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Archives for June, 2005

June 29, 2005

The picture of the hot babe can only mean one thing: It's time for a post about Orthodox Judaism!

Daniel Radosh


I'm not sure if Zebra Talk, the new blog from my friend Daniel Kahn, is going to be thematically consistent enough to make the official list of Jewish blogs, but from his start, I'd at least expect Steve Weiss to sit up and take notice.

For one of his first posts, Daniel tackles the emodestening of Shakira. He lives in a largely Orthodox hood and when a radio station posted a billboard featuring the picture above, some young Jewligan took it on himself to spray paint a blouse on her. Daniel dusts off his Talmud (which I suspect had not actually gathered much dust) and decides that the self-appointed guardian of virtue was wrong on Jewish law -- though Daniel approves of his actions anyway.

I, of course, do not. Concealing Shakira's breasts under any circumstances should be forbidden as far as I'm concerned. Actually, it's ironic that it is Shakira who generated mammary disapproval, since her breasts are famously small and humble (so you don't confuse them with mountains).

Is that a great weird lyric to find in a top 10 pop song or what? It's just one reason I am such a huge fan of this girl. And not in the way I'm a huge fan of Huckapoo, I promise.

Continue reading "The picture of the hot babe can only mean one thing: It's time for a post about Orthodox Judaism!" »

June 29, 2005

You're The Top update

Daniel Radosh

Tim Noah answers some of my our (as a lefty blogger, I'm all about the community building) questions about the parody of You're The Top. He thinks Irving Berlin wasn't funny enough (well, it's all in the delivery) but finds it hard to narrow down the suspects given that ""[A]t the peak of [the song's] popularity Cole received three hundred parodies a month."

Not addressed (though I specifically asked him): is "an arch in the Rome collection" a double-entendre/smutty allusion and if so, to what?

June 29, 2005

There's hope for the blogosphere yet

Daniel Radosh


June 29, 2005

So you're saying the leaker is I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney?

Daniel Radosh

Two interesting letters on Romenesko.

From SUSAN STABLEY, reporter, South Florida Business Journal: I don't understand why, in all the recent articles about Miller-Cooper-Novak and the Plame case, no one states the name of the leaker. The man who revealed the identity of an undercover CIA agent was I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, at least, according to Cooper.

Cooper was the speaker at the recent SPJ awards in South Florida. He told a room full of reporters that he revealed his source -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney -- after Libby released him from his obligation to protect his identity. The Washington Post reported the identity of Cooper's source -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney -- in August 2004. Cooper told us at the SPJ event that his current legal crisis had to do with a follow-up subpoena from investigators who were fishing for all his notes....

So, again, why why why, is not the name of the source -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney -- in every single story about Miller-Cooper-Novak? And instead of wondering about Novak, I want to know: what will happen to Libby?

Continue reading "So you're saying the leaker is I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney?" »

June 29, 2005

I'm talking politics again, so if you have an exit strategy for reading this blog, now might be a good time for it

Daniel Radosh

The CD player in my kitchen is dead so I actually listened to Bush's speech last night while doing the dishes. While most commentators seemed to be listening for a clear strategy for victory, I was hoping to hear something more basic: a definition of victory. Forget calendar-based timetables -- which I understand the argument against even if I'm not fully persuaded -- I'd be happy to hear a simple explanation of exactly what conditions will need to be achieved that will allow the US to withdraw, regardless of when that will be. That seems fair, doesn't it?

"A little over a year ago," Bush said, "I spoke to the nation and described our coalition's goal in Iraq." But in fact what he described a year ago was hardly specific enough to be called a goal. Here's the closest Bush has ever come to saying what would count as winning in Iraq:

"We will hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government..." Done! (OK, it depends on what the definition of "sovereign" is, but we'll give it to him)

"help establish security..." But we're helping to establish security already (for all the good it's doing), so the question is: what is our benchmark for when we have helped enough and can stop helping? All we've been told is that it's when the Iraqi forces can take over for us, but we've never been told how we'll know when they've reached that point. Is it when they can fight the insurgents as well as the US forces are? Since the US hasn't been able to stop the violence, wouldn't that mean abandoning Iraq to perpetual warfare, which is what we've promised not to do? Or are we supposed to believe that at some point the Iraqi military will actually be more competent than the US military? If you say so.... but even so, a simple explanation of what conditions need to be met in order for us to reach that conclusion has never been offered.

