Friday, April 29, 2005

Ward: I am frivolous (red)

A CU faculty committee has found that academic fraud charges against Ward Churchill are "not frivolous," interim chancellor Phil DiStefano said today. This pretty much means what we already knew: the Churchill investigation will be a long and as-boring-as-CU-can-make-it process.

What made me laugh, sort of, is the e-mail response the Daily Camera received from the postmodern Natty Bumpo (I think; the Camera's sourcing is kind of odd): "the tenured ethnic studies professor said Thursday that he will respond by explaining 'in detail, why the allegations are not simply false but transparently pretextual.'"

Transparently pretextual! He just can't help cooing in the Stalinist language of love, though he dresses it up in filthy academic robes. Really, would you trust this guy with your dog, let alone your son or daughter?

I'm not even sure I get what Churchill means by the phrase. That the committee has yet to officially report that the plagiarism etc. charges are "not frivolous?" So what? Why did I have to call on memories of a graduate seminar in semiotics to figure that out?

(via the indefatigable Pirate Ballerina)

Update: Charles Johnson thinks Chutch shouldn't be allowed to play with the e-mail machine any more.

Update II: The Drunkawife, among others, points out that I am an idiot. Pretextual, for God's sake, means "on a pretext," not (at least in this case), "before the text exists." My brain itches.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Romenesko: Reporters are dimbulbs

Well, he doesn't really say that. Not right out, anyway. But take a look at how Poynter Online prefaces its "One Year Ago" archives feature:

Nostalgia trip: Digging through the Romenesko Archives

Romenesko Archives

Please note: These are OLD STORIES from the archives. These are not links to current news stories.

ONE YEAR AGO this week on Romenesko

The bold, the italics, the capital letters, all in the original. Four times the man screams at us that these pieces are old. Isn't that a little much? Or does Romenesko have reason to fear that if he had, say, just two warnings, one of today's highly trained journalists might think he was reading a current story? That could lead to all kinds of embarrassment, couldn't it?

Actually, I get the feeling it already has led to at least a couple kinds of embarrassment, don't you? But for whom?

Update: Yes, whom?

Saw sub, glub glub

A friend of mine just got back from a four-day trip on the Upper Salt River. Paddling an inflatable kayak ("i.k." or, to snooty hardshell-kayak purists, a "ducky"), he dumped in 3+ and 4+ rapids five times, and came close to drowning twice. His verdict on the trip: "Marvelous!"

Do not attempt. Closed course; professional stunt drinkers.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Lucky country

Anzac Day seems a good day to ask, Why is the blogging vice so strong in the two countries at the top of the world that celebrate it? First let me ask this: how many Aussie or New Zealand bloggers do you read? Over the years I've regularly or semi-regularly perused (in no order) Silent Running, Whacking Day, Tim Blair, Professor Bunyip, Slatts, Currency Lad, Evil Pundit, John Ray, John Ray, John Ray and (very infrequently), John Ray. God help me, I've even learned to enjoy the inadvertent comic stylings of she who flushes not, Margo Kingston.

Per population or whatever the term is, I read more Australian blogs than I do those from any other country, including my own. And I know more about Australian politics (they're a mess) than is really decent for a foreigner.

Why so many strong voices from such distant and relatively unpopulous places? Like the U.S., Australia (and of course New Zealand) is becoming blighted by a bureaucratic political correctness in media and government that seeks to prescribe how people should live, what they should believe, and what they must "tolerate." These prescriptions, seemingly in passing, also rule out actually voicing pride at the unique achievements and freedoms of Australian society.

Working against this political correctness, though, is a parallel rambunctiousness, a rude, self-mocking, utterly Australian sense of freedom, of possibility, of the value of calling things what they are--of common sense and of don't-fuck-with-me. All these bloggers seem to breathe this sense from the antipodean air (yes, even Margo), and to express it with passion. I wish I could remember what blogger it was who said, proudly, that Australia is "one of the meanest democracies in the world." Whoever it was, these bloggers love that it is, and remembering Anzac Day, so do I.

