American ruthlessness (such as it is) won out, and I didn't link any of the other bloggers--though I should have.
Especially since I'm unlikely to place well in any of these contests: they rely on easily excerpted pieces, and I tend to write longer posts. But I thought--and think--that they're probably good exposure. And it forces me to check out the new blood out there. Also healthy.
It's a Damn Fine Thing, also, to see a few liberals/lefties involved in the current Showcase. If I find one I like, I'll link him or her. I don't want to live in a bifurcated blogosphere, in which two groups simply talk to each other, and never exchange ideas. Though Sully is enough of a deficit hawk to balance out my supply-side instincts. I'm still looking for the liberal equivalent of the Volokh gang, or the guys at Oxblog (who say they're centrists, of course--but they're so whip-smart, I tend to place them just to the right of center). Or, of course, James Joyner.
"Tell me something good."
6/18/2003 02:27:00 PM
The same day--Saturday--that my band lost its drummer, Kelley over at Suburban Blight posted this about her own experiences in the rock 'n' roll underground. It's a fun story.
Some friends of mine were in a band in the 80s. One of its members once assured me that "we will have a concert some time, if we're ever bad. As opposed to deplorable." And they did: they played at a couple of parties, and made a cassette.
And I haven't decided that I can sing, notwithstanding the fact that I'm singing lead in an (okay: drummerless, guitarless--but we're fixing that; it's been a tough few weeks) band. But early on, when things were especially rocky, we'd run through a song a second or third time and I'd feel really encouraged. "Hey!" I'd exclaim. "That sucked less."
What a middle-aged woman is doing with such an undignified hobby is not clear. But I knitted in my 20s (also not well). It could be that I'm simply going backward: I may be playing with Legos in my 60s. Might not be good at that, either.
6/18/2003 02:57:00 AM
Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine . . .
Sully suggests that in three weeks we should have a sort of Iranian rally, and all blog in solidarity with the students and dissidents. On July 9th. (Those of us who still pray can also do that, of course.)
I'm not sure how he chose that particular date; I'm sure there's some historical significance that's lost on me. (UPDATE: It's the anniversary of a particularly brutal suppression of demonstrators four years ago. Sully is starting on the 4th--our "special day"--and making Iran the focus until the 9th. The Iranians have vowed to protest every day from now until the 9th.)
That day also happens to be my birthday. I'll be 41. I'm happy and honored to share it with those who struggle against the mullahs. (UPDATE: Talk about them turning shit into gold.)
Weird to be moving into my 40s in this society: I guess I'm supposed to hate getting older. But mostly what I see is that with each passing decade I become more powerful, more plugged-in. It's a jagged thing, growth--like the stock market. Lately, for instance, I've had a lot of flashbacks to my 20s and 30s. A lot of "have I really changed as much as I thought I had?" sort of moments.
But I have. It's just that . . . well, the road gets narrower as we roll along, doesn't it? The more we discover that there are things we actually want, the more we are forced to take action to bring the necessary changes about. There is choice, of course, in the broad philosophical sense. But there are few real viable options.
Of course, I'm still somewhat attractive--a little character around the eyes, if you check closely, but it isn't too bad. And when I really do start to lose my looks--such as they are--I may have a whole different take on this aging thing: I may not, ultimately, go too damn gently into that good night. We'll see.
But I've spent the past three weeks in a funk, reminding myself over and over again just how much of an asshole I am in this way or that. Shortcomings around every corner. And still--when it comes right down to it, there's no one I'd rather be.
6/18/2003 02:14:00 AM
Monday, June 16, 2003
What Is This Paper? I've Been Using the Back For My Shopping List...
Due to sloth--or too many blog bookmarks to check 'em all every night--I've missed a whole discussion from Sara at Diotima on the constitutionality of the partial-birth abortion ban. Rather, there are a few discussions, but she provides a quick tourist guide to the issue and the hot sites where it's being debated. I haven't followed all the links, yet, but I will.
I feel that once you've labeled partial-birth abortions what they are, infanticide, it is valid to invoke equal protection and it is constitutional. A fully-formed, full-term fetus should be enough of a "person" to satisfy the most ardent Federalist.
