December 31, 2004

La Canada, Before/After a Storm

The hills have been especially gorgeous today, half-shrouded in the sky by clouds of ambiguous intent. Every winter I'm astonished again at how beautiful Southern California is during the winter, in between rains.

And downstairs our little patch of grass is visible. A baby bunny kept emerging today from the bushes to eat the green shoots.

Now it's dusk, and I won't be able to see the mountains or animals for much longer. And I'm raging, raging against the dying of the light.

Tomorrow the Rose Parade will air, and people from around the country will begin making plans to move here. I can't blame them, but be advised that our housing costs are just this side of Tokyo's.

Posted by Attila at 05:08 PM | Comments (0)

The Council Speaks Again

The winning council post was Alpha Patriot's "Spinning the Numbers."

Outside of the council, LaShawn Barber won this week's prize with "Academic Freedom, Hate Mail, and David Horowitz".

The entire menu of excellent posts—including some lovely runners-up—is available here.

Posted by Attila at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

Muted Partying

People are celebrating in moderation, and sending some of the money saved to Tsunami relief. Good.

One thing: we know 2005 will be a better year. It has to be. It could not possibly be worse.

Posted by Attila at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)



"I'm just saying 'Happy New Year,'" said Owl carelessly.
"It's a nice long one," said Pooh, very much impressed by it.
"Well, actually, of course, I'm saying 'A Very Happy New Year with love from Pooh.' Naturally, it takes a good deal of pencil to say a long thing like that."

Posted by Attila at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

Wildcat Tsunami Relief

James Joyner at OTB has a nice little roundup of reactions to the U.S.-Indian-Japanese-Australian coalition to spearhead relief efforts in wave-torn Asia. Apparently, we are being very naughty in bypassing the U.N.

Fuck that noise.

Posted by Attila at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2004

Asian Tsunami Blog

For the latest.

Posted by Attila at 02:23 AM | Comments (4)

December 29, 2004

The Dead Pool, last few days

Laurence is still accepting rosters of potentially deceased famous people at The Dead Pool. I hate Mr. Death as much as the next girl, but he always prevails in the long run, so I might as well gamble on him and win prizes. (Believe me: there are a few people on my list I despised putting there, and I'll mourn them if they die this coming year. But I felt they had risk factors, and on they went.)

I need four more of you to send your lists in to Lair before 9:00 p.m. (PST) on New Year's Eve, so I can win the referral contest as well.


Posted by Attila at 05:14 PM | Comments (4)

Jerry Orbach Died

Via OTB. His most famous role, of course, was detective Lenny Briscoe on Law and Order (12 seasons).

I loved him, and I can't believe this happened. He was relatively young, too. Fucking cancer, snatching people away before their time.

He was a great pool player, and I do hope there are pool tables in heaven.

Goodbye, Mr. Orbach.

Posted by Attila at 02:00 PM | Comments (2)

Free Speech

Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities has a roundup of the military men and women providing coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Go read.

Posted by Attila at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

More on Big Waves

Costas Synolakis writes in the Opinion Journal on warning systems for Tsunamis, and on educating people to run to high ground when they feel tremors and are near the water.

The images from Sri Lanka, India and Thailand that have filled our screens--and the descriptions from survivors--are sadly all too familiar, at least to those of us who have conducted tsunami field surveys. At times, some of us thought that we were revisiting images from Flores in 1992, or East Java in 1994, Irian Jaya in 1996, Papua New Guinea in 1998 and Vanuatu in 1999--to just mention catastrophes in countries with similar landscape and coastal construction.

The response of local residents and tourists, however, was unfamiliar, at least to tsunami field scientists for post-1990s tsunamis. In one report, swimmers felt the current associated with the leading depression wave approaching the beach, yet hesitated about getting out of the water because of the "noise" and the fear that there was an earthquake and they would be safer away from buildings. They had to be told by tourists from Japan--a land where an understanding of tsunamis is now almost hard-wired in the genes--to run to high ground. In another report, vacationers spending the day on Phi Phi were taken back to Phuket one hour after the event started. In many cases tsunami waves persist for several hours, and the transport was nothing less than grossly irresponsible.

Contrast these reactions with what happened in Vanuatu, in 1999. On Pentecost Island, a rather pristine enclave with no electricity or running water, the locals watch television once a week, when a pickup truck with a satellite dish, a VCR and a TV stops by each village. When the International Tsunami Survey Team visited days after the tsunami, they heard that the residents had watched a Unesco video prepared the year before, in the aftermath of the 1998 Papua New Guinea tsunami disaster. When they felt the ground shake during the 1999 earthquake, they ran to a hill nearby. The tsunami swept through, razing the village to the ground. Out of 500 people, only three died, and all three had been unable to run like the others. The tsunami had hit at night.

Which says volumes about the value of education.

The angry questions that hundreds of thousands of family members of victims are asking, especially in Sri Lanka and India, are "what happened?"--and "why did no one warn us before the tsunami hit?" The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had issued a tsunami bulletin and had concluded that there was no danger for the Pacific nations in its jurisdiction. Why didn't it extend its warning to South and Southeast Asia? It is perhaps clear with hindsight that an Indian Ocean tsunami warning center should have been in place, or that the Indian Ocean nations should have requested coverage from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.


Clearly, the hazard had been grossly underestimated. To give governments the benefit of the doubt, the last transoceanic tsunami that had hit the region was in 1882, and this was caused by Krakatoa's eruption. Other large earthquakes along the Sumatra trench had not caused major tsunamis, or if they had, they had not been reported as devastating. Floods occur nearly every year, as do storms. Natural hazards that are less frequent tend to be ignored. No nation can be ready for every eventuality--as 9/11 painfully demonstrated--at least before a major disaster that identifies the risk. Without the governments of Indian Ocean nations having identified the risk, they probably did not feel they needed the services of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, however free. Even simple and inexpensive mitigation strategies such as public education possibly did not even occur as a possibility. The rapid tourist development of Sri Lanka may also have contributed to the government's inaction toward suggesting that some of the region's most beautiful shorelines may have hidden dangers.

