Column night, as I say every Tuesday morning. Except right now it’s Monday morning, and I am anticipating the usual logjam of obligations that make up Monday night. So I will tap out blatherings throughout the day and offer them up as discrete chunks for your amusement. Apologies for anything that strikes you as hideously substandard; I’ve been under the gun for a few weeks with no rest in sight.

8:45 AM Oh, I am NOT this stupid. From Instapundit:

IF IMOVIE IS AS EASY AS LILEKS SAYS, then why is uber-techblogger Doc Searls asking for help with it?

I can’t speak to Doc’s situation, and I imagine he’s been given advice by a hundred dozen well-wishing Macheads. Nor will I snap at the chum Glenn is strewing in the waterways. The nice, red chum. The tasty, fishy, deliciously chumtastic chum-chumery chum-chumery chum chum -cheroo -


9:25 AM Let us imagine that a very bitter, angry old man writes a book about some horrible dystopian future. Due to ecological despoliation brought on by overpopulation, the society is now run by homosexuals who breed a ruling class through genetic manipulation. Religion and private property are banned. In concert with other nations, the ruling clique of gays is attempting to dissolve national boundaries and seek a socialist global order. The novel concerns the life of one man who defies his genetic programming.

Let’s imagine that this novel would be published and given wide distribution - doubtful even Regnery would touch it, but humor me. Now let’s imagine the following:

The novel is excerpted in a daily newspaper; the paper writes a story about the novel’s Chilling & Ominous Vision, which is about to be made into an opera; the paper does a full-page story on the premier of the opera, then devotes half of a page in the book section to the author’s latest novel; the newspaper runs a big review of the opera.

And all of this happens 14 years after the book is written.

Of course this would never happen. But it’s happened with “The Handmaid’s Tale” in the local press. "Tale" - as we ALL know by now - is a story about a horrid future world run by right-wing fundies who create a class of young fertile women for breeding purposes. (Note: I don’t regard the two plots as directly analogous, just indicative of two speculative cultural paradigms.) Why is this the main cultural event of our town? Supply your own speculations. Perhaps it’s because the Handmaid’s Tale is a Cautionary fable - why, in John Ashcroft’s America, it’s more relevant than ever. It’s double-extra cautionary with whipped cream on top now. It’s ripped from the daily pages - you know, those pages where the government bans divorce and other religions.

Oh, it’s ripped from the headlines, all right. But they’re headlines in the Arab News. There are theocracies that oppress women, and it’s odd how they look like nothing Atwood describes. It’s like protesting fascism in the late 30s by writing a play in which Lutherans take over and annex Canada, and telling interviewers you wrote the play to speak out against rising Lutheranism and anti-Canadian sentiment. Yes, but what of Hitler? What of him? I’m talking about the real threat to our society. Lutherans! Don’t you see the way FDR smiles when someone brings up Quebec?

12:00 Jayson Blair did not forge any sources! The reports that he reported events that did not happen are totally false! He did not have 50 corrections, but 500 citations for accuracy! Those who say that he falsified key details of the sniper case will find their bones bleaching in Times Square!

10:49 PM Column night. I’m doing the Biswanath story, how the media might have treated the tale if they knew the campus shooter was a pro-war gun nut. The most amusing thing I discovered in the course of the evening’s “research” was this: both the New York Times and CNN ended their pieces with remarks about the building in which the shooting took place. It was another of Frank Gehry’s swoopy aluminum things, the sort of building that the provinces love to show off as proof they’re cosmopolitan. After all, the Guggenheim has a Gehry building in Spain. Spain! That’s Europe!

I don’t dislike Gehry, but as I’ve noted before his style is rude and brusque when plopped down in the wrong setting. And nearly every urban setting is “wrong” - since nothing else looks like a Gehry, his buildings stand apart. Fine; good; shake up the street, bring in the new. But his stuff often looks like a silicon-injected hooker wrapped in aluminum foil dropped down in the receiving line of a debutante’s ball. We have a Gehry here in Minneapolis, a museum (of course) perched on a hill overlooking the Mississippi by the relentlessly classical Mall of the University of Minnesota. Everything on the Mall is stately and ivy-covered - columns, classical friezes, bricks, straight lines, right angles, the solemn grandeur of Western Civ lined up to shape young mushbrains into square-jawed worldbeaters. Into this tableau Gehry gave us something that looked like a gigantic robot dog squatted on the hill and excreted sixteen tons of digested tin.

And both the NYT and CNN end with comments on the building! Not a word about the nutball’s political beliefs. No, his sin seems to be that he’s the first guy to shoot up a Gehry.

10:59 Back to work. Or maybe I should take a break and consult with that cigar again. People ask me: what’s the difference between cigarettes and cigars? Simple: when you go out for a cigar, and your lighter is out of fluid, you set it aside. At some point in the evening you refill the lighter. Eventually you find your way back to that cigar - unless it looks smoked out, in which case you toss it and go to bed.

If you head out for a cigarette, and your lighter’s dead, you find two dry sticks and rub them together until you get a spark. And if you light it filter-end first, you snap off the filter and smoke it backwards, even though that means you get brackish snarky-flavored tobacco flecks in your mouth. Then you go inside and rummage through all your pockets for matches. And if you don’t find any? Easy: desk drawer. There’s a lighter you bought at a gift shop in Mexico back there somewhere. There has to be. There just has to be.