Today: the lake, the trolley; radio fallout; unFiskable drivel

A perfect evening. We went to the lake for a late-summer picnic, a Minneapolis tradition in place before Jasperwood was even built. The big blue bandshell had an amateur orchestra ably sawing through light classical favorites. Two sopranos gave a piercing, lovely rendition of Delibes’ “Viens, Malika," which perhaps 1 in 50 patrons remembered as the music from that vampire movie with Susan Sarandon. We had sandwiches and lemonade and grapes, and Gnat got to study a wasp close-up as it feasted on the nectar in soda-bottle caps. Dozing dads, kids running everywhere, patient dogs, and beyond the bandshell the daily parade of runners, skaters, bikers, pedestrians, each orbiting the deep blue of the round blue lake. It says something about this town that a day like this feels utterly average and inestimably precious. God knows how smug we'd be if winter didn't humble us yearly.

Afterwards we took the Trolley to Nowhere. It’s the sole surviving element of the 527-mile Twin Cities Line, a scrap of rail that runs in the woods between Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun. The trolley dates from the mid 20s, and shows no signs of its previous life as a chicken coop on a Wisconsin farm; it’s been restored down to the smallest details - the little buzzer-buttons to request a stop, the 40s-era ads for cold nostrums, stove polish, the Nicollet Hotel, and Spearmint gum (with those spooky pointy-headed Wrigley Sprites.) The wheels make a comforting clatter; the carriage creaks in a way that somehow makes it feel like a living thing, a beast of burden snorting as it hauls you up a hill. In the corner there’s a big stove - in the winter it kept the car warm, and in the streetcar's heyday the stove had only a single railing to keep you from searing your thigh on its side.

This last detail reminds you why few really wept when the streetcars were replaced with buses. The script around here is simple: Evil Businessmen, Aided by the Consummately Evil Bus Trust, ripped the simple streetcar from the bosom of The People, and ever after we shuffled into their chrome-trimmed cattlecars like workers from “Metropolis,” heads bent, fists clenched in impotent fury. It’s partially true - the guys who ran the streetcar lines toward the end were shady. But the bus represented Progress. You got on a bus in the winter and it was warm - without a frickin’ stove in the corner, for heaven’s sake. When the overhead lines came down you could look up at every intersection without peering through a cat’s cradle of wires. If you were in a car, you didn’t have to sit behind a trolley while it disgorged its passengers; buses pulled over to the curb.

Less electrical use meant less pollution, too - the plants that supplied the juice for the trolley were coal-fired. I’ve seen pictures of Minneapolis in the 30s and 40s, and it’s often filthy - a pall of incinerated coal hangs over the city, clings to the walls, stains the stones until the whitest building looks like a pipe-smoker’s tongue.

But there’s nothing like taking the trolley through the woods on a clement summer night. The breeze, the hoarse bark of the horn when you go through the tunnel, the sight of the lakes through the big broad windows. Streetcars have a appeal that cannot be explained by nostalgia. There’s simply something more human about these clumsy wooden boxes lumbering along the line.

We’re getting streetcars back in Minneapolis, but they won’t be the same. Every day at work I step over the construction of the new Hiawatha line, and when I see the newly-laid rails in the street, it just seems like a huge leap backwards, as if they’d ripped up the road, put down cobblestones, and hired men to scoop up the horseshit. I suspect that I will sit in traffic every other day, waiting for the train to amble past, counting the patrons one by one. Forty autos stalled for fourteen riders. That’s my guess, anyway; I hope I’m wrong. I hope it succeeds, and you should do. Unlike the original line, which threaded throughout the entire city and made the colonization of far-flung suburbs like mine possible, this project is publicly funded. state and federal.

Note for those who believe I live in some gated community far from the scaaaaary crime-choked City: my neighborhood was a suburb once. In 1888. Pristine farmland, ruined by the relentless & rapacious onslaught of the trolley.