But the occurrence of this massive and destructive tsunami does prove that megatsunamis can occur in the Indian Ocean. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission should continue its efforts to develop a long-term approach to tsunami hazard mitigation through a coordinated program involving assessment, warning guidance, and mitigation aimed at at-risk communities. Improved numerical wave propagation models, new scientific studies to document paleotsunamis, and the deployment of tsunameters will help better monitor tsunami occurrences and develop inundation maps that will guide evacuation plans. As is done among Pacific nations, Indian ocean scientists, disaster managers, policy makers, and local communities need to work together toward the common goal of creating tsunami-resistant communities with access to accurate, timely tsunami warnings. A tsunami warning center needs to be established as soon as practical in the region, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center should act as an interim warning center.

Many developing countries do not have the resources and will need substantial assistance. Even among nations in the Pacific rim, only three have comprehensive inundation maps, and none, including the U.S., have probabilistic tsunami flooding maps that reflect the realities of the past 30 years. Unesco's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the U.S. should help the effort in implementing the U.N.'s global tsunami hazard mitigation plan before the next Asian tsunami disaster strikes.

Please. If we do it right, this disaster can be the "Titanic" tragedy of the 21st Century, encouraging us to at least use our hindsight to accomplish what we wish we'd done from the get-go.

H/T: Dean's World.

Posted by Attila at 04:27 AM | Comments (7)

Tsunami Relief

The official Command Post list of charites for Earthquake/Tsunami Relief in the affected countries is being updated constantly. Choose your brand, and move on it.

Hurry, because 1) it's almost the first of the year, and if you get on this now you can deduct it on this year's taxes; and 2) the faster we get the money rolling in, the more we can reduce the "secondary effects" such as the spread of disease from mosquitos, rats, unclean water and so forth.

And pray. Even if you're an agnostic, you might give it a shot—and I'll bet there's extra credit in it.

Posted by Attila at 02:17 AM | Comments (2)

December 27, 2004

Orange Crush

DiscoShaman gives us some of the victory celebration in Ukraine, and one last shot of the tent city before it closes up, presumably, for good.

It's a sweet night for democracy.

Posted by Attila at 05:06 AM | Comments (1)


. . . is really cracking up. Tim Blair has the evidence.

H/T: Pejman.

Posted by Attila at 04:13 AM | Comments (0)

Earthquakes, Tsunamis

If you're a praying person, now would be a good time. I don't know whom to weep for harder: the dead, the survivors, or the millions of newly homeless people.

And I'm angry. Angry because we—the nations of the world—are killing each other when we need to be developing early-warning systems for every country that has people living along the coast of any sea or ocean. We need to be encouraging minimal building codes for developing countries: even in Mexico, people still run out of their homes when earthquakes hit. Out! Not in. That's how well-built the structures are. We can do better.

There was a two and a half hour gap between when the quake hit and when the tsunami reached the beaches, where people were sunbathing, fishing and swimming, unaware.

Sure, this tragedy doesn't compare with what Hitler and Stalin were able to "accomplish." But my heart aches, and it was so unnecessary. All we need is for Asians to get the same warnings Alaskans get before they are hit with massive tidal waves. That's not too much to ask.

Please. War on Terror: Win it now, and let's move on to making the world a safer place. If Mother Nature still turns on us this way, we ought to be able to band together and fight her instead of other people.

I know, I know: I'm a bleeding-heart conservative to my very core. But think about it. Please.

This article contains information on the reactions of L.A.-based Indian and Sri Lanken groups to the disaster, and a listing of the international aid agencies that will be sending help. If you have a few dollars to spare, please write a check to one of these organizations. And when you are finished shaking your fist at God, please ask Him to protect, feed, clothe and house those who now have nothing.

I don't know what it all means, except that there was nothing most of us could really do after 9/11. The most generous country in the world, hit on its mainland by mass murderers, sent canned corn and homemade quilts to New York City because we wanted to do something, dammit. There was nothing we could do, because the dead don't eat canned corn and don't use quilts.

Now there is something we can do, and the disaster is on a magnitude that dwarfs 9/11. Send canned goods, warm blankets, and—most importantly—hard cash.


Posted by Attila at 01:19 AM | Comments (8)

December 24, 2004

New Council Winners!

Some great stuff this week. First, The Diplomad gives us "Ratman of the Far Abroad," a thought-provoking metaphor on the U.S. position in the world. Then, Sean Gleeson has a strong runner-up in "Ten More Reasons to Hate Rumsfeld," a witty commentary on Pengate.

The council winner was Dr. Sanity, who takes on criticisms of the pharmaceutical industry in “Witchhunt.”

Be sure to drop in and check out all the top entries, since it was a strong group this time.

Posted by Attila at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

Ah, Yes.

Life in the foothills near Pasadena, California. When the wind is blowing—or right after a rain—the mountains appear to be etched against the sky with a precision that almost makes them look unreal, they're so beautiful. During the transition seasons from hot to cool, the skies are blue with fluffy white clouds that give a picture-postcard effect, despite the scrubby, desert-like ecosystem in the hills.

Sure is pretty out here.

At the moment my husband is just starting the cold that I got over a week ago. So he can't smell any longer the odor that's seeping up from the basement, or perhaps elsewhere under the house. But we know something is dead down there. At first we thought it might be a mouse, but a mouse would be dessicated by now, its parts carried off by the ants. This guy is a rat.

In between fevers, Attila the Hub managed to find out where the creatures were getting in, and seal it off. But the smell is still there.

