Really, both sides make a good pointDaniel Radosh
On the one hand, you have "Slovenia, Poster Child for the New Europe: Xenophobic, protectionist, and on the verge of economic decline." But on the other hand, you have this.
On the one hand, you have "Slovenia, Poster Child for the New Europe: Xenophobic, protectionist, and on the verge of economic decline." But on the other hand, you have this.
It's not like me to miss an opportunity for self-promotion, but somehow, the March issue of Travel & Leisure came and went without a mention from this site about my brief item on the world's poshest whorehouse.
The funny thing about this article is that after assigning it, the editor got nervous about seeming to endorse prostitution, so I had to actually play down the fact that I was writing about a brothel, which is hard to do when you're writing about a brothel. It turned out fine, but I think it is just a little bit unclear what the point of this story is until about halfway through.
[Thank to Harold]
This month's Music Club playlist will not be all that exciting to most people, because the broad category songs in a foreign language meant that we were able to choose pretty much anything that struck our fancy, thereby eliminating the gameplay aspect that often makes the Club intriguing to outside observers. (But stick around to the end for something you might want in on).
Though a pleasure to listen to, this mix will also never be shared on iTunes 4.5 because, and here's the problem with iTunes in general, I'd be shocked if even three of these songs were available on it. (Upbdate: Good call. Only tracks 2 & 12 are on iTunes.)
Anyway, I'll at least claim the mantle of most obscure languages chosen for my own picks (tracks 3 &4).
1. Mariza: O Silencio da Guitarra (Portuguese)
2. Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys: J'Aimerais te Pardonner (French)
3. Alpha Blondy: Sebe Allah Y'e (Dioula)
4. Kula Shaker: Govinda (Sanskrit)
5. Quruli: March (Japanese)
6. Peter Gabriel: Eindringling (German)
7. Lhasa: El Desierto (Spanish)
8. Psi Vojaci: Russian Mystic Pop, Op. IV (Czech)
9. The Ukrainians: Batya (Bigmouth Strikes Again) (Ukranian)
10. Luna (with Laetitia Sadier): Bonnie and Clyde (French)
11. Omara Portuondo: Donde Estabas Tu? (Spanish)
12. Alcione: Sufoco (Portuguese)
13. Faudel: La Valse (French)
14. Susana Baca: Zamba Malato (Spanish)
15. Kirsty MacColl: Complainte Pour Ste. Catherine (French)
Next month's theme, against my strident protests, is songs you want played at your funeral. My problem is that I can't think of anything that's not trite (and also, I don't particularly want to spend the next month thinking about my funeral). But while this is a personal choice, maybe you can inspire me. Use the comments section to tell me what song you want playing when you're buried, scattered, or picked apart by vultures.
Paul Krugman ends his "bumping up against reality in Iraq" column today with the words, "I don't have a plan for Iraq. I strongly suspect, however, that all the plans you hear now are irrelevant. If America's leaders hadn't made so many bad decisions, they might have had a chance to shape Iraq to their liking. But that window closed many months ago."
The good news from the current New York Review of Books is that Peter W. Galbraith does have plan. The bad news is, even he doesn't like it much.
My latest Slate "effort." John Kerry's Military Records: The PowerPoint Version.
Update: Apparently the Fray has no institutional memory. Rather than baffling right wing headcases who denounced my previous installments, this one has brought out equally idiotic (well, almost) denunciation from left wing headcases. Next up: deep sigh, the PowerPoint Version.
It's no secret I'm a big fan of Marshall Mathers, but he's not making it easy, is he? After releasing one of the undisputed masterpieces of the last 10 years (on top of a pretty spectacular debut), he started to stumble. The Eminem Show had some interesting politics but represented a pretty steep falling off musically and lyrically. 8 Mile was a respectable bid for a wider audience, with a couple of pretty good songs attached, but creatively it was a placeholder.
And now comes the D12 single My Band, which is without question the biggest atrocity Eminem has ever been involved in. Sure he's done goofy shit before, but always buried deep on an album or dropped discretely as a bootleg. This is a single. And a hit single at that.
To: David Plotz
From: Daniel Radosh
Subj: My next PowerPoint
How about the Pentagon's guide to rebuilding Iraq?