(And I'm a pro-choice libertarian, but--ye gads! What possible argument is there for not simply having the child at this point, if you've carried him/her around for nine months? Just let someone adopt him or her. And if I hear one more argument for partial-birth abortion that simply conflates it with all other "late term" or "third trimester" abortions, I'm going to choke. Not the same thing at all.)
There is also the "fighting fire with fire" argument: if Roe v. Wade brought things to this particular point by distorting the constitution in a very specific manner, might abortion opponents--or those who are simply sickened by this one manifestation of abortion--go to that same extra-constitutional place in order to limit the damage?
6/16/2003 12:22:00 PM
The Mob Squad
Attila-hub and I have been watching old reruns of *The Sopranos,* since HBO is replaying all the early seasons. We watched the last one--the fifth, I believe--all the way through, and are now backtracking to see the ones we missed early on due to
1) My husband's unwavering loyalty to *The X Files* on Sunday nights. After all, he hung in till the bitter end (even after I was sighing and looking at my watch--all through those last two awful seasons). And:
2) My unwillingness to watch only part of a series unless or until I could see the whole thing. (Okay, sure: once in a while I would walk into the Media Kingdom downstairs and see part of an episode. I'd then have to stay for the whole thing. Because, you know--the writing is so good. And Eve was weak.)
But there's something about the fuckin' Sopranos that . . . I dunno. It's like it has some kind of fuckin' effect on my word choices. I feel like I have fewer fuckin' locutions to fuckin' choose from, and the ones I do have at my command--it's like there are fewer fuckin' syllables in 'em. And more fuckin' hard consanant sounds. And for, like, a fuckin' hour afterward I go around the house talkin' in some kind of fuckin' New Jersey accent or somethin'.
I find myself askin' my husband if maybe that real estate developer who built that big fuckin' house in the neighborhood--the one that still drains into our yard--maybe he should get clipped.
I'm puttin' "lime" on the fuckin' shoppin' list. It's no fuckin' good.
6/16/2003 12:27:00 AM
Saturday, June 14, 2003
A friend recently posted the URL to this page on a public forum I participate in.
Another friend responded that the page is "racist."
Please e-mail me at email@example.com with your opinion. Comments/results posted soon, along with a more complete explanation about what friend #2 didn't like about the page linked above.
And for another interesting discussion about when humor is and isn't offensive, see this little gem from Asparagirl ("A Quick Dose . . . Of Humor"), along with her readers' comments on same. (And, yes--I shall be updating my site soon, so people don't have to e-mail me to respond to polls. There will be a comments section, buttered popcorn, and all the good stuff in life.)
6/14/2003 12:57:00 AM
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Everyone notice that I've managed not to blog about either Martha Stewart or Hillary Clinton? Stay strong, I tell myself.
6/12/2003 11:11:00 AM
And We Created the Universe, Too
One of those moments when I wish I could format long quotes properly, with a nice indent. I've been told it's a Blogger problem, a Mac problem, or an Attila-Girl-Doesn't-Know-Her-html problem. All possible.
A nice one from Scott Ott at Scrappleface:
(2003-06-11) -- Writers of weblogs throughout the "blogosphere" last night posted items bragging about the latest demonstration of the so-called power of blogging.
Having attributed the fall of Sen. Trent Lott, and New York Times editors Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd to persistent badgering in the blogosphere, the writers yesterday took credit for bringing down the sun.
A spokesman for the flaming orb at the center of the solar system denied that bloggers had anything to do with the sun's disappearance late yesterday. He insisted, "The sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun."
Sure enough, the sun slowly appeared this morning from below the horizon. An unnamed blogger said this morning's rising of the sun did not disprove the power of blogging. "Think of all the other stars that fell last night, never to rise again," said the blogger. "Who do you think caused that? Heh."
* * * * *
It's worth noting that the anonymous blogger at the end of the "news story" employs a verbal tic characteristic of James Joyner over at Outside the Beltway: "Heh." (Others have said that, but James says it a lot.)
The Scrappleface story is via Right Wing News. Not that this is a cheap, obvious attempt to enter/win his latest "link Right Wing News and Win" contest--any more than the contest itself is a cheap, obvious attempt to generate traffic. Heh.
