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Archives for March, 2006

March 31, 2006

Magic Shuffle vs. Noam Chomsky

Daniel Radosh

Yesterday I played a round of Magic Shuffle, the oracle that uses your MP3 player's suffle feature to tell your fortune. It was fun and all, but the questions ("What do my friends really think of me?") were just a little too MySpacey.

Also yesterday, as it happened, my friend Susan sent me a link Noam Chomsky's Washington Post Web chat, in which Chomsky fields some hardball questions from readers who make the people that show up at Bush town meetings sound like Woodward and Bernstein. Which got me wondering: how would Magic Shuffle answer those same questions? More succinctly, at any rate.

Why do you think the US went to war against Iraq?
Chicken Soup With Rice — Carole King. Code for "oil" if I ever heard it. Note to self: delete kids' songs from the iPod (except Pierre — that's a pop masterpiece).

Noam - I heard you talking about international law on alternative radio and (I think) expounding the idea that the Bush administration's flavor of premtive war is illegal. I agree that the Bush administration's actions are illegal. Would you comment on how much we should submit to international law in that area?
Lookin' for a Love — The Valentinos. Translation: A lot, because we want foreigners to like us.

Continue reading "Magic Shuffle vs. Noam Chomsky" »

March 30, 2006

iPod Ching

Daniel Radosh

donnas-0532.jpg Forgive me if this meme is played out, but having done my share of casting the I Ching in college (and Magic 8 Ball before that, though I draw the line at chicken entrails) I couldn't resist the Magic Shuffle, wherein the shuffle function of your MP3 player provides answers to pre-selected faux-deep questions.

How does the world see you?
I'm Beginning to See the Light — Bobby Darin. Better late than never, I guess.

Will I have a happy life?
Don't Explain — BIllie Holliday. I guess that's, "No, but I'm OK with it." Maybe there's something to this oracle thing.

What do my friends really think of me?
So Beats My Heart for You — Tony Bennet. Wow. I would have settled for I Get a Kick Out of You.

Do people secretly lust after me?
The New Pollution — Beck. Sorry, girls, I'm married.

How can I make myself happy?
Can’t Go Back — The Descendents. OK, that's a little eerie. And kind of depressing.

What should I do with my life?
It's All Right/Sentimental Reasons — Sam Cooke. Appreciate wife more. Check.

Will I ever have children?
D'evils — Jay-Z. Oh, so Magic Shuffle has met Milo and Margalit already. Still I'm not sure manaically jumping on the couch necessarily means they're going to grow up to be crack dealers.

What is some good advice for me?
Don't Cry on My Shoulder —Sam Cooke. It's a cold world when your own oracle gives you the brush off. And another Sam Cooke song? That little randomizing problem doesn't seem to be going away.

How will I be remembered?
Bull Rider — Johnny Cash. Sure, but after Brokeback, this could mean anything.

What is my signature dancing song?
Tell it Like it Is — Aaron Neville. Hmm. Never thought of myself as the slow dancing type. Or the fast dancing type, for that matter. Who came up with these questions anyway?

What do I think my current theme song is?
Blue Motel Room — Joni Mitchell. Well, I am doing a lot of travelling these days, and I do miss Gina when I'm away. But somehow I don't think she has any pretty girls hanging on her boom-boom-pachyderm while I'm gone. I don't think.

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
Just Like A Woman — Bob Dylan. Guess that answers the Bull Rider question.

What song will play at my funeral?
Brown Eyed Girl — Van Morrison. Apparently I'm going to be buried in a Starbucks. Anyway, I thought we discussed this already.

What type of women do you like?
Everybody’s Smoking Cheeba — The Donnas. Underage stoner punks? I'm taking the fifth.

What is my day going to be like?
You Wanna Get Me High — The Donnas. It's just possible that my oracle, in addition to having a malfunctioning shuffle feature, is pushing an agenda of its own.

So, have I interpreted correctly? Have you tried this too? Let me hear it.

[ :: Comments (8)

March 29, 2006

Is it safe?

Daniel Radosh

Friend of the site Jon Miller found himself a nice little nugget about Hugh Hewitt, Terror Warrior. It'll take you a minute to read and provide chuckles for days.

Among the folks picking up on Miller's find is CJR Daily, which also zeroes on

View From a Height, who, like Hewitt, proudly displays a deep ignorance of what life is like on the ground in Iraq. "While it does seem that Ware has gotten out of the bar at the Palestine Hotel," they write, propping up the lame -- and wrong -- impression that reporters are simply chilling out, having a few brews, when they could be out reporting.

Actually the ignorance goes even deeper than that. According to a real journalist at The New York Times,

The violence outside its gates finally crashed in, and now the Palestine joins the rest of Baghdad, struggling to survive and hoping for better days. The lobby is a mess, with wires dangling from the ceiling and glass crunching underfoot, the leftovers of a suicide attack last fall... The rooftop Panoramic Bar looks more like a Pompeii bar, its stools and love seats covered in a fine gray dust.

Oops, better come up with a new shorthand for the cushy safe part of Baghdad. How about "Turkey"?

March 28, 2006

Kosher bacon?

Daniel Radosh

piggirl.jpg In response to the news that scientists are genetically engineering pigs to produce heart-healthy pork, my friend Brett asks if they can create kosher pork?

Though meant as a joke, it's an interesting question. The laws regarding kosher mammals derive from Leviticus 11, which begins, "You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud." Verse 7 specifically forbids eating pig, which "though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud." Chewing the cud is a method of digestion that is exactly as disgusting as it sounds and transforming an animal's entire digestive tract is probably beyond current technology -- but it's a brave new world out there, and if someone put their mind to this, I'm sure it could be done eventually. Presumably some rabbis would say that since Leviticus specifically mentions pig, nothing would change the prohibition. But it seems to me that the pig is being used as an example of an animal with certain traits, and if those traits are different... who knows?

I'm currently seeking answers from rabbis. Will report back with results. Meanwhile, please enjoy the photograph of the hot pig-head lingerie model.

Update 1: It's not looking good: " So, we move into a philosophical notion of Kilayim, that is, impudently trying to 'improve' G-d's creation by creating new species. The rabbis are divided on this. Some would consider many hybrid foods to be a philosophically unpleasant matter; others would say that G-d creates anew and we merely facilitate by performing the hybrid planting." And that's just veggies! Stay tuned.

Update 1a: OK, here's the relevant part of the Torah: "Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material." The first decree would seem pretty definitive. Yet, so does the third, and nobody follows that any more. I bet the second is pretty widely dismissed too. I suspect it might be possible to find a rabbi somewhere who would OK kosher bacon. Maybe.

