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Archives for February, 2007

February 28, 2007

It's no info-pimps

Daniel Radosh

TS at Martini Republic has spotted what he believes is the most clueless sentence in the history of the New Yorker.

From the capule review of Norbit:

Though less than the sum of its parts, the movie is, even when not quite funny, nothing less than virtuosic—and if there’s any justice in pop culture, it should coin a new catchphrase: “How you doin’?”

As TS asks: "Can you write about pop culture for The New Yorker without having seen an episode of Friends?"

Now I haven't, and don't intend to, see this movie, but a quick Google search suggests that "Rasputia's" use of this phrase is substanitally different from Joey's. Still, it's hard to really call it new.

So is it really the most clueless sentence ever in The New Yorker? Well, that lady who didn't know there was a seal on top of her bed was pretty clueless, but that's a little different. You could probably find some competition somewhere, but does anyone really want to go back and read every word Gopnik has written about his kids?

February 27, 2007

It could have been worse. He could have said it was hard out there for them.

Daniel Radosh

Remember Charles M. Madigan, the ChiTrib columnist who claimed he invented the word info-pimp? Well someone told him that he didn't and he's really, really sorry for his mistake. He's so sorry that he managed to milk an entire column out of his apology.

Last week he wrote a column about how "we have no idea what it means to begin the political process this ardently and this early because, generally, we simply don't."

Not knowing how to use Google is the least of Charles M. Madigan's problems.


February 26, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #88

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's results.


"Brains! Brains! No, not DOG brains. Is your owner home?" —Deborah

"We're here for your owner's wake. It was our honor and privilege to have worked with your best friend over these past fifteen years. I'm very sorry for your loss." —David John

"No, we're not Hare Krishnas who went to the trouble of disguising ourselves. That's ridiculous krishna krishna hare hare." —nell

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #88" »

February 24, 2007

Also, it doesn't count if you only support stem cell research in the ass

Daniel Radosh

521sv.png The religious right searches for a true conservative.

Mr. Norquist, a member of the Council for National Policy, said he remained open to any of the three candidates who spoke to the group or, for that matter, to Mr. Romney. He argued that with the right promises, any of the four could redeem themselves in the eyes of the conservative movement despite their past records, just as some high school students take abstinence pledges even after having had sex.

“It’s called secondary virginity,” he said. “It is a big movement in high school and also available for politicians.”

February 23, 2007

The motherfuckin' princess

Daniel Radosh


It's been a while since I had a hot chick at the top of the page, and I know you're not coming to this site for all that Hillary Clinton crap, so I went looking for an excuse and came up with the fact that the new Avril Lavigne single is only, like, the best pop song ever. Well, at least since whatstheirnames.

iTunes also has a Spanish version. Como se dice WTF en Español?

Related: OK, so I teared up at this Sk8r Boi machinima, what's it to you?

February 23, 2007

Get an edge in your Oscar pool

Daniel Radosh

Everyone factors in box office gross and previous snubs. You'll keep in mind such underappreciated elements as cellphonage, AIDS jokes and the approval of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

February 22, 2007

One billion minus one

Daniel Radosh

This year's ubiquitous ads for the Academy Awards ceremony almost has me convinced not to watch. The campaign — which features quotations from past Oscar-winning films — only serves to remind us that it's the movies we love and remember, not the Oscars. How far would they get with an ad campaign featuring memorable quotes from Oscar telecasts, especially from the past five years? I know this isn't exactly news to anyone, but the more they try to improve the show, the more boring it gets.

Over at HuffPo, Bruce Feiler has a proposal for improving acceptance speeches that's nearly identical to the one I made two years ago. Bruce is a bestselling author, though, so maybe they'll listen to him.

Speaking of Bruce's books, that plug at the end of the first graf doesn't quite work. The Oscars is the one ceremony where winners don't thank God, seeing as how they're all liberal Hollywood elites. However, that may change this year now that they've nominated so many blactors. Everyone knows black folks love God more than the rest of us.

February 21, 2007

Christ, what a package of syndicated ad-supported animated print comics for all digital platforms

Daniel Radosh

Here's something to chew over until the return of the anti-caption contest. Emdashes has unearthed the next phase in the Cartoon Bank's plot to wring ever more cash out of New Yorker cartoons.

RingTales are single-panel cartoons turned into five-second animations (plus the all-important ad tacked onto the end) for delivery via podcast, mobile phones, web syndication, etc. There are ten samples available on the site and they're undeniably well done. Most don't actually improve on the non-moving, non-speaking originals — I won't be voluntarily downloading them anytime soon — but I probably won't be disgusted if they start appearing in the margins of my favorite web sites. I may even click on them sometimes, which I never do with any other ads.