I didn't mess around with potpourri: I got concentrated perfume blocks of a piney, Christmas-like scent that's actually quite nice. As I walk around the house I notice the different "scent zones" created by my strategic placement of the little perfume blocks. And the 2-3 places where they don't cover, and something is Present that makes one think either of a severe case of mildew, or a mild case of death.

I'll keep moving the little scent blocks around, and maybe burn a few candles. And I'll hope that our guests on Christmas day also have mild colds.

Yup. Sure is nice, living in these here hills. Seclusion, privacy, dark moonlit nights, a view of the little valley below us . . . and carrion wafting through the heating vents. Very glamorous indeed.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Here's hoping your rats die outside, where the coyotes can get them.

Posted by Attila at 03:47 AM | Comments (10)

December 23, 2004

What It's All About

Blackfive shows us why what we do matters when we give toys and shoes to the kids in Iraq. Read this, if you read nothing else I ever link.

And send a few bucks to the programs that are helping Iraqis (Blackfive has a nice roundup).

Via Kate.

Posted by Attila at 04:40 AM | Comments (1)

Little Mr. Mahatma

. . . takes a break from raising my blood pressure to make a good point. He's talking to a friend—I think I know who, but it probably doesn't matter:

We're both deeply into Religion and Spirituality but from different directions. In our last talk we both griped about how we're sick of the faux Holiday Spirit and the wretched music. He talked about how the true meaning of Christmas gets overlooked. No, not about the birth of Jesus which has tremendous controversy, least of which is "When..." and most of which has to do with an illegitimate birth. In any case, he mentioned the true meaning of Christmas has to do with light, that this time of year Christmas represents a temporary light from the long Winter's darkness.

Which is all well and good, I said, and fits in well with Hanukkah AKA The Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is about the miracle of oil lasting for eight days instead of one day, giving those extra days of light and thus extra comfort from the darkness.

And we both nodded our heads after seeing the light.

As human beings we don't care for the dark. It hides the boogeyman and other creatures. It allows our imagination to run a bit wild over every unexpected noise. Simply, darkness hides those that could, and long ago did, prey on us. With that, winter can be difficult as the nights are very long. We want something to break the boredom and shadows. We want something to remind us that spring will happen very soon. We want light. We want a festival. And so before Hanukkah we had something, a wintertime celebration. And we have Hanukkah, and Christmas, and more celebrations.

And so I say "Happy Holidays!" to all people, religious or otherwise, in the spirit of humanity.

Beyond these concerns, light (just in its physical manifestation, leaving metaphor aside) re-sets our daily clocks, allowing us to sleep better. Short, dim days wreak havoc on those who have sleep disorders. And the lack of full-spectrum light causes depression for many (Seasonal Affective Disorder, and all that).

Not to mention that our forbears had to negotiate some dark, dark streets at night, and—once snug in their beds—sometimes had to go outside into the dark if they wanted to pee in the middle of the night.

Reading at night was difficult to do, and expensive.

We have all kinds of reason to crave light.

Let the Sunshine in.

LMM is actually advertising here, so you'll probably go have to check his blog out. I assure you that it has redeeming social importance.

Posted by Attila at 02:29 AM | Comments (2)

December 22, 2004

So, Santa.

Republican? Democrat?

Whaddya think?

Posted by Attila at 01:44 AM | Comments (7)

December 21, 2004

Saucy Jack, Case Closed (1 in a Series)

I'm still formulating my Ultimate Theory on Jack the Ripper. But in the meantime, I thought I'd suggest some suspects who are every bit as plausible as a couple of these people.

I'm going to start with Eva Gabor, who is a creative person and should therefore be acquainted with the dark side of human nature. Granted, she lived in a different time than ol' Leather Apron did, but I feel certain that just by hopping into her time machine she could have fixed that.

And isn't it convenient that she died before I got interested in the Ripper case, thereby depriving me of the opportunity to interview her as a Ripper candidate? That's too much coincidence, even for me.

I'm afraid Ripperologists all over the world will have to admit that I've shaken things right down to their foundations, here. Just look at it:

1) Eva Gabor probably knew where her uterus was, and I'm sure she could have found such a thing on another woman;

2) She doesn't look strong, but she's wiry. That can be deceptive.

3) If she can't make it into the time/space rocket ship to kill any particular whore, all she needs to do is have one of her sisters stand in for her and take care of it that night.

4) She was able to get these women alone by discussing shopping with them. And:

5) When she walked away from the crime scenes she did it in 20th century clothes, so witnesses wouldn't be willing to admit having glimpsed anyone in such an outlandish getup.

So there you go. When do I get my hundreds of thousands of dollars? A check's okay, if it isn't from out-of-state.

Posted by Attila at 01:55 AM | Comments (6)

I Think

I just broke my iron, and it's a nifty cordless one, too.

Wonder if I can get it fixed.

Wonder how much it would cost to replace.

But for the next week or two or ten—until I figure it out—I'm a free woman. How cool is that?

Posted by Attila at 01:01 AM | Comments (1)

December 20, 2004

A Sad Rejoicing

I'm not sure which version of this story I like better—the one at Beautiful Atrocities, which has pictures, or the one Photon Courier put together, which has more details.

It's the story of a 20-century heroine, Noor Inayat Khat, whom I find inspiring. We should weep for her, but in a hopeful sort of way. I think that's what she would have wanted.

Posted by Attila at 06:08 PM | Comments (4)


. . . has the story on the Yushchenko poisoning case. Doctors have finally been able to prove that it was oral ingestion of dioxin and not a bad case of sunburn, or whatever the Ukranian establishment was claiming it was.

She's also got the most dramatic pictures yet of his disfigurement, some of which we are told will subside as his skin heals. (Some, of course, will not.)

I've been told this is a classic KGB tactic, but it's utterly horrifying to see it.

Special thanks to Kate,, who first brought this issue to my attention while she was guest-blogging at OTB.

Posted by Attila at 05:07 PM | Comments (2)

Jeff Comments

on the parade of nuttiness that is the Bay Area. In a way that is beautiful, if not atrocious.