Update 2: A case against. Seems tautological to me, but for what it's worth: "If a carp is genetically engineered so that it has no scales, is it still kosher? After all, fins and scales are what make a fish kosher in the first place.... Abraham Steinberg, a leading Jewish medical ethicist, says the scale-less carp would still be kosher. Steinberg argues that altering a carp's genes so that it does not have scales does not change anything fundamental about the fish. Since we know carp is kosher, he said, it doesn't matter whether it actually has scales."

Update 3: Turns out, bleeding edge Jews have been wrestling with this question for some time.

Continue reading "Kosher bacon?" »

March 28, 2006

Those sneaky Jews!

Daniel Radosh

Lately, New York has been abuzz over the suspension of a city-employed Muslim chaplain who made a speech last year saying that Muslims must not allow "Zionists of the media to dictate what Islam is to us."

Assuming that "Zionists" here is code for "Jews," the New York Post and similar rabble rousers called for Umar Abdul-Jalil's head. But Canonist's Steve Weiss points out that since the city's Jewish chaplains have rallied around their colleague, it is more likely that Jalil meant Zionist in the political sense of people who support the state of Israel.

A distinction without a difference? Weiss goes on to note that one of the six rabbis in the Department of Correction is a Satmar Hasid — "a sect that is vehemently anti-Zionist." (He quotes a former teacher at a Satmar day school who says that "the two worst insults the children knew were "Lubavitcher" and "Zionist" in that order, and when they went to visit their families in Israel, they flew TWA rather than El Al so that the "Zionim" wouldn't get their money.")

So if being pro-Zionist is the new litmus test for city chaplains, it's not just the Muslims who will have to go. At the very least, Jalil's critics will have to get over their simplistic "anti-Zionism=antisemitism" formula and determine exactly what Jalil was saying. Weiss has been unable to find the context of Jalil's quote, but if he's right in his guess that the discussion was about Zionism as a political ideology, it's clear that Jalil is off the hook — or Satmar Rabbi Leib Glanz is on it.

March 27, 2006

So he really can walk on water?

Daniel Radosh

First the Washington Post hires Ben Domenech, now the New York Times is trying its own over-the-top Red State outreach with this unlikely story: Christ the King Lives Up to National Reputation.

Oh, it's a high school basketball team? Never mind.

Still, it's hard to believe Christ beat Murry Bergtraum. Couldn't Bergtraum nail him to a cross or something?

March 27, 2006

Meanwhile, CNN interviews a dog on a psychiatrist's couch

Daniel Radosh


Reader Ruth Graham notes that the allegedly far-fetched scenario in this cartoon, from last week's New Yorker, has come true: "A woman accused of abducting her two young children from their father, then dressing like a man so she could assume his identity, agreed Monday to return to Arizona where she faces kidnapping charges, authorities said."

If you play in a chamber ensemble, this might be a good time to duck.

March 26, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #44

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this week's New Yorker cartoon. Click here for last week's results. Click here for an introduction and "rules" to this contest. Click here for amplification of those rules. Click here for contest index.


Getting the ball rolling:

"It's a good thing we brought a mime. I've gone permanently deaf from the non-stop barrage of mortar fire."

"You know, Pat Tillman was partnered with a mime too."

"Is this really a good idea for a cartoon, given the ongoing carnage in Iraq? Perhaps Alex Gregory should stick to producing King of the Hill. That show is funny."

Results after the jump.

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #44" »

March 24, 2006

I'm gonna stick with douchebag

Daniel Radosh

According to Slate's Daniel Gross, Boykin Curry is a Coolionaire

March 24, 2006

Peter Landesman, call your agent

Daniel Radosh

Of the many weird aspects to the story of Tanya Nicole Kach, the young woman who (we're led to believe) spent 10 years in psychological captivity to the man who seduced her at age 14, somehow I fixated on the detail that one of the charges against Thomas Hose is "involuntary deviate sexual intercourse." I mean, I understand why doing it up the butt is deviate, but can you commit that crime involuntarily? Did he, like, slip?

No, it turns out that unlike, say, involuntary manslaughter, the modifier in this case refers to the victim's participation in the act. According to Pennsylvania penal code, deviate sexual intercourse is defined as "Sexual intercourse per os or per anus between human beings and any form of sexual intercourse with an animal. The term also includes penetration, however slight, of the genitals or anus of another person with a foreign object for any purpose other than good faith medical, hygienic or law enforcement procedures." The law against voluntary deviate sexual intercourse has been repealed (so you won't have to use your "but I'm a doctor" defense), but seven criteria can render DSI involuntary, including a victim "who is less than 16 years of age and the person [charged] is four or more years older."

I learned all this from ageofconsent.com. Oh, great. Now I'll have to go and choose a whole new domain name for my Huckapoo fan site.

March 24, 2006

Where does that leave Brooks, Tierney and Dowd?

Daniel Radosh


Well, yeah, but is this really front page news?

March 23, 2006

Dear Penthouse: I was sitting at home watching a video of terrorists beheading a hostage, when all of a sudden...

Daniel Radosh

nC3gLtq.jpg I'm finding a lot of great material for my book on Christian pop culture, most of which I'm dutifully saving for the book. But I just came across something that made even my jaded jaw drop, and that I am compelled to share in advance. Please open to page one of Sex and the Supremacy of Christ by John Piper:

There is a connection between the beheadings of Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong and Nick Berg and Paul Johnson and Kenneth Bigley in Iraq, and this book on Sex and the Supremacy of Christ.

I look at them and I see their hands and their eyes. And I think of my hands and my eyes and my death and my faith. And then I hear the words of Jesus put it all in perspective, and in relation to sex.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)

In other words, there is something far more important than to keep your eye or your hand—or your head—namely, to receive eternal life and not to perish in hell. And Jesus links it with the war that we are waging not in Iraq but in our hearts. And the issue is sexual desire and what we do with it.

Yes, the important thing here is to hope that Nick Berg never masturbated. And they say we're obsessed with sex!

March 23, 2006

Love your enemies unless they save your lives?

Daniel Radosh

Recently I defended the honor of radical Christian activist Tom Fox from the ghoulish wingnuts who felt his politics gave them the right to dance on his grave. Today I have to slap my forehead over the official statement of Christian Peacekeeper Teams on the release of the remaning hostages. I certainly wouldn't expect or want them to rethink their entire position on the war and the "root cause" of the violence in Iraq, but is it too much to ask for a single word of thanks to the British troops who freed their colleagues? If CPT can room in their hearts (and their press release) to "love our enemies even when they have committed acts which caused great hardship to our friends and sorrow to their families," surely they can also love their enemies who risk their own lives to free their friends from their other enemies.