To: Daniel Radosh
From: David Plotz
Subj: Re: My next PowerPoint
Too preposterous. Do Kerry's Vietnam records instead.
Because I care about you and your time-wasting needs, I've decided that whenever I can't blog for a while, like, for instance, this week, I'll still throw up four links every day, one for each of the topics that are this site's mandate.
A new twist on an old game.
A platform I can get behind.
Mysteries of the Orient. [SFW, at first]
In The Forward, Marjorie Ingall makes a point that too often goes unrecognized. For all the talk of "religious" values on the right, or even of "Judeo-Christian" values, the party line on abortion is specifically contrary to Jewish tradition.
Turns out, the critics would likely cheer it as aptly titled.
When I worked at Modern Humorist we had an imaginary mascot called The Hack Parrot, who would sit on your shoulder and squawk, "hack! hack!" whenever you had an idea for a high concept humor piece that was equal parts obvious and irresistable. (The noisy parrot rarely stopped us from going ahead with the idea).
I don't have time to write anything today, but the parrot is currently digging his claws into me over this: "Seymore Butts xXxposed Entertainment, a national exotic entertainment company, announced Friday there are opportunities available for adult performers to supplement their income during the moratorium on production."
On a serious note, I have to agree with Lara Roxx that, "We should think about these issues right now, to change stuff around to make this a safer fuckin business." (Or did she mean a safer fucking business?). How about an independent commission, you know, like Washington does. To show they're serious, they could make Luke Ford the first appointee.
An outfit called The World Entertainment News Network syndicates gossip items that get picked up all over. The content varies from juicy dirt (dirty juice?) to thinly-veiled promos, but what it has in common is that none of it is even remotely reliable.
Still, it's rare to find two items in the same day's package that completely contradict each other the way these do.
According to a a new study more than one-third of babies born in the US today were conceived through some form of assisted reproductive technology.
Reproductive freedom really isn't just a euphemism for abortion. Where will you be April 25th?
Update: Ugarte's alarm bells went off where mine should have (see comments). I mean, when a story makes you say, "That can't be true!" your next thought should always be, "Wait, that can't be true."
In the second installment of my Slate column today I offer the PowerPoint version of the Aug 6, 2001 President's Daily Brief. And, yes, I'm kicking myself for not making a joke about TieGate on slide 5.
The Pledge of Allegiance: The PowerPoint Version [Slate]
The PowerPoint Anthology of Literature [Radosh.net]
The Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation [Norvig]
Classic PowerPoint Presentations [Aaronsw]
The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint [Amazon]
No irony slips past Low Culture
"Everybody who goes through my photo album says, 'Tigger is groping you.' "
"It appears all of our complaints are focusing on Tigger."
"Her daughter asked her what Tigger was doing and the victim jokingly said, 'I don't know; I guess Tigger likes Mommy.' "
"She was like, 'Hey, Pooh, get your hand off my knee,' "
Is this the greatest article ever written?
[via Obscure Store]
The cool kids are doing this pointless literary chainblog thing today.
Pick up the nearest book. Open it to page 23. Find the fifth sentence. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
Now let me explain that I'm at The Week right now, and the nearest book, following the instructions to the letter, is one I used to research a story a while back: Circumcision: A History of the World's Most Controversial Surgery. Actually, if you're at all interested in the subject and looking for a rare disintrested source, I'd recommend it, which is why it's still on my desk. On page 23, David Gollaher quotes a 13th scholar. Explaining the context probably defeats the purpose.
"He will find himself performing his task quickly, emitting his seed as soon as he inserts the crown."
There's a meme going around in dittohead circles that the same libruls who are now saying Bush didn't do enough to prevent 9/11 would have screamed bloody murder if he'd tried to invade Afghanistan in early 2001 based on the evidence he had at the time. Our old pal Gregg Easterbrook inadvertently reveals just how flimsy this bit of rhetoric is when he tries to play it for pathos-tinged laughs with this alternative history.
Tim Long, a friend of mine back in the Spy days and now coexecutive producer of The Simpsons (oh, sure, but does he have a blog?) was asked why the show is going easy on George W. Bush. Much to my surprise, he gave the wrong answer.
