January 31, 2005


Little Mr. Mahatma liked the last John Stossel book.

The world must be coming to an end.

Posted by Attila at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)

No. Really. Very Sorry.

I'm so ashamed.

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

Iowahawk Thinks

that an Oldsmobile can be a kind of quagmire, too. He's got a point—at least with respect to Senator Kennedy.

Posted by Attila at 02:13 AM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2005

Scott Weighs In

. . . with his own take on the Iraqi elections, and the discomfort they are giving the MSM.

Posted by Attila at 05:20 AM | Comments (2)

The Iraqi Elections

. . . are going great so far, depite the one explosion in Baghdad. Turnout is good, with the possible exception of Sunnis, who can go fly a kite for all I care perhaps can be included in the new government through appointed positions. Of course, I'm sure you've all heard the quotes about how "sure we're scared, but what else is new? We lived under Saddam for decades. We've been scared all our lives."

People are doing extraordinary things to vote.

Dean has a a roundup of roundups.

UPDATE: Jeff Percifield has his own roundup, of quotes from the Iraqis themselves.

Posted by Attila at 04:44 AM | Comments (0)

Seeing Double

Martha Brockenbrough, writing for MSN "Encarta," discusses the sub-culture of twin-dom, and the possibility that calling the Olsen twins fraternals is really some sort of publicity stunt, given that they are dead-ringers for one another.

After all, plenty of identical twins write with different hands. (In fact, though Brokenbrough doesn't cover this ground I wonder if the Olsens could be identical twins who formed later: apparently, the later the egg/pre-embroyo splits, the more the identicals will have in common. If it happens very late [yet not late enough that they are conjoined and therefore "Siamese" twins], one often gets "mirror image" twins, who share DNA but have organs on complementary sides.)

On the other hand, I certainly knew one set of twins who were technically fraternals, yet hard to tell apart. Heck—sometimes that happens with siblings who are close in age and share all the same features.

The two twins I know best, Professor Purkinje's boy-girl fraternals, don't even necessarily look like they're the same ethnicity. (This was the case between my two-year-older brother and I; he shows all the Creek Indian genes, and any black ones we've got lying around in the bloodline: dark skin, dark curly hair, high cheekbones. Other than my full lips and our both being smart Alecks we have nothing in common physically at all.) The professor's kids are an amazingly beautiful dark-haired girl and a light-haired boy who looks a little Celtic for my money. People will be mistaking him for a gentile, left and right.

I still want to adopt twins. But the odds are not in my favor. Not at all. Or a redhead. Or redheaded twins. If we got redheaded twins I'd start getting up every morning and going to mass during the week. At 7:30 a.m, which is like the rest of you doing it at 3:00 in the morning.

Did you know that every now and again a set of identical twins marries another set of identical twins, and that in each household the nieces and nephews are genentically equivalent their own kids? (I'll have to use that in a murder mystery someday.)

As for the Olsen twins, Wikipedia has an entry on them that includes a chart explaining all their differences—subtle to the outsider, presumably glaring to those who know them.

To me, though, the mystery is how the dynamic works among groups of triplets. I've been told that the most common configuration is "a pair and a spare." If you're the fraternal twin, and the two other triplets are identicals, do you feel perpetually left out? How does that alter the family dynamic?

Professor Purkinje tells me to give up on the romantic assumption that all twins play nicely together and entertain each other, making them "easier" to raise than singletons. After all, sometimes the twins are fraternal boys who fight a lot.

So there's that.

UPDATE: The good professor informs me that if we adopt twins—redheads or not—I'll be getting up by 7:30 anyway, but it won't be to go to mass. However, he's not the least bit clear on why I'd do such a thing.

Perhaps he thinks I'll be so excited to have babies in the house that I'll be blogging more than ever. That's certainly possible, but I should imagine I'll do that at night.

Hm. Very mysterious.

Posted by Attila at 04:28 AM | Comments (7)

January 29, 2005


Discusses our lives as conservatives, and how some of us must pretend not to be quite so super-rich:

One of the great secrets of being a conservative is that you only pretend to pay taxes. We let the liberals do all the heavy lifting. After all, they're the ones who support useless tax-funded social services and redistribution of wealth. Might as well be their wealth.

Looks like I will owe a whopping $5.40 -- that is if I can’t manage to conceal my Halliburton dividends and all the 6 figure checks the Bush Administration paid me to pimp their agenda.

Otherwise it’s a fat, fat refund check. All of which will be spent on war, my weather machine, and shiny pebbles to throw at the homeless intellectuals.

Of course in order to reduce my taxes I had to buy another Hummer. But the ash tray in the old one was full, so it seemed like the practical thing to do.

I can't help but think she's making a mistake, what with the Hummer and the shiny pebbles—but no diamond earrings. But, hey: it's her refund check.

A special "thank you" to the White House for all the little presents they've sent me over the years. (Pssst: they shouldn't look like pictures of Laura and George on the White House Lawn. They should look more like checks, with lots of zeros in them. There's a good lad, Karl.)

Posted by Attila at 11:42 PM | Comments (1)

Thank You for That

Over coffee with a friend this afternoon I remarked that there was a local support group forming for adults with ADD.

"I mean, I know we joke about our attention spans, but do you think that might be it? I mean, is it possible that I really do officially have Attention Deficit Disorder?"


"You have something," he replied.

This particular time, I didn't tell him to fuck himself, but I'm sure it was understood. And I'm sure that if he got that message through the ether he realized I meant it in the kindest possible way.

Posted by Attila at 06:43 PM | Comments (6)

Saturday's Alright for Angst

I've been depressed for two years, but this last month has been one of the worst in a long time.

I'm thinking of taking up smoking.

But I'd have to either allow my drapes to get all smokey, or go outdoors where, let's face it, it's just freezing cold. And by that I mean, it's 60 degrees fahrenheit.

Of course, if I continue to be this depressed for much longer, I'll be able to fit into those hip-hugger jeans hanging in the back of my closet. I mean, I won't be willing to go anywhere in them, but they'll fit.

And won't that be nice? I can lounge around in my skinny jeans, avoiding responsibility and trying to remember how to smoke without coughing.