Sometimes I hate the ideologues I agree with more than the ones I oppose.

March 23, 2006

Now that's a universal remote

Daniel Radosh

What makes me giggle about Dick Cheney's hotel rider is not that his wife drinks Perrier, or that he seems unaware that all Sprite is caffeine free, or that he wants to watch Fox News. It's that he expects the hotel staff to tune the TVs to Fox News for him before he gets there. Sure, he can't be expected to do it himself. I'm pretty sure that Cheney doesn't press buttons unless it's to nuke Tehran. But the hotel staff? Is something wrong with Scooter Libby's index finger?

Maybe he's afraid that the TV will turn on at a bad channel and he'll accidentally see something indecent. In which case I hope to hell he's also avoiding the web site of the Parent's Television Council.

By the way, all this prudery is filtering down. Apparently, sluts today won't even take off their bras at an orgy?

March 23, 2006

Pledge Drive Update: PS3 is going to better anwyway

Daniel Radosh

girl_xbox360_blowjob.jpg Remember the Pledge Drive I held back in November, where I asked readers to support this site and ensure that I never finish my book by helping me get a free Xbox 360? I needed eight people to come through for me and nearly 25 went ahead and registered through my referral links. Unfortunately only one of those people followed through and completed an offer. I was flustered enough that I actually began working on an article about this — is it a scam after all? The president of FreePay Inc assured me that it is not. Whew! But he did acknowledge that I have an unusually high "yellow to green" ratio. Inquiries led me to believe that at least a few people actually did complete an offer but never got credit. Scam? Depends on how you look at it. Most likely scenario: those people either never bothered to complain to FreePay about their situation, or did complain, only to have the standard request for more information e-mail get spam filtered. Mr. FreePay did tell me that it's fairly common for folks to tell their friends that they completed an offer and then not do so, which is funny, but not really apropos here.

Upshot: Having persuaded two actual friends to complete offers, I am now five people away from owning one of these babies. And you, if you want one, are eight people plus yourself away. It obviously ain't as easy as it looks, but since I just got an alert that I need to wrap everything up by the end of May, I thought I'd post one final reminder that if you want to be my friend — but not the kind of friend who lies about whether they completed an offer — it's not too late to sign up.

We now return to Fresh Air.

March 22, 2006

Bill Beutel, 1930-2006

Daniel Radosh

beutel2.184.jpg Quintessential white newsguy Bill Beutel died a couple of days ago. Though I've repressed it, I apparently went through a phase of watching the local news. Here's something I wrote for the New York Press's 1995 Best of Manhattan issue.

Best Local News Anchor
Bill Beutel, Channel 7 Eyewitness News
Among a cadre of young, blow-dried, energetic local anchors, Bill Beutel stands out simply for having grey hair. Beutel is old, but not in any distinguished, or even avuncular way. He's just old in the way that he knows he'll never have a better job than this and really couldn't care less. (unlike his competitors who often seem to be auditioning for network jobs or at least their own daytime talkshows). Local news is notoriously news-free, so no one anchor is going to provide better coverage than another. What Beutel does offer that no one else can is his campy 60-second editorials at the very end of the early news. If the chosen topic is humorous (a celebrity scandal not involving murder, say), Beutel gets a twinkle in his eye and launches into a few lines of satirical, flowing rhyme. He clearly thinks he's being wry but a better word is loopy. If the topic is serious, the twinkle and rhyme is forsaken for a blank stare and excessive alliteration on the order of Right now, Rwanda's wretched refugees require real relief. No one can drive home the seriousness of a crisis quite like Beutel. The best editorials frequently come on Fridays, when Beutel rounds up the news of the week in one breath. Sue Simmons can jump in and out of the closet as much as she wants—she'll never be as entertaining as this.

March 22, 2006

Is there a terrorist up your skirt?

Daniel Radosh

Here's a twist, anti-captioners. A New Yorker cartoonist is requesting your submissions for a contest of her own. Degree of difficulty: considerably greater than anything you'll find here.

March 21, 2006

Overturning Roe is just the appetizer

Daniel Radosh

The war on IVF is so 2k5. An amazing and alarming article in Salon — well worth sitting through the ad — dives into the battle to ban birth control. Will Saletan may feel comfortable that mainstream America will abandon the pro-life movement if we can just shift the debate from abortion to contraception, but Salon's Priya Jain makes clear that the lifers are already well ahead of the choicers in framing the next debate. Think about the arguments over emergency contraception. Lifers call it abortion (redefining that term into meaninglessness), choicers throw up their hands and laugh that emergency contraception is just the birth control pill in a different dosage and works exactly the same way. A ha! say the lifers: the birth control pill is an abortifacient!

Or take Saletan's trump card: that expanded access to contraception reduces abortions because it means fewer women are having unwanted pregnancies in the first place. On the contrary, say the anti-contraceptionites: contraception is the root cause of abortion. "In law and in practice, [contraception] led to the necessity of abortion because contraception proved not to be failsafe." If contraception were banned, women would simply stop having sex! (which is, of course, the real goal here). This line of thinking may sound totally wacked out, but as Jain reports, state legislators are already responding to it.

As always, Pandagon's Amanda Marcotte is on top of this, and brilliantly — unpacking the movement's inherent misogyny, and offering a modest proposal for reducing baby-killing, based on the (gasp) actual science of pregnancy.

March 21, 2006

Who says dick jokes will get you nowhere?

Daniel Radosh

Congratulations to one of Radosh.net's most loyal readers and commenters, Vance Lehmkuhl, whose Dick Cheney hunting game won the people's choice award in the latest Huffington Post Contagious Festival. And unlike some HuffPo contributors we could name, Vance actually created the thing himself.

So what, you ask? Well as a reward, Vance got to jam with John Cusack, who looks not at all skeptical about the whole thing in that second picture down. True, he also had to have dinner with Arianna Huffington (hope there was a veggie option!) but that's a small price to pay for meeting Lloyd Dobler.

So tell us Vance. What did you talk about? What did you sing? How quickly did Cusack collect his paycheck and run for the door? Did you get to correct anyone's grammar? C'mon, you don't want the (grrr) Inquirer to have all the good HuffPo dirt, do you?

March 21, 2006

But really, what is "fit" anyway?

