need more stuff?

Archives for October, 2006

October 30, 2006

Ding-dong, the bells are gonna chime

Daniel Radosh

tomkat-ufos.jpgThe Scientology wedding ceremony [via Jeannette Walls].

Rejoice!/ You line of struggling life/ From eons gone to now/ For here again/ your track is sped/ And winged into/ A future fate/ By this/ A union of a man/ and bride/ Whose child shall pace/ A further span/ Of Destiny/ And Life...

So now/ My (bride's name),/ Stand steady here/ And say/ Do you today intend/ For him beside you there/ To be to him a wife?...

And do you understand/ as well/ That by the customs/ of our race/ You pledge to him/ and only him/Your kiss and your caress?/ Do you?...

Now, (groom's name),/ girls need clothes/ And food and/ Tender happiness and frills/ A pan, a comb,
perhaps a cat/ All caprice if you will/ But still/ They need them./ Do you then/ Provide?/ Do you?

[Related: My 2004 Scientology briefing for The Week]

October 29, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #73

Daniel Radosh

Vote now for the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see the previous week's winner.


"I am fat and ugly, so I am not picky about what sort of affection I attract and from whom." —J.D.

October 27, 2006

Also, "Costas Efthimiou"? Hello! Vampire name if I've ever heard one!

Daniel Radosh

lez_va3.jpgSince fans of this site (can I use the plural?) are used to me debunking reports of supernatural activity, you may be surprised that today's gripe is actually about a scientist's lame attempt to debunk ghost and vampire legends as portrayed by Hollywood.

Now, I'm not saying ghosts and vampires are real, I'm just saying that physicist Costas Efthimiou is a fracking bonehead who simply isn't sufficiently geeky for the task he's set himself.

Using science and math, Efthimiou explains why it is ghosts can't walk among us while also gliding through walls, like Patrick Swayze in the movie "Ghost." That violates Newton's law of action and reaction. If ghosts walk, their feet apply force to the floor, but if they go through walls they are without substance, the professor says.

"So which is it? Are ghosts material or material-less?" he asks.

Is that supposed to be a gotcha question? Because it's pretty obvious that the answer is material-less. For starters, more Hollywood ghosts float or fly than walk. Ghost is an exception that's become ever more rare as special effects get cheaper. And just because some ghosts appear to walk, doesn't mean they actually are in the sense of their feet applying force to the floor. They're mimicking human activity out of habit, but they're actually "floating" with no distance between their feet and the floor. C'mon, we worked this shit out in junior high.

It gets worse.

Continue reading "Also, "Costas Efthimiou"? Hello! Vampire name if I've ever heard one!" »

October 26, 2006

Of course, New York magazine editors are used to over-the-top birthday parties for five-year-olds

Daniel Radosh


The Pod Squad is an essay I wrote a year ago for Radar about all "the idiotic crap" (pure poetry, I tells ya) that's been written about iPods. On the music player's fifth birthday, it's more relevant than ever. Or at least, more relevant than when it was published.

October 26, 2006

It's all the time in the big city

Daniel Radosh

themetime.jpg The best thing to happen to radio in the last, oh, fifteen years or so, is Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour on XM. If you're not opposed to a little file sharing, you don't even have to subscribe to XM to hear it (sorry, but an hour a week is not worth $99 +$12.95 a month). Just about the only problem with Theme Time Radio Hour is waiting a whole week for the next one to air.

So to fill the gap, I created Un-themed Time Radio Hour on Pandora. The idea behind Pandora is that you tell it which artists and songs you like, and it adds other songs that fit that "music genome," and as previously discussed here, it works pretty well, if not perfectly. For the U-tTRH channel, I entered every artist Bob has played on his show so far. Or at least, every artist Pandora knows, which, given Bob's vast collection of obscure music is only about 75% of them.

For that reason among others, U-tTRH doesn't actually sound much like TTRH, a show that very much succeeds on its human touch (to maintain some integrity, where Bob chose a song by an artist with a wide range of styles, I entered just that song, instead of the artist's name). But it's still a great collection of Bob-approved (Bob-friendly? Bob-tolerant?) music that will give you a taste of the real thing if you've never heard it, or serve adequately as methadone if you're already at TTRH junkie.

This link should open a Pandora player with my shared station already embedded in it. If you're not registered at Pandora, you'll have to do that. It's free and worth it.

While you're there, I also recommend Cure for Bed Bugs' Teen Pop Mega Hyper Sugar Set, in case you get sick of all that old-timey authenticity.

October 24, 2006

If only I hadn't promised God that if he fixed this for me, I wouldn't write the blasphemous book after all

Daniel Radosh

Gerald-Ford_POP.jpg Talk about your resurrections. I just got a call from Drive Savers in California telling me that all my data has been recovered.