Update: God, I actually included Margo in the category of Australians with common sense. No excuse for that. I therefore quit blogging.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Billy Bob's busy day

It really was. First we sauntered and ran around Sloan Lake. Just under three miles for me, about seven for Beelzebob, plus four or five throws of the frisbee.

Of course, we stopped at his favorite hangout so he could say howdy to the geese. They like him so awfully much, as constant readers will know.

Then he dallied awhile with a younger woman. She had frisbee skills Billy hadn't dreamed of. She enjoyed herself immensely, too, even after he nipped at her. Uh, twice. No blood no foul!

Finally, in an obviously staged shot, Billy Bob relaxed at the end of a--well, a not unusual Sunday at all. Go find your Kong!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Maybe I'll read "Alias the Dead"

Take a look at Curtains for the Editor, which I bought years ago at Capitol Hill Books in Denver. Never read it, somehow, but what a cover. Curtains was part of Dell's "Mapback Series" of the 40s, and there are a lot of them out there. They have titles like The Corpse Came Calling and Just Around the Coroner, and probably none is worth reading, but if I were the sort I'd collect them.

Here's what the "Simpsons"-esque Shoporium's seller had to say about his copy:
A worn copy, as befits its age and literary quality. A deep crease up the middle of the cover is the most appalling blivet. There are other, milder crinkles, edge and corner ear, and heavy rubbing (with tears) along the edges of the spine. Thin wartime paper has turned tan. Binding is tight.
Heavy rubbing. Tight binding. Sexy lot, these bookish sorts. But what's with the term "blivet?" You get it from the context (a "most appalling blivet," the man says, no doubt in a snooty British accent), but as everybody knows, this is a blivet.

Anyway, check out the cool covers.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Daily quote

"One of the many great things about the internet is the way it solves petty mysteries, like why Rory Gallagher hasn't released an album lately. Apparently because he died in 1995, which came as news to the Professor."--The esteemed Professor Bunyip, whose Nobel (heavy drinker consolation) Prize is long overdue.

Bonus quote!

"That was perhaps to be expected, as he is only a small editor and tires easily."--The Bunyip on Andrew Jaspan, editor of the Melbourne Age, who recently went on an undeserved vacation and is not tall. In his usual courtly style the inimitable prof manages to make at least eight "short" jokes at Jaspan's expense in three consecutive posts (just keep scrolling). Love the Bunyip.

Clarification: The "Daily quote" feature is not a daily feature. It will appear as desperation dictates.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Go! (Rockies!) Go! (Rockies!) (etc.)

Two years since I'd been to a Rockies game, God knows why, but we saw them play the Giants Sunday. Rockies led into the 7th, but I fell into a reverie or perhaps a syncope and when I came to, Coors Field was empty. Everybody had gone home.

Loser: Jason "Jumbo Pants" Jennings.

Ump's delight: First baseman Todd Helton urinates on home plate to protest playing for Rockies.

Mascot poll: Dinger most hated in world history.

Upshot: Beautiful weather, no interesting drunks, two foot-longs and a medium coke, $15.50.

Update: Maybe Helton was still, er, upset about former Rockies radio guy Wayne Hagin's big mouth.

Breaking news

Reason in their current issue has a review of The Anti-Chomsky Reader. Nothing strange about that; what's weird is that even though it was published way back in August 2004, Julian Sanchez calls the Reader a new book. Heck, National Review had it in July 2004, and even Keith Windschuttle, busy fighting wombats in the wilds of Australia, found time to review it last September. Can a book published 8 months ago qualify as "new?"

And no, I haven't read it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Drunkablog interview: Pirate Ballerina's Jim Paine

Jim Paine started his blog Pirate Ballerina only in February, but almost immediately he was being linked by some of the biggest-name bloggers out there, including Michelle Malkin (just yesterday, in fact), Instapundit and Little Green Footballs. Why such quick notice? Since he started his blog, Paine has focused exclusively on the man many Americans love to hate, and love to read about even more: the plagiarizing, data- and heritage-faking, woman-threatening, art-thieving, revolutionary attitude-posing University of Colorado Professor of Ethnic Studies, Ward Churchill.