At least nine of Joe Doble's 13 questions for Bush are designed to do nothing more than force the president to admit he's a bad, bad boy. "What do you say to the families of victims of 9/11 who wonder why not a single official has been fired?" "Are you willing to say now that you were wrong [about WMD]? If so, can you explain why you were wrong?" "What do you say to the families of the more than 600 Americans killed and 3,000 wounded in Iraq?"
I understand the emotion behind these questions. I'd love to bitch slap Bush a little myself. But when you think about it, what possible answers can he give that would be satisfying, much less helpful to improving the current situation? The press conference tonight is an important opportunity for the media to help the rest of us understand what the fuck is going on here. That means cheap shots will be just as inappropriate as the "starstruck" reception Bush got the last time around. Instead, what's needed is tough questions aimed at eliciting actual information.
Doble has exactly one of those, and I hope someone asks it: "On Sunday, April 11, when asked by Tim Russert which Iraqi leaders the U.S. planned to turn the government over to on June 30, Paul Bremer said, 'That's a good question.' What is your answer to that question?"
Sure blogging about sex slave hype is fun, but wouldn't the issue really be better addressed by academics?
If you answered yes (or, more likely, "in the affirmative"), you will so want to check out SEX SLAVES IN THE MEDIA: Problematizing Media Representations of Trafficking, a panel discussion to be held this Thursday, April 15, at Columbia University.
I wish I could make some joke about how "problematizing" sounds dirty, but it just doesn't.
Now that Best Week Ever is a certified hit, it's only natural for the backlash to begin. Slate kicks it off today by sniping that "the real joke, of course, is that the pundits who appear on Best Week Ever would kill to be even half as famous as the people they mock." As if people who write for Internet magazines wouldn't kill to be half as famous as TV pundits. (Believe me, I speak from experience.)
Those of us who toil off the air for BWE if blogging can be considered toil, which it can not are unscathed by criticism of the panelists, all the more so now that we have a ringer on our team: Ensign Wesley Crusher himself, Wil Wheaton.
Another sign Iraq is flaring up again: Our quote of the day feature is back. "We only have to stop the culture of intimidation, and it will only be done with a fair and firm response by us. And it will often be deadly, but that's what we've got to do." Gen. John Abizaid.
Believe or not, I think this counts as on message.
One reason I ditched blogspot is that the permalinks didn't always work. So if this doesn't take you to 4/8 11:09am, scroll down to there for a fine piece of N plus 7 gamesmanship, blog stizz, in which I'm flattered to play a small role (amidst good company).
What's funnier than Bush's joke about searching for WMD in the Oval Office? That same joke spliced with footage of dead soldiers and Iraqi civilians.
Longtime readers of this site might remember that my brother-in-law spent nine months in Iraq with 101st Airborne (more specifically, and I can't emphasize this enough, the Balls of the Eagle). Well he made it home OK, thankfully, and was just transferred to Germany where he was supposed to spend a nice, long, safe time guarding Western Europe from Soviet invasion. But guess what? He just got word he's being shipped out again. Apparently some of the liberating they did the first time around didn't quite take. His wife and kids, I might point out, will be waiting for him on a base in a foreign country where they have no friends or family and don't speak the language.
Anytime Bush wants to declassify that secret plan to end this war will be just fine with me.
It would also be nice if John Kerry were willing to explain what he might do in Iraq, rather than offering, as you may have heard, ""Right now what I would do differently is, I mean, look, I'm not the president, and I didn't create this mess, so I don't want to acknowledge a mistake I haven't made."
Still, if you're one of those people who a) feels that anyone is better than Bush and b) lives in a small town or tight-knit neighborhood, you could do worse than to check out Local Communities Bundle to Beat Bush. It's a Web site my mother and some of her Woodstock (town, not era) (OK, both) friends set up for neighbors to pool their Kerry campaign donations, the idea being that bulk donations get more attention than individual ones, which in turn generates more donations.
So what's the deal with the Subservient Chicken? This Burger King promo site features a guy in a chicken suit who appears to obey commands. We threw some pretty tough ones at him and he seemingly did his best to handle them, meaning that if this is just a bunch of pre-programmed flash movies the most likely scenario there are quite a lot of them. SC does various dances and plays air guitar impressively, though he just shrugged off "go pluck yourself."