I'm not cracking the Champagne until I actually have it in my hands tomorrow morning [Update: bust ot the Armand de Brignac — it's all there], but since you all have been incredibly supportive (is there an emoticon to indicate that you're not being sarcastic?), I wanted to post the good news here ASAP.

Best of all, I now have something in common with Gerald Ford, Milla Jovovich, Keith Richards and Sean Connery.

Hmmm. Think I can get Drive Savers to restore my drive from the future and send me the chapters I haven't written yet...?

October 23, 2006

The devious MSM finds a way to discredit blogs once and for all

Daniel Radosh


October 23, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #72

Daniel Radosh

That's right, TNYerCA-CC is back, and it's better than evah. For starters, you're gonna get to vote for the winner, just like in the real thing. For the new rules, and a simplified explanation of what makes a good anti-caption, click here.


"Be careful, Lewis — if you fall, your son will have to grow up without a father!" —John Tabin

October 23, 2006

How to play (and win!) the New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest

Daniel Radosh

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest is an interactive — no wait, Web 2.0 — parody of The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest. Every Monday, when the New Yorker publishes a new uncaptioned cartoon, I post that same cartoon on this site. But while the New Yorker is looking for (and rarely finding) good captions, I'm looking for the worst captions possible. So much easier. Submit no more than five anti-captions in the comments section. The following Monday, you'll get to vote for one of three finalists (while also submitting anti-captions for the new cartoon). The week after that, I'll announce the winner. That turned out to be a spectacularly unpopular idea. Instead, I'll choose one winner and two finalists who will be "rewarded" with a prominent spot directly under the cartoon and web links if any were provided. Below those I'll post any number of anti-captions deserving honorable mention.

What is an anti-caption, exactly? In large part, it's like Potter Stewart's definition of pornography: containing explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity. But there a few elements that make the difference between a merely bad caption and a true anti-caption. A great anti-caption does one or more of the following things:

• so completely misses the point that it changes your entire perception of the cartoon.

• is not just not funny but agressively unfunny.

• fits the picture, but does not actually work as a punchline.

• pays attention to details that the artist probably hoped you would overlook.

• reads like a caption that would actually appear in The New Yorker only without the being-funny part.

• reads like a caption that would never, ever appear in The New Yorker (see second finalist).

Meanwhile, there are a few popular tropes that I always appreciate, but which rarely make the final cut:

• direct parodies of/references to actual New Yorker cartoon captions (or actual caption contest winners).

• captions which fail to consider the central image/action of the cartoon.

For more, here's a complete index of The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest.

October 19, 2006

The plight of the sensitive sex blogger

Daniel Radosh

window-flasher-censored.jpg The other day, Eros Blog's Bacchus posted the uncensored version of this photo under the accurate, if not exactly grabby, title, "Flashing from a window."

All in a day's work for one of the Interweb's oldest established sex bloggers, until a reader posted the one sentence comment, "Heh heh heh, I’d like to wash her windows.” Now, this might seem like a perfectly reasonable — even considerate — remark. After all, if the young lady's windows were clean, she would not have to stand outside on the ledge with her damn pants around her ankles just to be seen naked. In exhibitionism as in any extreme sport, safety first.

But Bacchus didn't see it that way. "There’s a line that’s crossed when men (and it’s almost always men) personalize their connection to an attractive photographic subject, and begin to state sexual intentions — however whimsical — in connection with that photographic subject," he wrote. "Stating sexual desires, publicly, in connection with a woman who hasn’t invited anything from you, is a sexually aggressive act, and one that displays a certain unconcern for whether your sexual advances are welcome." Damn straight. You have to earn the right to leer at that girl being led around on a leash. (This post is so not gonna help me with the Pandagon crowd.)

After the jump, Eros Blog commenters choose their sides.

Continue reading "The plight of the sensitive sex blogger" »

October 19, 2006

Arkansas to David Kuo: Drop Dead

Daniel Radosh


There's been some talk recently about how American evangelicals are reconsidering their close alliance with the GOP. From this sign I saw recently in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, I'd say somebody forgot to inform American evangelicals.

October 18, 2006

Bring your good times and your laughter too

Daniel Radosh

From Susan Caskie, who reads every newspaper in the world, an editorial from the Accra Mail.

Ghana: We are not starving!

The IFPRI World Hunger Index published last Friday has some nice things to say about Ghana... We are not doing that badly at all in many areas of our national development. Like the president said last week, we must be grateful for the small mercies we are enjoying. We make this point because some of our compatriots go on and on as if our country is a basket case.