6/12/2003 03:13:00 AM
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Why Sully It with Money?
Andrew Sullivan is at it again, having a second "pledge drive," and generating much discussion among the hobby-bloggers, who are doing this in addition to their paying jobs. His first pledge drive famously--or infamously--brought in $80,000, which incurred acerbic remarks from Michele at A Small Victory, along with an offer to show us her boobs at some point.
Kevin Drum at Cal Pundit discussed this in the context of the flaws built in to any purely voluntary pay system: "Am I wrong about this? Maybe. I guess your view probably depends on your reaction to Andrew Sullivan's pledge week a few months ago. Was it 'Damn! $80,000!' or was it 'Jeez, even Andrew Sullivan could only scrounge together $80,000'?" (More on this as we roll along--I think the "value-added" concept is really pivotal: Sullivan throws in a newsletter available only to those who subscribe. And he will be adding a "comments" feature soon, also available only to subscribers. But the main content will continue to be free.)
And now, with Sully's latest drive for new members, the discussion begins anew. I'm struck by the fact that a lot of the negative commentary on what he's doing is coming from ostensibly conservative and/or libertarian bloggers. If you're a conservative, you should be able to make some peace with other people making more money than you do--particularly if it's based on showing initiative, and doing something new (or something old in a new way). If you're libertarian, you can "vote" by simply not subscribing to Sullivan's site (indeed, you don't have to hit anyone's PayPal button; this is easy enough), and it ought to feel like market forces in action, doing exactly what they're meant to do. It ought to feel good. (Of course, I've always "voted" against Howard Stern by leaving my radio off, or tuning in to other stations. Sadly, this never hurt him.)
What Sullivan is apparently trying to do is generate enough financial freedom for himself that he can:
1) turn down any freelance writing projects that might interfere with his blogging (let's assume he's making somewhere between $5K and $10K per article);
2) continue to blog almost daily (as I recall he sometimes takes weekends off);
3) continue to have staff help in editing and maintaining the site (this probably costs him $40K-$60K annually; a low-level staff editor makes maybe $40K, but we don't know if the Letters editor is part-time or full-time--and if he has a technical consultant who trouble-shoots and works on the site--though this is almost certainly a part-time gig);
4) have enough money in the business account that he can travel next year and give us pre-election coverage; and
5) follow Rush Limbaugh's model to some degree and have a site that is free, but offers added value for subscribers.
Let's assume Sullivan makes his goal of generating a topline of $150,000 this year from site subscribers. Take out a conservative $40K in payroll/consultants, $20K in travel expenses for next year. Subtract, oh, $1,000 for site-running expenses (of the non-human kind). Maybe $10K for setting up and running the business. That leaves him $79,000 out of which to draw a salary, and I'll bet he made more than that as a staffer at the *NY Times.* If he chose a more traditional career path and aspired to be an editor at a big magazine, he could make $150-$200K--and he wouldn't be taking his laptop on the road next year, blogging for us from fleabag hotels. (We already know he's committed enough that he's blogged from a park bench on occasion.)
So here's the part where I make enemies of bloggers I respect. Michele is at it again, and unless my irony-meter needs calibrating, she's genuinely irritated. In her latest two entries on the subject (see "Cash Cow," and "Epilogue"), she compared her site to Andrew's, which doesn't strike me as entirely fair. (She did tell us that she finally got around to posting a shot of her breasts, but declines to state where.) There is, in her posts and in some of the comments, an undercurrent of "who does Sullivan think he is?" Well--Andrew Sullivan. Okay?
At one point one of her commenters went so far as to point out that Sullivan may have AIDS-related medications he needs to take, and Michele responded that in that case he should have couched his appeal in those terms. In other words, she would support his site if he would only forfeit his dignity. (I don't happen to know that Sullivan is HIV-positive. I don't happen to care. Please note that my crack fact-checking team has the day off, and all I have here is a commenter's assertion to go on.) Heaven forfend that Sullivan take a salary from his own business, and use the money on whatever he needs or wants--medications, cotton candy, stuffed animals, or single-malt Scotch. Frankly, my Dear, I don't give a damn.
