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»  March 30, 2009

Politics  

Without: Watched the short documentary Without the King, about the kingdom of Swaziland the other night. I'm eagerly awaiting the verdict of one of my cousins, who spent time there as a Peace Corps worker. The film's essentially a series of interviews, largely with members of the Swazi royal family, including King Mswati III, his first wife Queen LaMbikiza, and the king's eldest child Princess Sikhanyiso, who at the time the story begins is just about to set off for Biola University, a Bible college in Southern California. The other interviewees include members of various local aid organizations and inhabitants of the shantytowns where the average Swazi lives on sixty-odd cents a day and many rely on food from the UN's World Food Programme. The king of the nation of 1.1 million people, on the other hand, lives in a palace and has a private jet. And did I mention that Swaziland has the world's highest incidence of AIDS? The film reports one in two Swazis are infected with the virus, other reports say that's only one in four, but it's at the top of the charts by anyone's measure (the rate of infection in the US stated in the film is nearly 1/70th that of Swaziland).

Crazy stuff.

But maybe not as crazy as some of the comments left on the review of the movie by a Toronto film blogger.

Why do the international media and community take one side? And why can’t these organizations take time to listen to both sides and also read the constitution of Swaziland ? And last but not least, why can’t they take time to see for themselves who the majority of Swazi citizens really support? Do the majority of Swazi citizens support the banned political parties or do they support the current Tinkhundla system of governance?
Alternatively, one might ask, since the current system of government bans all political parties (and has done so since well before the current king took his place), do the citizens have any choice about whether they support them or the current system?

 

What the...?  

Double Thai Fortune: Friday at the marvelous Khun Pic's Bahn Thai, with great conversation with my cousin and her husband. Best of all, Kelly paid!

Treat yourself to a good book for a needed rest and escape.
Sounds like a plan!
Be prepared to modify your plan, it'll be good for you.
Doh!

 

Director  

Ulitzer: One of the last articles I was ever asked to write — and definitely the last I wrote for a print publication or on Director — was for the MX Developers Journal. The incomparable James Newton was working as an "unofficial/unpaid editor" on Director-related material approached me about writing something for them, and I just happened to have finished a fairly simple kiosk — but one with live video feeds — for the Oregon Zoo that I thought was a project that could be digested in a few thousand words.

By the summer of 2004, the days of getting paid to write material on Director were already long ago and gone, despite the MX Developers Journal's glossy paper and four-color printing, so apart from the few copies of the magazine that I received (only after whining to the in-house editorial contact at Sys-Con the publisher, which in itself completed a circle with my first experience in magazine publishing, 30 years ago next month). I never expected any payment for the article.

Then again, I never expected anything like this, either. WHile MXDJ died long ago, Sys-Con has continued publishing online journals and sponsoring seminars. Apparently, the company launched a site called Ulitzer.com a couple of years ago, and some of the authors like Aral Balkan -- a London Flash developer of some note -- are just hearing about it for the first time

Apparently, some 6,000 authors who have written content for Sys-Con publications in the past are now having their work reprinted (unpaid) at Ulitzer, at subdomains personalized with their names. Moreover, no attempt appears to have been made to contact the authors to notify them that this was going to happen. Balkan was told — when he questioned being identified as a "Ulitzer author" that he could modify his biography and even apply for Google AdSense dollars generated by his pages on the site to be sent to him, but unless an author had been notified that the site existed and that this was a possibility, then presumably Sys-Con would have gone on collecting all monies from SAP, Microsoft, Symantec, and the other companies that placed ads on the site.

After complaining about Sys-Con's practices (and getting his articles and name pulled from the Ulitzer site, for which he gave them credit, Balkan then found that Sys-Con had written calling him a homosexual and comparing him to the attempted assassin of Pope John Paul. It's truly an incredible story that's nowhere near over yet I feel, but Sys-Con's actions reminded me an awful lot of someone I'd encountered before.

And just look at my personalized site on Ulitzer! Apparently I'm such an insignificant cog in their rip-off machine that they can't be bothered to spell my last name right (see the subdomain name under the Ulitzer logo).

darrelflant.ulitzer.com

 


»  March 26, 2009

What the...?  