Too bad he doesn't play tic-tac-toe.
Update: In the comments, Francis points out that boing boing has sussed out the Chicken's secrets. And Xeni has links to all 334 of his moves, with the keywords that set them off. Sometimes, ruining the fun is more fun than the fun itself.
Yesterday in my blog reading I came across a post (can't recall now where or about what exactly) in which the word Jew was used with gratuitous repetition, and in each instance, the word Jew was a link to the Wikipedia entry for "Jew".
There was no explanation for this rather odd linkage (was it antisemitic? philosemitic? neither the post nor the Wikipedia entry for "Jew" offered any hints.
Today, The Media Drop has an explanation. It's a Googlebomb with a purpose. Go ahead, click away.
Update: I found the post that first caught my eye. And I remember why I'd forgotten it so quickly.
Bluejake has snapshots from the Kinja launch party last weekend, including this one of me gazing adoringly at Jeff Jarvis (it's the traffic). And here's me in the background, shmoozing, to the best of my memory Jacob Weisberg. In the foreground are Steven Levy and some chick who at least said she was Wonkette.
Don't you people know better than to say shit like that when TMFTML is listening
Anyway, I kind of suspect that if Jesus returned today, bloggers would be the first ones to find their flesh dissolved, their eyes melted, and their tongues disintegrated.
CNN.com's head says "no story here," but its heart says, "cute kids in danger!"
Hey, the ice cream's not going to be marketed to Sports Illustrated swimsuit models either. Couldn't you have run a photo of one of them?
You'll notice by which I mean you almost certainly would not if I didn't point it out that I've added the newly released Freaks and Geeks DVD to my purchasables list over there on the left. (Though true freaks and geeks have already shelled out for the deluxe edition)
Under that is the complete DVD set of Firefly. I've been watching them over the last few weeks, and they're even better than I'd remembered. It easily makes the list of best science fiction TV shows ever. (Yes, I have an actual list. See the end of this post.)
What these shows have in common is that they were yanked off the air due to abysmal ratings, causing critics to, rightly, gnash their teeth and moan. Over the last few days there's been more gnashing and moaning in anticipation of the cancellation of Wonderfalls, which came today, as I learned from Drew's excellent blog (who knew he even had one? pimping yourself in the comments section does work!)
This time, though, you won't catch me joining the chorus. Oh, the show was OK. But what it was really notable for was suffering the most dramatic fall-off in quality I've ever seen. The first episode was insanely great, not just for its visual style, which has been rightly celebrated, but for its complex plot. Not only did you not know what was going to happen at the end, you didn't know what was going to happen in the next five minutes, and yet everything that did happen made perfect sense. Each successive episode, however, was a more or less straightforward person in jeopardy story, with maybe one twist at the end. It was almost as if the people writing them hadn't even watched the pilot.
If Wonderfalls ever does come out on DVD, Netflix it to watch the first installment, but don't bother with the rest.
I won't waste energy rebutting Christopher Hitchens' latest attempt to justify the occupation of Iraq. People who oppose the war can spot the problems with this argument themselves; those who support the war will find it unassailable. Let's face it, it's that kind of war. But there's one bit that's too good to let slide:
Given Saddam's record in both using and concealing weapons of mass destruction, and given his complicity--at least according to Mr. Clarke--with those who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 and with those running Osama bin Laden's alleged poison factory in Sudan, any president who did not ask about a potential Baathist link to terrorism would be impeachably failing in his duty.
By "according to Mr. Clarke," of course, Hitchens means, "not according to me," at least regarding the Sudanese factory. That's right, Hitchens is trying to back up his argument with evidence that he himself vehemently disagrees with.
Yesterday The New York Times ran an article discussing whether Conan O'Brien would ever get a show in "the coveted 11:30 period, made famous by Jack Paar and Johnny Carson."
When The Chicago Tribune picked up the story from the Times syndicate, the coveted period became "10:30," due to the time difference. Fair enough. But the Trib version actually changed the time in a couple of direct quotes, making it sound as if the most plugged-in people in the TV biz think on Central Time.
Gavin Polone, O'Brien's manager and longtime friend, puts it in the plainest terms. "There's just no question that he's going to be on earlier than 11:30," he says. "He's going to 10:30. It's going to happen."