And if anyone out there wants to strip the sound from these samples and create new dialogue for them, that's something I'd really be interested in.

Update: I just noticed that one of the RingTales is the classic, On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog. It might be wiser to stick with the less famous and beloved cartoons. For one thing, I am oddly distressed by the dog's delivery of his line, with a slacker cadence and the emphasis on knows. I've just never heard it that way in my head. I don't terribly mind the second dog's weird non-verbal response, but it is distracting to "learn" that the dog's message to his online pals is the somewhat corny, "All I'm wearing is a fur coat."

February 20, 2007

Pay no attention to the little poll behind the curtain

Daniel Radosh

"Do the troops feel supported by this House resolution? There are no opinion polls of military and civilian workers in Iraq, but two comments have come to my attention. One is a letter to the editor of The Washington Times from John McFarlane, a military trainer for Northrop-Grumman Technical Services in Elizabethtown, Ky. McFarlane writes that he has just returned from Iraq "after coming out of retirement to go there, I can tell you that the greatest fear of the young service members over there is that the American public will fail to pursue total victory and will leave early, thereby wasting their battle buddies' life and blood. They feel pain every time somebody pays lip service to his or her conscience with the line: 'support the troops, but not the policy.' (They) know they are the policy and that you should feel shame if you as an American would commit them to anything less than total victory." —Cal Thomas, Feb 20 2007 [emphasis added]

"An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and more than one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.... The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58% of those serving in country say the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42% said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure." —Zogby, Feb. 28, 2006

February 20, 2007

The audacity of cynicism

Daniel Radosh

Hillary Clinton is trying to frame the Iraq debate thusly:

If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or who has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from.

But I have a greater concern about her 2002 vote that is more expansive than Hitch's reductive sneer about "an activist base that essentially believes that you cannot really be a Democrat without being solidly anti-war," and that also rejects Clinton's current efforts to spin her refusal to repudiate her vote as a mark of integrity.

I came to this after re-reading her pre-vote speech, which now seems creepily calculated to have it every possible way all at once. Particularly galling is her claim that she cast her vote "Because bipartisan support for this resolution makes success in the United Nations more likely, and therefore, war less likely." Was there a person alive in October, 2002 — when bombing had begun and troops were already shipping out — who thought that this could possibly be the case? Besides, how does this square with her current claim that she wouldn't have cast the same vote if she'd known the intelligence was misleading? If all she was really voting for was UN inspections, why should knowing that those inspections would have revealed that Saddam had disarmed change anything? Wouldn't that, in fact, have justified her vote?

Her vote at the time angered me not just because it was in support of the war, but because she was pretending that it wasn't. Can you imagine if the war had gone well — would Clinton now be saying anything other than that she supported it from the beginning?

All politicians lie, of course, but Clinton's shamelessness is precisely the opposite of what we need after eight years of Bush/Cheney. It's not just the vote for the war, it's what it says about her character.

February 13, 2007

The problem with Hillary is she should not have been trusted with my vote

Daniel Radosh

Tim Grieve notes that beyond the Iraq question, there's just something wrong with a person who thinks this is an explanation.

One version of the nonadmission admission she offered this weekend: "The problem with this president is he should not have been trusted with this authority."

Let's just say this about that: We're pretty sure we'd get an "energetic but not ecstatic reception" if we tried that kind of line at home.

On overspending: "The problem with this iPod is that it should not have been acquired with this credit card."

On drinking too much: "The problem with those margaritas is that they should not have been consumed in such quantity."

Mmm... margaritas.

February 13, 2007

Maybe I'm wasted

Daniel Radosh

Am I missing something about Obama's gaffe? How is saying that the lives of American troops have been wasted in Iraq an insult to them? He never said it was their fault. If they had worked hard and heroically to build a house only to have the president and secretary of defense set fire to it, wouldn't we say that their work had been wasted?

This isn't even a Kinsley gaffe. If it were, Obama's apology would have involved retracting his statement. But he didn't -- he just reworded it. In what possible sense is there a difference between saying that the civilian leadership "has not honored" the troops because it "put them in a situation" in which they have died by the thousands and saying that the civilian leadership "wasted" their lives by putting them in the same situation? If you read the initial comment as an insult, don't you have to read the apology the same way? That is, the first comment says that the troops whole lives were a waste and the second says that the troops have no honor. Yikes!

Alternately, the second comment says that the president dishonored the troops and the first one says he wasted their lives. Neither one impugns the soldiers.