It occurs to me that I'd make a superb 13-year-old girl. Except, you know, for the lines around my eyes.

Well, I finally found someone to turn me upside down,
And nail my feet up where my head should be.
If they had a King of Fools then I could wear that crown,
And you can all die laughing because I'll wear it proudly.

Posted by Attila at 06:00 PM | Comments (8)

January 28, 2005


. . . gives us the Viagra Diaries.

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

More Recommendations from the Council

The votes are cast, and here are the top picks:

Council Winners:

Wallo World blog gives us "A Childlike Fantasy," which riffs on the promise—and perils—of the President's inaugural speech.

There must be an honorable mention for Little Red Blog's "Pogrom," which makes some important points about anti-Semitism today; sometimes it's in the air we breathe. Oxygen, please.

Non-Council Winner:

Cavalier’s Guardian Watchblog writes about "Zarqawi’s War on Democracy," which allowed a sliver of hope to creep back into my soul. If information "wants to be free," how much more, intrinsically, do people?

The complete list of Council Winners is available at the home turf of The Watcher Himself.

Posted by Attila at 02:42 AM | Comments (1)

Which America-Hating Minority Are You?

C'est moi, Baby:

I am a

Which America Hating Minority Are You?

Take More Robert & Tim Quizzes

Watch Robert & Tim Cartoons

I haven't done one of these silly quizzes in a good long time . . .

Posted by Attila at 02:03 AM | Comments (0)

Jeff Harrell

. . . updates us on his life, which has been interesting in a low-key sort of way. He quickly sums up the political realm:

George W. Bush started his second term in office on Thursday, and contrary to the doomsaying of what feels like about half the Internet, the Earth continued to revolve around the sun. Flying space dragons did not burn our cities to the ground. Secret police did not emerge from the shadows to drag our grandmothers off to prison. The Constitution did not burst into flames. Gravity continued to hold stuff down, and egg creams continued to be delicious. So we really dodged a bullet there. Or something.

Dan Rather is still on television … I assume. I haven't actually tuned in to any CBS news show since September. I think I'm probably not alone in that, either.

There's gonna be an election in Iraq next week. Rock on. In related news, the President thinks we need to invest $80 billion more in the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm not crazy about that, but better to spend money rebuilding Iraq now than to have to spend money bulldozing collapsed buildings and burying American dead later.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi went on record to say that he thinks democracy is "the big American lie" and that anybody who votes is an apostate. He said, "We have declared a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it." Who did he think he was going to impress with this? "Freedom bad! Me hate freedom!" Z-Man needs to fire his PR firm immediately.


Posted by Attila at 12:11 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2005

People Without Lives

In the course of my extensive research into the culture of West Wing fandom, I dropped by the bulletin board for that show over at Television Without Pity, where I immediately noticed the deleterious effects of Televisions Dweebishness on the human brain.

It's just nauseating: they have, like, their own little language. Really. Little "in" terms that only they recognize. Outsiders are expected to . . . I dunno. Read a whole bunch of their postings and sort of pick up on it gradually. I just couldn't get it out of my mind that these television nerds are building an entire subculture around TV!

From the Site's FAQ:

• Anvil/anvilicious: Used to indicate obvious or heavy-handed writing that has no regard for the viewer's intelligence, thus bludgeoning them over the head with parallels, et al. in the manner of Wile E. Coyote and his Acme Brand anvils.

• HoYay: Short for "homoeroticism, yay!" A celebration of textual and subtextual homoeroticism.

• Mary Sue: A character who's just a little too perfect to be believed.

• Ship/shipper: "Ship" is short for "relationship." If you are an X and Y "shipper," that's short for "relationshipper." That is, you want those two characters to be together.

• TPTB: "The Powers That Be." Generally designates writers and producers.

Can you believe these losers? Can't they get, like, a real hobby or something?

Posted by Attila at 11:19 PM | Comments (7)

The Common Virtue

. . . reprints—and places into context—a classic piece by Smash, the Indepundit.

Posted by Attila at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

So, I Wasn't Credentialed

. . . for CPAC 2005, the conservative convention to be held in the Ronald Reagan building (in Washington, D.C.) in late February. Instead, they are inviting some of the more obvious candidates, like James Joyner, Kevin Aylward, LaShawn Barber, and . . . Ana Marie Cox?

WTF? She's not even a conservative. I mean, what does Wonkette have that I don't have? I guess that would be: delicate Irish good looks, an actual readership, and a 55-gallon drum of KY jelly.

Fine. I had better things to do that weekend anyway. In fact, some of my friends may just get a cabin in the woods, and we could be playing in the snow like the SoCal boys and girls we'll always be at heart.

Posted by Attila at 02:09 PM | Comments (5)

And It Includes the Photoshop

Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities has a roundoup of "Desperate Liberals," including Nan, Hill, Barb . . . and a few others.

Go go go.

(I think he's made a vow never to use a picture of the real Barbra Streisand, but always to stick with female impersonators. Which works, of course.)

Posted by Attila at 12:59 PM | Comments (1)

The West Wing

. . . has been transforming itself for a year and a half into something other than simply a panagyric to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. It started last year, when two episodes featured the G.O.P. Speaker of the House as a fill-in for the President, whose daughter had been kidnapped and who felt he couldn't do his job.

That marked the beginning of the change. After that, I began watching The West Wing because it seemed to me when the show's ratings took a nosedive its producers finally realized a lot of the country (oddly enough) doesn't live in L.A. (which is just as well; traffic is awful here as it is). After that, the Republicans were no longer the enemy on the show: politics as usual was the enemy. Special interests were the enemy. Calcified thinking was the enemy.

Now, with Martin Sheen's contract nearly up, the next election in the West Wing parallel universe is going to take place a year early. Theoretically, the existing Vice President (whom few viewers take seriously) has a lock on the Democratic nomination, but there is at least one wild card candidate: Congressman Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits. A prominent White House staffer, Josh Lyman, is pushing hard to make him viable.

And then, there is the Republican senator, Arnold Vinick, played in a delicious role reversal by Alan Alda. There is the cognitive dissonance of hearing Alda denounce government spending, but it works. He's the GOP opposition here, and his views are delivered with respect.