O'Brien, who turns 41 this year, takes pains to point out the distinctions. "The difference with Dave, which even NBC will admit, is that there was no way Dave could continue to do the job at 11:30 with Jay as the `Tonight' show host, because they were peers. I'm 15 years younger. With me at 11:30, you can still feel there's order in the heavens, somewhat."
I know the paper is trying to avoid confusion, but since the story will be read outside Chicago, and since even Chicagoans know that Conan is on Eastern Time, doesn't this make it more confusing (not to mention journalistically dodgy)? Would it kill you to use [brackets]?
If you tuned into VH1's Hot Couples 2004 yesterday and wondered why I had so little screen time (about half what fuckin' Choire got) and why I was so unfunny (no, I mean, much less than usual), I can explain.
Since taping the show I've learned that there's a certain attitude that VH1 feels works on this kind of program: relentlessly positive. On Best Week Ever, the show for which I'm a parttime blogger, this approach is played for laughs, but it's still played. I could have done that. Indeed, I earned my most extensive airtime by pronouncing Kirsten and Jake "the most adorable couple in the world." But for the most part, I did my sardonic disaffected thing and while that got some laughs out of the producers and crew, none of it made it on the show.
Well, I shouldn't say none of it. There were a few times where Hot Couples used my setups, and then cut me off before the punchline. For instance, at one point I say something about how Ashton and Demi are going to invite Bruce Willis to their wedding. And then I'm not heard saying that Bruce is going to get drunk and insist on performing with the wedding band as Bruno. Sometimes they cut out my jokes even when they weren't mean. I forget who it is that supposedly cited "scheduling conflicts," as the reason for their breakup, but on the show I say, "Who breaks up over scheduling conflicts?" Which was supposed to be the lead-in to, "It's not you, it's my Friday at 3:00."
Oh wait, that's not funny. No wonder they cut it.
This is not the least bit accurate. Plus, the green and orange color scheme is atrocious.
Officials at Al Azhar acknowledged that they have long forbidden depictions of prophets -- or even the voices of prophets -- in movies, but they said they have no intention of opposing the decision of government censors to allow "The Passion" to be shown in its entirety.
"I encouraged the movie because it withholds from Jews their claims that they are innocent of the Christ's blood," said Mohiy el-Din Abdel Aleem, a professor of media and journalism at Al Azhar University, when asked why Al Azhar had not objected to the movie.
Everyone's yakking about kinja, the new Nick Denton jam that's apparently some kind a kind of amped up web-based RSS-reader. Not being an RSS guy myself (I only added a feed a couple of weeks ago for those who are) I don't have much to compare it to. However, I feel obliged to talk about it since I don't want to look like an ingrate at the launch party tonight. Also, from what I can tell, the easiest way to get yourself onto Kinja's "showcase" page is to blog about Kinja.
To begin with, I think I get what Felix Salmon was griping about when he complained that most RSS feeds are set up to only serve the first 50 words of text, after which you have to click through the site. That's how Kinja works, and it's a really annoying way to browse. My ADD ain't that severe. On the other hand, it does have the benefit of being able to very quickly get a flavor for what's out there in a more compelling way than sites like Technorati or Blogdex do. I guess it's a happy-ish medium between those sites and Plastic, which is human-generated and more concerned with adding value to its links.
The advantage Kinja has over RSS readers, from what I can tell, is that it can introduce you to blogs that aren't already on your watchlist. Just poking around this morning I've seen one or two that I'll have to add to my regulars.
I don't know, though. After spending a little time with the site, I'm feeling pretty exhausted. A good filter should, you know, filter. Kinja is like a firehose of blogginess. It's too much, too fast. Even if there's a summary that looks intriguing enough to click through, I'm as likely as not to get distracted by something else on the page, and then again, and end up never reading anything in full. I think I'd rather read blogs the way I always have, sampling a few a day in depth. The risk of missing some intriguing topic is worth the benefit of being able to digest what I am reading. Maybe I'm too old (for this shit).
I will, however, try using Kinja more like a typical RSS reader and see if that helps customizing it to only show the blogs I select. In otherwords, using it as RSS with training wheels, though I kind of doubt they're going to adopt that as a motto. (Oh wait, maybe they are).