Thanks to all who listened to my MPR appearance on Friday; it was fun, and I apologize for being so damned serious, and for those many moments when it was obvious that I was speaking without really thinking. That’s the problem with radio, of course - you’ve air to fill, and you’d best fill it. I bobbled a few questions, forgot ten things I wanted to say, and disappointed myself in general. But there are no do-overs in radio, alas. Highlights of the show: a caller from the East Coast whose life eerily paralleled the Bleat, an old comrade from the days of Citadel BBSing, and Drew Curtis of Fark calling in to, well, plug Fark. I had fun, and then some, and the only moment I really remember is when one fellow talked of a blog written by a guy who was on National Public Radio on the weekend, a humorous guy who never said his name.

“Garrison Keillor,” I said.

Yes, I know, hardy har. Har. But making fun at the Eminence’s expense, however untoward, is about as Cutting Edge as I’ll get.

I’ll suck up to a lot of famous people, but I won’t suck up to him.

(Just realized that I owe an email to the fellow the caller was talking about. But, well, I owe an email to everyone. That will be my dying words: Crito, I owe an email to Combustible Boy.)

Afterwards I went to the office, dropped off some stuff at Mpls / St. Paul mag, then decided to walk around downtown. Been a while. Stopped off at Big Brains Comics, and noted with mixed emotion a Chris Ware Superman action figure. It’s a clever idea - it has no moving parts, no fancy colors. One fat old man in trunks hiding his face in shame. The anti-action figure. Brilliant, in its own way. But for $20? No.

Wrote a column, went home, had pizza, worked on the book. All weekend long: book book book. Tonight I rejoined the human race on the broad green veldt . . . then went back to work.

But while clicking here and there tonight, I discovered a piece that might well be the most brilliant summation of incandescent lunacy I’ve seen in a major newspaper; you’d almost think it was parody - but even if it is, you’ll not find a more passionate summation of the anti-American argument than this. It consists entirely of accusations and assertions, without a shred of evidence. Here’s a sample:

Go get your ten-billionth burger, America. Fatten your already fat asses with bacteria-and-hormone-ridden meat and do nothing as you sit stupefied before your mind-numbing television sets awaiting the next episode of sad families being humiliated on "Cops."

Actually, the people humiliated on the last episode of Cops were two losers bagging coke in a car outside a strip club, an inordinately tattooed sex offender, and a raving Rastafarian who threatened to kill everyone at a rental car office because they requested that he produce a license before they gave him $17,000 worth of inventory. “Selassie is mah Goad!” he kept shouting.

Anyway: the piece is amazing. The government was behind 9/11, the government killed JFK, Israel is to blame for suicide bombers, American forces are committing terrorist acts as we speak, solar and wind power could replace oil tomorrow, Republicans smile when they think about lobbing nukes, the Constitution is a shambles, Monsanto wants to kill us all, our soil is poisoned, shadowy Western bankers are causing famine in Africa, and worst of all - wait for it - “Ralph Nader is sidelined by hired goons.” We must wake up now, before George Bush detonates a nuclear weapon in an American city.

Congrats to the idiotarians: with the publication of this piece in a newspaper and disseminated worldwide on the web, you’ve hit the big time. You’re mainstream. The word is out.

Now, the bad news: from now on it’s going to be hard to complain that you are the silenced few, the Brave Souls raging against the Nazi-in-Chief, the lone dissenters shouting from the shadows.

Will the editors who approved that piece be lined up in the police station basement and shot tomorrow?

Will the copy editors be whisked away in the middle of the night and sent to the camps?

Will all copies of the paper be confiscated?

Will the Special Forces be sent to Canada to eliminate this brave man, this teller of truths?

No. He published a compendium of idiotarian theology, dropping Bush complicity like a fat cherry in the mounds of acrid froth, and nothing happens to the people who published it. Makes it rather hard to complain that the crippling yoke of oppression has been dropped on the American neck.

Ten to one this piece is a government plant to discredit the opposition. The beauty of the idea, of course, is that there’s nothing here with which the idiotarians disagree.

Good job! If the NSA ever admits it exists, remind me to buy them all a drink.