Actually, it is not! Putting the IFPRI index aside, we can even use the proliferation of eating and drinking "spots" that have been springing up as our own index of how good our country is taking care of herself. Who eats at these spots? Answer: Ghanaians. Who drinks at these spots? Answer: Ghanaians.

We may not be a paradise, but we certainly have made progress, which we must keep adding to. Prices of food items need to come down some more... The fact still remains however that we are NOT a starving nation! Is that not worth celebrating?"

Be careful. Get too happy and no celebs are gonna adopt any of your babies.

October 17, 2006

The New Yorker Anti-Cartoon Caption Contest?

Daniel Radosh

Matt Diffee launches it as part of his virtual book tour.

October 16, 2006

Mark Foley vs. Gerry Studds

Daniel Radosh

My newest briefing for The Week is everything you need to know about Congressional pages. For the sidebar, I wrote about Gerry Studds, which was apparently the straw that broke the camel's back.

In the week before his death, Republican apologists were all over Studds like, well, a Congressman on a page. Krauthammer set the tone:

IN 1983, REPRESENTATIVE GERRY Studds, Democrat of Massachusetts, admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old male page. He was censured by the House of Representatives. During the vote, which he was compelled by House rules to be present for, Studds turned his back on the House to show his contempt for his colleagues' reprimand. He was not expelled from the Democratic Caucus. In fact, he was his party's nominee in the next election in his district--and the next five after that--winning reelection each time. He remained in the bosom of the Democratic Caucus in the House for the next 13 years.

In 2006, Republican congressman Mark Foley was found to have been engaged in lurid sexual Internet correspondence with a 16-year-old House page. There is no evidence yet of his ever laying a hand on anyone, let alone having sex with a page. When discovered, he immediately resigned. Had he not, says Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, "I would have demanded his expulsion." Not only is Foley gone, but half the Republican House leadership has been tarred. Hastert himself came within an inch of political extinction.

Am I missing something? There seems to be an odd difference in the disposition of the two cases. By any measure, what Studds did was worse. By any measure, his treatment was infinitely more lenient.

Thanks for throwing in what you thought was a rhetorical question, CK, because, yes, you are missing something.

At least I think so. My reaction here is limited by the fact that back in 1983, the press was apparently less willing to dig deep into a sex scandal. I've looked at a bunch of articles from the time and here's the gist of what I learned about the Studds Affair.

In 1973, when he was 36, Studds had a relationship with a 17-year-old male page that lasted for several months and included a trip abroad and three nights of sex, the first one preceeded by drinking "Cape Codders," which is what the gays call vodka and cranberry juice. Ten years later, the page testified to the House Ethics Committee that Studds "was an intelligent, witty, gentle man with, I think, a high level of insecurity. He did nothing to me which I would consider destructive or painful. In another time, in another society, the action would be acceptable, perhaps even laudable. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I have no ax to grind with him. I have nothing negative to say about the man. In fact, I thought that he provided me with one of the more wonderful experiences of my life, if we exclude the instances of sexual experience which I was somewhat uncomfortable with. But I did not think it was that big a deal."

Here's what I was shocked not to be able to learn: whether Studds ever had a similar relationship with any other page, or any other barely legal (the age of consent is 16 in DC) boy. Somehow it just never came up. Given that the 73 affair was exposed during a thorough investigation ten years later (which also tripped up a hetero congressman), I'm going to assume that this means Studds' "very serious error in judgment" (his words) was a one-time thing. A case of a young man falling for a much younger one and inappropriately exploiting the power imbalance between them.

Without letting Studds off the hook, I'm comfortable saying that this is the measure by which what Foley did is much worse than what Studds did. Because Foley didn't fall for a single boy; he repeatedly and wantonly treated all male pages as targets to be groomed and pressured into quasi (and probably actual) sexual relationships. He manipulated them and, yes, preyed on them without any regard for their personhood. When they aged out, he moved on to the next batch. There is ample evidence that many pages found Foley, as one put it, "sick, sick, sick, sick, sick." Throw in the hypocrisy of all this coming from a man who worked hard to demonize and criminalize the very behavior in which he was engaging, and I don't see how you can say that Studds behavior was nearly as bad. Of course Studds was wrong to use his office as leverage for initiating a sexual relationship with a youngster who was more or less in his charge. And there's an argument that the age of consent in DC is too low (though not, as Matthew Yglesias has strikingly pointed out, "pedophilia" low). But if in fact his was a single slip-up, I think censuring and moving on was the appropriate action, while it's equally clear that Foley should never be allowed near Congressional pages again.