There's also the ongoing sexual tension between Lyman and his former assistant, Donna Moss, who now works for the Vice President's campaign. Last night's installment had them staying in the same hotel, in rooms across the hall from each other. At one point Lyman crosses into the hall, raises his hand to knock on Moss's door, and thinks better of it. He goes back to his room alone, and the audience is left to wonder another week if those two will ever get together.

The episode ended with the renegade Latino congressman and the equally iconoclastic GOP senator sitting down in a hotel coffee shop to chat, and agreeing on a surprising number of things.

And the big question is, which of these two men will be elected President of the United States in the NBC parallel universe?

Some of the show's most avid fans see a split ticket in the future, but I can't imagine the show's producers would cross party lines and have one of these guys actually run with the other: the West Wing universe does, after all, need to parallel this one to some degree. What I can see is Alan Alda playing a Republican president in the show's next incarnation, with the Jimmy Smits character as his Secretary of Education.

I think it's going to play out something like that, and the transformation is meaningful because it represents NBC's ability to break out of its politically insular world, and admit that there are some good ideas to be found on the right.

It's time to give these people another chance; check it out.

Posted by Attila at 12:09 PM | Comments (1)

January 26, 2005

Dan at Riehl World View

May have a few tantalizing leads on the identity of the mysterious EWP.

Turns out she may be a female after all. Though maybe not elderly.

And Ed Wonk also claims to know; the plot thickens . . . It turns out we might be able to find out for less thatn the price of a 2004 pickup truck.

Posted by Attila at 01:37 AM | Comments (5)

Sex in the Morning

Turns out there's a huge controversey about it. I just mentioned it in the context of someone I was going out with when I was just out of college, and suddenly the "pro-morning sex" people were lining up against the "anti-morning sex" people. I was fascinated, since I hadn't realized any females at all fell into that first group.


1) [for women] How long does it take you to switch gears to get interested in sex in the morning? Is coffee/tea required? Do you need to shower, or at least brush your teeth?

2) [for men] Is sex in the morning the whole . . . gamut, or is it just taking care of your own side of things? That is, if you have sex in the morning can you really get the woman all the way to the Shining City on the Pillow? How? [I'm sure there's a way to be delicate about this.] Or is it just understood that this one is for you, and you'll do something nice for her later on?

3) [for women] If there's been some policy misunderstanding and you wake up in the middle of a congress, what's the etiquette?--"Um, you seem to have your dick in me"? Is there a tactful way to say "no" at that point?

4) [for women] Are you ever tempted to wake the man up for sex, say in the middle of the night? Ever do anything about it?

Posted by Attila at 01:06 AM | Comments (14)

January 25, 2005


Same blog, two links in a row. But it's going to happen every now and again, especially with James Joyner, Dean Esmay, and both of my favorite Jeffs.

This time it's Dean, who has a nice synopsis of the work being done by Free Muslims Against Terrorism. They just issued a statement about the upcoming Iraqi elections, which is worth a read (and excerpted in Dean's entry).

Posted by Attila at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2005


. . . is publishing the over/under on when the New York Times will proclaim the Iraqi elections worthless.

Posted by Attila at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)


Makes this important point:

I assume this synchronicity comes down to the usual astrological hooey. I suppose another one of those tiresome planets is in retrograde. Not that there's anything wrong with that; I don't care what planets do in their own space, as long as they don't request special rights, or orbit in public parks, or collide in front of my children. My children will learn astronomy when I feel they are ready, and not a moment before. And I see no reason to teach them about astrology at all.

That's holding the line.

Posted by Attila at 02:42 AM | Comments (9)


. . . has a roundup on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Right now I'm anti-abortion, but pro-choice. Don't expect that second part to last, however: not if I'm going to have to wait years to adopt a child because we are so determined to kill any that get conceived in any kind of irregular manner.

In my agency alone, there are at any given point 100 couples waiting for a baby: any baby. Learning disabilities are fine. Vision/hearing impaired is fine. Any race is usually fine.

But it still takes at least a year to get a baby, and often up to three.

Whether it's done through legislation, or through education, the rate at which we kill these kids has to come down. I'd frankly prefer to see it done voluntarily, rather than by legislative fiat. (Though of course Roe v. Wade gave us ill-reasoned judicial fiat.)

But now that we've brought the stigma of the pregnancy itself down to such manageable levels, and can provide young (and not-so-young) women with counseling, support, continuing education and first-rate prenatal care, why not allow them to do the right thing and make adoption plans for their babies? It's not easy, but neither is living with having had an abortion: you can trust me on this.

The pressure on girls to terminate pregnancies is simply overwhelming at times, and it usually comes most harshly from either her parents or the male who impregnated her.

And there's no good reason for it in most cases. Not any more.

UPDATE: Let's remember to keep the discussion civil.

BTW, Angle of Repose has some thoughts as well.

Posted by Attila at 02:29 AM | Comments (7)

January 23, 2005

Cat Blogging

Isn't that what you call it when you blog a cat fight between two whip-smart (and good-looking) bloggers?

By all accounts, Laurence started it.

And then Jeff responded in a couple of ways. But scroll his page to get the full bouquet of parmesan cheese posts.

Laurence got one of his cats to weigh in on the matter.

And I'm left to wonder which is more disturbing: a minor skirmish between two great bloggers, or the realization that Laurence Simon owns pre-grated parmesan!

The horror!

Posted by Attila at 05:33 PM | Comments (4)

Oakland Jeff

Has slipped into something comfortable.

For those of us who were fond of his blog's old look, it's worth noting that there are still camels on the site; it's just that one has to go looking for them.

Check out the new look.

Posted by Attila at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

I Don't Understand.

Why did Sony cast a Will Smith in a movie about a white British writer? Is this the new color-blind casting I keep hearing about, or just an oversight?

Posted by Attila at 01:05 AM | Comments (6)

For the Price of a 2004 Pickup Truck

. . . we will be given the keys to the kingdom. We will know the true identity of Esther Wilberforce-Packard.

As Chris himself admits, he's the weak link. We give him a late model truck, he gives us a picture of Esther herself (himself—and somehow I suspect Esther's a guy).