Daniel Radosh

With Gawker trying to suss out the obscene story Pinch Sulzberger won't share with his own "family newspaper" today, I remembered another Times elision from a few days ago.

In the front page article on the out of Army's control Task Force 6-26 and Camp Nama, the Times reports that "the Nama in the camp's name stood for a coarse phrase that soldiers used to describe the compound." Once again, the ludicrous contradictions of American prudishness is exposed. In an article that describes cells "that reeked of urine and excrement," human beings used as paintball targets, soldiers who "beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces," and much more, the Times draws the line at using a naughty word — because that that might upset the chillens.

Not to mention that censorship only piques our curiosity more and overheats our imagination. What is the coarse phrase that gave camp Nama its name? No assholes may argue? Now accessing more anuses? Not another motherfucking abuse-scandal?

Nope. According to Sullivan, it's simply Nasty-ass military area. Somebody send the Times to camp BFD.

Of course, Sully could be wrong. If you have a better guess, I'd like to hear it.

March 21, 2006

Like rain on your wedding day

Daniel Radosh


And whose fault is that, do you think?

[Via Romenesko]

March 20, 2006

Meanwhile, I can't find a single backer for my 50-foot tall animatronic tribute to Huckapoo

Daniel Radosh

I would have preferred that the new Shakira statue be more like the Bruce Lee one: shiny, three-dimensional and topless.

On the other hand, at least this is unlikely to offend the Hasids.

March 20, 2006

Yeah, I was going to just post this on Wonkette, but their comments function doesn't seem to be, well, functioning

Daniel Radosh

The Wonketteers are obsessed with a no-name wingnut columnist who wrote what they describe as " a column so brilliant, so perfect, so unbalanced, that we must emerge from our decadent coastal enclave and enter the great uncharted middle of the country to bring back to our godless readers the Word." The insight that earned Adele Ferguson a recurring guest role on Wonkette last week is that, "the pony hidden in slavery is the fact that it was the ticket to America for black people."

Now it's true that this particularly delicious phrase is Adele's own. And it's true that the idea behind it is fairly batty. But Wonkette doesn't seem to realize that it's also thoroughly mainstream conservative thought, expressed most recently by Dinesh D'Souza this way: "Although slavery was oppressive for the people who lived under it, their descendants are in many ways better off today. The reason is that slavery proved to be the transmission belt that brought Africans into the orbit of Western prosperity and freedom. Blacks in America have a higher standard of living and more freedom than any comparable group of blacks on the continent of Africa."

Laugh if you want, bloggers, but the Adele Fergusons are running the country.

March 20, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #43

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this week's New Yorker cartoon. Click here for last week's results. Click here for an introduction and "rules" to this contest. Click here for amplification of those rules. Click here for contest index.


"If they all fit in a tiny car, you must acquit."

Results after the jump. But you knew that.

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #43" »

March 17, 2006

The eternal sunshine of David Brooks's mind

Daniel Radosh

Today David Brooks celebrates everything "the pundits" got right in the week of March 24, 2003.

Everybody denigrates pundits and armchair generals, but immediately the smartest of them recognized that something unexpected was happening: the U.S. was not in the midst of a conventional war, but was in the first days of a guerrilla war... Kelly predicted the war would be long and tough. David Ignatius in The Washington Post wrote that it was "time to shelve the rosy scenarios" for the war and face the fact that the U.S. was confronting a difficult battle against resistance fighters.... All of this, and a great pile of similar commentary, was written in the first few days of the ground war.... The debate shifted that week. If the U.S. was confronting an insurgency, more boots on the ground would be needed. Ralph Peters, a retired officer, wrote stinging op-eds in The New York Post and elsewhere savaging Donald Rumsfeld for not understanding that you can't prevent sabotage or ethnic cleansing without a large troop presence. The Weekly Standard, which had been bashing Rumsfeld for years for shrinking the Army, echoed Peters's argument on its Web page. Retired officers poured into TV studios, calling for more troops... Not everybody looks prescient in hindsight. The brilliant historian John Keegan doubted that there would be an insurgency. But when you look at the commentary — at least during that week — you are struck by how smart a lot of it was, and how the commentariat responded sensibly to facts on the ground.

Leave aside the obvious point that Brooks is clearly cherry picking to make his point. As we know, most of the punditocracy was actually popping champagne corks that week. The real question is, what was David Brooks saying that week? You'd think he'd at least give himself a pat on the back if he was among the armchair skeptics. Or, for the sake of intellectual honesty, offer a mea culpa if he wasn't. But instead he says nothing. Wanna guess why? It's not necessarily what you think.

Continue reading "The eternal sunshine of David Brooks's mind" »

March 17, 2006

Usually he waits at least two days before contradicting himself

Daniel Radosh

"The most frightening, scary, terrifying thing we could do to Iran today — short of an outright attack — is to get out of Iraq. The second most frightening, scary, terrifying thing we could do to Iran is to succeed in Iraq." —Thomas Friedman, March 17, 1st and 2nd paragraphs.

"The only thing more frightening to the Iranians than the U.S. leaving Iraq, would be — and this is my preference — the U.S. succeeding in Iraq." —Thomas Friedman, March 17, 9th paragraph.

March 16, 2006

Also, there's a world market for maybe five computers

Daniel Radosh

On April 16, 2003, celebrating the victory in Baghdad, archconservative columnist Cal Thomas had the following to say about people who had warned that an Iraq war might not go smoothly: "All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent. Otherwise, they will return to us in another situation where their expertise will be acknowledged, or taken for granted, but their credibility will be lacking."

FAIR has compiled exactly such an archive.

"The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints." "And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but it is not as hard as winning a war." "I doubt that the journalists at the New York Times and NPR or at ABC or at CNN are going to ever admit just how wrong their negative pronouncements were over the past four weeks." "Over the next couple of weeks when we find the chemical weapons this guy was amassing, the fact that this war was attacked by the left and so the right was so vindicated, I think, really means that the left is going to have to hang its head for three or four more years." "The final word on this is, hooray."

There's much more along those lines, not just relishing victory over Saddam, but over the antiwar left. So is it childish for the left to throw those words back in the pundits' faces (including, I note, pundits from the New York Times, NPR, ABC, and CNN)? Maybe, but you know what? Fuck 'em. My only wish is that FAIR would have gone back to all these folks with their quotes and given them the opportunity to recant and repent. What do you think they'd say?