For my Newhouse column this week I was going to write on the NEA guidelines for 9/11 discussion, but a funny thing happened on the way to the column: it evaporated in my hands.

I found beaucoup idiocy on the NEA / NIH site, and lots of predictable pabulum on the PBS site as well, but the idea that the NEA project is a HATE AMERICA FIRST project is wrong. Everyone’s focussing on the page that encourages study of the WW2 internment camps, and how contemporary attitudes apply. I agree that it smacks ofself-flagellating nonsense, meant to remind us all of the Emergency Racism Reserve that sits under this nation like a gigantic tank of bile, waiting to be tapped by the legions of white-sheeted night riders. Yawn.

But just as the hard hard left dearly wishes that there would be an outbreak of anti-Arab sentiment, just to confirm what they know is true about Amerika, so the twitchy right too often leaps on these silly little exercises as proof of some large educational conspiracy to turn children into one-worldy robots in blue helmets. Not necessarily the case here. I clicked on nine billion links tonight, and found quite a range of ideas and philosophies. A TAP link here, a Freep link there. Some made my marrow fizz and crackle; others were quite sane. One site encouraged students to study the UN Charter to learn about how human rights can be protected in the future (Jesus. Wept.) and another had kids sew flags and patriotic bracelets. It’s not a top-down dictate, but a loose agglomeration of proposals from the usual suspects.

No, it doesn’t instruct teachers to drill their charges in the horrors of Islamic law or the perils of Wahabbi proselytizing. Big surprise. This is somewhat typical:

“Student understanding should be assessed through: contribution to class discussion, successful completion of multimedia composition on world peace, comprehension questions and related activities connected to the UN Declaration of Human Rights and other documents used during this lesson.”

Yes, the UN, the toothless maw from which the words never cease. Guarantor of all rights, defender of none. How about this: the student shall perform a skit on the reaction of a Syrian citizen upon hearing his government sits on the UN Human Rights Council, and students will vote as to whether the citizen is laughing, crying, or both.

But then click again, and you find this:

“As President Bush so compellingly argued in his speech to Congress on terrorism following Sept. 11, the terrorists attacked America because they despise our values. We will defeat this enemy by arms and law, but also by holding fast to the core values that define us as Americans: our freedom, our liberties, our commitment to an open, tolerant, democratic society.”

Sounds about right.

Then again . . .follow the links, and you’ll find this reading recommendation for high schoolers:

“Many books that are, on the surface, written for young children suggest themes that are important for the adolescent and teen to consider, (such as) Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the Places You 'II Go”

Yes, like the Middle East, in a troop transport.

Altogether now!

I do not like you, mad Imam.
I do not like your lesson plan.
I will not have it in my schools.
I will not have Sharia rules.
I do not like you, bad Saddam.
I do not like you. Thus, JDAM.

The story is not what the NEA is telling teachers to say. The story is the NEA itself, which spends untold amount of money to come up with 100 lesson plans that will probably be ignored by 100,000 teachers. But I’ll add this: even if a teacher chose the lesson plan about WW2 propaganda posters and the dangers of stereotyping cultures and countries, what might the students have learned? That in WW2 the Government posters featured some gruesome ethnic stereotypes - bucktoothed myopic Japs leering over the points of their bayonets. They got the point across. They made the case. And they were completely in tune with the style of the day, which portrayed Blacks as big-lipped dull-eyed Rastuses or jolly jumbo-jugged Mammies. Go back, look at the ads; it was the Golden Age of Acceptable Racial Exaggeration.

It’s possible that a teacher today would point out why those images were used then, why they’re not in vogue today, and why the Government has not created a propaganda division to churn out posters of smelly hook-nosed crooked-tooth Ay-rabs pleasuring camels. In other words, a comparison of then and now might be instructive - not an occasion for self-hatred, but an occasion to note that we’ve learned a few things, and the nation as a whole is much more sophisticated than it was in 1940, and crude inflammatory pictures don't work like they used to. We don't need them. They aren't our enemies because of the way they look. It's what they think and what they do. For a comparison to America's relatively enlightened state, students, let's consult this selection of cartoons from Arab News.