Who's going to start collecting the cash, and who wants to set up the "Free Esther" fund? And who will make the first pledge?

I'm tired of sending toys to children in Iraq. I'm tired of giving Afghanis shoes. I'm tired of care packages to our fine men and woman in uniform, tired of aid for tsunami victims. Tired of doing nice things. I'm just plain tuckered out with using the power of the internet for good.

Come on. I gots to know.

Posted by Attila at 12:21 AM | Comments (1)

January 22, 2005

Margi Lowry

(with a hard "g," remember)

has an opinion about electric stoves.

And she is correct. My electric stove has two virtues: 1) it has a little shelf in front that swings out (and it damned well better, since the burners are all squished together in a teensy row and I can only use 2-3 of them at a time), and 2) it looks like something out of the 1960s, and therefore goes really well with my retro-house.

I'd trade that to be able to cook effectively. In a lot of instances where the heat has to be changed quickly I need to use two burners, setting one to the high temp and one to the low temp so I can just switch the pot over from one to the other.

And there's only one burner that's big enough for most of my pots and pans, and that really gets hot.

Still, the whole matter is a damned high-quality problem, considering all that's going on in the world right now.

Posted by Attila at 07:07 PM | Comments (1)

I Know How Some of You Feel

. . . about Scrappleface, but I don't give a shit. Hop over to this post, and let me know what you think about the subtext.

Should it be permissible for Christian relief workers to "witness" to those they are ministering to, if it is not done in a heavy-handed way? Should they at least be allowed to answer questions about their own faith?


Posted by Attila at 02:05 AM | Comments (21)

January 21, 2005

Erotic Lesbian Post

If we take it as a given that it would be wrong for me to leave my husband for an elderly woman living in the upper midwest, does it become more wrong or less wrong when one considers that she doesn't really exist? Should I talk to my priest about this?

Saith Mrs. Esther Wliberforce-Packard:

I couldn't find my Friday socks. Damned if I was going to wear Saturday socks on a Friday. Saturday socks have acrylic fibers; Friday is cotton-only. Somebody has to stand up for what they believe in around here, and it might as well be me.

How can I not love her?

Posted by Attila at 11:01 PM | Comments (1)

January 20, 2005

From the Ebb and Flow Institute

Pile On has his own take on Dr. Rice's confirmation hearings:

SARBANES: I think the secretary who adopts a unilateralist approach in the international environment may miss important opportunities to prevent conflicts and to build alliances. And in that regard I just note that it's not enough to have the ear of the president. I think the secretary of state must also win the ear of the world. Are you going to make friends abroad?

RICE: I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn't possibly meet anyone else.

If you do nothing else today, read the whole thing.

Posted by Attila at 09:31 AM | Comments (7)

The Blogosphere and the Mystery of the Elderly Widow

Desert Cat finally popped the question: Who the heck is Esther Wilberforce-Packard, author of the blog Topic Drift?

Smart money says, no sweet little old lady is actually producing copy like this:

This Country is Full of Sandwiches that Do Not Work

Man is born free, but everywhere his sandwiches are in chains. Last night I forged a sandwich so hideous that I capitulated immediately. I set the bready beast in the dog’s bowl and walked away in despair. It was a complete waste of horseradish-mustard and good intentions; never again will I combine the two.

Apparently, Desert Cat had a few suspects lined up, including Jeff from Oakland, the Kommissar, and Allahpundit. But Jeff has denied it, and he was my top pick: I "liked" him for this "crime."

Furthermore, I don't think it's quite the Kommissar's style, and Allah has an alibi, if I recall correctly: he was dating on nights that a few of those posts were made.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Let me know if you have any hot suspects. This person is presumably maintaining an entire blog, just for the joke value, and has been doing it for months—on top of whatver other blogging duties he/she has. So it's someone who has patience.

The other thing we can do is try to identify Mrs. Wilberforce-Packard's earliest supporters. Those initial links must include a few from her creator's "real" blog.

Who's your top suspect? Let me know. After all, we blew RatherGate wide open: we can certainly determine the true identity of an eccentric widow.

Posted by Attila at 01:34 AM | Comments (8)

January 19, 2005

What Looks Good.

For the five blog readers who haven't seen it yet, Michele has a post up about whether Teri Polo is too skinny, and what makes women attractive in general. It takes the post a moment to load, as she's pushing 300 comments.

Interesting discussion, though there's no way to read it all in one sitting.

Posted by Attila at 10:43 AM | Comments (13)

More from Jib Jab!

I can't get enough of that so-so impression of Bush the Jibjab people specialize in. Just in time for the inaugeration, here's their latest—one that appears to call out for a yee-haw!

Posted by Attila at 01:22 AM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2005

Have Fun, Senator Boxer.

And, BTW, that's "Dr. Rice" to you.

In a few weeks, it'll be Secretary Rice.

In several years, it might well be President Rice.

Sleep tight.

Posted by Attila at 08:04 PM | Comments (5)

January 17, 2005


Jeff imagines what would happen if all that latent homoeroticism in some Muslim culture suddenly became flagrant.

More of the good type of explosions; less of the bad kind, I imagine.

UPDATE: Link fixed.

Posted by Attila at 11:12 AM | Comments (2)

January 16, 2005

Halle Berry's Unfortunate Gown

In the 80s we had to wear leotards as blouses. They were inconvenient for four reasons:

1) One couldn't wear a bra with a thing like that, because the straps would show; one was at the mercy of the lycra to squish things a bit and keep them under control.

2) Leotards had a tendancy to creep up one's ass. This wasn't fun.

3) The act of going to the bathroom became a process of many steps, especially because we usually had those stupid Danskin wraparound skirts over the leotards. This meant that one had to untie the skirt, hang it in the stall, and then pull the entire leotard—bodice included—down to one's thighs in order to pee. (Once in a while we could get by with simply pulling the crotch of the leotard aside, but this was impossible if we happened to be wearing tights to complete that "I accidentally look like a rather round dancer" look.)