Paine comes by his antipathy to Churchill almost organically. Born and raised in Colorado, he served in the military towards the end of the Vietnam War and kicked around the country as a reporter, editor and publisher for a decade before graduating from college. He also started several internet businesses, and when those prospered returned to Colorado to raise Appaloosas on the ranch he and his wife built from the ground up. Oh, he’s also published (under the name Tom Elliott) a horror novel that was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and many short stories in the same field, and is currently working on a western novel.

So we’re talkin’ your basic all-American here, with maybe a little Freddy Krueger thrown in to liven things up. I talked to Paine via the magic of e-mail about Ward Churchill and those who defend him, how Churchill is a symptom of the anti-American orientation of ethnic studies departments, and, well, the horror of horror writing.

The interview was conducted earlier this month, not long after Churchill's case was referred to a CU faculty committee, entailing at least a seven-month wait for any resolution. Paine, nothing daunted, has just continued to pile up nugget after delicious nugget of Churchill, crispy-style.

What prompted you to start Pirate Ballerina?

PirateBallerina is actually a dead blog--or I should say, was dead for nearly two years, until I revived it to address the Ward Churchill debacle. The blog grew out of a notepad file I kept of interesting Churchill articles and opinion pieces while discussing him on Little Green Footballs. Many of the posters there are knowledgeable in a wide range of subjects, and that file just grew and grew thanks to the many links they posted. Eventually the file got rather huge--and this was after only three or four days--and I noticed quite a few re-postings of the same information for newer readers at LGF, so I decided to fire up PirateBallerina and post these links in a more organized fashion. And like Topsy, it jes' growed.

Churchill 'n me

What was it about Churchill that initially drew your interest?

The Hamilton College speaking schedule had just become national news. I was initially interested only because he teaches in Colorado. Then I started looking at his work, his publications, transcripts of his speaking engagements—all as impenetrable and wrong-headed as his infamous "roosting chickens" essay. But I'll be honest: the first thing about him that outraged me was the picture of him on his CU faculty website. The long hair and sunglasses just screamed "poseur." I know, pretty lame reasoning, but I'm talking about first impressions.

Churchill's "little Eichmanns" speech is akin to '"Tommy Smothers calling his brother a 'fascist' whenever Dick Smothers wouldn't let Tommy have his way. So ludicrous it's funny. I still can't read that essay without thinking of the Smothers Brothers."

Now, having read a great deal of his work--far too much, in fact--I can say he's probably been asking for what he's presently enduring for at least 20 years. His own chickens are coming home to roost. I will say that I was not outraged by his "chickens" essay. To me, his remarks were similar to Tommy Smothers calling his brother a "fascist" whenever Dick Smothers wouldn't let Tommy have his way. So ludicrous it's funny. I still can't read that essay without thinking of the Smothers Brothers.

And Churchill has written some dozen books where he basically calls everyone in the U.S. fascists. The Nazi comparison is endemic to his work. Now, I'm in no way excusing Churchill; I understand how hurtful the "little Eichmanns" comment would be to the families of the victims and survivors of 9-11. But Churchill's use of the comparison struck me as so absurd it had no emotional effect on me. As far as focusing on Churchill, it was patently evident within the first few days that Churchill is the poster child for leftist academia. Now, he has said he's the poster child for "academic freedom" and "freedom of speech," but that's disingenuous. No one is stifling his ability to do research or trying to limit his scholarship. Nor is anyone calling for him to be censored or gagged for his essay. He is being called on his apparent serial falsifications of data, his multiple plagiarisms (both artistic and scholarly), and his still-unconfirmed claims to Indian ancestry. He is being called on feeding at the public trough while condemning the public that keeps that trough full. To wax metaphorical, the "chickens" essay was just a careless match he dropped into the forest of his own distortions, frauds, and lies.

Is Pirate Ballerina your first blog?

No, I actually started two other blogs a few years ago, and (both inactive now). I grew up listening to country music, and at the time I was annoyed tremendously at what the new "country" artists like Faith Hill and Rascal Flats were doing to country, i.e., obliterating it under a wave of predigested twang-pop. Now I have XMRadio and I listen to the old stuff; I figure that makes more of a statement than preaching the glories of Loretta Lynn to the choir. I voted with my feet, I guess.

Did you ever have any professors like Churchill?

