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Archives for September, 2006

September 27, 2006

This is a fraking public service announcement

Daniel Radosh


So here's the crisis: The third season of Battlestar Galactica begins next Friday, October 6, on the SciFi Channel. Like many folks, I got addicted to BSG on DVD and high definition reruns on Universal HD (which will be showing the "story so far" recap at least one more time on Saturday, if you need a refresher). A couple of times I looked at the reruns on SciFi, and I was appalled at how crappy they looked: small, blurry... low def. It's simply one of those shows that's just better -- much better -- in high(er) definition.

Posing as a journalist (no comments from the peanut gallery), I sent an e-mail to the publicity office for NBC Univeral and learned that BSG Season 3 will be coming to Universal HD on January 7. I'm dying to see what life (and war) on New Caprica holds, but I just know I'll enjoy it more if I can only hold out three months. Fortunately, I don't work with any geeks who will want to talk about each episode on Monday morning, so spoilers shouldn't be a problem, just waiting. What about you? Can you wait?

September 26, 2006

And the Pope's opposition to the death penalty is all about making us forget he called Islam evil

Daniel Radosh

Once again, irresistible outrage meets unmovable ignorance in the form of Michael Medved. After hearing that Mel Gibson had called the Iraq war a barbaric form of "human sacrifice," Medved said, "If these antiwar comments are the beginning of an ill-considered, organized campaign to get back into the good graces of the Hollywood establishment that gave him the Oscar for Braveheart, so he can show he's not different from them and march arm-in-arm with Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, there will be a great deal of disgust from the people who have enjoyed Mel's movies in the past."

Right, because drunken, antisemitic and sexist tirades are understandable, but opposing the war — that's disgusting! Is there a sadder comment on the bankruptcy of the religious right?

Besides, it was pretty shrewd of Mel to launch his "organized campaign" more than two years before his fall from grace. As Medved should know (doesn't he have a clipping service?), Gibson expressed "doubts" about the war back in March, 2004 and a year later asked, "what the hell are we doing in Iraq?"

Indeed, (sorry Joanne), conservatives dug all this up after Gibson's arrest to "prove" that he was really a liberal all along, because everyone knows "there is no such thing as a bad conservative."

Of course, Gibson doesn't oppose the war from the left, he opposes it from the Pat Buchanan-right: he thinks Israel is behind the whole thing.

September 25, 2006

Michael Kinsley: Ten years of conventional wisdom

Daniel Radosh

"The fact that people won't pay for news on the Internet isn't as devastating for the old medium as it seems. People don't pay for their news in traditional newspapers: they pay for the paper, which typically costs the company more than it charges for the finished product. So in theory, giving away the news without the paper looks like a good deal for newspapers, if they can keep the advertising." — Michael Kinsley, Time, Oct. 2, 2006

"We intend to charge $19.95 a year for SLATE. That is far less than the cost of equivalent print magazines, because there's no paper, printing, or postage. But $19.95 ($34.95 for two years) is more than zero, which is what Web readers are used to paying. We believe that expecting readers to share the cost, as they do in print, is the only way serious journalism on the Web can be self-supporting. Depending completely on advertisers would not be healthy even if it were possible." —Michael Kinsley, Slate, June 25, 1996

September 25, 2006

Jay personally requested that I not use the word "bilking"

Daniel Radosh

hipster060918_198.jpg I warned you a while ago that this site wouldn't always be getting my full attention anymore. Last week was proof of that. Sorry. Part of the explanation is that I was working on my first freelance piece worth mentioning since I started the book (not coincidentally on a related theme). Hip for Him is a Talk of the Town item about Jay Bakker, the son of Jim and Tammy Faye, and a new resident of Williamsburg. Bakker seems like a decent and bright guy. If Jesus is your thing, you could do worse than to check out one of his services. If you can't make it to Brooklyn, you can download them from the Revolution Church web site. (If Jesus isn't your thing, shana tovah, y'all.) Either way, I definitely recommend the documentary series about Bakker that's airing on the Sundance Channel in December. I saw the first two episodes — dealing partly with his decision to affirm that homosexuality is not a sin — and it's compelling stuff. They were still shooting when I went to see him at Pete's and I had to sign a release, but given how much footage they have, I'll be very surprised if you'll see me on the show.

I'm lucky this article even got published, considering that New York sorta scooped it (I was in there first, but it got held up a week with the editors). I guess they're different enough, though. Of course, the Times magazine had a long profile of Bakker last year that's still the definitive word on the subject.

By the way, the anonymous Pete's patron quoted in my piece is in fact Robert Lanham, the Free Williamsburg blogger and author of both The Hipster Handbook and a new ethnographical work, The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right. Consider this the plug I wasn't able to get into the magazine. The Sinner's Guide is a funny and very mean overview of conservative American Christianity for evangophobes. Though decidedly different in tone and approach from my book, it will probably make a good companion, so pick up a copy now and hold on to it for another year and a half.