4) At any given point, there was the very real risk that one might encounter a breeze, or walk through a cold room. This would suddanly make one's nipples stand out. But the stretchy fabric also had a habit of squishing one's boobs in different directions, depending on which half of the bodice got pulled on first; one nip would be up high, and the other, pointing down like it was going to communicate with the bettly button using tiny semaphore flags. So before going out one had to pinch one's nipples erect and examine them in the mirror, readjusting all that mammary tissue until the two points lined up. (No, you pervs: I didn't make a video. My then-boyfriend would walk in, though, and ask me if I needed a level.)

Halle Berry's bodice tonight at the Golden Globe awards appeared to be a monumnet to those who went out in the 80s wihout arranging their boobs, as it gave a sort of lopsided effect, with one mammary squished up, and the other one, down.

Either that, or her designer was on acid. I'm not sure which it is. But I'm done being catty, and I have to go now. Berry's a beautiful woman in a dress that makes her lovely jugs look weird and asymmetrical.


Next time, Halle, trust me. And only me. I'll steer you right.

Posted by Attila at 10:38 PM | Comments (20)

Laurence Is Full of Payola

Apparently, he has a connection to the TVA that might taint any reporting he ever does on them.

Of course, he bought an ad from me, so this link is pure corruption. (Or would be, if his entry weren't funny.)

* * *

Seriously, the issue is sticky. I've worked for a lot of magazines, and there is almost always some kind of relationship between advertising and editorial. Rarely have I seen the kind of "wall" built between the two that I think we'd all like to think is there. Some things, however, are over the line:

• A publisher declaring that a line of products cannot be mentioned in a magazine, because the company behind them failed to buy any ad pages (really, I've heard of this happening);

• A publisher mandating that reviews of advertisers' products must be positive;

• A radio commentator taking money from the executive branch of the government in order to push their agenda;

• A cable channel taking money from the executive branch of the government to promote drug abstinence;

• A blogger failing to disclose his financing;

• An entire media establishment so intense in its hatred of the President that all journalistic standards are thrown out the window in their attempts to smear him, and any mention of Rathergate is now met with "well, what about those WMD documents?" (For one thing, those documents were only one of many reasons the international community was convinced Saddam had WMDs, instead of being central to the case. For another, it took real experts to suss out their being forgeries, instead of something that's obvious to anyone who did any typing in the 70s, and/or had anything to do with the desktop publishing revolution of the 80s.) Here, the "payola" is psychic, and has to do with earning the approval of one's social circle. But it's real nonetheless.

Posted by Attila at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

Indian Ocean Tsunami Alerts

It's been impossible to get any good information on why the Indian Ocean didn't have any kind of tsunami alert system in place, a la the Pacific Ocean's U.N.-affiliated warning center. And things just get murkier:

Red tape stopped scientists from alerting countries around the Indian Ocean to the devastating Boxing Day tsunami racing towards their shores.

Scientists at the Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii - who have complained about being unable to find telephone numbers to alert the countries in peril - did not use an existing rapid telecommunications system set up to get warnings around the world almost instantly because the bureaucratic arrangements were not in place.

Senior UN officials attending a conference in Mauritius of small island countries - some of them badly hit by the tsunami, now recognised to have been the deadliest in history - revealed that the scientists did not use the World Meteorological Organisation's Global Telecommunication System to contact Indian Ocean countries because the "protocols were not in place".

The system is designed to get warnings from any country to all other nations within 30 minutes.

It was used to alert Pacific countries to the tsunami, even though it affected hardly any of them, and could have been used in the Indian Ocean if the threat had been from a typhoon, officials said, but it could not be used to warn about a tsunami.

Quite a teaser, there—but they don't elaborate on why this is so. I presume that the information exists among typhoon-watchers, but not in the tsunami-monitoring community. We've all heard the stories about people in the Pacific center trying to reach people in authority in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka—without success.

[. . .] There were "approved communication channels" for warnings about tropical cyclones in the area.

Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the meteorological organisation, said the system had proved to be particularly valuable last year, which was bad for hurricanes in the Caribbean and the Pacific.

But the Governments around the Indian Ocean rejected repeated pressure from Unesco and other UN bodies for a tsunami early-warning system in their area because it was expensive, they had many calls on their resources and there had been no tsunamis in the ocean for more than 100 years.

The UN now says that the Boxing Day tsunami was the deadliest ever. The only one that even begins to rival it smashed through the Mediterranean around 1400BC after the destruction of the island of Santorini. On that occasion 100,000 people are estimated to have died.

* This week several international UN meetings begin in order to establish tsunami warning systems in the Indian Ocean and worldwide over the next 2 1/2 years.

That's odd, because I had heard that the U.N. doesn't charge member countries to be part of a tsunami alert system, and that the nations along the Indian Ocean could, at the least, have joined the Pacific warning center without any cost to them. I have heard that the coastal areas had tremendous resistance to the idea of having tsunami alerts at all, for fear that any false alarms would hurt the tourist trade.

But clearly there's a need, and the Atlantic should have this coverage as well.

Posted by Attila at 01:09 PM | Comments (2)

January 15, 2005

Speaking of Hugh Hewitt


As do we all. Make mine lemon meringue, please.*

* And I don't care what the mainstream media say; I'm eating it for breakfast!

Posted by Attila at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

Can We Get Over

. . . this unfortunate habit of referring to the male genitals as "junk"? It's only slightly less offensive than the British "naughty bits."

On the other hand, at least there are terms for the male genitalia that encompass the entire area. Most term that refer to female genitals only refer to the canal . . . you know: the useful part.

Of course, sexual slang is generally really inadequate to describe the human equipment and experience. We should, really, be able to do better.

That said, I'm glad to finally know the origin of the term "going commando." Carry on.

Posted by Attila at 10:55 PM | Comments (9)

Islam in the Indian Ocean

Laurence has a plan that's absolutely diabolical.

I don't condone it, of course. But I wouldn't be 100% surprised if this were attempted.

Posted by Attila at 12:40 AM | Comments (2)

January 14, 2005

Clint Eastwood Lays Down the Law

Has everyone heard this story now? I got it from Larry Elder, and then grabbed this account off the web.