March 16, 2006

Defining utopia down

Daniel Radosh

The New Yorker's Ben McGrath has a delightful writing style and a sharp eye for the telling detail, so on one level, his current feature about Boykin Curry's plan to build a "Creative Person's Utopia" in the Domincan Republic is a treat to read. But it's also tremendously irritating because unless I'm totally missing some subtle subtext, McGrath seems to genuinely like Curry when he is quite obviously, from McGrath's own story, the biggest fucking douchebag on the face of the earth.

I don't know if McGrath is just hoping for future invites to Playa Grande or if he contracted a case of Stockholm Syndrome, but his apparent efforts to paint Curry as a charming, free-spirited intellectual grate noisily against what we actually learn about him. For starters, there's Curry's pitch letter to potential Playa investors: "We are going to keep it Bohemian and not filled with dentists who got lucky in the stock market." Even ignoring the inherent condescension, there is the utter lack of self-awareness from a man who got lucky in the parents market, having made his fortune as a (no doubt Bohemian) money manager in the family firm. McGrath says Curry "may be the least self-important money manager in town," which does not speak well for the rest of 'em.

Keep reading. After a bit more ranting, I've got a genuine scoop about ol' Boykin.

Continue reading "Defining utopia down" »

March 16, 2006

Focus, people

Daniel Radosh

Sorry if we offended your delicate sensibilities, but this is the obscenity, not this.

March 15, 2006

It's hard out here for a hack

Daniel Radosh

Nexis Search Results for: (it's hard out here for a) AND NOT pimp

"It's hard out here for a blimp" —Doug Bates, Oregonian

"It's hard out there for a wimp" —Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

"It's hard out here for a wimp" —Ann Coulter, syndicated

"It's hard out here for a Pip." —Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

"It's hard out here for a chick" —Steve Murray, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"It's hard out here for a red-carpet pimp" —Hank Stuever, Washington Post

"It's hard out here for a parent" —Oren M. Spiegler, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"It's hard out there for a tween" —Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

"It's Hard out There for a Conductor." —Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun

"It's hard out here for a B-list" —Anonymous, Houston Chronicle

"It's hard out there for a captain of the waste-management industry" —Dave Walker, Times-Picayune

"It's hard out there for a no-working, free-car-driving, chain-smoking, stripper-grabbing, bad-hair-having house-husband." —Anonymous, Toronto Star

"It's Hard Out Here for a Pie Butt" —Commander Coconut, Orlando Sentinel

"It's hard out here for a, um, out-of-work coach" —Anonymous, San Antonio Express-News

"It is hard out there for a former member of Three 6 Mafia" —Anonymous, Memphis Commercial Appeal

"It's Hard Out Here for a Beatle" —Steve Hedgpeth, Newark Star-Ledger

"It's hard out there for a model" —Anonymous, Broadcast News

"It's hard out there for a supporting actor" —Carla Meyer, Sacramento Bee

"It's hard out there for a director" —David Edelstein, Slate

March 15, 2006

'Cause it's a really great game

Daniel Radosh

The GQ profile of Prussian Blue — the one that was originally written for the never-published fourth issue of Radar — is finally online. Sadly, it's a little flat, especially if you're already familiar with the antics of these lovable scamps. Best tidbit: they call each other "Lynxie" and "Lambie" — because their names weren't dorky enough already. (Ironically, they probably wouldn't be allowed to have those names in their beloved Germany.)

Meanwhile, here's proof that Lynx (or is that Lamb?) is the next Britney Spears.

March 15, 2006

A pug makes anything cute

Daniel Radosh


I just found out that an old friend of mine has been spending way too much time photoshopping his dog into famous photos and movie stills. The joke works best when the collection is viewed as a whole, but if you must skip to the funniest and most disturbing image, that would be this one.

March 14, 2006

Plus, he forgot to interview 50 Shekel

Daniel Radosh

Jody Rosen may be a fine music critic, but his religion chops are a little rusty. Two things confused me in his essay on Matisyahu. First he writes that Matisyahu's song Jerusalem is "a nonsensical riff on the Bible's most beautiful poem of exile, the 137th Psalm," although the song actually makes plenty of sense. As an example of what he means by nonsense, Rosen writes, "Matisyahu sings: 'Jerusalem, if I forget you/ Let my right hand forget what it's supposed to do.' Huh?" Huh what? If Rosen recognized the song as riff on the psalm, how does he not recongize that rhyme as being almost verbatim from verse 5?

And while Rosen is smart to take up the tricky issue, previously discussed here, of Matis's relationship with Christian rock, he does get his post-apocalyptic chronology a little wrong: "It's a reminder... that there's no one quite so beloved of the Left Behind crowd these days than Orthodox Jews, whose in-gathering in Israel is essential stage setting for the coming of the Rapture. (At which point, presumably, Jews will be cast into the hellfire.) "

Not in the least! After the Rapture, Jews will still have seven years to live it up amid the wars, earthquakes and boiling seas right here on earth. Then they'll be cast into the hellfire.

March 14, 2006

Updated list of people we want to party with: Garthe Knight, Vampire Willow, Floyd Allen

Daniel Radosh

i_garthe.jpg A collection of links in honor of Claude Allen:

Evil twins in fantasy...

in reality...

in philosophy...

and in operating systems.

An ancient evil twin tribute page.

And how to make your own evil twin.

But wait, which is the evil one?

March 13, 2006

Love the martyrdom, hate the martyr

Daniel Radosh

An American who had been kidnapped in Iraq was found tortured and killed last week. This has happened before, of course, and each time it has, it's been front page news. But the death of Tom Fox went almost unnoticed. Of all the major papers in the US, only the Washington Post put Fox's murder on the front page, and that's because he was from the DC area. People who don't appreciate how many decisions go into assembling a newspaper or news broadcast are often quick to cry bias when the truth is usually more mundane, but it is hard not to ask if Fox's radical leftwing politics — and in the name of Christianity, no less — made him an unsuitable candidate for public mourning. At the very least, having to explain who he was, what he believed, and why he did what he did would require a sharp break with the accepted narratives and debates of the mainstream media. I don't happen to share Fox's ideological or religious convictions, but I don't think they should disqualify him his rightful tributes in the great American news cycle.

Of course the mainstream media, being irredeemably liberal, only chose to ignore Fox. It did not attack and mock him, as the wingnuts in the blogosphere did. When the National Council of Churches wrote that, "In response to Tom's passing, we ask that everyone set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done," it probably had in mind the terrorists who killed him. But for the Fighting Keyboardists, Fox himself was the target for demonization. If you happen to feel like weeping for the human condition, read some of the tributes from compassionate conservatives.

