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All you need to know about Arafat was that he insisted on wearing a pistol when he addressed the UN General Assembly. And all you need to know about the UN, I suppose, is that they let him.

He’s not dead as I write this, unless of course he is. Right now Drudge has the AHH-OOOGAH WOAW WOAW WOAW HOLY CRAP flashing light up about Russians moving the missing Iraqi weapons to Syria. Who could imagine those three names mentioned in the same sentence? Perhaps “Today Russia, Syria and Iraq announced plans for a global custard franchise,” or “Surprising many long-time observers, Russia has joined with Syria and Iraq to develop a new generation of cheap, bitter cigarette where all the tobacco dribbles out one end before you even get the chance to light it.” But arms smuggling? In defiance of the UN? I’ll believe it when I see it in the New York Times.

Today’s content is trending towards bupkis, since it’s been an utterly unremarkable day . . . Oh, right. The book! Well. DON’T BUY IT.


I had been told a different pub date, and was all prepared for a big push at a certain date. As befits my Rovian overlords, I refuse to incorporate this new information into my game plan, and will mulishly adhere to outmoded ideas regardless of contrary data. Don’t tell me to put up the promo site now. My fingers are in my ears. MMMMMMMMM I CAN’T HEAR YOU MMMMMM.

Stay tuned. Very soon. It’ll be worth it. Although today I did drop by Barnes and Noble downtown to see about holding a signing. The store manager gets these requests frequently, I suppose, often from people who’ve self-published a history of German thumbtacks and think this is the next logical step. (“You know, there’s quite a large number of thumbtack-collectors and other sharpened-fastener enthusiasts in this town. I expect you had best order several hundred copies.”)

The manager looked up the book, and whatever she was expecting to see was not what the screen revealed. They’d preordered the book in substantial quantities, it seems. So that’s good. But still, don’t buy it yet. I want to make a big push to get the thing up on Amazon – even though, to my pleasure and amusement, Amazon had on the front page today as something I might like. Gee, you think? Be the first to rate this item! Stand back, lads..

Maybe I should take this opportunity to provide orientation for all the new readers. This new fame has earned me some emailers who seem to think I’ve not heard certain arguments before, or wish to impress upon me that I am a simplistic, garrulous idiot. I'm way ahead of you, folks.

It’s pretty simple. This is a big site; go to the main menu and start clicking, and you’ll see all the things I’m interested in. Architecture, old pop culture, 50s kitsch, dogs, comics, bad pin-up art, and so forth. The Bleat is but a small portion of it, although it’s the only thing updated M-F. The matchbook section is updated on Mondays, but starting next year that too will go M-F. Other updates are sporadic and often not noted here; maintenance on this thing is constant and maddening, and I know that in two or three years I might just have to start from scratch and resize everything for Today’s Modern Sized Monitors. But I think I’d want to be paid for that. I have an aversion to ads on the site – no reason other than I hail from the early days of the intraweb and regard ads as an aesthetic sin. This will probably change quickly if my bandwidth bill triples. Right now contributions pay for the bandwidth; at the end of the year, all excess moneys are donated to the Smile Train, which repairs cleft palates for 3rd world children, and the Heifer Project. Each year we all buy a water buffalo for some family in SE Asia, which I think is cool.

Details: I am 46, married to a brilliant warrior attorney (defense side, thank you), father of one, alpha dog to a great mutt. We all live at Jasperwood, a house in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I write three humor columns a week for the Star-Tribune, and one political column for Newhouse News. I spent 3 1/2 years in Washington DC, the end result of which was the strong disinterest in spending a fourth. I was a Democrat most of my young adulthood; now I am not a young adult. Don’t infer this position from that position, though; as I said the other day, I disappoint everyone, eventually. My main issue is 9/11 and the war; after that, economic and personal liberty. I don’t write here about abortion, capital punishment, legalizing crystal meth, or other issues so dear to our hearts and so tiresome to read about. I don’t think Bush is perfect. I don’t think Kerry is a closet Commie. I think people with whom I have civil disagreements are wrong, not evil. I like bourbon. I like cigars. I don’t care about anyone Gawker writes about. The older I get, the more I rethink that whole Ginger v. Mary Ann thing. Someone needs to make the case for Ginger, is all I’m saying.

Trek over Wars.

FPS over RPG.

Music: classical, 40s jazz, and techno.

Religion? My arguments with God I keep to myself. Besides, He’s heard them before.

I only ask that you read the site for a few months before you conclude that I am a total, as opposed to a partial, idiot. When I write on social issues, for example, I get mail from someone who read one omni-linked piece, and concludes I’m some uptight guy in a Cotton Mather wig who fulminates about WHORES! in the public square and slinks home to drool over the underwear ads in a Sears catalog. Your so repressed U must be teh sick. No. I’d rather our shared instinct compelled us to hold the line instead of pushing it, because it’s going to get pushed anyway. It will move. Let's just not rush it, okay? Public sphere, private sphere. I know it seems like hair splitting, but I do care if Howard Stern says the F word on the FM band. I don’t care if he says it on Sirius.

So Jenna Jameson has a billboard in Times Square? Big whoop. It’s Times Square. But I think we can all agree we’re better off without a 50-foot billboard of Ms. Jameson doing that for which she is so handsomely compensated, no? That’s an example of The Line. Should she advertise her cinematic accomplishments on Nickelodeon? Put me down in the “thoughtful No” category. Should she be allowed to sell the videos? Sure. I say this as someone who doesn’t care what people do in private as long as it doesn’t scare the horses - and as a father who doesn’t believe it’s necessary for kids to grow up in an eroticized culture yelling DO IT! from every streetcorner.

And what doesn’t push the line? This. (via Brian T., who knows clever 2D animation when he sees it. He’s right: this guy is good.) It's about a bunny who feels that his social interactions may have been inadequate, when compared to the imagined exploits of others. As luck would have it, Gnat snuck into my studio while this was playing, and I hit pause. I want to see the bunny. No. Why? Because the bunny is talking about grown-up things. Oh. That was enough, for now. Grown-up things are boring. For the moment. But oh, the angry tormented bunnies await. I just want this song to mean nothing to her when she's 14, you know? NOTHING. I want it to make as much sense as someone singing the periodic table in Esperanto, backwards.

See? Bupkis. And now TV. Sweet, loving TV. Did TiVo fetch me a Hawaii Five-o? Checking . . . checking . . .

Of course it did.

Oh: McGarrett over Kojak.