Clint Eastwood was at the National Board of Review Awards dinner in New York on Tuesday, accepting an award for Million Dollar Baby. Michael Moore was also at the event, having received a "Freedom of Expression" award. So Clint pointed out that he and Moore actually had a lot in common. For instance, "we both value freedom of expression." Then he looked right at Moore and added, "but, Michael, if you ever show up on my doorstep with a camera, I'll kill you."

The audience laughed, and Eastwood added, "I'm serious."

News accounts don't tell us if his eyes still twinkled, so I'm not positive what the yin/yang balance was in that moment.

But if he did mean it in a hostile way, and I were Michael Moore, I'm afraid I'd be tempted to call his bluff on this one.

Maybe not, though: there is The Power of Clint. One has to consider Eastwood Exceptionalism.

What, exactly, would happen if the sheriffs in Carmel were called out to Clint's place and encountered the enormous carcass of Moore in front of the former mayor's home? If there were a camera in Moore's hands, it might well be written off as a suicide.

Just sayin'.

Posted by Attila at 10:01 AM | Comments (4)

January 13, 2005

Don't Be Fooled by My Hazel Eyes.

I'm full of crap, too. Why, just look at the crap on my blogad column. It's a harbinger of crap to come.

For the next two weeks, the protocol for accessing Laurence's site is:

1) visit Little Miss Attila;

2) skim over her brilliant postings and be really impressed;

3) click on the This Blog Is Full of Crap ad on the right to access Lair's blog;

4) repeat daily, to get the best from both a SoCal former English major and the world's cleverest Texan Jew (eat your heart out, Kinky Friedman).

Posted by Attila at 12:21 PM | Comments (3)

Now THIS Is Art

Get your velvet Jeff while they're hot.

Posted by Attila at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2005

You're Kidding.

Color me astonished.

Posted by Attila at 01:35 PM | Comments (1)

January 11, 2005

Celebrity Journalism

A good friend of mine once told me I should read a particular magazine, because it has "great celeb photos." I considered saying, I guess I still want to be your friend.

Celeb photos. This person, when he recognizes an actor or other performer on the street, actually stops to talk to them. I mean, he isn't obnoxious about it or anything, but unless I have a special feel for someone's work I can't imagine speaking to them. I usually just give a little half-smile as our eyes meet.

And, no—I can't imagine putting together a list of actors I've seen in person, even throwing out the events I've gone to on my husband's arm (which included a tribute to Steven Spielberg—as you might imagine, there were a lot of "names" in the room that night). We just see people in L.A., and most of us don't want to risk "bugging" them unless we have something significant to say.

I'll tell you the first, though: It was Peter Falk. I was in an ice cream parlor in Westwood Village (part of the Swensen's chain, IIRC). I was maybe 12 years old, and Falk had clearly been filming an episode of Columbo (the ones in the 70s—remember, I'm old), because he had his trenchcoat on and makeup on his face to make his complexion just a bit deeper. I was eating my ice cream and looked up suddenly to see a face I knew intimately. I think the shock registered on my face, and Falk smiled at me. Then he ordered his own ice cream. I've always hoped that I regained my wits and smiled back at him, but I don't remember for sure.

Five years later I got to know some friends who were making a short super-8 film that was a Columbo parody. Fifteen years or so after that, one of those same friends found himself to be a new business owner due to a chain of events that involved Peter Falk.

My point is that in L.A. (and New York, to some degree) the cult of celebrity is like oxygen: just in the air. I've been thinking about this as I consider getting involved in one or more projects that involve reporting on celebrities. At first blush, my nerdly indifference to these matters other people are so concerned with might appear to be a liability. Once I thought it through, however, I realized the fact that I don't succomb to any kind of hero-worship could actually help me in covering some of the entertainment figures around town.

After Peter Falk smiled at me, it was all over. I saw behind the veil.

At my Publishing Group meeting tonight the one of the celeb magazines had some staffers on hand discussing how they handled the "Brad and Jennifer" issue, which had to be rushed into print in a matter of days. One of the discussions that went into that cover story was a brainstorming session in which staffers sat around considering what ordinary Americans might be curious about regarding the breakup.

"Like, what sorts of questions might your mother ask?" one of the editors enquired of the others in the group.

And when this was quoted in our meeting I thought, "my mother? She'd want to know, Brad and Jennifer who? And why should I care?"

So I'm a second-generation nerd. The difference being, I can snap out of it at will.

You all be good. Think twice about wishing for fame and fortune: fortune alone is handier and safer. It also leads to less social awkwardness: you aren't followed by hordes of people on photo safari, and no one approaches you on the street, apropos of nothing, and just starts talking.

Posted by Attila at 11:56 PM | Comments (6)

Sun's Out

And I hope it stays that way. There's water flowing through our yard, like there has been for the past week and a half. All our footpaths are little streams, and there's an almost-mildewy scent in the air that suggests to me that the leach fields for our septic system are underwater. Even in between rains, the water just will not stop coming.

When I went out last night in a not-too-heavy rain I saw roads closed all over, since the local hillsides have started giving way. There's one tree down in our neighborhood, and there's been hardly any wind: it's just that when the hills are saturated and losing soil due to fast erosion, there's not too much holding the trees in place.

If we get high winds in the next month this town will lose a lot of houses: there are a lot of very large trees around here, and some of them will fall down in the wrong directions.

It's a beautiful day, and the clouds over the nearby mountains are as lovely as they always are. But with the weather forecasts mixed, I find myself scrutinizing the clouds, and more ambivalent than usual about the "drama" of the view: snow-capped mountiains. Lots of clouds.

The drainage system at the house across the street (and considerably uphill) from us has jumped its confines, so there's a fair amount of sand, mud and gravel on the road.

There are little waterfalls everywhere.

But all will be well if the rain doesn't start again.

As I said before, it's almost never been intense. There have been very few cloudbursts, other than the one a week ago that included hail and caught me in the parking lot at Ralph's wearing jeans and a cashmere sweater. ("Well, who knew?—real weather. If I lived anywhere else I'd have the sense to be wearing a jacket.")

Mostly what we're getting is a steady drumbeat of water, water, water quietly overwhelming all the systems we have in place to dispose of it. More rain in two weeks than we usually get in the entire rainy season.