The most egregious comment, however, was from another of Michele's fans (this time commenting on her second post, "Epilogue"). One Jane (whose site didn't come up, so I can't link her) remarked, "if people want to pay him, fine. but don't pretend it's an act of Christian (or otherwise) charity...it's about touching fame, in my opinion." Wow. How about simply paying for services rendered? How about giving Sullivan a little of the money we no longer spend on newspapers because we have the web? How about the idea that writing is actually worth money? Nope. It's either "charity," or "touching fame." (This calls to mind one of the Off the Beltway commenters' remark to the effect that Sullivan's Pledge Drive was like being assaulted by a beggar in a third-world country. Puh-leese. Unlike other pledge drives--such as those on TV or public radio--these entries on Andrew's site can be skimmed over. They're clearly labeled, after all.)
Tim Blair pretty much got it right. And James at Outside the Beltway was lovely and self-deprecating about the whole thing (see "Pledge Week"): "Of course, if everyone who reads OTB more than twice a week would send me $20, I'd appreciate it. I'm not sure what I'd do with that $40, but I'd think of something." Now *there's* a guy who'll get my money once I'm back on my own feet, financially.
Finally, I'd suggest to Michele that if she's following the "free, but value-added" model that Rush pioneered and Andrew is emulating, she should make the site available to the public, but only send her newsletter out to contributors . . . and there's where you want to put the cleavage shot. Just make sure you mention in the blog that the inner circle of contributors are getting to see your tits.
I'm off to re-read *How to Make Friends and Influence People,* as it clearly didn't take the first time.
6/10/2003 06:45:00 AM
Friday, June 06, 2003
A Dog Named Tock
So Howell Raines is gone. And Sully has been proven right. And the blogosphere, despite our tiny presence in the marketplace of ideas, has shown itself to be pivotal in restructuring the nation’s newspaper of record.
I find myself at this moment glad that I’m only a “microbe” in our world, because I’m about to say something about one of our leading lights that could easily be misinterpreted. How many of us, after all, get the chance to really, really get revenge on one of our former employers? After all, Andrew Sullivan used to work at the Times, and he saw the sort of man Raines was. And as the results of Raines’ mismanagement became clearer and clearer, Sullivan (now on the outside) spoke out more and more--supported, I hope, by our contributions, which presumably gave him the freedom to do without a staff job and just write articles and blog for a living. (I know I’d be sending money if I had a reliable income source right now. And he’ll get a few bucks if I sell my fiction project.)
There are two real-life fairy tales going on here: the first one has to do with how much power we are attaining as a group of political commentators (all our recondite intra-sphere squabbles aside), and the other has to do with the fact that once on this planet--and in plain view of everyone--someone was able to do damage to a misguided former boss. Wouldn’t we all love to be Andrew Sullivan right now? Deep, deep down?
I am *not* suggesting that Sullivan’s campaign was motivated by petty personal resentments: I believe he did what he did for all the right reasons. I’m just saying there’s a beauty to watching this unfold, and that for me it conveys a certain poetic justice. And that everyone who’s ever worked for a boss who was misguided and/or an asshole probably has a goofy grin on his/her face about now.
I feel like I just watched the Lilliputians tie Gulliver down on behalf of democracy, and then--on the way home--pistol-whipped the most egregious of my former bosses*. And arrived here with a clear conscience.
Call me twisted, but it’s a good day.
*No, Mulder--it isn't who you're thinking of.
6/06/2003 06:09:00 AM
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Everyone Loves a Saga
So, in case you live your life in the breath-and-bone world of Actual Human Beings--rather than in the "circle jerk" of the blogosphere--here's a summary of the current controversy/war:
In Act I, Acidman [scroll to June 1, "Ode"], having threatened (or teased) that he was going to stop blogging, explained that he was going to give it up because Venomous Kate, with her aggressive marketing techniques, had made the world of blogging "ugly." (Deliciously, this occurred in the same post as his assertion that she is a "bloodless cunt." I'm not making this up.) [For Kate's relatively mild-mannered response, see her site and scroll to June 2.]