Please respond by pointing out the flaws in my logic or going into a tirade about how the right wing media is trying to bring down Obama.

February 12, 2007

Even Jonah Goldberg couldn't lose this bet

Daniel Radosh

pigtails.jpg in a column titled Pigtails and Porn — so I really had no choice in selecting an image for this post — Kathleen Parker is outraged about a new study showing that lots of kids see pornography on the internets, mostly without wanting to. Hey, I agree that this is a Bad Thing. But Parker is so outraged that her brain simply shut off half way through writing the column.

I'm not talking about all the dubious and discredited psychological and moralistic mumbo jumbo that makes up most of the column (and which isn't even worth responding to at this point). What caught my eye is one sentence in particular, which comes as part of a digression on diaper fetishists.

"Here's a bet: We'll see hate-joke legislation to protect the certifiably fragile psyches of 'adult babies,' as they call themselves, before we see anything aimed at protecting real children from Internet porn."

Like, say, the Communications Decency Act (1996), the Child Online Protection Act (1998) or the Children's Internet Protection Act (2000)?

Given Parker's fairly low standard — "anything," "aimed at" — can we agree that if it has variations of the words "protecting," "children," and "Internet" in the name, that it is a thing aimed at protecting children on the Internet?

I wonder if she's betting real dollars or Linden.

February 11, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #87

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's winner and a complaint about quality control.


"Hi. My name's Stuart. I'm sitting in for the Lorax and, in his absence, I speak for the trees." —Tim C.

"Come with me to a magical land beneath this tree! And... uh... unbutton your overalls." — Dan McCoy

"Lumber-JERK!!" —Chuck

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #87" »

February 10, 2007

The Kettle Wears Black

Daniel Radosh

Maureen Dowd — I mean, MoDojust might be onto something here.

No, I realized with growing alarm, chick lit was no longer a niche. It had staged a coup of the literature shelves. Hot babes had shimmied into the grizzled old boys' club, the land of Conrad, Faulkner and Maugham. The store was possessed with the devil spawn of The Devil Wears Prada. The blood-red high heel ending in a devil's pitchfork on the cover of the Lauren Weisberger best seller might as well be driving a stake through the heart of the classics.

I even found Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar with chick-lit pretty-in-pink lettering.

"Penis lit versus Venus lit," said my friend Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, who was with me. "An unacceptable choice."

Looking for Mr. Goodbunny by Kathleen O'Reilly sits atop George Orwell's 1984. Mine Are Spectacular! by Janice Kaplan and Lynn Schnurnberger hovers over Ulysses. Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series cuddles up to Rudyard Kipling.

Even Will Shakespeare is buffeted by rampaging 30-year-old heroines, each one frantically trying to get their guy or figure out if he's the right guy, or if he meant what he said, or if he should be with them instead of their BFF or cousin, or if he'll come back, or if she'll end up stuck home alone eating Häagen-Dazs and watching CSI and Sex and the City reruns...

The novel was once said to be a mirror of its times. In my local bookstore, it’s more like a makeup mirror.

I know! It's almost like, what if newspaper columnists who did actual reporting and analysis of consequential world affairs were crowded out by self-involved gossipy girls who only want to write about their shopping trips with their semi-famous BFFs or, if they do write about politics, reduce everything to cutesy nicknames and pop-culture analogies because it's just so much more fun than having anything thoughtful to say, and then they do it over and over again until each column is indistinguishable from the next, lulling you into a hypnotic state with their simple life lessons and dispensing nuggets of hard-won wisdom like, "her national anthem may have been off-key, but her look wasn't. It was an attractive mirror of her political message: man-tailored with a dash of pink femininity." Talk about the makeup-mirroring of America!

At least she didn't mention Christian chick lit. That's my turf.

February 8, 2007

No, the pagan sex gods get way hotter chicks

Daniel Radosh

"Is this really worship to the one true God of the Bible or is this worship to one of those pagan sex gods? You be the judge."


February 8, 2007

And porn stars, of course

Daniel Radosh

jesuslovesosama2_nr.jpg Like Alexandra Pelosi — and I hope this is the only thing my project has in common with hers; apologies to anyone who actually took my advice and watched that travesty — I loved cataloging all those Bible Belt billboards. You know: "Ready or not, here I come —Jesus." I don't have time to hash it all out right now, but let me just say that I would be very interested to hear the full and frank discussion that would arise if a church in the US followed Australia's lead and put up this one.

February 6, 2007

Also, I Googled whether your mother loves you and it doesn't check out either

Daniel Radosh

"People who pick up questionable things and present them as real are info-pimps. I just invented that word. I like the sound of it." —Charles M. Madigan, Chicago Tribune


[ChiTrib column via Romenesko]

February 5, 2007

He's still tall, though, right?