Continue reading "I'm talking politics again, so if you have an exit strategy for reading this blog, now might be a good time for it" »

June 27, 2005

But if you're one of those super-hip TMFTML readers you probably already knew that

Daniel Radosh

He's making a joke about this.

June 21, 2005

The Huckapoo-mania trend, however, is 100% legit

Daniel Radosh

In my 1998 essay on trendspotting (yes, I'm linking to it again; what of it?), I wrote: "How does a trend story come to be? At Time, insiders say, the custom is for writers and editors in New York to sketch trends at editorial meetings in their offices, then call on reporters in the field to document them. Sometimes the initial idea can be traced to a story in New York or The New York Times. Otherwise, editors extrapolate national trends from their own small world of other writers and editors. 'I'm surprised they haven't done a trend story on working late and sending out for Chinese food,' quips the former stringer, 'because everybody they know does this.'"

Now there's new evidence for this phenomenon in a remarkable investigation by Fishbowl LA, which uses Friendster to trace the names in a recent NYT Styles story. Bonus points to FishLA for dubbing Friendster "the craigslist of our generation." [via Fishbowl NY]

June 21, 2005

Well there's your problem right there

Daniel Radosh

Inadvertently revealing mixed-metaphor of the moment. Two quotes from Sgt. Joe Dyer in an AJC article on training Iraqi troops.

"In our military, the noncommissioned officer is the backbone."

"The Iraqi soldiers I saw today are like sponges. They emulate everything we do, and they're hungry to learn."

June 17, 2005

Since it just might come up in conversation this weekend

Daniel Radosh

The nuts and bolts -- but mostly nuts -- of Scientology. A briefing I wrote a year ago for The Week.

June 16, 2005

What, you thought I only know teen pop?

Daniel Radosh

A while ago, probably during the Music Club era, I had an e-mail exchange with Kevin about the shelf-life of today's rap songs. He suggested that the over-reliance on product placement as shorthand for style would limit the appeal of current hits in years to come. I agreed that this was probably the case by and large, but argued that an exceptional song would have no problem sustaining itself well past the era of its status symbols, and pointed to Cole Porter's You're the Top as evidence. The song is still considered one of the all-time greats, even though few people know what half of it means. (Personally I prefer the less gimmicky Porter tunes; give me So in Love or Night and Day over Let's Do It anytime).

My curiosity about the dated references in You're the Top was satisfied recently when Timothy Noah posted an exhaustive annotation. But now that Noah has posted an addendum I find myself curious all over again.

Continue reading "What, you thought I only know teen pop?" »

June 16, 2005

Did Katie choose the wrong cult?

Daniel Radosh

Starting today, Radar's ace reporter Mim Udovitch unleashes what is probably the most in-depth investigation of the Kabbalah Centre yet.

Radar’s findings include:

• The Centre’s solicitation of freelance ghostwriters on the website Craigslist, to help the Bergs write “scholarly” books on Kabbalah, some of which the writers are encouraged to model on new-age best-sellers.

• The Centre’s penchant for lending money to companies owned by close friends and associates of the Bergs, including more than $2 million in loans to a company with a P.O. Box address that flips investment properties in such Los Angeles neighborhoods as Compton and Watts.

• The Bergs’ luxurious lifestyle, in stark contrast to the bleak four-to-a-bedroom conditions and $35-a-month stipend they offer the full-time volunteers who cook and clean for them.

• The Centre’s use of cultlike techniques to control members, including sleep deprivation, alienation from friends and family, and Kabbalah-dictated matchmaking.

• The bizarre scientific claims made by the Centre’s leaders on behalf of Kabbalah Water, ranging from its ability to cleanse the lakes of Chernobyl of radiation to its power to cure cancer, AIDS, and SARS.