I am dreamer, aren’t I.

A perfect day again - 70s, no humidity. Summer dies so sweetly here. We went to the Rose Garden to look at flars and bumelbees and buttaflies. The park has two fountains; one is a 1941 compilation of cherubs and water-satyrs and mythical fish, all of them throwing up water in endless streams. The other is more restrained - a dish over a column with a bas-relief, much like the fountain in Dupont Circle. There’s no plaque to mark its history. This is the fountain that stood in the Gateway park for decades; looking at it now, clean and scrubbed, you’d never guess how many bums pissed in it over the years. I’d guess that no one sitting around the fountain knew where it originally lived - not many people are aware of the Gateway Park, for that matter - or, once informed of its existence, care. Once upon a time most Minneapolitans knew this fountain; most went downtown now and then to shop or see a movie, since downtown was all there really was. The train station was across the street. Before the bums took hold, it was a spot to meet for dates. Part of the urban furniture.

And now it’s here, babbling all day and all night, saying nothing of what it saw. But if you know where it was, and what was around it, you can sit on the lip and close your eyes and reconstruct it all.

And when you open your eyes, you’ll realize something very important:

While you were pretending to travel through time, your daughter sat down in a puddle, and is eating mud.

(Here's the fountain.)



Hold on, hold on. Let me get this straight. CNN reports the story like this:

German tactical police stormed the Iraqi Embassy Tuesday, ending a five-hour siege and rescuing hostages taken by an obscure group opposed to the regime of President Saddam Hussein.

The Embassy, of course, is Iraqi soil. Am I to understand that Germany invaded Iraqi territory all by itself, without consultation with the UN or its allies? Under what law? Under what international agreement? German tactical police - the very term ought to send shivers up anyone’s back. Who will stand up to these rogue armed unilateralists? Are we now to assume that Germany feels it can shoot its way into any embassy because it says it's rescuing "hostages"? Nowhere in these stories will you find the root causes of Iraqi discontent - no, it's just the usual bang-bang oil-poisoned warmonger solution. As if storming an embassy, subduing the occupiers and freeing the clerical staff accomplishes anything people can point to in 500 years. We must denounce these Gestapo tactics, and ask ourselves what drove these militants, these resistors, these freedom fighters to their desperate acts. Obviously, the problem is Saddam -

Uh, hold on, wait a minute -

<Recalibrating Outrage Sensors>

<Compensating for Irony Overload; routing damning precedants to the memory hole>


We must relax the sanctions to give Saddam the incentive to allow the inspectors to examine six empty pencil factories.

Whew. That was close.

It’s raining now, a good thunderstorm I will not demean by giving it a cutesy kiddy name. Oooh, it’s a tundertorm! Oooh, it’s a rumblestorm! They’re thunderstorms around here, and we don’t sugarcoat ‘em. I look forward to a good thunderstorm like a good movie; I love to stand on the balcony and watch them roll in, set up, and let loose. Usually I get out the camcorder, so every family movie has a Best of the Atmospheric Electrical Discharges segment, set to some serene piece of Eno music. (Roger, not Brian.) (Yes, he has a brother - he writes spare, weightless piano pieces that sound like Cage’s 4’33” getting pissed off, and I like it. Although recently he did a CD on obscure British composers, and as the disc wore on you realized that was that history is an exceptional judge of talent.)

The rain canceled the walk to the park, which means Jasper gets no walk tonight. To put this in human perspective, imagine that someone has just welded shut all your toilets and locked you in your house. It’s his fault; he could go on the lawn like a normal dog, but no. Has to do the sinful business in someone else’s lawn. Share the wealth, that’s his philosophy -

Wife just called from downstairs: it’s stopped raining, and Jasper really has to go. So here we go.