Nope. I had a few who may have been certifiable (one philosophy professor played tapes of whale noises during class on the theory that it somehow aided in the learning process), but never anyone like Churchill.

What was your military experience?

I was in the Navy during the Vietnam War, at the very end of the war, anyway. I should point out that I don't denigrate Churchill's actual Vietnam service (whatever that turns out to be); I question his own conflicting accounts of that experience. He has claimed variously to be a "Public Information Specialist," and a LRRP (long-range reconnaissance patrol) point-man; his military records say only that he was trained as a truck driver and a projectionist, and don’t show the award of the CIB (Combat Infantry Badge), which Vietnam veterans tell me he would have received had he actually participated in any "action."

Are you a "political" person?

I guess a good way to describe my political and philosophical beliefs would be to call myself a member of the Reformed Church of Ayn Rand. I don't pretend to defend Rand's own inconsistencies--the dichotomy between her private life and her writing. I do believe that the government's only salable product is force, and when it attempts to amend racial imbalances, or finance education, or protect various businesses, or finance the retirement of our seniors--it can only do so via force, and that is wrong, not to mention incredibly prone to corruption. And when you have the government involved in patently non-governmental enterprises, you end up with the Ward Churchill debacle, wherein the American people are required to finance the tenure of a lying bully and braggart with spurious academic credentials and an even more suspicious personal history.

What do you think of ethnic studies in general? Is it a legitimate field of study?

I believe that ethnic studies as it exists is pure "Victim Studies"--emotion-driven invective masquerading (poorly) as scholarly inquiry--and a survey of what the professors of these departments have published bears that out. And while defenders of these departments claim their influence on the public is minor (as if that's a defense), I disagree. What intellectuals think eventually trickles down through the general public; I considered a few years ago writing a book called A Nation of Victims that would examine this sorry state of affairs, and I may still do it. In any case, every course of study within the "Ethnic Studies" purview, whether it be Chicano, women, black, Asian, or Native American, could and should be under the auspice of anthropology, psychology, history, or sociology departments.

"The hand-wringing over what a 'chilling effect' the Churchill case will have on so-called 'academic freedom' is wrong-headed, since the actual chilling effect will be that scholars will be more hesitant to invent facts, whether about their field of study or themselves."

Not to say that these departments are less infested with idiots, but their standards and methods of inquiry are more stringent. It's been pointed out that since their formation in the early 70's, Ethnic Studies departments have often served as a place to dump otherwise unqualified minority students. The theory is that while these students clearly weren't scholastically prepared, they improved the university's "affirmative action" profile by earning an easy degree in "ethnic studies." I'm not certain that that is a valid argument, but I suspect universities didn't mind the perception of equality.

What can be done to cut down the number of embarrassments like Ward Churchill in the academic fields you mentioned?

A good start would be the rebirth of academic administrative integrity, or the complete dissolution of ethnic studies departments--either of which events would result in the other. It doesn't matter whether academic bias is Right or Left, the system as it exists today is essentially corrupt, and expecting universities to clean their own houses is as naive as believing Kofi Annan is working hard to get to the bottom of the "Oil for Food" scandal. I'm reminded of the Mel Brooks character in "Blazing Saddles" when he says "Gentlemen! We've got to do something to save our phoney-baloney jobs!"

From journalism to (greater) horror

How has your journalism experience informed your approach both to your blog and to Churchill?

Well, I think I know enough about good journalism to know the difference between libel and slander, and to protect anonymous sources. An advertising manager for one of the papers I worked for told me once that editorial was just something to wrap around the ads. Now, this was blasphemy to me; I'd wanted to be a reporter since I was in third grade, and this ad manager was spitting on the cross. Then, a few years later, I bought a weekly newspaper and learned that he was right. I was a good editor and reporter, but I was just awful at selling advertising--so I sold the paper before I managed to kill it. I later learned salesmanship while working my way through college (at the tender age of 29) and became a very good salesman.

And writer, apparently. Tell me about your horror novel, The Dwelling. You didn’t mention that it was nominated for a Bram Stoker award.