Totally crazy, right? I mean, everyone knows Craigslist is only useful for anonymous sex.

June 16, 2005

You know, there's writing on the inside of the magazine also

Daniel Radosh

Gawker aims at side of barn, misses:

"Remember the new superstrain of AIDS that promised to make 2005 seem like 1985 for New York’s gays? The one that was all over the press for a few days, and that prompted an hysterical New York magazine cover story? Yeah? Well, turns out it, um, sort of didn’t exist."

Well, um, that New York cover story, the one Gawker neglects to actually link to, despite using the cover as its illustration, sort of says exactly that. The hed and deck are, "The Invention of Patient Zero: How crystal-meth-fueled promiscuity, AIDS medical politics, and one very sick man combined to create a phantom superbug." The article then goes on to say, "After the frenzy died down, however, the new epidemic began to look a lot less fearsome. In fact, on closer examination, almost everything about this case seems murky." In other words, the story was about the hysteria, not part of it.

And the Gawker editors call themselves responsible journa-- wait, never mind.

June 16, 2005

All I know is I'm clean as a whistle baby

Daniel Radosh


Don't get me wrong. Liz Phair is still totally hot. She looks way better in a see-through mesh shirt than most moms her age. But here's the thing... I don't know what this photo shoot is for, but it looks pretty high-end. So maybe by the time it appears in whatever magazine it's destined for, an airbrusher will have had a go at it.

Before I go on, I should note that at this moment I can feel myself sinking as low as I ever have on this blog. If you want to retain any respect for me, I advise you not to read the rest of this post.

Continue reading "All I know is I'm clean as a whistle baby" »

June 15, 2005

Wait, does flipping me off and walking away count as an answer?

Daniel Radosh

I won't dispute Andrew Vachss' point, but couldn't he have found a way to make it without lying?

In the months since charges were filed, I have heard people profess intense anguish that Michael Jackson might "get away with it." Each time, I asked these people what other possible miscarriages of justice concerned them, past or present? I asked if they knew that in many states, including New York and California, the penalties for sexual abuse of one's own child are markedly less than those for abusing an unrelated child. I asked each of them if this incest loophole also provoked their outrage; if they were prepared to actually do anything to change such laws. Not one ever answered.

Really? Not one person was ever able to name another miscarriage of justice that concerned them? Not one person had the presence of mind to say, "No, I did not know about that disparity in the abuse laws, thank you for telling me"? Not one person wasn't so floored by Andrew Vachss' lawyerly rhetoric that they weren't able to coak out, "Why yes, that does outrage me, now that I know about it," or, "What can I do to change such laws?" or even, "Nah, I just like to gripe about celebrities," which, like it or not, would also count as an answer.

Or perhaps Andrew Vachss means that not one person ever gave an answer that showed a thorough enough understanding of the sexual abuse laws to justify, to Andrew Vachss' satisfaction, holding an opinion on a story that was in the news. In which case, he should have written that instead.

[Update: Feige says AV is wrong about the "incest loophole." Ooh! Defense attorney catfight!]

June 14, 2005

The shamelessly adorable picture is just to remind you what I have at stake

Daniel Radosh


Here's your IVF update.

Will Saletan explains why seemingly sane Italians passed (and now preserved) their clearly insane IVF laws, and what their nightmare means for the US if the religious right has its way.

The ghoulish ironies don't end there. Last year, President Bush's council on bioethics, well-stocked with conservatives, strongly urged fertility clinics "to reduce the incidence of multiple embryo transfers and resulting multiple births, a known source of high risk and discernible harm to the resulting children." But the Italian law requires such multiple transfers, endangering healthy embryos in the name of protecting unhealthy ones. By limiting the number of embryos in each IVF round to three, the Italian law has doubled the average number of rounds necessary to get a successful pregnancy. This means more hormonally induced egg production and extraction, which, according to Bush's council, "carry significant medical risks to the women."

Oh, and don't forget the increased risk of low birth-weight and infant mortality. Define "pro-life" again, please?