Back. While walking I remembered, with shame, that I had watched “3000 Miles to Graceland” last week. Saw it in portions, in thick bloody malodorous portions. Why? Well, I enjoy caper films. failed cinema from hacks who regard Quentin Tarantino as the starting point for modern movies. (Cough.) When done poorly, usually by MTV directors who regard Quentin Tarantino as the starting point for modern cinema, the movies are unwatchable; when done right, you get movies like “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” which I liked quite a bit. There was a clever idea at the heart of 3000 Miles, I think; in one scene I caught what seemed like the genesis for the idea. A man interrogated by the cops says he met the bad guy at a court hearing to dismiss paternity claims against the estate of Elvis Presley. Later we learn that “75 claims were made after Presley’s death.”

And so the pitch was born: five illegitimate sons of Elvis hold up a casino in Las Vegas.

What a great movie that would be. What a bucket of Bombay gutter-chunks this movie was. Sneering, preening, in love with every frame, constantly regarding itself in the mirror, it was one of the most inept movies in the action/caper genre you’ll ever see. No surprises. No twists. No fun. There’s Courtney Cox as a Suthin’ voiced grifterette, grinnin’ prettily throughout, her character as shiny and flat as the tinfoil wrapper on a stick of Dentyne. (I don’t watch “Friends,” so to me Courtney Cox will always been the sweet-faced young woman Springsteen hauls out of the audience in the “Dancin’ in the Dark” video. And In a reverse of the MTV -> movie trend, that video was shot by Brian DePalma - and it was shot here in the Twin Cities, too.) There’s Kurt Russell, who snarls a lot, and Kevin Costner, who cements his status as the worst major league actor in the history of talkies. If you think Costner’s monotone is bad, wait until you see him as a superbad Elvis. And man, he looks ugly.

It’s one of those movies where you are not at all surprised to see Howie Long.

Have I made my weekly apology for dumping on HBO’s “The Wire”? I did a bleat about the amazing amount of effin’ in the first episode, and the utterly stock archetypes the show trotted out. Everything I thought was wrong, and I feel compelled to point this out again. I’d say it’s the best thing on TV now, but I don’t watch enough TV to judge the competition. But our paper’s TV critic, who watches everything on TV, agrees with me. When it comes out on DVD, get it. It’s actually the only reason I have HBO, which tells you something - I’m willing to spend $3.75 per episode just for this show.

How much would I pay for the Simpsons? Say, a lifetime all-Simpsons subscription? I don’t buy the DVDs, because I’d never watch them, but I watch the reruns every day, which leads me to a theory about the syndicated episodes. Shows that disappointed me on Sunday night - which is damn near all of them - are somehow much funnier when seen a year later at 5:00. The pressure’s off. They don’t have to be a sign of the show’s resurgence or another nail in the coffin, they just are, and I enjoy them more. And this leads me to my second theory, which I’m sure the professional Simpsons experts have already discovered and confirmed:

The first act is always written in reverse.

Premise: Homer and Ned in Las Vegas. How do we get them there? Ned decides to cut loose. Why? Because he’s old and hasn’t done anything. How do we know this? Because he’s sixty. How do we know this? Because he’s caught using a senior citizens’ card. How? Homer sees him at the car wash. Why? Because Homer’s car is dirty. Why? Because it was covered in dust from an explosion. How? Because the Burns Casino was blown up.

Look at any episode, and you can see this backward reconstruction at work.

It’s probably in the writer’s guidelines, and two minutes on line would prove it. But I have work to do today.

As some wise fellow once pointed out, there is a Simpsons line for every situation in life, and it is possible to go through your day reacting to everything that happens with Simpsons scenarios. Today I passed a massive tent a few blocks from Washington Avenue, next to the liquor store; Cirque De Soliel. As I pulled in I thought they always pick the one with the wires. You get the reference, or you don’t. How many people passed the tent and thought of the relevant episode, I’ve no idea. No one ever says these things out loud for fear that you’ll just look like a babbling idiot. An invisible brotherhood, nationwide, numbering in the millions, never to meet. But our hearts are pure. Or puree.