September 25, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #68

Daniel Radosh

Blah, blah, blah, click here, blah, blah.


September 17, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #67

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.


"You see, thanks to the dog, our fingerprints will not be on any of the small pieces of paper, so no one will be able to prove that it was we who buried the girl's lifeless body under small pieces of paper. In my office."

Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #67" »

September 15, 2006

I propose a simple flame representing the agonizing fires of hell in which they'll burn

Daniel Radosh

News that Nevada's Office of Veteran's Services has approved a Wiccan symbol for memorial plaques got me looking again at the list of nationally approved religious symbols for military tombstones.

The collection raises lots of questions: What is the Church of World Messianity? Does anyone still follow Eckiankar [sic]? Why no Scientology? Could a goat really carry a flag? Why do Muslims get two symbols and who holds the copyright to the second one?

But the funniest thing is that dorky atheist symbol. I don't call myself an atheist, but I'm sympathetic enough to want a cool logo for it. This one — apparently created by those Madeline Murray O'Hare wackos back in the 50s — is, shall we say, dated. As one commenter has noted, "it’s too much an icon of the Atomic Age, evoking an Absolute Power of science. It says nothing of uncertainty, which is exactly what we must be willing to face if we are not to be tempted by the comforting embrace of belief." Plus it bespeaks a certain amount of hubris (ha!), given how that whole atomic energy/weapon stuff turned out.

Alternates have been proposed, but most face the dreaded, "can it be made into jewelry" problem, which is one thing that doomed the Invisible Pink Unicorn, which is entertaining but perhaps too adequately conveys how obnoxious capital-A Atheists can be. My favorite suggestion: *. In addition to the reasons proposed, it has just the right connotation of "whatever." Maybe it should be the ignostic symbol.

On a related note: Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!

September 14, 2006

I'm gonna establish my rule through civil war

Daniel Radosh

scarlettdeal.jpg The New York Times tries hard to find someone who will object to Bob Dylan's latest obscure borrowings, this time from Civil War poet Henry Timrod on several tracks from his new album Modern Times (a masterpiece, by the way).

As I argued the last time around (in a post Christopher Hitchens called "deft" and "objectively pro-terrorist"), there's really no scandal here, no matter how many Albuquerque middle school Spanish teachers you have on your side.

I also note with amusement the argument that Bob crossed a line by being too erudite for most of America, because “plagiarism wants you not to know the original, whereas allusion wants you to know.” Is it Bob's fault that the rest of us have never read Timrod? How many people knew that Whitman poem I dug up last time? For that matter, the Times charts a Timrodism in a song called Spirit on the Water, without noting that the title of that song and its opening lines ("Spirit on the water/Darkness on the face of the deep") are equally "stolen." I'll generously assume this goes unsaid because in that case the source is so familiar. But it's at least possible that those liberal elites at the Times are no more familiar with the Bible than they are with Henry Timrod.

September 11, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #66

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.


Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #66" »

September 8, 2006

High grades

Daniel Radosh


A few years ago, for reasons I'm still struggling to fully understand, I made a list of the 10 best high school movies ever. (But you knew that, didn't you). Now Entertainment Weekly offers its list of the top 50, and much to my surprise, every one of my 10 is somewhere in there. I don't know if this reflects well on EW or poorly on me, but given how much thought I've put into this, I'm going to go with the former. Hell, they even found one great one that I'd forgotten (Gregory's Girl, #29).

For the record, here's my 10 best, and where they fell on EW's list:

Continue reading "High grades" »

September 8, 2006

Flinging 'Poo

Daniel Radosh

I'm trying to work up some excitement about the first Huckapoo media exposure in ages, but, um, wtf is StarShine magazine? (Oh, it's a site for publicists to plant press releases. That explains it.) Not that the venue is the real problem here. When these girls are on, they can shine even in crap like New York magazine. Yet for some reason, they seem to have decided that this interview, which will apparently be read by their would-be fan base (i.e., tween girls, not creepy bloggers), is the perfect time to distance themselves from their own band!

Sandy (StarShine Magazine): So you guys have your birth names of course and then you have your stage personas. Why did you guys decide to do that?

PJ: Well, we actually didn’t decide to do it ourselves. When we came into this project, we were told we would have characters and our own style statement.

Joey: Our names were given to us like nicknames sort of.

Sandy (StarShine Magazine): Do you guys like it that way? Is it fun?

PJ: It’s fun because it’s easy to differentiate our job and performing and stuff from our own personal life. It really is two separate things. It kind of makes it a little easier in that respect.

Easier to do what? Pretend you're not in (what could have been) the most awesome band of the 21st century? Way to enthuse.

The news here is that a CD and DVD will be out in October. I'm saving space on my shelf right next to Duke Nukem Forever.