October 16, 2006

An update on my misery

Daniel Radosh

So, TekServe was not able to retrieve any data from my fried hard drive. They've sent it to a specialty place in California that will actually open the fucker up in a clean room, but I'm not hopeful. And if they can get anything off it, it will cost more than my new computer. If you ever need to tell your young children a cautionary tale about not backing up, send them here (as long as they don't mind words like "fucker").

All this is going to put a crimp in my blogging for a little while as I set up the new computer and reconstruct whatever I can of my research. However I do plan to have the anti-caption contest up and running next week in a new improved format, so don't give up on me completely.

More on this story as it develops.

October 12, 2006

Because Mets fans don't know the meaning of the words "too soon"

Daniel Radosh

Since my friend Todd Seavey doesn't have a blog (or at least not the right kind of blog), I'm taking the liberty of posting here an e-mail he sent around yesterday:

As some of you know, I live on York Ave. in Manhattan just six blocks north of the spot where Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle's plane crashed, so I feel I ought to say something to make sense of it all: Remember, tragic though this evening's events were, if we let them distract us from the normal business of America -- working, playing, worrying about terrorism, loving, learning -- then the Yankees will have won.

October 9, 2006

And also

Daniel Radosh

My new briefing for The Week: A Pill for the Morning After.

October 9, 2006

Who needs a blog, anyway?

Daniel Radosh

After all, I can get stuff into print that's too boring and stupid to even bother with on the site. Well, maybe that's overstating a little, but a while ago, Playboy asked me to come up with a list (as a sidebar to an Arianna Huffington interview) of the top ten political blogs. Now keep in mind that Playboy readers have only the vaguest idea of what these Internets are, so while you may think Powerline and Daily Kos are so 2004, obvious and established was exactly what the editors wanted from me (as well as a mix of left and right). They probably would have been happy if I'd just pulled straight from the Technorati rankings, but I decided to mix it up a little bit, and you can see the results here.

I've enjoyed reading the responses from the "honored" bloggers. Captain's Quarters was the most gracious, Powerline was bitchy, and Glenn Greenwald calls Powerline's inclusion "horrible" (he must have missed the mandate to consider "influence," which, believe me, is the only reason PL or DK make the cut). TAPPED is also gracious, though Sam Rosenfeld wonders what "the proper progressive line on Playboy" is. American Scene makes a comment I actually had in an early draft of the list (about how they'd probably be horrified to be in such an evil magazine).

Andrew Sullivan calls kudos from Playboy "the highest honor a gay man could get." (I hope he knows Playboy has always been a gay-friendly magazine. In a new poll, 67% of Playboy readers (and 50% of its Republican readers) say they oppose a ban on gay marriage). The commenters at Hit & Run have a good laugh, but the big disappointment for me has been seeing the dramatically unamused comments at Pandagon, my personal favorite blog on the list and the one I rated as the most fun. Apparently, people who know very little about Playboy's feminist politics (72% of readers would vote for a woman president; 94% are pro-choice), or who are simply creeped out by Hef (who isn't?), refuse to accept a compliment from a magazine with pictures of naked ladies. For instance, I thought "almost frightening intellect" was just a hep way of saying, "really, really smart," but apparently it means I'm afraid of intelligent women.

It is, of course, amusing, to hear my personal opinions and turns of phrase explained in terms of an agenda set by Hugh Hefner or Playboy's "management." Of course, Playboy presents the piece with a headline that encourges people to confuse the contributions of a freelancer with the omniscient voice of the magazine, but I expect Pandagon readers to be a little more sophisticated. I'm debating whether to post a reply on the Pandagon comments, but I'm not sure I want to get sucked into that.

October 9, 2006

Something to hold you over

Daniel Radosh

Instead of the anti-caption contest, which will return, bigger and better, in a few weeks.

October 6, 2006

A note to my loyal reader

Daniel Radosh

Or, more optimistically, readers. Last weekend the hard drive in my 7-year-old G4 PowerMac decided to melt down. Naturally the last time I backed up was a year ago. You know: about two months before I started working on my fucking book. TekServe is working on data reco, so I'm crossing my fingers and living in the moment. While they do whatever they can, which will take at least a till Wednesday, I'm putting in extra hours at The Week. I have access to a computer here, but can't do a lot of blogging. After that I'll have to spend some time setting up my new iMac and possibly, I suppose, reconstructing everything that I lost. The upshot is that I'm on a forced hiatus until further notice. Keep my hard drive in your prayers, unless you're one of my many readers who prays to Satan.

October 3, 2006

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #69

Daniel Radosh

I lied. But what I don't have time/resources to do is judge last week's contest. I'll try to get to it eventually.


October 3, 2006

Nothing can go wrong... go wrong... go wrong...

Daniel Radosh

Due to computer meltdown, there will be no anti-caption contest, or anything else, this week.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2