If it lets up, and if we don't get high winds while the hillsides are still saturated, there won't be too much more property damage, and—I hope—no more people will die.

And I can go back to loving the way the clouds look over the San Gabriels.

Posted by Attila at 02:20 PM | Comments (1)


is asking for help in setting the President's agenda for the next four years. Please do your part.

Posted by Attila at 09:00 AM | Comments (5)

Well, Now.

That was lovely: nothing like spending two hours with your husband on a Monday evening, trying to guide the water out of the basement, as it seeps in through the little "weeping holes" in the wall. I've never seen the basement so flooded, even during that much-hyped "El Nino" year.

Plastic sheeting is horrible, since there's always a seam between the pieces, and the water makes its way in between them. This frustrates us, and makes our tempers fray. (There were difference in tactical notions: is it better to cover a wide area with the plastic sheets, or a smaller area that acts more like a funnel for the water? Each was convinced his/her own ideas were correct, so as I recall we alternated in whose got implemented.)

All I can think of is to make a hollow in the basement floor and install a decorative little streambed right along the middle. It would be a conversation piece, and it would impart bitchin' feng shui to the place. And it would come handy on years like this, when all of SoCal turns into a large fish bowl.

Somewhere, in Florida, I hear people laughing.

Come on in; the water's fine. And you won't even need your shades.

Posted by Attila at 12:04 AM | Comments (5)

January 10, 2005

MemoGate Report Is Out; So Are Four CBS Execs, Including Mary Mapes

Well, it's here. Editor and Publisher reports:

Four CBS executives were fired Monday following the release of an independent investigation that said a "myopic zeal" led to a "60 Minutes Wednesday" story about President Bush's military service that relied on allegedly forged documents.

The network fired Mary Mapes, producer of the report; Josh Howard, executive producer of "60 Minutes Wednesday" and his top deputy Mary Murphy; and senior vice president Betsy West.

<. . .>

Dan Rather, who narrated the report, announced in November that he was stepping down as anchor of the "CBS Evening News," but insisted the timing had nothing to do with the investigation.

The independent investigators -- former Republican Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and Louis Boccardi, retired president and chief executive officer of The Associated Press -- said they could find no evidence to conclude the report was fueled by a political agenda.

The network's drive to be the first to break a story about Bush's National Guard service was a key reason it produced a story that was neither fair nor accurate and did not meet CBS News' internal standards, the investigators said.

What do you want to bet some bloggers will see things differently?

According to RatherBiased, there is a “war” going on within CBS over how much of the report to release publicly—and how soon. How much is released (and when) will tell us just how serious the folks at CBS are about changing the corporate culture.

UPDATE: The report is now available as a PDF. Outside the Beltway has the link, extensive quotes, analysis, and a mini-roundup of blogger reactions.

The main controversy in the 'sphere seems to be whether this report is a "whitewash" of the situation (Hugh Hewitt), or "damning" (James Joyner). It is apparent to me that some of the language was softened a little bit before the report was released (the point is made, for instance, that there's no "absolute certainty" that the memos in question were forged; sure—if someone has a secret time travel machine, the documents might have been produced in the present day by an individual who hopped right back to the 70s, clutching the memos in his/her hot little hands).

But the litanies of egregious lapses of journalistic integrity in the report speak for themselves, and of all the recent media scandals (The New York Times, etc.) this one has by far the highest "body count."

Dan Rather may still have his job, and he may well be sitting in the anchor's chair for a few more months. But he's been publicly humiliated, as has CBS in its entirety.

Diplomatic language aside, the report is ultimately brutal in its assessment, and it brought CBS to its knees. All that remains to be seen is whether this is a one-time gesture or a permanent change in the way 60 Minutes does business.

Posted by Attila at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

More from the Council!

The winning entries this week:

The Education Wonks give us Student’s Classroom Beating Caught on Videotape, which is a bit of a wake-up call regarding just how bad things have gotten in today's public schools.

And there's an honorable mention here: Resplendent Mango wrote a piece called Evacuation, in which she asks some provocative questions about crisis readiness in NYC.


The ever-fascinating Diplomad has kept us up-to-date with the UN's ineptness when it comes to dealing with real problems like the tsunami disaster. In More UNReality . . . But the Dutch Get It he gives us more details regarding the actions of individual countries (India, the U.S. Australia, Holland) and the masturbatory antics of the United Nations.

There's another honorable mention here: Darn Floor uses the tsunami crisis to talk about what he calls "The Elephant in the Living Room" regarding the events in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Seychelles: where the hell is God? For part of the answer, he refers us to the Book of Job. For some of the rest, read his entry.

The complete list of winners/runners up is here.

Posted by Attila at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)

Happy Feet Around the 'Sphere

This is one of those moments when one can only think, "why didn't anyone think of this before?"

Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities has put together "A Foot Fetishist's Guide to the Blogosphere," featuring the tootsies of many eminent bloggers. This is the kind of public service that should win him an award.

At least, from people who dig feet.

Posted by Attila at 07:33 AM | Comments (3)

January 09, 2005

So, I Need a Job.

Which means either a few more freelance clients or an actual staff positon. Send me a note at miss.attila AT gmail DOT com if you have any leads.

What I've been doing lately: fact-checking, copyediting, proofreading. (And some writing on the side.)

What I can do: coordination, juggling, research, writing. I'm pretty good at dealing with people. I have the full range of office skills (minus Powerpoint, which I could pick up quite quickly with a little help) and can use Mac and Windows machines.

What I've done: everything from an assistant/coordinator to a managing editor. I used to make the "maps" that determined where advertising and stories were placed within magazines. Called "page dummies" or "maquettes," these were like huge puzzles, because each advertiser had its rules for where its ad needed to be placed, but the magazine would also have its own rules—and frequently these conflicted. The overall effect had to be just right, as well.

What I'd like to do: either research/coordination, or another job in publishing—in print or online. (My print background is very heavy: I've done most jobs involved in putting out magazines, with the exceptions of sales and art direction. My online experience is limited to blogging, but I obviously know html and the general principles involved. I'd say that my computer skills are okay for a plain old human being, but low for a blogger. For instance, I've never actually written a computer program.)