Posted by Attila at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2004


. . . has the real story on this "armor scandal." Viva Power Line.

UPDATE: Link fixed, I think.

UPDATE 2: Power Line is apparently Time's "Blog of the Year," which means two things to me:

1) there is some justice in the world, and
2) Time may keep this tradition going. Next year, of course, the "Blog of the Year" should be me, based on something brilliant I'll be writing in, oh, July of '05.

Posted by Attila at 02:45 AM | Comments (1)

More on European Anti-Semitism

Photon Courier gives us the word from a Spanish writer who's watching this insanity develop. Head on over there (and be sure to browse the Courier's site while you're there: he may be The Most Underrated Blogger on the Internet).

Posted by Attila at 01:18 AM | Comments (0)

And We Have Some Winners!

The Watchers Council has some new winners this week:

First, Council Members The Education Wonks won for "Fixing Our Broken Borders."

On the non-council side, Jeff Jarvis gives us his winning entry, "Juan Cole is Pond Scum."

Last week, while I was in Arizona, the following Council posts scored highest:

King of Fools won for "Sex and Disease."

E-Claire scored high for "Everything Feels Like the Ocean to a Sponge."

And The Sundries Shack was also a runner-up, with "If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Sue ‘Em."

The highest-scoring non-council entries were: How Far We’ve Come, by Victor Davis Hanson, followed by My Rose-colored Contacts,
from Intermittent Stream.

Thought-provoking entries, all.

Posted by Attila at 01:02 AM | Comments (5)

Asocial Security

Cassandra has a nice little summary of the Social Security debate, with a few links to various schools of thought on the subject.

Bob Brinker was discussing this today on the radio, and he appears to feel strongly that increasing the cap on the Social Security tax is a terrible idea. He points out that people in places like California and New York are already taxed at a very high rate, and the self-employed would be disproportionatly hit by something like that (they pay both taxes—the employee side and the employer side—and for them this tax is effectively double what the official rate is).

Of course, it's the self-employed whom we want to be successful, because when that happens they start hiring other people, and it's small businesses that really drive the economy. Any proposal that brings the effective tax rate up to 60% in California is not a good thing.

Posted by Attila at 12:47 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2004


. . . has a joke about OBL she'd like to share with the rest of the class.

Posted by Attila at 01:51 AM | Comments (0)

Robert Tagorda

. . . riffs off the Wall Street Journal, discussing the religious aspects of the Ukranian situation.

Posted by Attila at 12:49 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2004

Hot Out There, Today, Huh?

I was really sorry I wore wool slacks and fuzzy socks.

What was I thinking? I nearly roasted to death.


Posted by Attila at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2004

As I Was Driving Home

. . . the standoff continued at the Crystal Cathedral in Orange County. I continued to wonder how much glass got broken when the gunman fired a few shots.

And how long it will take to fix the damage.

And whether they will be able to "make up" the Christmas presentation that was supposed to happen tonight.

Please be careful, boys and girls: people get a lot less sunlight this time of year (even here in SoCal), and it messes with your mind. I also think the Santa Anas are blowing again, which never helps.

Take a deep breath, and remember our "Christmas mantra": people are much more important than things.

And put the fucking gun down.

Posted by Attila at 11:38 PM | Comments (2)

What a Ghastly Idea. Do, Let's.

Laurence's Dead Pool is open, and accepting rosters of prospective 2005 demisees until the ball drops in Times Square this New Year's Eve. A full roster of names is 15, and there are provisions for non-bloggers to join in (I believe there is a small charge to do so).

Act now, or you'll be out in the cold all year next year.

It's ghoulish, but fun. And there are classic Laurence-style animations on the page, as an added bonus.

Also, the whole process is simple enough for non-sports people to join in on. (I had thought years of skipping the office football pools would make this hard, but how difficult is it to comprehend "if I guess right Lair gives me free prizes"?)

Posted by Attila at 10:17 AM | Comments (2)

JibJab Tackles the Scary Season

Check out its expose on life at the North Pole.

Posted by Attila at 01:18 AM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2004

Mayor Moonbeam

Shaking Spears discusses Jerry Brown's evolution, post-Linda.

Posted by Attila at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2004

The Taliban

. . . is getting tuckered out. And cold.

Iraq next year.

Posted by Attila at 11:58 PM | Comments (1)

He Has a Point.

Christopher Cross explains why he's 37 times more interesting than Instapundit.

Posted by Attila at 09:33 PM | Comments (1)

The Homosexual Agenda

is—at long last—exposed at Beautiful Atrocities.

(Go for the jokes; stay for the serious discussion about gays/women in the military.)

Posted by Attila at 03:27 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2004

Yeah, We're Back.

Attila the Hub and I are back in L.A. after an early Christmas celebration in Phoenix, Arizona; we were the surprise for our niece, who is visiting from Chicago with her best friend.

I'm just catching up on things right now, however. Back to regular posting tomorrow, unless my sore throat gets the better of me.

It's very gratifying that I can get 260 hits a day without posting anything for days on end. Very nice indeed.

Sorry: turns out my sister-in-law doesn't use her wireless internet connection much, and wasn't aware that it doesn't work. Just as well: there's nothing better than returning to a serious, hard-core addiction after several days' absence. It's sweeter that way.

Posted by Attila at 09:48 PM | Comments (2)

Sexy, Barely Legal Google Baiting!

Rusty has renamed his site Hot Lesbo Star Wars Chick Pundit, under the (doubtless coreect) impression that this will increase his traffic. He is blogging under the name "Princess Brittney Spears."

Get him while he's, um, hot. Hurry! He says he's changing his name back tomorrow.

Posted by Attila at 09:15 PM | Comments (1)

December 09, 2004

Wanted: Watcher

There is an opening on the Watcher's Council. If you've wanted to get involved in this, now's the time to make your move. (Follow the link, and there is a further link to the responsibilities of the Watchers.)