Ah, the Stoker. Back in the 80s, I was just as enthusiastic about horror (this was back in the day when Stephen King wrote good scary stuff) as 50 billion other people, and like those 50 billion others, I wrote a bunch of horror fiction. Got published in a number of small press magazines (Festering Brainsore was probably the smallest [and most quaintly named—ed.] as well as a couple of the "mid-sized" small press genre pubs like New Blood and Cemetery Dance. Prior to that I'd had no success in publishing my work; I did get a rejection slip back in the 70s from an SF editor who said "This is perhaps the most disgusting story I've ever read." It was a story of a subsonics researcher who discovers the resonant frequency of the human anus, sells a device that emits these subsonic sounds to the police for riot control, but fails to mention that low frequencies are omni-directional). Now that I think about it, it was a pretty disgusting idea, though the wording was pretty tame [Uh-huh—ed.]. I think the title was "The Brown Button." You can see, I think, why I drifted over to horror. The gross-out is more germane to horror than to SF, plus, you don't have all that pesky science to learn.

I sold a second novel on the heels of The Dwelling to Leisure Books--this time with an agent. The sale was for less than I'd received for my first novel, which pissed me off no end. I got into an argument over the title (it was Posthumous, which the editors at Leisure claimed was "too erudite"); they wanted to name it Beware the Night Sky--which had absolutely nothing to do with the book, but the cover they picked was excellent: a close-up of a creepy clown's face with the make-up cracking--again, with absolutely no connection to the content of my book. Great cover, though, and they later used it for somebody else's book. In any case, that experience (plus not making much money) turned me away from writing as a career and toward working to pay the rent. So I gave up on being a starving artist and went out and made some money.

Let’s get back to Churchill (and away from that brown button) for a moment. What was your reaction to the findings of the CU committee looking into Churchill’s behavior?

I recall saying that I doubted he'd be fired, or even slapped on the wrist. As it turns out, I was right, and with a seven-month review staring us in the face (and with his outrageous claims of ethnicity very cleverly moved off the table!), I'll make another multi-part prediction: Churchill will keep his position at CU, but only until the Ethnic Studies program there is dismantled (within two years), at which time Churchill will be free full-time to lecture to anarchists on the most effective way to kill whitey. The rest of his fellow ethnic studies kin will A) join more stringent fields of inquiry, such as anthropology, or B) learn from the pimply-faced assistant manager at their new place of employment how to properly salt the french fries."

In light of the Churchill mess, do you support David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights?

No. Or, to clarify, no, I think Horowitz is generally well-intentioned, but in most cases his academic bill of rights covers territory that "academic freedom" has already staked out. What we need is not another law or "bill of rights" subject to interpretation, corruption, and of course, the ever-popular unintended consequences. We need a re-commitment to integrity and fact. I firmly believe that the eradication of "Victim's Studies" departments will go a long way toward that goal. The present hand-wringing over what a "chilling effect" the Churchill case will have on so-called "academic freedom" is wrong-headed, since the actual "chilling effect" will be that scholars will be more hesitant to invent facts, whether about their field of study or themselves. That's a "chilling effect" we can live with, and one that obviates the need for Horowitz' bill of rights.

Several successful single-issue blogs (the two main Rather sites most notably) are attempting the transition to new subjects. Do you plan on doing the same if and when the Churchill saga comes to some sort of conclusion?

I've considered what will happen to PirateBallerina once Ward Churchill goes the way of all flim-flam men. I think there's a need (though not necessarily a desire) out there for a website that concentrates on "the ministry of silly walks" that is college Ethnic Studies. And I've already started a separate forum wherein people can discuss other members of these victims' studies departments. As I mentioned before, Horowitz has it wrong--we don't need more laws to protect "True" academic freedom or academic freedom of speech. We need to eradicate whole departments wherein victims congregate and share strategies to suck dry the public teat while fomenting hatred for the public. I believe they call us hoi polloi or "the great unwashed" or the "petite bourgeoisie" or, most recently, idiots. I don't know about you, but I think it's time for us idiots to do some housecleaning. Firing Churchill will be a good start. Ending Ethnic Studies would be an excellent second course of action.