Ellen Goodman calls the Snowflakers' bluff. "When people claim to believe that a frozen embryo is the moral equal of a child, ethicists like to pose this question: If a clinic is on fire and you could save either a 2-year-old or a vial full of embryos, which would you pick?" She also has some advice for people in my position: "Embryos are not human beings. Nor are they hangnails. They carry the potential for human life that deserves moral attention and respect. It's not disrespectful to donate embryos to the search for a curing diseases. Nor is it respectful to keep embryos in a freezer until they're eligible for Social Security." No sweat. Social Security will be bankrupt by then.

Continue reading "The shamelessly adorable picture is just to remind you what I have at stake" »

June 10, 2005

So where does the rubber head fit in?

Daniel Radosh

Free-ranging metaphor of the day: Michael Jackson "came to believe that reality was as plastic as his own porcelain skin." — Andrew Sullivan.

June 9, 2005

What sort of journalist is Peter Landesman?

Daniel Radosh

That's the first sentence of Jack Shafer's response to Landy's most recent outburst. The last sentence is, "For shame, Peter Landesman, for shame." Far as I'm concerned, the 879 words in between are just gravy.

[More about Landesman]

June 9, 2005

Wikipedia hates Twiggy Stardom

Daniel Radosh

huckapoo  photo shoot 12-2.jpg

It has been only three days since Huckapoo finally earned themselves a Wikipedia entry, and already there's trouble brewing. First, there was a short-lived coup when, for less than a minute, the entry was altered to read: "The world's shittiest girl group. It consists of alter egos such as Twiggy Stardom (the prep) Pj Bardot (the pathetic white urban kid who listens to rap music) Joey Thunders (the punk) Angel Sparks (the punk also)." I mean, duh, everyone knows Angel is a biker chick.

Now there's a debate over whether Twiggy deserves a separate entry of her own. Well, not so much a debate as a chorus of disapproval.

member of a band that haven't released an album - and don't look like they will.

not notable member of a not notable band. Since when do bands have cheerleaders anyway?


Things aren't looking good for the Twigster. What kind of crazy world is this where the nerds get to judge the cheerleader?

Continue reading "Wikipedia hates Twiggy Stardom" »

June 7, 2005

Can you turn down your outfits please? This is a library

Daniel Radosh


PJ: "Could this reading shit be any more boring?"
Angel: "Whatevs, bitch. I just fucked yer boyfriend."

In case you're wondering what the Huckapips are doing at Jericho Middle School: "Huckapoo offers special performances for public schools where they send a positive message to students to stay free of alcohol and drug abuse." (Confidential to B.L.: Hahahahaha!)

June 7, 2005

What other people are saying about the same things I'm saying stuff about

Daniel Radosh

• Rise and shine, Landesman, you have a new -- and far more formidable -- foe to freak the fuck out on. Jack Shafer revisits The Girls Next Door with the latest official human trafficking numbers in hand. The gist: estimates have dropped from a high of 50,000 women and children were trafficked here annually "for sexual exploitation" to 15,000 people trafficked annually for all purposes -- making the figures significantly lower than Landesman suggests. Jack has always been more concerned with the numbers than I have. To me, what made PL's article sensationalistic was not that he chose to use the highest estimates he could find -- a fairly common bit of journalistic spin -- but that he chose to build a narrative out of elements -- underage American girls, torture, murder, Disneyland -- that were both perfectly picked to shock and utterly impossible to substantiate. [Update: Guess who's back in the comments...]

• IVF blogger Julie says some very funny and true stuff that I left out of or only touched on in my recent Snowflakes miniseries. BTW, I'm going to be writing something on this subject for at least one magazine in the near future.

• Rapid Teens has a hilarious review of Radar from an unusual perspective [hint: mildly NSFW]. Don't miss the video preview [hint: extremely NSFW]. BTW, my mother called me Danny Rado once. Once.

June 3, 2005

And again, I say: told you so

Daniel Radosh

Will Saletan gets hip to The coming war over in vitro fertilization.

Since then, Bush's language has hardened. Last week, he called IVF embryos "real human lives" just like "the lives of those with diseases that might find cures" through stem-cell research.... On the House floor, Majority Leader Tom DeLay called embryonic stem-cell research "the dismemberment of living, distinct human beings." Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., called it "the slaughter of human life."