Geek Day: There was a time some years ago when I thought I was really interested in model railroads, but even in my wildest dreams I never envisioned Hamburg's Miniatur Wunderland, "covering 16,146 square feet of space with more than 10,000 train cars running around its 6.8 miles of HO scale track."

And in the same email from DVICE, there's a notice about this image (and two others) used to promote the airing of the wretched Aliens Vs. Predator movie on Rupert Murdoch's SKY network:

Predator vs. Alien Chess

 


»  March 25, 2009

What the...?  

Everybody Wan Lung Tonight: A double fortune from the Wan Lung in Clackamas last week. I believe there may be a typo in the latter which —if corrected — would bring it in line with the former.

You discover treasures where others see nothing unusual.
You will soon receive an usual (sic) gift freely given. Accept.

 

What the...?  

Fall:

I just had a really bad fall
And this time it was harder to get up than before
I shouted to the heavens and a vision appeared
I cried out "Can you help?", it replied "Not at all"

After the fall is over
You'll be on your own
After the fall is over

So I fell on my arse, now I'm feeling the pain
But the feeling will pass and so will the shame
The bigger the ego, the bigger the fall
When your reputation counts for nothing at all
Ah, but when the mist clears, the sun will shine again

I will greet you when the sun shines again
After the fall (after the fall is over)
There'll be a better day
After the fall is over

—Ray Davies, "After the Fall," Other People's Lives

 

Politics  

Crash:

Tunisian pilot who prayed as his plane went down jailed in Italy

A pilot accused of praying when he should have been taking emergency measures to avoid a crash in which 16 people died has been sentenced to 10 years in jail by an Italian court.

Captain Chafik Gharby was at the controls of a plane belonging to the Tunisian charter airline Tuninter that crashed in the sea off the coast of Sicily four years ago. The 23 survivors were left swimming for their lives, some clinging to a piece of the fuselage that stayed afloat after the turbo-prop aircraft broke up on impact.

I wish I could say that it was me who immediately thought of this clip from the Upright Citizens Brigade TV show, but it was Barbara, when I read the story to her from the paper this morning.

On a very related note, if you want a good movie about how the laxity of government enforcement in an industry can cause disaster, check out the Argentinean film Whisky Romeo Zulu, which I saw last night. It's the story of a fatal airliner crash which ended in the convictions of a number of company officials, as well as members of the military who oversaw (or were supposed to oversee) safety enforcement and training.

 


»  March 24, 2009

What the...?  

Rally: Pictures of Barbara and myself from the 2009 smart car rally to Multnomah Falls, where we encountered some antiques coming the other direction. Courtesy of mikie and Dunerunner (respectively) of the smart Car of America forum.

Two car rallies meet west of Multnomah Falls on the Old Columbia Gorge Highway

Barbara and Darrel on the road

 


»  March 20, 2009

What the...?  

Escape From Paris: I heartily recommend director Pierre Morel's District B13 [Banlieue 13], a French action thriller full of great chase scenes (mostly parkouer, running and jumping using building structures as hand and footholds), gritty scenery (a slum district in Paris), and thugs (beaucoup).

In fact, except for the details, it's virtually a direct transplant to France of John Carpenter's Escape From New York. Instead of walling off an island and throwing the prisoners in, a slum district — including women and children — has been walled off and left to fester. Instead of the President of the United States and his important information that would end the war, a neutron bomb that could wipe out much of paris is inside the walls. A prisoner is recruited to go in and stop the coming Armageddon, but has to face up against a scheming criminal overlord and fight an ogre.

There are more than enough differences to make it worth your while, but as a fan of the Carpenter movie (and I was enough of one that I wrote a parody script treatment — Escape From Eugene — and devoted my electronic music class project to creating a theme for that) I can only say that the differences — plus some late twists minus the inevitable plot holes — add up to a snappy flick.

 

What the...?  

Waxing On the Wane:

Brazilian Wax Ban? NJ Considers It After Two Women Are Injured

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey is drawing the line when it comes to bikini waxing. The state Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling is moving toward a ban on genital waxing after two women reported being injured in their quest for a smooth bikini line.