Got the DVD of “Them” today. Oddest damn name for a movie. Good thing it wasn’t made in the 90s, or we’d had the inevitable sequels: “These!” “Those!” “That There!” Coming soon in Terro-Vision, “The Other Things!” This is one of those movies I have to see every few years - the best of all atomic-mutation movies, and a childhood favorite. When “Them” popped up on the Saturday night monster movie, you nearly peed in your underoos out of joy. It didn’t get any better.

Yes, we had Saturday Night Monster Theatah in Fargo; mostly old Universal pix and 50s crap. Horrible hacked-up prints with big chunks gouged out for commercials. Didn’t matter; it was the highlight of the weekend, if not life itself. Mom would make me popcorn the old pre-microwave way, over the stove; I’d drench it with a cup of butter and go downstairs to the small black and white TV. This sounds like I’m describing the days of crystal-set radios and hand-cranked nickelodeons, I know. And it gets even more lo-tech: we had a TV antennae on the roof.

As did everyone else. But no more. The other evening I was walking around the neighborhood and spied an old antennae sprouting from a chimney; it looked archaic, pre-modern - even though it was once the very symbol of modernity. Go back to the animation of the fifties, and note how the angular stylized backgrounds had aerials on every roof. It was as much a symbol of the techno-spiffy future as jets and rockets and Monsanto-made houses crafted entirely from extruded foam, except it was manifested in every roof in every town. Strange spiky dreamcatchers, no two alike.

Up close they were ugly, spindly things. Everyone was happy to swap them for cable. Some fell down; the wind took others. People paid the roofers a sawbuck to pull it down, as long as they were up there. The aerial was a symbol not of the future, but the old four-channel past. So now when you see them they are completely divorced from their old duties - an abstract sculpture of a hand, open to the sky, fingers spread to snare the stories.

Every day I pass down Portland, going home from the Star Tribune, and I pass one building that always makes me grin: it’s a grim featureless apartment block in the lower-class area. There are six satellite dishes attached to the front facade. I love it. When I was growing up, I never thought I’d have my own satellite dish, and now you see six nailed to one low-rent building. I’m not saying gee, it’s great to be poor in America today!, but it does say something that the crummiest apartment on a shabby block has half a dozen personal orbital-telecommunication satellite unidirectional data collectors.

Some will insist that I just said poor people have no cause to complain about anything because they get credit from Dish Network. My bleat the other day on 40s propaganda imagery earned a letter from a fellow who seemed to believe the following: by contending that racial stereotypes in the 40s would not be acceptable in mass media today, I’m one of those psychotic right-wing bastiches who thinks that Oprah’s success means racism has vanished from Amerika. God, these people are boring. Okay: go back to the Life magazines of the 40s, and find me an ad that doesn’t have a Black person in a servile role. Find me one that has a Black in military uniform, for that matter. Compare with today. Noting the difference does not mean that white American would elect Julian Bond to the presidency in 2004; it simply means that progress has been made. We can argue about the amount, the reasons, the durability of the gains, but if you’re going to tell me that nothing has changed since 1941, fine. Tell me. As I nod and say really I will be thinking about cheese, or perhaps garlic naan bread.

Mmmmmm. Garlic naan bread. Awgggghhhhhhh.

I mention that last delicacy because I went to the Indian food store today to stock up on curries, relishes, and other sweat-inducing necessities. They have a wide selection of Indian movies, and one of the posters showed a fellow I remember only as the nipple-pointing happy man. There was this video that ran around the internet in 98 or so, with a big wobbly-gutted fellow warbling a catchy bouncy tune, and periodically he would point to his right nipple for no discernible reason. It made me think of the Glory Days of the Limitless Internet, the carefree happy 90s when we had time to waste on Mahir.

It seems as ancient as Saturday Night Monster Theater.

Book, book, book, book. This is not fun.