Posted by Attila at 04:47 AM | Comments (4)

December 08, 2004

Hi, Mom.

You asked what my blood pressure is, and I forgot to tell you when we spoke. Since I'm not sure you're doing e-mail these days—and you do seem to be reading the blog—I'll just post it here. It's 92/60, which as I understand it is on the right side of the dead/alive divide.

You know where to find me in the next few days. Be well.

Posted by Attila at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

Light Blogging, Next Five Days

Today I'm scrambling to wrap presents, do errands, and pack. Tomorrow my husband and I go out of town. We'll be back circa Monday. I will have my laptop with me, and I'm sure I'll post at least several times while I'm away.

In the meantime, get as much sunlight as you can, don't spend too much money, try not to overeat, and do not succomb to depression. It's a strange time of year: don't let it get to you.

Hugs your kids, kiss your spouse/sig other. Make the easiest thing for dinner that you can. People are much more important than things.

Posted by Attila at 01:26 PM | Comments (3)


I'm up to 9% in the Weblog Awards Design category, after hovering between 8.6 and 8.8% for days and days and days.

Not that I care about these silly contests: I only dropped by there because I thought I'd left my, um, eyebrow tweezers there.

Hey! What if I could get a full 10% of the vote before this thing closes? Wouldn't that be cool?

Posted by Attila at 11:55 AM | Comments (9)

Media Bistro

Runs a lovely satirical piece about one possible future of the new media, dated 2048 and featuring a discussion with "Senator Glenn Reynolds."

It's long, but it's thoughtful and funny:

Rushkoff first discussed the idea that ultimately produced the Douglas Rushkoff Corporation in an interview with Mediabistro (today a unit of the trade publisher Primediabistro) in 2004. "The next stage in the freelance universe, I think," he said then, "is for those of us who have managed to generate reputations to understand that we have those reputations through the luck of timing, and to start outsourcing. The universe is so big that we could write stuff that doesn't bump up against other stuff," he said—an insight that led to the creation of "Rushkoff bureaus" on six continents. "If the industry is going to be such that it only wants to reward a few recognizable faces," he said, "then those faces have to open up their purses and give us all work. I would love to be part of a writing collective—50 or 60 of us—and there are two or three of us with big names. We can even hire actors to be the fuckers!"

Rushkoff felt that there was a limited number of names that could be sold in the writing market, but much more writing that those names could do. His original vision for writing collectives allowed writers to utilize existing names (or create fictional "authors") to sell their writing and fully realize the economic potential of those names. Ruskoff's model allowed certain people to work on marketing, others to tour, and still others to work on writing. And instead of working for the names they were using, the names worked for the writers.

So go read it, already.

Posted by Attila at 12:58 AM | Comments (2)

December 07, 2004

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Attila the Hub and I watched Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven on ABC Sunday night. He wanted to see it because a friend of his is at ABC, and worked especially hard on this particular project.

My impressions:

1) I'd forgotten how grueling commercials can be when you don't have a good project you're working on during the breaks. Now I know why my grandmother used to knit! If I get the media job, I'll get TiVo in a hot Los Angeles minute, because I'll be watching a lot more television.

2) I love the premise of this story. I think we all have the impression that as we get older we'll get wiser, but even those who live to advanced ages may not really achieve wisdom in this lifetime. The premise that the learning process might continue past death is a charming one.

3) I have the sense that some story elements might have been cut out of the book in order to compress the story into three hours (really an hour and a half, plus commercials). As the main character meets people from his life on earth in order to absorb lessons from them, they continually tell him they've been "waiting" for him. We are left to wonder whom he might need to wait for when it's his turn to teach. My husband had a suspicion, but it isn't spelled out in the movie. Now we both have to read the book.

4) Michael Imperioli of The Sopranos put in an appearance, and it was nice to see him break out of the mafia mode for a while. Personally, of course, I kept expecting him to start cussing and beating people up—and I'm sure that's why he took the part, to avoid typecasting. He did a nice job: it was interesting to see him smile in a way that's genuinely warm. His character on Sopranos may be one of the hardest, most truly reprobate animals in the HBO cage.

5) The way I got the backstory on this, Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press keeps trying to write quiet little books, and they keep landing on the best-seller lists. After Tuesdays with Morrie, he concentrated on producing a little literary gem, but it became a best-seller as well.

This is a guy whose problems I'd really like to have.

Posted by Attila at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

More Reader Participation!

So yesterday I had a rather promising interview with a media organization that deals with entertainment and the culture of celebrity, and I may be working with them in the future. Therefore, I'm soliciting two things from my readers:

1) Who is your favorite celebrity? Why? (The General Question, designed to elicit the juiciest obscure tidbits about people, along with normal people's reactions to those in the public eye.)

2) Who is your favorite sports figure? Why? (The Specific Question, since my background in sports is a little weak, and I may need to fix this problem, as athletes are part of the Pop Culture Gestalt.)

Have fun. Thanks!

Posted by Attila at 12:34 PM | Comments (8)

December 06, 2004

2004 Warblogger Awards

John Hawkins has this year's results up. I appreciated the panel he put together: there were some heavy hitters there, but also a number of up-and-coming blogs. It was also lovely to see Kate of Small Dead Animals and Jeff of Beautiful Atrocities recognized/recognised (though Kate is becoming quite well-known in her own right, due to her high-profile guest-blogging stints and her clear upcoming win in the Wizbang Weblog Awards for this year).

And since Protein Wisdom won out over IMAO and Scrappleface, I'm hoping he'll, um, stop with the. The you know. The whiney stuff.

Via Mr. I'm Funny, Man, Do You Hear Me? Do You Hear Me? Who's Your Humor-Daddy?

In other news, even the tightest sweater on one's blog illustration apparently isn't enough to get a girl 10% of the vote in certain contests. What the hell is wrong with this world?