Update: Jim Paine writes to inform me that I am an idiot. First, he was not born in Colorado, but moved there at a year old; second, and more egregiously, I failed to mention that his novels and short stories were written under the pseudonym "Tom Elliott." I've incorporated that correction in the interview.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Religion brief

Cardinals fail to elect successor to JPII.

Cards: Pope? Nope.

Tomorrow: Interview with Pirate Ballerina!

The first Drunkablog interview goes up Tuesday, and it's a doozy, because I was lucky enough to snag the blogosphere's foremost debunker and mocker of Ward Churchill, Pirate Ballerina (aka Jim Paine). This guy is pretty interesting, folks--entrepreneur, rancher, novelist--and he brought his trademark incisive commentary about Churchill, ethnic studies programs and academia in general (plus his adventures in the scary world of horror fiction!). Be there or be damned, minions of Satan.

Mildly amusing piece touted

One of my surfeit of sisters sent me a long yuckfest purportedly exposing the tragic problem of "literature abuse." Amusing here and there, but overall, eh. The piece does attempt to warn parents "to look for signs that their children are taking the wrong path--don't expect your teenager to approach you and say, 'I can't stop reading, Spencer.'" (Okay, it actually says, "I can't stop reading Spencer," but if your teenager ever calls you "Spencer," it's past time to search the drawers, Dad.) The funniest part was the

Self-Test for Literature Abuse: How many of these apply to you?

1. I have read fiction when I was depressed or to cheer myself up.
2. I have gone on reading binges of an entire book or more in a day.
3. I read rapidly, often "gulping" chapters.
4. I sometimes read early in the morning or before work.
5. I have hidden books in different places to sneak a chapter without being seen.
6. Sometimes I avoid friends or family obligations in order to read novels.
7. Sometimes I re-write film or television dialog as the characters speak.
8. I have pretended to watch television while secretly reading.
9. I keep books or magazines in the bathroom for a "quick nip."
10. I have denied or "laughed off" criticism of my reading habit.
11. Heavy reading has caused conflicts with my family or spouse.
12. I am unable to enjoy myself with others unless there is a book nearby.
13. I seldom leave my house without a book or magazine.
14. When travelling, I pack a large bag full of books.
15. At a party, I will often slip off unnoticed to read.
16. Reading has made me seek haunts and companions which I would otherwise avoid.
17. I have neglected personal hygiene or household chores until I finished a novel.
18. I become nervous, disoriented, or fearful when I must spend more than 15 minutes without reading matter.
19. I have spent money meant for necessities on books instead.
20. I have sold books to support my reading "habit."
21. I have daydreamed about becoming a rich & famous writer, or "word-pusher."
22. I have attempted to check out more library books than is permitted.
23. Most of my friends are heavy fiction readers.
24. I have sometimes passed out or woken groggy or "hung-over" after a night of
heavy reading.
25. I have suffered "blackouts" or memory loss from a bout of reading.
26. I have wept,become angry or irrational because of something I read.
27. I have sometimes wished I did not read so much.
28. Sometimes I think my fiction reading is out of control.

If you answered "yes" to five or more of these questions, you may be a literature abuser. Affirmative responses to ten or more indicates a serious reading problem--seek help now! Fifteen or more "yes" responses indicates a severe or chronic "readaholic" personality. Intervention is seldom effective at this stage.

Worth reading the whole thing if you're going to live forever and have time to kill.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Joker's wild

Mary Mapes is back, and boy, is she pissed. The Anchoress has excerpts of the book proposal for Mapes' upcoming (November) spew-all, and it is as nasty as any Rathergate and Ratherbiased fan could hope (though neither had the story as of 4 p.m. MDT). The Anchoress thought she had an exclusive, but, alas, the Daily News ran it first. She got the "wilding" quote, anyway, which might be the greatest quote in the history of the world. Wait, I mean funniest.

Update: If it's true. Rathergate: I'm gonna wait and see.

Planting day

Roses, daisies, Sweet William.

Dolls, pigs, Spongebob.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


A story from the NYT today begins: BEIJING, April 13 - "Thousands of people rioted this week in a village in southeastern China, overturning police cars and driving away officers who had tried to stop elderly villagers protesting against pollution from nearby factories."