Both women were hospitalized for infections following so-called "Brazilian" bikini waxes; one of the women has filed a lawsuit, according to Jeff Lamm, a spokesman for New Jersey's Division of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the cosmetology board.

Technically, genital waxing has never been allowed — only the face, neck, abdomen, legs and arms are permitted — but because bare-it-all "Brazilians" weren't specifically banned, state regulators haven't enforced the law.

...

Spa owner Linda Orsuto, who owns 800 West Salon & Spa in Cherry Hill, estimates that most of 1,800 bikini waxes performed at her business last year were Brazilian-style.

"It's huge," she said, adding that her customers don't think their bikini lines are anyone's business but their own. "It's just not right."

She said many customers would likely travel across state lines to get it and some might even try to wax themselves.

Or the mob might get involved.

 


»  March 18, 2009

Politics  

Engage!: From a New York Times article (in the "Business" section, oddly enough) about the operators of the Preadator and Reaper drone planes used over Iraq and Afghanistan (and Pakistan):

At other times, the crews monitor insurgent compounds and watch over troops in battle. "When you're on the radio with a guy on the ground, and he is out of breath and you can hear the weapons fire in the background, you are every bit as engaged as if you were actually there," Major Morrison said.
I wonder if they asked the guys on the ground what they thought about that.

Everyone wants into the fun. Supposedly, an Iranian drone was shot down in Iraqi territory by US planes in February.

 

What the...?  

Rainbows: From Erica (The iPhone Developer's Cookbook) Sadun's Google Group for iPhone developer wannabes like myself; one response to some griping about Apple's perceived lack of outreach to the developer community:

Apple could give out free unicorns that fart rainbows, and there'd be complaints that Apple limits the ordering of the rainbow colors.

 


»  March 17, 2009

What the...?  

Where It All Began: It was fourteen years ago today that I registered the Moshofsky/Plant Creative Services web site, which appears to have been woefully neglected for some time.

 

What the...?  

Four Percenter: According to this morning's iPhone OS 3.0 event, 96% of all applications submitted to the App Store are approved, which means, I guess, that my app's rejection puts me in that 4% "loser" hole.

 


»  March 16, 2009

What the...?  

Fortune From Last Week Found In My Pocket: From the Fujin:

Seek out the significance of your problem at this time. Try to understand.
Oh, I know what the problem is.

 


»  March 13, 2009

What the...?  

Instant Viewing Gratification: If you've got an Xbox Gold subscription and are a Netflix customer, then you can sign up to download select movies on-demand through Netflix's "Watch Instantly" feature. It's pretty handy; although the selection's limited, it seems as if a lot of the smaller movies and many of the newer documentaries are being made available this way. You don't get any of the DVD special features or commentaries, but you can always add the DVD to your queue for later, if the film takes your fancy.

The one problem with the service that I have noticed, though, is subtitles. I was watching Rachel Boynton's fantastic documentary Our Brand Is Crisis, about the work of an American political consulting firm (headed by James Carville) in the 2002 Bolivian presidential elections, and I came to the realization after about 20 minutes of mixed dialogue in English and Spanish that the scenes in Spanish were going on far too long to be included just as atmosphere. So I stopped watching the instant feed, moved the DVD up to the top of my queue, and waited a couple of days. Sure enough, the DVD had subtitles for almost all of the Spanish dialogue.

A related issue came up with Day Watch, the sequel to the Russian fantasy FRX-extravaganza Night Watch, which I mentioned the other day. I started watching the online version through the Xbox, but it was subtitled, not dubbed (as Night Watch had been, quite expertly) and I decided to wait for the DVD. When it arrived, I noticed a significant difference in the wording and length of the subtitles, almost from the beginning of the movie.

Netflix has the same instant play option available on a number of DVD and set-top systems, as well as on both Windows and Mac computers. But I'm a little leery at this point about foreign-language movies on that basis because of these experiences. Sometimes having captions running even on English-language films is handy, but so far there's no option to turn them on. So I'm calling this a limited success on Netflix's part. Not giving on up the DVD player yet.