Posted by Attila at 12:30 AM | Comments (7)

December 05, 2004

The Commissar's Show Trials

. . . continue. Way to prosecute the Trotskyites!

(Seriously—some good links there.)

Posted by Attila at 05:41 PM | Comments (0)

Merry Christmas, Ukraine

The new runoff election is scheduled for December 26th. Meanwhile, check out the Sabot Post-Moderne pix from the night of the victory in the Supreme Court!

Posted by Attila at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

Goodbye, Dave.

Three weeks ago I went to a memorial service for one of the finest gentlemen I've ever known, David W. Arnold of Handguns magazine, who supported my efforts as a fledgling writer and encouraged me with my shooting (and early on in my management career).

I've been wondering what to say about him, but I finally realized that Jerry Lee has it covered. There's nothing more to add, except that Dave's courage in facing down two major health crises will be an example to me for the rest of my life.

Thank you, Dave.

Posted by Attila at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

Ethnicity and the Melting Pot

My cousin* Attila, the "Pillage Idiot," wrote an interesting meditation on the unique relationship between Jews and America. I love it, and I think it has a lot to say, by extension, about other ethnic groups in their own relationships with this nation. We comprise the first nation to make equality an ideal and to push hard toward that ideal.

And that is what makes us the Shining City on the Hill.

* We're related by marriage. He's a Marylander Jew, and I'm Californian Anglo-Saxon/Native American trailor trash. But we both like to plunder and pillage, so we get along fine.

Posted by Attila at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

The Bitch Is Definitely Back

Annika has started a grass-roots movement to replace Kofi Annan with Sir Elton John. Her reasons are myriad, but among them is this pivotal point:

It's the way that he move, the things that he do, wo-o-o.

Which I think is important to remember.

Posted by Attila at 02:38 PM | Comments (1)

Now This Is Depressing.

Joe Gandelman reports on young Britons who don't recognize the significance of the name Auschwitz.

I once lived with a mathematician who had left academia to work in entertainment. Just as some in my family got interested in geneaology, a few in his family had as well. But it's different when Jews decide to put together their family histories: I have books and binders full of anecdotes about the Oregon trail, life in Nebraska. I have a folder on my husband's family with stories about Ireland (a land that has its own heartrending tragedies, of course), and migration to America. My former significant other's family history was page after page of "Name -- died at Aushwitz."

To hear that young people in any Western country are not really learning about the holocaust fills me with deep rage, partly because I think this failure of education helps to fuel the growing anti-Semitism in Europe. And partly because the story transcends ethnicity as a cautionary tale.

Posted by Attila at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

A Little Context For You

Via Protein Wisdom comes an article in the Weekly Standard by Mackubin Thomas Owens, professor of national security at the Naval War College:

Critics are asking what the operation in Falluja really accomplished. They note that the insurgents’ leaders appear to have escaped and that violence has erupted elsewhere in northern Iraq. Media accounts also routinely describe the fighting outside Falluja as a “rebel counteroffensive” that surprised the U.S. military, implying that the reduction of Falluja merely created more insurgents.

But the view conveyed by these headlines is myopic. An equivalent headline in June 1944 would have read: “Massive U.S. Casualties on Omaha Beach; Hitler’s Reich Remains Intact, Defiant.” Such stories fail to place Falluja, Mosul, Tal Afar, and other cities in northern Iraq in context. The fact is that Falluja is part of a campaign, a series of coordinated events—movements, battles, and supporting operations—designed to achieve strategic or operational objectives within a military theater. Falluja is just one battle, albeit an extremely important one, in a comprehensive campaign to stabilize the Sunni Triangle.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When they controlled Falluja, the rebels were able to sustain a high rate of attack against the Iraqi government and coalition forces. Falluja gave them infrastructure--human and physical--and provided the security needed to maintain a large terrorist network. As one military analyst, writing for the Belmont Club blog, has remarked, in the absence of sanctuary, large terrorist organizations cannot survive. Without sanctuary, terrorist networks are reduced to “small, clandestine hunted bands.”

You'll recall that one of the many failures of the Vietnam war was the unwillingness of the Johnson Administration to cut the supply lines along the Ho Chi Minh trail. Clearly, we aren't making that mistake this time: this war, whatever you may think of it, is being fought with commitment and a desire to win. And success is likely to give many Americans a sense that the whole enterprise was worth the loss of life and the financial expenditure.

Posted by Attila at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

A Good Day

Five hundred and five hits today (I think my personal best is around 600), and my total uniques are now over 40,000. I do realize those stats are tiny for some of you, but for me this is amazing.

You don't think it has anything to do with my nomination for the Wizbang! Weblog Awards, do you?

I've been doing this since March of 2003, when I began the old BlogSpot site. In the beginning I was getting eight hits a day, which turned into 15, which turned into 30. This past spring I moved to a "real" domain courtesy of Pixy Misa's Munuvian Mafia, and worked my way up to perhaps 60-70 hits. This past summer I asked Julie of BlogMoxie to redesign my page, and she whipped up a nice creation that went online in early September. In the first two weeks after the redesign, my traffic doubled, which probably had to do with the power of Rion Vernon's artand the mystique of tight sweaters. Since that time traffic has tripled, though I did go through a "post-election slump" in November that made me feel I was losing ground I'd previously gained. But it's all coming back, courtesy of Kevin and the Weblog Awards.

And that brings me to John Hawkins, who is once again dispensing the advice he gives "up and coming" bloggers, which amounts to working very hard and being very patient.

John's philosophy, which he calls the "very very rule"—

"Remember that you will have to be very, very, good, for a very, very, long time, while working very, very, hard to promote your work and you will be very, very, underappreciated the whole time."

We all know the exceptions, but I'm not so sure that some of the bloggers who enjoyed a meteoric rise aren't more vulnerable to burnout than the rest of us.