It's hard to see how people who think this way can go on tolerating the surplus creation, freezing, and disposal of millions of IVF embryos. If you think they'll leave it to you because you're the parent, you don't understand pro-lifers. They believe what DeLay and other House Republicans said last week: Embryos belong to "the human family." It takes more than you and your spouse to decide your embryo's fate. It takes a village.

You're just the embryo's custodian. Congress may decide it's better off with a different mother. "How do we evaluate which embryos should be allowed to be sent to research and how many to be adopted by infertile couples so those embryos can be developed into full human beings?" Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a pro-life Ohio Democrat, asked her colleagues. "Who will decide? Is it just a matter for the individual couple, or is there a larger, societal responsibility to protect life?"

Some pro-lifers have already decided. Louisiana has outlawed the intentional destruction of "a viable in vitro fertilized human ovum." A bill in Kentucky would make it a felony to "fertilize more than one (1) egg" during IVF. Five days ago, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., suggested that the United States should follow countries that "limit the number" of embryos fertilized in vitro to "one or two at a time." DeLay wants medical associations to require pre-emptive counseling to couples about creating and abandoning leftover embryos. Failing that, he warns that Congress's "next step is to look at" the issue. Thirty states already mandate counseling or waiting periods for abortion. The logical thing to do, if you think embryos deserve the same respect, is to mandate counseling and waiting periods for IVF.

Related, equally depressing posts on this subject.

June 2, 2005

Is it just me, or did this story go from 0 to 60 in about two seconds?

Daniel Radosh

The New York Times fronts the IVF debate today. The headline couches it as a stem-cell debate, but the article makes it clear that the embryo adoption movement is only latching on to stem cell research as a stalking horse to severely limit (my interpretation: eventually ban) in vitro fertilization, which is directly compared to slavery.

Here are some of the red flags anyone familiar with IVF will spot in the story, about how one of Bush's poster-couples joined the anti-IVF movement.

The McClure's (you may remember them from such films as "God hates fags," and "Jew?") believed that "the Lord was calling us to try to give one of these embryos, these children, a chance to live." So they adopted 13 embryos. That's right, 13. And good thing, too. According to the Times, "most of the 13 embryos proved unviable, and one round of embryo implantation failed before she finally had a successful pregnancy using the final embryo."

Now, the official position of the Family Research Council is "you shouldn't create through I.V.F. more embryos than are going to be implanted." But the McClures (and this is SOP) adopted extra embryos for the exact same reasons that couples who go through IVF create extra embryos in the first place: you need a lot to maximize your chance of success. Now let's parse this situation just a bit more.

Continue reading "Is it just me, or did this story go from 0 to 60 in about two seconds?" »

June 2, 2005

Good thing no one ever makes it to page G7

Daniel Radosh


Man, Gawker is gonna have a field day with this.


June 1, 2005

Don't worry, Peter, I'll get back to the adolescent girl groups soon

Daniel Radosh

More on the campaign to ban IVF. In my first post I said total opposition to IVF was "the logical end" of Bush's position on embryos. Slate's Liza Mundy does some actual reporting and finds that indeed, the embryo adoption agency Bush did his photo op with "opposes IVF medicine because of what doctors rather antiseptically refer to as 'embryo wastage' but tries to make the best of the situation by giving some of them a living future. Like conventional pro-life groups, Snowflakes even does 'rescues,' springing into action whenever it hears about a couple on the verge of no longer paying storage fees."

I'm not sure what 'rescues' means in this context, but it hints at something else I thought about. Embryo storage costs about $1,000 a year. Making some very rough estimates that (500,000 frozen embryos total at, say, five per couple) the annual cost of storage is about $100 million per year. If it's that important to Snowflakes, or Sam Brownback, or George Bush, or society that these embryos not be donated for research or destroyed, why don't they, or the taxpayers, pick up the tab?

Continue reading "Don't worry, Peter, I'll get back to the adolescent girl groups soon" »

June 1, 2005

Obligatory Deep Throat post

Daniel Radosh

Told you so.

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