 


»  March 12, 2009

What the...?  

Ready For My Close-Up:

Smart Brain Bus
Brain Bus and smart car photo courtest of Suze

Today marks the beginning of my sixth month of eligibility in my latest dip into the JEOPARDY! contestant pool.

Even though as a kid in the '60s I'd been an avid fan of the original version with Art Fleming, and I'd been pretty successful in an intermural high-school version of a College Bowl-style game, I never tried out for JEOPARDY! until 1996, when I was visiting my brother in Los Angeles after writing my first book.

Back then you pretty much had to go to LA for the tryouts. I hadn't had much opportunity to travel, and I don't think I'd been in the area since I was a kid, even though my brother had been living there for a decade. So when I knew I was going down, I made a point of getting on the list for tryouts. At the appointed hour I drove to Sony Studios and assembled with my comrades-in-hope, they marched us through the lot to the JEOPARDY! stage, and we took a fifty-question-test. They played a series of "answers" on the monitors, you had a few seconds to write down your "question" (although it didn't have to be in the form of a question, for brevity's sake), and the next answer appeared. Then, for me, it was over, because as soon as they'd collected and graded the tests, I found I hadn't made the cut. Fairly crushing after years of thinking that if I could just get down there to take the test that I'd get a chance to play some trial games on the real set.

Five or so years passed before I made another attempt. One year was mandatory, but the others were self-imposed. Maybe I wasn't as smart — or as fast — as I'd once thought. Maybe I'd lost the edge that allowed me to win in one-against-four trivia contests in high school. That was bad, because with my wide-yet-shallow knowledge base, competitions of useless or at best semi-useful information were one of the few areas I felt in my own element.

I applied to JEOPARDY! a second time and flew to Los Angeles again. By then, they'd moved the tryouts out of the studio to a hotel ballroom. This time I passed the initial written test. I got to stand up with some other folks who'd made it through (including one guy who said it was his seventh tryout) and practice ringing in on the buzzers, as writers from the show conducted mock games. It didn't go well, for me, at least. Bad responses, not remembering to call out my next pick, and — incredibly — being told to speak up. Usually people want me to tone it down. Supposedly, I made it into pool of potential contestants, but needless to say, I wasn't called up.

2006 was, I believe, the first time they used an online test to do the initial screening of applicants from across the country simultaneously. Ken Jennings had drawn a lot of attention to JEOPARDY! at the end of 2004, and I got the impression that there were a lot more people trying out. The follow-ups were held regionally, and people from all over the Northwest who'd made it converged on the Westin hotel across the street from my old office in downtown Portland (Brad Hicks, Peter Sylwester, and could literally look into the windows of the rooms they used). Once again, I made the pool, but I think some continuing hitches in my mock game performance (and just the overwhelming odds of a lot of decent contestants) didn't help.

I missed the early 2008 online test, and had sort of resigned myself to another holding pattern, but then there was an announcement last month that the JEOPARDY! Brain Bus was going to be at Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City. I committed to head down there, but was feeling increasingly foolish as the day approached. Everything I read about the Brain Bus road show mentioned that they gave a 10-question test to about 1,000 people, and that those who passed might get invited to California for secondary testing. Two-hour drive to Lincoln City, standing in line with a few hundred people (after all, how many people would make the drive that far?), and all for the chance to maybe take the test in California some day. It's almost too sad to believe that I did it.

Stendahl the red and black smart car and I got on the road at 8, and we got down to Pacific City just after 10 (Barbara had more important things to do). The line already stretched from the side door of the casino near the Brain Bus down around the back of the building, so I crutched my way down. People just kept coming.

Because of the the "incident" in September, I was restricted from putting any weight on my left knee, so standing in line was a sort of yogic exercise, assuming your school of yoga included crutches. The door opened at 11, and the line started to move, but my line segment didn't get inside until almost noon.

Where we discovered more line, snaking through the bingo hall/performance theater.

A couple of the JEOPARDY! Clue Crew were on the stage conducting mock games, giving out prizes, occasionally interrupting to let someone who had written a ditty to the tune of the show's theme song (a contest of which I had been blissfully unaware) sing to entertain the crowd.