Great story, read the whole thing, blah blah, but would someone please tell me, Since when can thousands of people live in a village? I'm from a town of about 2,000 myself, and it was a strange and probably damned place, but it by God weren't no village, Bucky. Is this some sort of Chicom thing, or is the Times just being weird again?

(via Instapundit)

My cold--is it getting better?

Yes, but it was a doozy. Nobody told me there was a flesh-eating strain going around this year.

Time and Again

Jonah Goldberg posted some responses to his peeve at people in movies who "refer to 'World War I' before World War II takes place," and one reader, straying off-topic as readers do, mentioned how World War I was called "World War Eye" in a time-travel novel he had read: "The heroine, a girl from the 1890s, is briefly brought forward to the present day, and while looking around the hero's apartment, asks about the title of some book on his shelves, "What's World War Eye?" The hero just feels dismay that he'll have to tell her what's going to happen in the Twentieth Century. . ."

The novel, not named, was Time and Again by Jack Finney. Finney's highly original conceit was that his hero, Sy Morley, through a secret government program, was trained to "think" his way back in time by a systematic dissolution of the mental cords that bound him to the present. No time machine. It was probably my favorite book as a "young adult" reader, and I've re-read it many times as an old adult reader. Finney's evocation of his hero's wonder at actually making it back to the New York of the 1880s is indelible. Finney even has the audacity to make the Statue of Liberty's arm, sitting in Battery Park before it was soldered to the lady on Bedloe's Island, a crucial plot device.

What's all this, then?

Finney also wrote Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which has been made into a film three times, and into a musical at least once. (I couldn't find any reviews of it, dammit.) He was apparently a bit of a queer duck as well, which is only appropriate. For one thing, he enjoyed fooling the Post Office by drawing his own postage stamps, which he would affix to letters and mail. They always got through.

Update: Forgot to mention that in the same scene of Time and Again Goldberg's reader mentions, the heroine sees television for the first time, and after clicking around and watching for a bit, utterly fascinated, asks Sy, "How can you bear to do anything else?"

Monday, April 11, 2005

"A problem with the problem page"

That's how Blogger begins its own explanation of the, er, problem (see two posts down) they had last week.

Even funnier, when you click on the link for the full explanation, you get this. Very A.T. Tappman, Chaplain of them (4th quote from bottom).

Update: Of course, WikiWackipedia gets the A.T. Tappman, Chaplain, quote wrong. It's "I yearn for you tragically . . .", not "I long for you tragically . . ." I knew that, but trusted Wikipedia anyway. Ergo: maroon.

Update II: A.T. Tappman, Chaplain.

Where have all the flowers gone . . .

Help. Me.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Wicked Thoughts has the explanation for Blogger's meltdown last week: they were kinda stupid.

(via "Crazy John" Ray)

Gone tomorrow

We didn't get enough snow in Denver this winter to moisten a mouse's mouth, and now look:

We sure needed it.


In From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, which I claim to be reading right now (prove I'm not), Jacques Barzun says of one "19c" literary movement:

The summit of Realism must be total dullness, and George Gissing near the end of the century makes the point. In a novel of his own, one of his characters is writing a novel and striving for prose and events so dull that nobody will be able to keep reading.

This naturally reminded me of The Dullest Blog in the World. Alas, the site hasn't been updated in months, but the last entry will serve as a distillation of its exquisite boringness: "My knee had a slight itch. I reached out my hand and scratched the knee in question. The itch was relieved and I was able to continue with my activities."

"The knee in question." That's poetry! And people recognize it: the post has garnered 457 comments, among them, "This is not only the greatest blog, but possibly the reason the internet was conceived in the first place."

Al Gore would probably agree.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Moderation is overrated

In his transition from slavering commie to drooling death beast, there was one thing David Horowitz never bothered to change: his pranksterish tactics against his enemies. Not surprisingly, his FrontPagemag sometimes reflects this with its poor fact-checking, putrid (or no) copyediting, and exuberant, not to say reckless, stridency. Still, everybody reads it.