Some were content to call him a nutball, jerk, fool, and fanatic, and to shrug that he was "on the terrorists' side anyway," and "a sacrifice to his own self-deluded conceit of moral superiority and liberal tolerance." Others challenged his right to call himself a Christian, and doomed him to an eternity in hell (as if that were their call). But the general consensus was that he deserved what he got, being liberal and Quaker and all. And some went so far as to hope for more to come. "I don't think these treasonous SOB's should live the same way I don't think serial killers should live." Note to wingnuts: when you come to see the Islamofascists as doing your work for you, you have officially lost perspective.

Curiously, you'll recall that these same wingnut types responded with outrage when Kos made similar comments regarding mercenaries killed in Iraq who were only "there to wage war for profit."

A web site with the unintentionally ironic name The American Thinker lays out an argument found over and over on wingnut sites: Fox "suffered from a terrible naiveté" in that he thought the terrorists would recognize him as a friend of their cause and not harm him. In fact, Fox thought nothing of the kind. He specifically renounced terrorism and knew full well that what he was doing was dangerous — as the wingnuts would know if they, like the media, hadn't banned Fox's own words from the sphere of acceptable discourse. In one of the first entries on his blog, Fox quoted Ghandi: "If an attacker inspires anger or fear in my heart, it means that I have not purged myself of violence." He then went on:

If I am not to fight or flee in the face of armed aggression, be it the overt aggression of the army or the subversive aggression of the terrorist, then what am I to do? “Stand firm against evil” (Matthew 5:39, translated by Walter Wink) seems to be the guidance of Jesus and Gandhi in order to stay connected with God. But here in Iraq I struggle with that second form of aggression. I have visual references and written models of CPTers standing firm against the overt aggression of an army, be it regular or paramilitary. But how do you stand firm against a car--bomber or a kidnapper? Clearly the soldier being disconnected from God needs to have me fight. Just as clearly the terrorist being disconnected from God needs to have me flee. Both are willing to kill me using different means to achieve the same end. That end being to increase the parasitic power of Satan within God’s good creation.

It seems easier somehow to confront anger within my heart than it is to confront fear. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right then I am not to give in to either. I am to stand firm against the kidnapper as I am to stand firm against the soldier. Does that mean I walk into a raging battle to confront the soldiers? Does that mean I walk the streets of Baghdad with a sign saying “American for the Taking”? No to both counts. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right, then I am asked to risk my life and if I lose it to be as forgiving as they were when murdered by the forces of Satan. I struggle to stand firm but I’m willing to keep working at it.

As I said, I can't embrace either the politics or the religion that led Fox to put himself in harm's way. But I'm at least human enough to mourn his death, and to hope that he died the way he wanted to, forgiving the unforgivable.

March 13, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #42

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this week's New Yorker cartoon. Click here for last week's results. Click here for an introduction and "rules" to this contest. Click here for amplification of those rules. Click here for contest index.


Pressed for time this morning, I'm taking the lazy way out for my starter craption:

"No, Thursday's out. How about never — is never good for you?"

Sky is falling update: Holy cats, people! Someone has submitted a genuinely funny (or at least clever) caption in real contest #40 (woman in bed with snow globe): “I think the Manhattan skyline is getting suspicious.”

I think this marks the first time since I started the anti-caption contest that I've liked one of their entries more than any of ours. Bet it doesn't win.

Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #42" »

March 10, 2006

Impeach Huckapoo

Daniel Radosh

huckababy.jpg There comes a time when even the most loyal supporter must stand up and say: a line has been crossed. That line is our northern border, where Huckapoo has just been officially recognized by The Canadian Intellectual Property Office [hat tip to Now, Why Didn't I Think of That, the second-best Canadian patent, trade-mark and copyright blog on the web]. Of course, Huckapoo whored themselves out in the U.S. of A. a long time ago, but that's precisely my point. The American trademarks were granted at a time when it seemed gloriously possible that Huckapoo might some day be an actual band rather than just the sweaty fantasy of creepy bloggers. But to seek the right to splatter its name on Canadian bandanas, tape dispensers and "manipulative games" (heh heh) in March, 2006 is enough to make you want to say, "Hey biotechs, why not put out a freakin' album first? Your fan base ain't getting any younger." Which, come to think of it, is perhaps why the Canadian trademark list includes diaper bags.

Having blogged about Huckapoo a time or 52 in my day, it is with some reluctance that I gingerly raise the question of whether it might be time to move on. Fortunately, if indeed a transition is to be made, I have found assistance in what just may be the most awesomest Internet blog ever in the history of the Internets, The Cure for Bedbugs — a supersmart, supersexy, superobsessive teen pop heaven. Ferreal, how did I not know about...


The Veronicas...

M2M before they grew up and went solo...

Not that I'm complaining about the growing up.

Anyway, keep your eye on Cure for Bedbugs and proprietor Dave Moore, who is apparently some kind of college student, judging from his intellectual reading matter: Samuel Johnson, W.G. Sebald, Francois Truffaut, Lolita... Oh, wait a second.

March 10, 2006

Not quite right in the headline

Daniel Radosh

The headline of today's New York Times article is Iraqi Forces Would Handle Any Civil War, Rumsfeld Says. Only he didn't say that exactly. Here's the full story:

[Robert Byrd] pressed Mr. Rumsfeld for assurances that any emergency money approved "won't be used to put our troops right in the middle of a full-blown Iraqi civil war."

"Senator, I can say that certainly it is not the intention of the military commanders to allow that to happen," Mr. Rumsfeld replied. "The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the — from a security standpoint — have the Iraqi security forces deal with it to the extent they're able to." Emphasis added.

Since the extent that they're able to is not at all, the only possible continuation of that thought is that US troops will indeed step in. Of course, the whole premise of Rumsfeld's answer is ridiculous. He makes it sound like the Iraqi security forces would be trying to stop a civil war, rather than, you know, win it.

Update: Fred Kaplan doesn't fall for it: "It's a tossup which is more galling: that Donald Rumsfeld digs himself a few feet deeper with each remark he makes before a congressional committee, or that his interrogators don't seem to notice."

March 9, 2006

Impeach Bush

Daniel Radosh

Harold Meyerson casts a skeptical eye on the growing impeach Bush movement, and his purely pragmatic take is hard to challenge: impeachment is a political loser for Democrats trying to regain control of Congress, etc. But what he fails to note is that this is true only because Democrats have spent the last six years (or at least five of the last six years) rolling over for everything Bush wants and generally helping to establish his reputation as the Dear Leader, the one and only protector of the country. If the Dems had done their job and served as a real opposition party, there would be a broad base of voters who would be ready and willing to seriously consider impeachment proceedings now that Bush has finally crossed the line into high crimes and misdemeanors.