There's no shortage of great bubblegum pop out there. I still owe CfB for turning me on to the jaw-dropping Skye Sweetnam (and, of course, for singlehandedly exposing the War on Lindsay). But Huckapoo filled a particular joy-of-artifice niche that will make them hard to replace.

Fortunately, faithful readers have been good enough to suggest a few worthy candidates. I'm not sure they're quite ready for blogtime, but feel free to weigh in on Girl Authority, The Po-Gos (placeholder video here?), and, of course, Thug A Boo.

B000E97HBM.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg thugaboo.jpg

[Thug A Boo link via Jeff Lange's review of the toon baby boom, worth reading all of -- if you can stomach Marvel Babies.]

September 6, 2006

Dumb call

Daniel Radosh

Somehow an article about an experiment purporting to prove telephone telepathy (i.e., when someone calls just when you were thinking about them) is the most popular story on Yahoo News today. I shudder to think how many people are e-mailing it to their friends saying, I told you this was true!

There are, of course, doubts about the validity of this experiment, but the biggest objection isn't even mentioned.

Each person in the trials was asked to give researchers names and phone numbers of four relatives or friends. These were then called at random and told to ring the subject who had to identify the caller before answering the phone.

But that isn't how the supposed phenomenon works! The whole idea is that you think of the person before the phone rings. Even if this experient were valid, it would be proving something entirely different from what most people say they've experienced.

The "real" experience, of course, can be explained as a simple (and classic) case of confirmation bias. That is, no one ever counts the times they think about someone and that person doesn't call.

September 6, 2006

The first lesson is never trust the media

Daniel Radosh


Mischievous Monkey Turns to Educating

"This week comes a PBS series that turns [Curious] George’s adventures into a launching pad for tidy preschool lessons about math, science and engineering."

Science, as in the difference between monkeys and apes?

September 5, 2006

Radar, a drop of golden sun

Daniel Radosh

radarroach.jpg Radar returns to the Internets today, without my participation this time, but definitely with my full endorsement, especially after seeing this impressive relaunch.

The Hollywood Poll is the kind of zeit-bite list everyone knows they should be doing but no one else will, but my favorite item today is the second feature, Dale Hrabi's hilarious Q&A with chatbots from the US Army and Ikea. From gay sex to why the caged bird sings, there's nothing these two won't talk about. Anna from Ikea even quotes Edwin Starr.

There's a lot more too. Maybe even too much, though I suppose everyone will be drawn to something different. For fun -- and, no doubt, to piss off Kurt Andersen -- there's a look back at 50 years of Radar covers. And for people who like dull but probably important investigations, there's an analysis of Pat Robertson's finances.

There's also reviews, and not one but two blogs: The Fresh Intelligence exclusive gossip blog on the main page (nothing earth-shattering today unless you're a serious media junky), and, under the yellow tab, a news and gossip filter called The Sift helmed by the estimable Tyler Gray and Matt Haber.

As a bonus, the site is a lot cleaner than the whistles-and-bells crazy version last time around (anyway, Huffington post has stolen Radar's best whistle, The People Ranker. Karma, Kurt might say). [Update: The Radar Fame-O-Meter is back, just not cluttering up the front page]. Sustainability will be an issue, of course, but I'd call this a promising start. Your thoughts?

For various reasons I can't give them the time I once did, but look for my byline over there one of these days.

September 4, 2006

My last word on this subject

Daniel Radosh

I'm reluctant to wade back into murky waters, especially as I have been known to get in over my head, but this coda to the Kurt Eichenwald saga is certainly intriguing.

Under threats (apparently!) from The New York Times legal department, Salon ran a lengthy, and somewhat weird, correction to Debbie Nathan's article on Eichenwald — and then chucked the article down the memory hole! I mean, even if there were serious problems with the piece, rather than disputed opinions and simple misunderstandings which probably 95% of Times readers shared (did you pick up from the original articles that Eichenwald never actually saw any images?), it's hard to justify ever completely disappearing an article once it's been published. If nothing else, shouldn't readers be allowed to see for themselves exactly how Nathan and Salon fucked up? (Of course, nothing ever really vanishes on the Internets, if you still want to read it).

Be sure to read some of the 158 letters reacting to the correction and the vanishing of the article. Those are some pissed offed Salonsters, and they raise some valid points, including about some subsequent Eichenwald comments that would seem to indicate that Nathan's argument, if not every one of her facts, was pretty spot on.

Of course, Salon has all but disappeared these letters too, removing the thread from its most active page despite its superior numbers. In fact, I don't think the above link appears anywhere on the site any more.

September 4, 2006

Let's start with one or two Latin terms

Daniel Radosh

That's the problem with gossip rags today. Too goddam highbrow.


September 3, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #65

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.


"Knock it off, Alan Turing (1912-1954)."

"Yeah, yeah, you welcome our new robot overlords. It was funny the first 2,000 times."

Results after the jump

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #65" »

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