Kevin at Wizbang then fisked Acidman's original post [skip the comment section on this particular posting: it degenerates into a spelling match, with two sides deconstructing each other's grammar, and making inferrences about their respective intelligence levels, to a positively boring degree].
Keep in mind that in the post above his attack on Kate, Acidman had this to say about 51% of the population:
"Did you ever notice that women who claim to have been 'raped' get raped more than once? Did you ever notice that women who have 'abusive relationships' with one guy go through several just like that one? WOMEN ARE FUCKED UP!!!
"They are the Borg.
"If they didn't have a pussy and red toenails, there'd be a fucking bounty on their asses."
(Memo to Acidman: there *is,* effectively, a bounty on us. We are overwhelmingly the subjects of stranger-murders in this world. Nine out of ten serial killers go for people who have "a pussy and red toenails." Wouldn't it just suck to be male, and walk the streets in relative safety--or to go into a bar without having people try to talk your right clothes off you? My pity is a little . . . limited.)
So Anton then decided to take Acidman's side, and also posted an assault on Kate. This one had the virtue of being funny, in addition to being one of the purest examples of assholism I've ever seen. The temptation was to think he was at least a smart guy--though reading his comments on most of these posts has convinced me that it was pure luck: he happened to do a funny caricature of Kate as an over-aggressive woman who sacrifices her children to her online ambitions. It probably sort-of worked because this is an archetype we all fear--and because chicks are easy marks for this sort of thing. I've never, for example, seen a man caricatured for supposedly being unavailable to his children just because he is a little ambitious or assertive.
Last word goes to Kelley, whose thoughtful response on suburban blight was clearly not just informed by reflexive loyalty to Kate.
And neither was mine--the boys (Acidman and Anton) just aren't doing very well. I have 'em linked here, of course, but you won't see either one on my blogroll any time soon.
6/04/2003 03:32:00 PM
I decided to lose some weight by cutting down on carbs. This led to an incident of finding Middle-Eastern garlic paste in the refrigerator and eating it with a spoon in the middle of the night.
Guess it won't be too easy.
6/04/2003 12:45:00 PM
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
The FCC issue. I'm in the middle, once more. [Insert Reservoir Dogs joke here.] In the interests of full disclosure, I have one close friend and a sister-in-law who are former DJs. But I believe I'm speaking for myself in this post.
I'm not sure why we have an FCC in the first place--particularly in the Information Age. When I think back to the first 25 [or so] years of my life, it amazes me that we were so dependent on broadcast television and newspapers for our information. The explosion of information and entertainment is one of the staggering events of my lifetime. It appears to render so much of what the FCC does obsolete. (But stay with me, here: I intend to piss off libertarian purists as much as I do liberal democrats by the time I'm done.)
This last episode of deregulation--under the evil Michael Powell, whom I continually confuse with Darth Vader--doesn't threaten to do much damage, since it deals with newspapers and television. But the first wave, which profoundly affected radio, did. And not because of ownership issues, but because of a few nuts-and-bolts matters: there *should* be a few restrictions/guidelines on how local broadcasts are conducted.
As a practical matter, I wonder why the ownership of newspapers is even a Federal concern: yes, the costs are high to start up a newspaper, but print--like weblogging--is a sort of democracy. Sooner or later, the people will choose what they want. It might not be what I would have chosen, but--hey. I work on a Mac. I would have bought a beta machine had I had the money back in the 80s. The masses are asses, the schlocky guys win, and we have to deal with that. Most newspapers and television are such shit anyway that most of us who want quality eventually turn to the web for information (and cable for entertainment). If you've got the money to buy paper--bring it on. Start your own local rag. At least the layout/repro side of things is much cheaper than it ever was. Much, much cheaper.
It seems to me that local broadcasting is a special case--and within that, radio is. Oh how it grinds my libertarian gears to talk about the usefulness of federal regulation, but . . . here goes.