Daniel Radosh

Ah, conventional wisdom, you fickle mistress. The New York Times today ran an article about how John Kerry is a depressing, ugly, lifeless loser. Even Wonkette was struck by how mean the article was.

What's more, the Times notes right up top that Kerry has always been this way. "Even in the best of times, Mr. Kerry’s face hung droopy and funereal, one of the most weary in American politics." Gosh, how'd the guy even get elected to the Senate?

Wait, could losing an election have made John Kerry physically uglier — retroactively? Here are some descriptions of him from 2001 to 2004.

"He is an attractive man, handsome." — Brit Hume, Fox News

"matinee-idol handsome." —Larry J. Sabato, Center for Politics

"Kennedy-like charisma" —Iowa City Press-Citizen

"Charismatic" —R. Emmett Tyrell Jr., New York Sun

"Do you have the charm and charisma and oratoric ability of John Kerry?" —Chris Matthews (to Joe Biden) MSNBC

"eloquent and highly charismatic" —Oakland Post

"handsome blue blood" —US News & World Report

"an extremely handsome man with a head chiselled from marble" — Nicholas Lemann, The New Yorker

"He's tall, he's attractive, he's charismatic" —Bill McInturff, GOP pollster

"Handsome man. Lot of charisma, that guy." — Joe Kernan, CNBC

"Tall, handsome" —Daily News

Continue reading "He's still tall, though, right?" »

February 5, 2007

So crazy it just might work

Daniel Radosh

Campaign finance quick fix. Raise (or remove) contribution caps, but make all donations secret — like votes.

Imagine that you are a politically connected Hollywood producer, and Hillary Clinton calls you up and asks you for $50,000. What do you do? In truth, you'd rather give to Barack Obama, whom you consider more electable, but you don't want Clinton to know that. After all, what if she wins? Then you'll never see the inside of the Lincoln Bedroom. So you tell Clinton that you're definitely on her side. Fortunately, under the Ackerman-Ayres plan, you'll make your check out to the Federal Election Commission, not Clinton. The FEC will wait five days before adding your money to Clinton's account. In those five days, you could contact the FEC and redirect the money to Obama if you chose. And regardless of which candidate ultimately gets the money, its origin will be masked. The FEC will distribute the cash to the candidate's account anonymously, in pieces, over several days, using a secret algorithm to vary the pattern by which it deposits the money. So even though you promised the New York senator your support, she'll have no way of knowing whether you really went through with it. You could send your money to Obama and Clinton would have no way of knowing whose side you were actually on.

I've thought this was an idea worth perusing since Jack Hitt wrote about it in the Times magazine seven years ago.

February 5, 2007

So does this mean it will be worse than Ghost Rider?

Daniel Radosh

Joss is off Wonder Woman. I take back half of my prediction.

On the other hand, even though the Silver Surfer trailer is pretty awesome, I can't bring myself to hope for anything good out of the new Fantastic Four movie. The last one was far and away the worst superhero movie I've ever seen, and it's all the same crew, so I don't see them suddenly getting it right. At least we still have Spider Man.

February 5, 2007

The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #86

Daniel Radosh

Submit the worst possible caption for this New Yorker cartoon. Click here for details. Click here to see last week's winner.


For the second week in a row, this contest had a record high number of entries — and a record low number of entries deserving honorable mention. So first let me welcome all the new folks who discovered us through Valleywag or wherever. And then let me encourage you to read the contest guidelines, particularly the part about not submitting more than five captions. I'm not trying to be a dick, but unlike The New Yorker, I don't have interns with spreadsheets reading all the submissions for me. Beyond just saving me some time, the point of this rule is to encourage you to put some thought into your best possible captions, rather than just spitting out whatever you can think of.

Also, I can see your IP addresses, so even if you submit under a different name each time, I still know when you're over the limit. In fact, a good rule of thumb is that if you're not proud enough of your caption to use a consistent name that at least pseudonymously identifies you, maybe you shouldn't bother.

That is all.

"Whoops— looks like you shanked it into the parking lot, Corporal." —John Tabin

"I agree the tanks are a little unsightly, but we have to make sure no Jews sneak into the country club." —Jesse

"You know, I meant to say something when they came for the trade unionists." —Kevin Guilfoile

Continue reading "The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest #86" »

February 1, 2007

The worst thing about Joe Biden's comments...

Daniel Radosh

Neil Kinnock said the same thing 25 years ago.

Yes, I am the world's oldest, dorkiest blogger.

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