1. Photoshop Elements 2, which I am using to print the book, is not on speaking terms with the printer. Send a file to the printer, and it acts like an Italian bureaucrat asked to expedite some paperwork at 5 PM Friday afternoon. Before Easter. It just shuts down. But if I delete the file in the print queue and try again, it works. Some sort of bribe has passed to the printer, and it manages to accommodate me.
Repeat process 200 times.

2. The Epson driver is OS X native, but was designed by a troupe of half-wit buttmonkeys. If you wish to print on anything but plain paper, you select “print settings,” which takes you a range of paper options. You’d think “Paper Options” would be a good title, since “print settings” pretty much covers every friggin’ aspect of printing a document, but nevermind. The dialog box expands to accommodate the range of options - inkjet paper, heavyweight paper, bantamweight paper, matte paper, semi-gloss, photo-quality, canvas, bedspread, etc. It does not remember your last choice - if you’ve printed 50 heavyweight paper sheets in a row, it holds out the vain hope that #51 will be plain paper. When the box expands, the bottom quarter isn’t visible. You have to drag the window up two inches to find the print or cancel buttons. Of course, you learn to hit enter, activating the unseen button.

Repeat process 200 times.

3. The aforementioned problems are Epson-made, but there’s an Apple OS X screwup that makes me want to throttle someone in the user-interface division. When they rewrote the open and save file boxes, they made keyboard navigation more difficult. Previously, an open file box would default to the last file in the last folder; now it simply selects the folder itself. It’s the difference between standing in the ocean and standing on the shore: when you want to keep swimming, you don’t want every stroke to put you back in the sand. AND the Open box places the cursor in a box called Go To, which no one uses, or will use, or wants to use. Moreover, they eliminated the feature by which you can move in a folder by typing the first letter of the alphabet.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. This had better be different in Jaguar. It is the most counterintuitive, counterproductive thing I’ve ever seen in an OS. Over the last month I’ve found my instincts changing to fit X, and while I would usually suggest that it’s the OS that should accommodate the instincts, the changes have been for the better, and nothing about the OS forces you to accept them. If you wish, OS X makes it easy to arrange your files the old way, so you’re not forced to wear the new clothes if you prefer the old comfy jeans. But the wrinkle described above is such an obvious step backwards I wonder if they had installed a crack chute in the office, and had someone shovel rock down by the metric ton once a week. Back to work; pages to print.




Note to some of my interlocutors: “Oil” is not quite the epithet you believe it to be. “Oil-based economy” is not exactly a stinging indictment. This would be more impressive if you wrote your missives from computers made entirely of hemp, instead of petrochemical products; it would be more convincing if I had forgotten the sight, in 1991, of buses pulling up in DC to disgorge protesters who shouted NO BLOOD FOR OIL. The more you sneer ooooiiiiilll, the more I wonder if you were sodomized by a gas-pump nozzle in your formative years. I understand that in your circles, oiiiillll says it all, but this doesn’t have much resonance outside the student cafeteria or the Kinko’s where you run off your fliers. If you doubt me - and you’ve every reason to do so, given my oil-soaked family - say “oil you” to a stranger, or sneer “get oiled!” in a locker room, or announce in a theater that “XXX” is “a load of steaming oil.” People won’t quite get it.

You’ve work to do, is all I’m saying.

So many blogs. So many. Every day another clever voice, and usually - if I’m lucky - it’s a blog that has some little detail, some little fishbone-in-the-throat, that makes me say Wha? Pal, you’re fulla light sweet crude - but hey, that’s a good point. My daily tour is weighted towards the anti-idiotarians, because I enjoy the spadework. And I was interested to note on the Thursday anabasis that few were paying attention to Ann Coulter’s remark in an New York Observer interview:

Is your tape recorder running? Turn it on! I got something to say."

Then she said: "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

I told her to be careful.

"You’re right, after 9/11 I shouldn’t say that," she said, spotting a cab and grabbing it.