Posted by Attila at 01:03 AM | Comments (8)

December 04, 2004

Iowahawk Has the Story

About the Sears/Kmart takeover of France:

The retail industry received another shake-up today as Sears Holding Corp. (NYSE: S), the parent company behind the recent merger of Sears and Kmart, announced the acquisition of embattled European cheesemaker France (NASDAQ: FROG). The buyout deal, estimated at $2.7 billion, will position Sears/Kmart/France as the world's third largest retailer and 15th ranked military power.

Reaction of Wall Street was mixed, with shares of Paris-based France rising 11% in late trading after the announcement, while Hoffman Estates, IL-based Sears Holdings dropped 19%.

"The acquisition of France indicates there will be further consolidation within the low-end, weird-smelling retail segment," said Ivan Kaplan, a retail analyst with Bear Stearns. "I wouldn't be surprised if Sears picks up another floundering discounter like Winn-Dixie. Or possibly Spain."

Gary Reed, an analyst with UBS, said the deal would position Sears/Kmart/France to remain competitive against mega-retailer Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT).

"It only makes sense for them to united to face a common foe," said Reed. "Both Sears and Kmart have lost significant retail share to Wal-Mart, and France recently surrendered Provence after the invasion of paratroopers from the 131st Wal-Mart Greeter Airborne."

"Attention Kmart shoppers! The glory of France, she is born anew," crowed France CEO Jacques Chirac, who will continue as head of the corporation's Northeast regional merchandising division.

Please read the whole thing: the retelling of the early 20th Century war stories is worth it all on its own.

Posted by Attila at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)

1-3 Days From Now

I'll be at 40,000 hits. Not much to you, my big-time blogger friends. But very satisfying to me.

Posted by Attila at 02:09 AM | Comments (2)

Tangerine Dream

DiscoShaman of Post-Modern Clog:

We won big today. I'd forgotten how much fun a Revolution can be.

Also, be sure to drop by Orange Ukraine.

It looks—ohmigod, it really looks—like this thing may be resolved with little or no bloodshed. Viva Ukraine.

Posted by Attila at 02:07 AM | Comments (2)

How Many Wiccans

. . . does it take to screw in a lightbulb? I dunno, Man: first you have to cram them in there.

In other news: Goldstein-style, I'm declaring myself almost half as well-designed as Cold Fury. (Though, as I understand it, even Little Mr. Mahatma thinks I'm well-designed.)

And don't miss the fascinating little debates in the comments section on whether I should perhaps be disqualified because Julie of BlogMoxie designed this website, or whether there are just too many femme blogs represented.

I say you can never have too many femme blogs.

Posted by Attila at 01:54 AM | Comments (2)

December 03, 2004

2004 Weblog Awards

Vote early, vote often, over at Wizbang!. Try not to vote for yourself (I've decided not to, but you most certainly are allowed to).

Of course, if I win the glory goes to Julie of Blogmoxie, because she'd definitely deserve it. (My nomination is in the "best design" category.) Still, I approved the new look of the blog, so there's that.

Going over there and voting for your favorite blogs is also a great way to get exposed to a lot of excellent writers you wouldn't otherwise be reading. Even if you don't actually vote, it's a lovely roundup of the best web writers out there.

And, you know—vote or die.

Now be good.

Posted by Attila at 04:16 AM | Comments (3)

The Council Has Spoken

The leading council entry was from Sundries Shack: "John Kennedy, A Man for Our Times".

The leading non-council entry was "A Failed Revolution," courtesy of Iraq, the Model. (Please remember to scroll down to "A Failed Revolution," if necessary—he is a blogspotter.)

For full results, and links to a few posts that are truly excellent, please hop over here.

Posted by Attila at 04:06 AM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2004

Stomp, stomp, stomp

Is it me, or is Jeff of Beautiful Atrocities being just a little bit arch in his descriptions of Barbara Boxer's fiction? I mean, here she is trying to ply her trade in the literary vineyards, and Jeff comes along just stomping all over her fledgling efforts.

I knew right-wing bloggers stifled people's dissent. I never realized before tonight that they also stifled creativity.

Posted by Attila at 11:57 PM | Comments (1)

My Mother

. . . got her boobs chopped off today. (I mean, as plastic surgery, apparently by someone who knew what he was doing.)

So I guess she's gone from a G cup to an A. Quite a transition.

"How will I know you when I see you?" I ask.

"You'll have to look at my face," she responds. And I wonder how much of a transition it will be to her friends, who probably regarded her chest as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I think those things were visible from space.

My day will come, but I won't go all the way down to A. I think a B-C cup would do it. We'll see.

I told a friend of mine about the Breat Reduction Surgery, but she informed me that I was "speaking a language" she couldn't understand. My stepmother and my grandmother understood completely: over Thanksgiving we discussed all the things we couldn't do that more svelte women could.

Posted by Attila at 02:42 AM | Comments (8)

Ukraine Hangs Tough

Le Sabot:

Yushchenko comes off much tougher than he did at the press conference announcement, which only gave the bare points. But this has been a day that gave with one hand and took back with the other.

- Yushchenko has lifted the blockades. But he's vowed to keep to the streets until he gets a solid date on a new vote, and changes in the voting laws. He's given the working group 24 hours to come up with them.

- Yanukovych was voted out as PM, taking away his ability to steal votes administratively. He has refused to accept this, and Kuchma can veto the vote, if he wants to spend the political capital doing it.

- Yushchenko is standing firm in his demand for a repeat of the 2nd round, rather than the completely new elections Kuchma wants.

I saw a statement by Solana, the chief EU intermediary, that it could take up to a month to perform the necessary legal changes. Kuchma is saying it might take three months to have a new vote. Bartender, I'll have whatever they've been drinking. There's no way the Opposition is going to let their people sit in the snow for 3 months. The only way even the one month time-frame is conceivable is if it comes with some sort of iron-clad, double-strength insurances. And I'm having trouble thinking of what those could be.