Now, you all know that I'm not a knee-jerk Bush hater. I have some acquaintences who have been screaming for impeachment since 2003, when it became clear that Bush was engineering false justifcations for war. But I felt then as Meyerson does: "Dereliction of duty and lying us into a war may be mortal sins, but that doesn't make them provable high crimes." If you dislike a president in this country, even if you dislike him immensely, the proper recourse is to vote him out (and hope the Supreme Court doesn't thwart you, but that's another story). But spying on Americans without a warrant, disappearing people and engaging in torture are clear violations of the Constitution and are certainly enough to justify launching impeachment hearings. The only argument against it is Meyerson's pragmatic one, and that's not quite strong enough for me for two reasons. While I want the Democrats to start winning elections as much as anyone, I think it's been proven that trying not to offend conservatives is a losing strategy. I'm not saying impeachment is a winning strategy either — I'm sure it's not — but my pessimistic reason number two is that I don't think the Democrats have a chance in hell of regaining Congress anyway, no matter what whistling past the graveyard you might be hearing over at Kos, so why not go ahead and stand up for Constiutitonal principles and let the chips fall where they may.

By the way, you won't be at all shocked that I opposed the impeachment of Bill Clinton way back when, as most folks not driven crazy by Clinton-hatred did. But I also said at the time that if anyone wanted to open impeachment investigations based on his culpability in the siege at Waco, I'd be more than happy to support that.

March 8, 2006

Oh, it's stuck

Daniel Radosh

missyperegrymbath.jpg My affection for teen movies is well known, so you won't be surprised that while everyone else may be chewing over the X3 trailer today, I set my sights elsewhere. (OK, OK, I watched the X-Men trailer too, just to see if I could tell how badly Brett Ratner is going to fuck up the concept he stole from Joss Whedon's comic. Answer: hard to tell. The trailer isn't bad, but then, most Ratner movies would be pretty good if they ended after two and a half minutes).

B00013WWT8.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg There are two upcoming teen flicks I thought sounded intriguing. The first is She's The Man, an adaptation of Twelfth Night starring Amanda Bynes. Bynes can be fun, and while Ten Things I Hate About You was no Clueless, it at least suggested that Shakespeare can work as well as Jane Austen as launching point for a modern high school comedy (among other things). But then, "Ten Things I Hate About You" is a great title (possibly the best thing about the movie), which at least indicates some creativity at work. "She's The Man," well that should be a warning. That's worse than "Just One of The Guys". [Update: Relax, JOotG fans, I only mean the title is lame, not the movie. I've never seen the movie. Should I really?] And indeed, the trailer is one of the most painful I have seen in a long, long time. Really, don't watch it. It will make you weep for William Shakespeare and Amanda Bynes.

Fortunately I did not curl up into a fetal position and spend the rest of the day in bed, as I felt like doing. Instead I pressed on and checked out the trailer for Stick It, and all of a sudden it's a beautiful day. Stick It looks at least as sizzling as writer (and now director) Jessica Bendinger's awesome Bring It On. The trailer features one instantly classic line ("It's not called gym-nice-tics"), and a parade of hot chicks in hotter outfits (fortunately they opted for girls with curves as opposed to authentic gymnast bodies). I don't know who this Missy Peregrym is, but... damn. Eliza Dushku, watch your backside.


March 8, 2006

As long as Curly Oxide doesn't turn out to be a Wiccan

Daniel Radosh

matisyahu_kushner.jpg In the Times today, Kekefa Sanneh asks if Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu is just another white guy. But we get our Jew news from Canonist, where Steve Weiss has the better question of whether Matis is a Lubavitch Messianist who believes that Rebbe Schneerson is the moshiach. So what you ask? Well, there are a lot of people out there who believe some other guy is the messiah (his name escapes us at the moment — Aslan?). Some of them even claim to be Jews, and they ain't happy. Steve sought comment from one high profile Messianic Jew (it's not PC to call them Jews for Jesus, you know), parody rapper 50 Shekel, who unloads on Matisyahu like his namesake taking out The Game.

"I don’t have a problem with anyone singing ‘Live moshiach,’ because there is a moshiach, but it’s Yeshua, and it’s not Schneerson. I just hope he opens his eyes and ears to truth, and he’s not gonna find it in Hasidism, I didn’t find it in rabbinic Judaism, I found it in the scriptures.” Fiddy points out that Matis recorded a song with Christian rock superstars POD, which means "he’s been witnessed to now, he knows that Jesus is the True Jew Messiah, I’m sure that POD has shared this with him…I’m sure that's working with him, they’ve made it clear."

Actually, I'm pretty confident that POD wouldn't be so crass as to hector anyone about Jesus — especially a person of strong faith. Yeah, they probably think and hope that just by living Christian lives they are witnessing to the world, but from what I know, they move in those circles of Christian culture where anything more intrusive is considered uncool.

Fortunately, 50 Shekel obviously does not, which means we've got the world's geekiest music beef ever going here.

Personally, I'm still hoping Matisyahu turns out to be an elaborate Purim joke. Where'd I put that grogger?

March 6, 2006

And since no irony slips past them, I assume this is an intentional, very inside joke

Daniel Radosh

On the newly redesigned Low Culture, the "What 'they' say about 'us'" testimonials features a fulsome quote attributed to me (which I had to Google, but, yep, there it is). Above that are yet more fulsome quotes attributed to Playboy and The Week. I wrote both of those too.

But it's not like I'm getting nothing in return. They totally tug my ear to let me know when they're about to come.

March 6, 2006

Deadblogging the Oscars

Daniel Radosh

I'm afraid I can't see much point in posting all the witty observations I had about the Oscars (oh, and there were many). By now you've heard variations on all of them, and even if I had something fresh (has anyone else used the "Charlize Theron's dress appears to have metastasized?" line?), well, it still seems like the kind of thing you have to hear in person and have an actual conversation about, or what's the point?

Yeah, there's always liveblogging, but who sits around watching the Oscars with a computer on their lap just to see what people they don't know have to say about it? Again, isn't this the kind of thing that works best with a group of people watching the show together in one room? I'm not saying Defamer's Mark Lisanti didn't do a fine job of it as these things go, but it's still disappointing to see him try, considering that, in an earlier incarnation, he put the nail in the genre's coffin with his brilliant liveblogging of the 1984 Grammys.