What usually draws me is the hope that FrontPage's managing editor, Jamie Glazov, has put together another of his wonderfully inflammatory symposia. Glazov, a Russian immigrant with a history Ph.D from somewhere and no anger-management certificate from anywhere, loves America, and hates commies and Islamists. So when he moderates a symposium that includes such folk, moderation is the last thing on his mind. Here he is moderating a certain well-known Trotskyite obscurantist with a tire iron:

The Left supported the Soviet empire over the U.S. precisely because it favors despotism over individual freedom; it hates capitalism and free choice and desires the submission of the individual to a supreme totality. It despises individual success and fulfillment. And it therefore hates George Bush because he represents these values without apology, and he unequivocally does what Ronald Reagan did: label the totalitarian enemy that the Left admires for what it is: an Evil Empire. And he is ready to go to war with it to protect the lives and freedom of millions.
That's the beginning of a question. This ain't Schieffer country, pard.

Glazov conducts these symposia by e-mail, of course, but it's fun to imagine him talking around a table with the participants. His voice gets louder and louder, his face gets redder and redder, until finally he leaps at some poor deluded leftist:

Glazov: Thanks Ms. Burkett. Let me intrude for a moment here, as I can’t remain silent if three members of this symposium base their commentary on the assumption that . . . 'U.S. foreign policy was an atrocious tangle of human rights violations, exploitation and oppression for most of the 20th century. And, certainly, neither by design nor by result did these policies liberate anyone.'

As a Russian √©migr√© I can tell you: thank God for Ronald Reagan and the system that he represented for helping to liberate my people by design and by result. The Left can foam at the mouth at these words, but for the Russian people, aside from those masochists who crave the return of Stalinism and further abuse, Reagan’s aggressive anti-communism was a providential godsend because it helped fuel the collapse of a sadistic and vicious empire, and liberated millions of the suffering people under its yoke. I can speak for my whole family and for many of our relatives and friends in Russia, and say what a gift it was to have Reagan help push the Soviet tyranny toward collapse and allow a society to emerge, despite its many problems, where people are no longer terrified to say what is on their minds and do not have to fear the Gulag Archipelago for their views and beliefs.

Questions? We don't need no stinkin' etc. But he does ask one occasionally. Here he is during a symposium on the ancient mariner of anti-Americanism, Noam Chomsky:

We are obviously dealing with quite a sick and demented individual who can’t really be taken seriously. Who in their right mind would actually write a serious review of Chomsky’s work, unless it was a psychiatric diagnosis of some kind? Correct?

Uhhhh. Correct! Definitely! A little later:

So Mr. Scialabba [a lefty book critic for various publications], we can agree, then, that Chomsky’s works are not reviewed by academic journals basically for the same reason that . . . comic books or Danielle Steele novels aren’t reviewed by them either, right?

Right! But please stop shaking me! I actually do agree with Glazov, at least about Chomsky, but whether out of fear or conviction, I'm not sure anymore.

Friday, April 08, 2005

So this is Blogger

Over the last two months Blogger has been better than I expected, considering what I'd heard, but this was bad. No posting for two days. Bad, bad, bad.

Coincidentally Comcast has had some problems as well, and so did I with a cold that's given me an inkling of The Fog of War, or at least the Fog of Old Age. So few and far between, post-wise. This shall change at once.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Drunkie's "Believe It Or Not!"

How many times have you seen this? A typo in the title of a book. I've never seen such a thing, and I read at least a book a year, sometimes more.

Stategy: When there's no time for strategery.

Ultra and Mediterranean Strategy, which I spotted at the Denver Central Library, was published in 1989 by William Morrow, a company that's been around forever and probably should have, you know, caught this one. But William Morrow is an imprint of HarperCollins, which in turn is owned by Rupert Murdoch's Newskkkorp. You know what that means:

Cheapskate crap-publisher runs its name all together to save a space but won't pay its editors enough to show up sober.

HarperCollins also claims to have published Solzehnitsyn, but I don't know what. The Glag Archipelago, probably.

Update: "Morrow continues its long history of publishing quality
books . . . with acclaimed authors such as Sidney Sheldon, Mary Stewart, Robert Pirsig, Emeril Lagasse, and Cokie Roberts." Robert Pirsig and Cokie Roberts. Don't think about it too long. You'll go insane.

Update II: I can actually see Pirsig burying a hatchet in Cokie's head. I can see it.