Then, finally, after about two-and-a-half hours of standing, it was time to sit down at the table. About thirty people were taking tests simultaneously, with each person given a sheet, filling it out, waiting for their score, then leaving to be replaced by the next person in line. A hole opened up for me, and naturally I took the wrong way around to the spot, having to crutch-sidle between the backs of a row of chairs and a railing. Intelligence test #1: FAIL. I was feeling ever more like this hadn't been a good idea.

Then, as I was filling out my sheet — which took all of about two minutes, it's that simple — I overheard one of the scorers telling another test-taker that they'd passed and that they would need to be at the Westin in Portland the next day. I started to feel a lot better. My own test got me a packet for the Westin, as well. I left the casino, looking around for Suze another smart car enthusiast, who'd had the bright idea that we should get pictures of "smart" cars with the "Brain" Bus, but we missed each other by minutes apparently, and since my camera battery was dead, her photo is what you see above. The drive back home seemed a lot shorter than the drive out, despite more traffic and a brief stop to pick up a bag of killer hazelnuts for Barbara.

While we sat in the sun on the front steps that afternoon, our next-door neighbor stopped by. Naturally, the subject of my obsession/expedition came up. As we discussed the types of questions that come up on JEOPARDY!, he conjectured — being British — that they might be something along the lines of "Who won the Battle of Hastings in 1066?," with the answer being "William the Bastard" (since "the Conqueror" was a title he won only after the battle). I had a laugh over that and agreed that, yes, it was precisely the level of question that could be expected.

The Sunday sessions at the Westin hotel — directly across Alder Street from where I had an office for three years — were staggered, and when I arrived one of the groups was already being processed. We'd been sent home the day before with a form for our contact information, which included space for several morsels of "interesting" personal information; the kinds of things that would be on Alex Trebek's card in the contestant interview after the break in the JEOPARDY! round. After the first group was cleared out of the testing room, my group shuffled (or in my case, hopped) in and took our seats for a little presentation, chat, and then a fifty-question test similar to the first one I'd taken over a dozen years before: a simple sheet of paper with two columns and twenty-five lines, sequentially numbered. A video with the "answers" played on a monitor at the front, and we had eight seconds to write down the correct "question."

The first item on the video was something like "He won the Battle of Hastings in 1066." I had to stifle a laugh, and though I was tempted to write "William the Bastard," I just stuck to the response that was more likely to get me through to the next phase.

Most of the questions were no problem, but there are always a group of them that end up blank or (most likely) wrong on the sheet. It's just over six-and-a-half minutes; it goes by fairly fast. And just like that you're passing your paper down the line just like in school again. Then it was a matter of waiting in our seats, getting some more entertainment from the staff until someone behind the scenes graded the quiz and decided who among the sixty or seventy of us got the chop.

Fourteen hundred people took the ten-question test at Chinook Winds on Saturday that weekend, we found out after the cut had been made. Of those, about one hundred forty were invited to take the fifty-question test. Nineteen of us made it past that screen to the point where we stood up in front of the staff and pretended we were in a mini-JEOPARDY! game. That's a lot of work to winnow out a little more than one percent of a self-selected base of would-be players.

This time, I felt like the live test went well. Good questions, I remembered to keep things moving when I was supposed to pick a category, I kept my voice modulation up. I did it all standing on one leg because I was vain enough to lean my crutches to the side since they were videotaping the tryout. So I've been in the pool again for five out of the eighteen months they'll keep me on file. Of course, they have several thousand names in that file at any one time, and only a couple hundred people a year go on the show between the Tournament of Champions, the Teen Tournament, any Celebrity Tournament that might run, etc. It's still only a small chance that even if you make it as far as I have (three times now!) that you'll get the call for an appearance on the show, where two out of three people every night are losers.

But I'm still hoping for that call.

 

What the...?  

Voices the Cats Don't Like: Ricky Gervais and Elmo, in outtakes from the 40th anniversary episode of Sesame Street, due to air in November. Things not to talk about on the Street (according to Gervais): "Drugs, child abuse, and the Holocaust."