I think most anti-idiotarians have written her off - if they didn’t dislike her for other reasons already - and have no desire to be associated with her. They smell a publicity seeker, a tone-deaf anvil-whacker: Yeah, Anne, Whatever. Well, let me be on record that this is an appalling and inexcusable remark, and it turns my stomach. Of course she was being outrageous to make a point, but it was a stupid point, stupidly made, and it has the effect of making those indifferent to her presence in the ranks wish she would dry up and blow away. McVeigh blew up a fucking daycare center, Anne; that ought to be your main regret, not that he failed to drive a shard of glass through Maureen Dowd’s eyesocket.
No doubt some on the left winced when Mikey Moore agonized over the terrorists’ decision to strike New York, because it hadn’t voted for Bush. Same thing. Cheap shot, loud mouth, small mind.

There. Done my part for stifling dissent today.

On another blog I discovered today, the Rottweiler - who Fisks down to the molecular level - was regaling us all with an exchange he had with the Shropshire Slasher. Mr. SS believes that America is - wait for it - A NAZI STATE! and one of is proofs was “the complete sellout to corporate interests ( a definition of fascism by the way)

Hmm. I hear this a lot. “The main difference between Fascism and Communism was the role of private business in the former.” It’s been a few years since I read “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” but I recall quite clearly how Hitler used the private companies as his own bank, expropriating what he needed, nationalizing when convenient. Had the Reich stayed around for another ten years there wouldn’t have been a single private business of consequence in the country. In any case, it’s ridiculous to think the bankers and industrialists could say no to that uni-testical'd cacadaemon.

Since the Hamasophiles and Saddamites seem to think Amerika is just like Nazi Germany, perhaps we should revisit what Nazism was.

1. Rearrangement of the entire national purpose along racial lines. E Pluribus Unum vs. Ein Reich, Ein Volk. I know, I know - just because it’s on the money doesn’t mean it’s so, but if you think this nation is trending towards some sort of government-enforced ethic purity, you really need to get out of your suburb more, and visit me in the city. Black people! Brown people! Yellow people! Mingling and living with impunity!

If you wanted to find ein volk in this nation, where would you start? To paraphrase Clara Peller in the Wendy's commercial, where's the volk?

2. Pagan spirituality. Hitler cobbled together his batshit mythos from ancient German myths. The idea that his regime was a Christian outfit is another odd belief trundled out by those who think Ashcroft likes to close the door, put on his hip-high black leather boots and strut around to Wagner arias. There’s a difference between a President who regards himself as a humble servant of a Merciful God, and a runty sociopath who prongs a chubster over warby songs about leather-clad thundergods.

3. Top-down state control of the arts. Denying Karen Finley a government grant because she wants to smear Spam on her hooties is not the same thing.

4. Elaborate bureaucracies and nationwide infrastructure devoted to Jew killing. For some curious reason, Nazimerica has chosen to leave this to the PLO.

5. Territorial conquest of neighbor nations to redress manufactured grievances. Canada and Mexico remain sovereign nations - for the moment, of course. It might suit America’s purpose to invade Mexico some day, if Bumblebee Man flies a jetliner into the Alamo, but our leadership realizes that imposing EPA clean-air regs on Mexico City would bankrupt the hemisphere’s economy.

6. Elevation of the dead to National Martyr Status.
When children start the day with the Todd Beamer Song, sung to the tune of “Horst Wessel,” you’ll have a point.

Note to the dim: “Horst Wessel” is not Lt. Chekhov’s way of describing a spaceship owned by a famous Minneapolis hairstylist.

7. There’s more, but it’s late and I’m tired. You know why I really wrote the preceding? Because now it’s the weekend, and I will gambol in the sun, play with my wife and child, toss the squeak toy the pup, grill steaks, consume oooiiiillll, and enjoy the waning days of summer - and meanwhile, a half-dozen bitter nutrolls will spend that time attempting to prove that America is actually the same as Nazi Germany. Have fun, lads! Don’t leave out the part about shredding the Constitution, or repealing civil liberties. That would be like the Stones dropping “Satisfaction” from the concert playlist. Always remember the fans. They want the hits; give 'em the hits.

Encore with "Pipeline."



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