I don't necessarily have a problem with the fact that a few large corporations own so many radio stations. That, in-and-of-itself doesn't preclude competition: sometimes it makes competition fiercer when two media outlets are under the same parent company (e.g., the extreme rivalry between *Bon Appetit* and
*Gourmet,* which are both Conde Nast publications). It often forces some difference of focus, as it did years ago when Times Mirror found itself holding both *Field and Stream* and *Outdoor Life.* *Field and Stream* made itself more high-end, catering to the well-heeled sportsman, and *Outdoor Life* became its blue-collar sibling, writing for the lower-middle-class guy who hunts and fishes on the weekends. You may call this "carving up the territory," but it serves the consumer to have media organs be a little different. (It happens on its own, too, when the parent companies are different: *Us* has forced *People* to be itself even harder by acting as the grubby little rival nipping at its heels.)
The different case is local broadcasting, which local people still necessarily have an involvement in when it comes to television: because TV is audio-visual, someone will always be there minding the store if there's a local emergency. Radio is unique in this sense: there are no pictures to go along with the words, so it is possible to computerize the process completely--as Clear Channel has done--and force DJs to simply pre-record their commentary on songs in studio sessions. Then they use this same bland content nationwide. The blandness will simply destroy itself; wait until satellite radio becomes viable competition to Clear Channel and the others. But given that there are only so many spots on the radio dial, it's okay for the gubmint to ration them. And it's okay to place some restriction on how they are used. Someone should be physically present, and ready to act. There needs to be a human being for any local broadcast--television or radio--deployed to alert local people if there's an emergency.
The whole premise is wrong: ownership is not the problem. It's how the industry conducts itself in the station that presents the difficulty. Bigness in and of itself doesn't necessarily hurt the consumer, and in some cases actually hurts the company. (Ahem . . . AOL Time Warner . . . ahem. They are probably going to have to break up, and about damned time. What a stupid idea that was.)
Bring back DJs. But let the large companies own what they please. And then let's see the broadcast stations have to hold their own against internet radio and satellite radio, now that people are screaming for more music and different choices.
I think I've got it right: just about everyone should be pissed off at this. The e-mail will tell the tale.
6/03/2003 12:34:00 AM
Monday, June 02, 2003
So, there we have it. The winner in the "Microbes on Parade" contest was The Smallest Minority. Read all about it in The Truth Laid Bear. I'm afraid I submitted a rather weak post for this contest: After all, who wants to read about the virtues of half-strength drinks? Silly me: I'll write a panagyric on doubles next time. But I must say--The Smallest Minority simply rocks.
6/02/2003 11:56:00 PM
Sunday, June 01, 2003
My ex is still at it. His parody of my web site is still up and running. (At least, it started out as a parody, but has apparently taken on a life of its own.) Check it out, if you like--but if you send any comments on same my way, they will have to be respectful--whether you agree or disagree (and he/I will almost always disagree). Any trolling on his site, and I'll hunt you down like the vermin you are.
6/01/2003 02:26:00 AM
And I *Drink* Cosmopolitans, Too
This is going to sound terribly conceited by the time I'm done, and will, I hope, earn me some righteous hate mail. Which will flatter me no end, if you want to know the truth.
Once, more, from Andrew Sullivan. In Socially Acceptable Bigotry, a Jewish academic describes his problems fitting into "polite society." These are the same problems I've had ever since I drifted rightward in the mid-90s (at least, outside my experiences working at gun magazines): everyone assumes one is a liberal.
After all, let's look at the evidence. I'm smart. Creative. A non-comformist. Sensitive. Educated (albeit self-educated in my case, but I've clearly read, oh--several books in my life). And (in the right light, wearing clothes that show off my awesome cleavage or damn trim legs--and makeup, which I don't generally bother to do) I'm reasonably attractive. Therefore, I must be a liberal. How could it be otherwise? People say the most vile, bigoted and disgusting things about Bush in my presence, or toss off the most thoughtless, ill-informed comments about economics or the war. Sometimes I just nod and smile, since declaring oneself to be a Free-Market supporter or a Warmongering Floozie would be like hiking up my skirt and pissing on the rug in the middle of the party.
Sometimes, if I give a damn, I actually challenge the people involved--but it's rarely the same. Someday those of us who hang out in LA, NYC, SF, academia, media and/or entertainment and have any sort of free-market (or anti-dictatorial) tendancies should swap "coming out" stories in an open forum. And then collect them in a volume and try to sell it to our local gay bookstores.
6/01/2003 12:35:00 AM