 

Books  

Tidbits: The little things you realize when you're reading. Just an aside in a New York Review of Books look at several recent volumes on George Orwell:

Given that he died at the age of forty-six, it's scary to imagine the crustiness that might have set in had he reached pensionable age.
I'm already forty-seven, a year older than crusty old George Orwell was when he was dead.

 


»  March 11, 2009

What the...?  

Confused :

Dear sir or madam,
I don't normally write to the press,
But the neighborhood where I grew up
Is really quite depressed.
Society is crumbling
But the media's obsessed
With boobs, bums,
Dot-com millionaires,
Fame fashion, FTSE shares.
People, people,
They couldn't care less.

The burglars have ransacked
All the houses in the street,
While Mercs and Porches
Double-park with sheer impunity.
When towed away the ponces
Plead to all and sundry:
"Referee, what about me?"

So forgive my lack of confidence
And total low esteem,
But the dog-eat-dog society
Has deemed us all has-beens,
While our smiling bland spin doctors s
Slyly lead us down the track,
To a stab in the back.

—Ray Davies, "Yours Truly Confused, N10," Thanksgiving Day

 


»  March 9, 2009

Politics  

Takes One To Know One: From MarketWatch.com's comments section on an article about The Daily Show's castigation of CNBC, commenter guss66, responds to another comment alleging the media tends conservative:

99% of media is right-wing? You're the bafoon.

 


»  March 5, 2009

Books  

The Dark Place: I enjoyed the film adaptation of Sergei Lukyanenko's decade-old Russian fantasy novel Night Watch (Дневной дозор) last evening. Some great visual effects and a pretty good English-language dub (for people who don't like to read subtitles), although the storyline's a little disjointed. An intriguing take on the typical vampires-in-modern-times kind of story, as it's set in Moscow.

But I really got a kick out of this excerpt from the original book's review by Ron Charles of The Washington Post:

In each of the novel's three sections, Anton struggles through a torturous crisis of faith that leads up to a climactic confrontation with the forces of Evil, only to realize in the final paragraphs that his boss, a Great Magician of the Light, has planned the whole thing as a decoy to distract everyone (including us) from some secret plan off-stage. The trick ending of the first section was fairly clever; the trick ending of the second section was a little annoying; and by the end of the third, I wanted to shove somebody's magic wand up the Dark Place.

 


»  March 4, 2009

Politics  

Humor Gone Feral: Over at Jack Bogdanski's blog, he resurrects a video from a simpler time in Portland's civic history. Last fall, to be precise, after Sam Adams had locked up the mayoral race, and was celebrating with fellow City Commissioner Randy Leonard and singer/reality-show personality Storm Large at the Candidates Gone Wild party:

Decent people, I warn you: it's not safe for work. Indeed, it's not even safe to look at if you just want to keep living here.

I have no problems (as many of the commenters at Jack Bog's do) with the language or crudity of the video (although I don't find those things funny in and of themselves) but what's amazing about it to me is just how flatly unfunny the whole thing is.

The idea that public officials have to maintain some false sense of "dignity" is also a crock so far as I'm concerned, but you'd hope that they'd at least have the good sense to not participate in something that makes them (i.e. Randy Leonard) seem mentally deficient. (Couldn't the "writer" come up with some synonyms for "hussy"?) Of course, Adams may have been in the restroom when the good sense was being passed out.

With all of the truly talented people in this town, you'd think that they could have come up with someone to expunge this line from the credits: "Written by Storm Large".

Though it does all set one to speculating about next fall's Candidates Gone Wild....

 


»  March 3, 2009

What the...?  

You Win With Lizard:

 

 

Politics  

Recipe for Success: How reading fellow Reed College graduate Barbara Ehrenreich's work can get you sent to Gitmo for seven years.

But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the offending article – called How To Build An H-Bomb – was first published in a US satirical magazine and later placed on a series of websites.

Written by Barbara Ehrenreich, the publication's food editor, Rolling Stone journalist Peter Biskind and scientist Michio Kaku, it claims that a nuclear weapon can be made 'using a bicycle pump' and with liquid uranium 'poured into a bucket and swung round'.