March 6, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #41

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this week's New Yorker cartoon. Click here for last week's results. Click here for an introduction and "rules" to this contest. Click here for amplification of those rules. Click here for contest index.


"I told you nobody comes to Limelight anymore."

Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #41" »

March 3, 2006

Update: New Bond film to suck after all

Daniel Radosh

getImage.asp.jpg A few days ago I snickered about James Bond fans who are upset that someone who can actually act has been cast in Casino Royale. But if this story is true — and it's from The Sun, so that's a big if — I'm ready to join the boycott.

"Agent 007, usually seen in an Aston Martin loaded with gadgets, will drive the Ford in new movie Casino Royale... Daniel Craig will test his licence to kill in a Ł22,000 Mondeo, popular with salesmen — not spies."

For the non-British among us, the Ford Mondeo is known here as the Contour or the Mercury Mystique. It's like Bond ordering a Amstel Light instead of a martini. Naturally this is all driven by product placement, the trend that, as Jake noted in the earlier comments thread, has done as much as anything to ruin the series. Ford is shelling out some $25 million to put Bond in the driver's seat of a Mondeo, but it's money wasted, thanks to the law of diminishing returns. Maybe there was a time when the Bond image was strong enough to single-handedly shift the reputation of the car, but now that 007 has already sold out so much of his style to the highest bidder, each progressively more lame accessory only serves to diminish Bond's rep, doing less than nothing for the product.

March 3, 2006

Curiously, Maer is getting the same reaction right now from would-be investors

Daniel Radosh

0060554738.01._AA240_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg If you read Gawker, or just like to mack on the ladies, you probably know that a Village Voice writer is in a heap of trouble for fabricating portions of a story based on The Game, Neil Strauss's actually very funny book about the totally creepy subculture of "pick up artists." Today there's an added wrinkle in the form of a bitter freelancer (and speaking as one, is there any other kind?) who says she pitched a similar story to the Voice first.

But for my money, the best article about The Game — even weirder than the made-up one — remains Lucas Hanft's first-person adventure [jpg] for the September issue of Radar. Coincidentally, this story also originated with a pitch from a different writer, Neal Pollack, whose idea was to test Strauss's contention that the techniques of The Game work for anyone by attempting to digest them in a single sitting (rather than months of training) and then trying them out in his guise as a pathetic middle-aged father (his words, more or less, exaggerated for comic effect, of course). I thought the idea was hilarious, which Neal apparently wasn't expecting since when I got back to him, he said his wife would never let him do it.

Fortunately Neal was nice enough to hand over the idea (I think we even paid him a finder's fee, which is probably why Radar went under) and I gave it to Lucas, who, while neither pathetic nor middle-aged, is, let's say, not exactly Rico Suave. The results were golden. Poor Lucas was shot down, laughed at, and ignored by every hot chick in Manhattan. And shoved by at least one boyfriend. Frankly he showed a kind of courage I never could have. But what makes the piece work (in addition to my masterful editing, natch) is not just Lucas's string of failures but the deadpan way he highlights everything that is most ridiculous about these pick-up techniques. I dare you to come away from reading this [jpg] without wondering how this could work for anybody. Update: Lucas also worked from the PUA's founding document, The Layguide, which is free if you want to get a taste of just how wacky this can get.

Fans of Radariana will please also note that this piece was designed during one of the low points in our art director rollercoaster, and is quite likely the worst illustration ever to appear in the magazine, especially when you think about the possiblities there.

Oh, and Lucas's line on Voice fabulist Nick Sylvester: "I thought Pitchfork writers only made up musical genres."

March 2, 2006

Because a guy who's never been married or had kids is exactly who you should be listening to about stuff like this

Daniel Radosh

Pope Benedict XVI.jpg This site has been following the war on IVF for some time now, but here's a new twist, courtesy of Pope Benedict XVI. We already know that God hates in vitro fertilization because of all those frozen embryos snowflake babies. But according to Das 'Dict, IVF is also immoral because "it replaces the natural conjugal love between husband and wife."

Um, having children at all tends to impede conjugal love, pal.

I'm trying to find an actual transcript of the Pope's address, because I can't for the life of me figure out what this means: "The Church does allow artificial insemination for married couples if it 'facilitates' the sex act, but does not replace it."

Still, considering that so many people believe the church thinks sex should only be for procreation, it's kind of nice to know that, in at least one circumstance, the official line is that procreation is only acceptable if it leads to sex. If my twins ever get a chance to meet the Pope, I'll be sure to introduce him as the man who thinks they shouldn't be alive because it's far more important for mommy and daddy to fuck.

So does this mean he's for gay marriage?

March 2, 2006

Ve haff vays of naming your baby

Daniel Radosh


My sister is having a baby. Don't worry, this isn't going to be a mushy personal post. This is a post about how my sister is not allowed, by law, to choose her own baby's name.

OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration. She can choose the name, but not completely freely. See, Laura lives in Germany, and under German law the office of vital statistics has the power to veto parents' choices of baby names. "A child's name has to meet two conditions: (1) it must reflect the sex of the child, and (2) it must not endanger the 'well-being of the child.'"

It is little things like this that make me proud to be an American, where it is just taken for granted that the state has no role in micromanaging such intimate decisions in individual lives. No gender-neutral names? Seventy of the most 1,000 most popular baby names in America today would be banned. Admittedly five of those are variations on Jaden, which deserves banishment, but what about the classics: Leslie, Carol... um, Michael? As for the well-being of the child, it's certainly true anyone can name a thousand celebrities who should have thought less about themselves and more about their poor kids, but the issue is still personal responsibility. When the government gets to decide what's unacceptably weird — especially the German government — things get a little dicey, because wouldn't you know it, a lot of those "weird" names just happen to be foreign. And the "protecting the child" excuse falls apart when you find out that German adults can't legally change their name to something unusual, as Kerstin Steinbrecher found out when she wanted to take the last name of her new husband, an American Indian named Walkinstikt-Man-Alone.

That article also cites the case of a Jewish couple who wanted to give their daughter the common Israeli name Jona, but were forced to hyphenate it with Chantel so it would sound less masculine. Now, I'm not saying this was antisemitic, but there's no question that there's uncomfortable historical resonances when people force names on Jews. As The Voluntaryist notes (well, do you trust the MSM for your information?), Jewish surnames originated in the 18th century when European monarchies forbid the tribe's traditional naming conventions.

Continue reading "Ve haff vays of naming your baby" »

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