It begins to look like the situation might be resolved without bloodshed, and for once the country might be truly united, rather than torn into two: a Ukranian segment and a satellite of Russia.

Posted by Attila at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

The Skies Turn Orange in Eastern Europe

The Ukraine, Oh My!—

Tuesday, at midnight, Kuchma's constitutional term of five years as President ended. Theoretically, Ukraine is without a president.

Via Tulipgirl.

Posted by Attila at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2004

Drama Queen

. . . has the raciest holiday skin I've ever seen.

Posted by Attila at 06:08 PM | Comments (8)

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

About Joy W. McCann: I've been interviewed for Le Monde and mentioned on Fox News. I once did a segment for CNN on "Women and Guns," and this blog is periodically featured on the New York Times' blog list. My writing here has been quoted in California Lawyer. I've appeared on The Glenn and Helen Show. Oh—and Tammy Bruce once bought me breakfast.
My writing has appeared in
The Noise, Handguns, Sports Afield, The American Spectator, and (it's a long story) L.A. Parent. This is my main blog, though I'm also an alumnus of Dean's World, and I help out on the weekends at Right Wing News.
My political philosophy is quite simple: I'm a classical liberal. In our Orwellian times, that makes me a conservative, though one of a decidedly libertarian bent.

8843.jpg An American Carol rawks!
Main AAC site (Warning: sound-enabled;
trailer starts automatically.)

Buy Blogads from the
Network here.

This is one of the last pix
we took before we left
the house in La Caada.
I think it's very flattering
to Bathsheba the .357.

"The women of this country learned long ago,
those without swords can still die upon them.
I fear neither death nor pain." —Eowyn, Tolkien's
Lord of the Rings

KhawHeadShot.jpg Free Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani!
See Jane Novak's "Yemeni Watch" blog,
Armies of Liberation.
Free journalists and dissident bloggers, worldwide!

Some of My Homegirls— ERROR: is currently inaccessible

My Wish List

• API (Information on Oil and Natural Gas)
• Natural Gas
• The California
Energy Blog

• The Alternative Energy Blog
(Solar, Wind, Geothermal, etc.)
• The Energy Revolution Blog
• Gas 2.0 Blog
• Popular Mechanics'
"Drive Green"

• Libertas
(now on hiatus, but they'll be back!) • Pajiba

Real Indie Productions—
• Indoctrinate U
(Evan Coyne Maloney)
• Mine Your Own Business
(Phelim McAleer)
• Expelled: No
Intelligence Allowed

(Ben Stein, Logan Craft,
Walt Ruloff, and John

Real Indie Production
and Distibution

• Moving Picture Institute


• First Installment: The Basic Story
• Hymers' History of Violence

• How Fun Is It To
Be Recruited Into Hymer's
Offbeat Church? Not Very.
• How I Lost My Virginity


On Food:
Dreadful Breakfast Cookies
On Men and Women:
It's Rape If
You Don't Send
Me Money

Women Talk Too Much;
I'll Date Dolphins

Men Are Kinky

Hot Cars,
Hot Girls

On Animation:
—the Commentary

On Religion:
Athiests and
Christians Talking
To Each Other

"Good grammar, and better gin."
—CalTech Girl
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—Venomous Kate
"Joy is good at catching flies with honey."
—Beth C
"Your position is ludicrous, and worthy of ridicule."
—Ace of Spades
—Suburban Blight


Teh Funny—
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Interesting News Items

Civics Lessons—
Taranto on How a Bill Becomes Law

Editorial Resources—
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• Me me me me me! (miss.attila --AT-- gmail --dot-- com)
Cigar Jack

David Linden/
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Cognitive Daily

Rive Gauche—
Hip Nerd's Blog
K's Quest
Mr. Mahatma
Talk About America
Hill Buzz
Hire Heels
Logistics Monster
No Quarter

Food & Booze—
Just One Plate (L.A.)
Food Goat
A Full Belly
Salt Shaker
Serious Eats

Things You Should Do
(In the West)

Just One Plate (L.A.)

• Jalopnik
The Truth About Cars

SoCal News—
Foothill Cities

Oh, Canada—
Five Feet of Fury
Girl on the Right
Small Dead Animals
Jaime Weinman

Mary McCann,
The Bone Mama

(formerly in Phoenix, AZ;
now in Seattle, WA;
eclectic music)

Mike Church,
King Dude

(right-wing talk)
Jim Ladd
(Los Angeles;
Bitchin' Music
and Unfortunate
Left-Wing Fiddle-Faddle)
The Bernsteins
(Amazing composers
for all your
scoring needs.
Heh. I said,
"scoring needs.")

Iran, from an Islamic Point of View
and written in beautiful English—

Blogging Away Debt
Debt Kid
Debtors Anonymous
World Services

The Tightwad Gazette

Gentleman Pornographer

More o' Dat
Pop Culture—

Danny Barer
(Animation News) • Something Old,
Nothing New

(And yet more
Animation News)
Sam Plenty
(Cool New
Animation Site!)
The Bernsteins
(Wait. Did I mention
the Bernsteins
already? They're

Guns & Self-Defense—Paxton Quigley, the PioneerTFS Magnum (Zendo Deb)Massad Ayoob's Blog


The American Mind
Aces, Flopping
Ace of Spades
Armies of Liberation
Asymmetrical Information
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Attila of Pillage Idiot

Beautiful Atrocities
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The Bitch Girls
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Mary Katherine Ham
At the D.C. Examiner
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Trey Jackson (videoblogging)
James Joyner
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Nice Deb
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North American Patriot

On Tap
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the Yuppies of Zion

Protein Wisdom

The Queen of All Evil
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Six Meat Buffet
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Where is Raed?
Write Enough
You Big Mouth, You!


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