Despite its clear satirical bent, the story led the CIA to accuse 30-year-old Mohamed, a caretaker, of plotting a dirty bomb attack, before subjecting him to its 'extraordinary rendition programme'.

Ehrenreich's take.

 

Politics  

Everything Pink Is New Again: Mark Leibovich of The New York Times has discovered the latest phenomenon:

It seems that "socialist" has supplanted "liberal" as the go-to slur among much of a conservative world confronting a one-two-three punch of bank bailouts, budget blowouts and stimulus bills. Right-leaning bloggers and talk radio hosts are wearing out the brickbat. Senate and House Republicans have been tripping over their podiums to invoke it. The S-bomb has become as surefire a red-meat line at conservative gatherings as "Clinton" was in the 1990s and "Pelosi" is today.
I hate to burst Mr. Leibovich's bubble, but Republicans calling anything that Herbert Hoover wouldn't have approved of "socialist" is something they've never stopped harping on. Leibovich says "the socialist bogey-mantra has made a full-scale return after a long stretch of relative dormancy," but as it was in full flare during the 2004 election, with people like then-Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) decrying billionaire-by-marriage Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) as "advocating socialism within the United States and appeasement overseas" during a Bush/Cheney campaign press phone call (according to The Los Angeles Times), the reality is it never really went away. If Kerry had won, you can be sure the charge that he and the rest of the Democrats were socialists (I wish!) would have continued. Consider, for instance, this little gem from Tom Nugent at National Review Online, published just after Bush beat Kerry:
Capitalism Beats Socialism, Once Again
Here comes the bull market.

When Jackie Gleason played the character of Joe the Bartender, one of his famous lines was, “Mmmmmmm, how sweet it is!” For Republicans, the outcome of the 2004 national election couldn’t be any sweeter. Same for investors. The bull market in stocks is now likely to resume, and it should sustain for some time to come.

Why? Once again, capitalism triumphed over socialism.

The socialist crowd in America never gets it and never will: Tax-rate cuts are good for all Americans. The godfather of tax-rate cuts — Arthur Laffer — will tell you that tax-rate cuts are not meant for rich people; they are meant to increase the incentive for everyone to produce, invest, and save. Such an incentive applies to all human beings, including those who are not rich but want to be rich.

Seriously, just Google "'John Kerry' socialist", and between articles in socialist publications discussing the 2004 election (and usually with some unkind words about Kerry), you'll find much along the same line, including criticisms of Kerry for singing Woody Guthrie's (socialist) anthem "This Land Is Your Land" and denunciations of Kerry for his support from the Socialist Prime Minister of Spain Jose Luis Zapatero.

It's been there all along. Just because people like Mr. Leibovich haven't noticed it before doesn't make it new.

Of course, there are plenty of Democrats who quake at the thought of socialists under their beds, too.

 


»  March 2, 2009

What the...?  

Clean: Public pay toilets along the Malecón in Mazatlan on the last day of Carnaval (24 February). "Baños Limpios" — despite the natural assumption that it might be bathrooms for those with erectile dysfunction — means "Clean Bathrooms," but the graphic is at war with the text.

For those of you who also haven't been to Mexico in the past, oh, 35 years or so like Barbara and myself, the "$" is used there to denote pesos, which were trading between 13 and 14 to the US dollar last week, so "$5" was about forty cents. Of course, if you wanted to pay US$5 to pee, your money would probably have been accepted.

 

What the...?  

Welcome:

Trailer Park California, Av. Rafael Buelna, Mazatlan, Mexico

On Avenida Rafael Buelna in Mazatlan, Mexico. And The Eagles thought the hotel was bad....

 

What the...?  

Who Was That Masked Man?: A little something I picked up from Mazatlan.

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»  March 1, 2009

Politics  

A Knack for ... Timing: From The New York Times:

The Sam Adams Project

AUSTIN — The Sam Adams Alliance, a nonprofit conservative organization, has started an ambitious project this year to encourage right-leaning activists and bloggers to get online and focus on local and state issues.

Yeah, I don't know if I'd want to feathering my conservative nest with the down of that particular Father of the Nation this year.