Location: Anywhere in and around Pasadena and L.A. for a staff job, and I do proofreading/editing of books from my home (through the miracle of FedEx). So I can definitely telecommute if necessary.

Posted by Attila at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

Samuel Beckett

"I can't go on, I'll go on."

Posted by Attila at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

January 08, 2005

Time Out!

Remember how I've been reminding everyone that we—meaning Libertarians and Realio-Trulio Conservatives—were about to start squabbling in earnest, and implored everyone to be civil and respectful?

Well, it's started. And I'm having trouble finding civil or respectful on the menu.

I've got a Glock .40, and I don't want to sit the other right-wing bloggers down and make them sing "Kumbayah" like schoolchildren in "enlightened" classrooms.

But I will if I have to.

Posted by Attila at 01:10 AM | Comments (6)

Hosting Matters Down

Which means that Power Line isn't available, and if you want Glenn, you need to go to the Instapundit Backup Site (where he'll be posting tomorrow, Saturday, if the problem persists; right now, he's in bed).

It looks like it was a DDOS attack. (More on Denial of Service problems at WikiPed, including DDOS's.)

It's been alleged that the targets were right-wing sites; anyone know any left-leaning sites that use Hosting Matters?

Very odd.

Posted by Attila at 12:49 AM | Comments (7)

January 07, 2005

Instead of Money

If you're looking for a more tangible way to help the tsunami victims, here's a wayyou can buy new items (a list is provided), and have them sent to the troubled areas, via FedEx, for free.

If this is what you want to do, do it today. Let's get that plane filled with necessities for the survivors.


Posted by Attila at 05:12 PM | Comments (2)

My Fiction Group

. . . says "less dialogue, more exposition and description." Then they all try to lessen the sting by telling me how marvelous my dialogue is: to hear them talk, you'd think the angels write dialogue like mine. It's so authentic. It crackles. It's the way people talk. They practically have orgasms when they hear my dialogue.

"Actually," I want to point out, "all my characters sound like me, and if I ever have to write about people who aren't smart-ass psuedo-intellctuals, I'll be in deep shit."

I say nothing. I'll add some description to the chapter, and it won't hurt me a bit.


Posted by Attila at 10:18 AM | Comments (4)


I'm halfway out of the funk. I've even managed to do a constructive thing or two. So we'll be back to normal around here in no time—and then won't you be sorry? (Long posts that go nowhere, naval-gazing essays, silly observations . . . it'll be awful.)

Posted by Attila at 10:12 AM | Comments (2)

Where Does He FIND This Stuff?

Jeff of Beautiful Atrocities has some answers from the Muslim Dear Abbey. Like, who knew it wasn't okay to read while on the toilet? Not me.

UPDATE: Iowahawk makes a good thing better. Read this one after you drop by Jeff's place.

Posted by Attila at 09:59 AM | Comments (2)

January 06, 2005


not eating will save me scads of money. After all, that's our second-largest monthly outlay. I'm be thin and rich. Yay!

Posted by Attila at 02:20 PM | Comments (4)

Over at The Brutality of Reason

Ironcross discusses the military's super-secret plan for Islamic genocide. Well, sooner or later the cat was bound to come out of the bag, huh?

Posted by Attila at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)

You Go, Big Guy

The Spear Shaker has a summary of Schwarzennegger's aggressive reform plan for Cauli-fornia.

Posted by Attila at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2005

Well, There's That

I forwarded a post by another blogger—one I consider particularly clever—to a friend, who sent a missive back to the effect that it was quite an interesting little entry, but "why don't you all go out and get jobs?"

My plan: wait until he isn't looking, and spit in his drink sometime when he least expects it.

Posted by Attila at 11:37 PM | Comments (2)

Silver Linings

Just one more thing about my depression: right now, I'm about five pounds north of being able to fit into my hip-huggers.* If this thing continues for a few more days, I'll be able to wear 'em without any problem at all.

*Or, "jeans with a slight low-rise quality," to you young whippersnappers who are still experiencing all fashion trends the first time around. (I'm up to the second wave on everything.)

Posted by Attila at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

The Beautiful Thing

. . . about being depressed/unhappy at this time of month is I'm absolutely sure it isn't hormones. After all, this is supposed to be the happy/horny era, and all I want to do is hide under the bed and weep.

This timing business is more important than you might imagine. After all, if I might be PMS-ing (and it's never that clear these days, as perimenopause sets in), I'm never certain whether I can trust my perceptions or not.

It's lovely to know that I can at least think clearly without physiological interference. Provided, of course, that I remember to eat a little, and that I manage to sleep.

It's the mind-body problem. Or, if you like, something akin to the observations of Raymond Chandler and Joan Didion about what happens to residents of Los Angeles during a Santa Ana wind. Except that it's all inside one human being, and the weather guy doesn't ever let you know.

Neither, these days, does the calendar.

Posted by Attila at 09:13 PM | Comments (2)

Cranky Copy Editor Stuff

Please bear in mind that up is not a verb; I don't care what worthless rag you're composing headlines or captions for.

Posted by Attila at 01:26 PM | Comments (18)

Deadlines Beckon

. . . so it'll be light posting today. In the meantime, check out all the bitchin' sites on my blogroll (most of it's on the left sidebar, but the Watcher's Council members are listed on the right sidebar).

And, above all, be good.

Posted by Attila at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

On the Dangers of Misreporting; How We Encourage Terrorism

Hindrocket has an excellent digest of a Melanie Phillips speech over at Power Line. Phillips is a British writer who points out that the West's responses to terrorism play into the hands of those who would harm us.

Posted by Attila at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2005

Jeff in Colorado

. . . is fighting blogger burnout at Protein Wisdom.

Possible cures:

1) People might stop by more, boosting his traffic and lifting his spirits;

2) Someone "important" could link him;

3) Scrappleface could stop blogging, and send his traffic to Jeff;

4) A company or five might buy a handful of blogads, yielding some actual income for this hobby/disease of blogging;

5) Some of his fans might send him their underwear (perhaps bras rather than panties, so as not to upset Mrs. Wisdom);

6) He might pace himself, and only write a couple of entries a day, filling the extra time with some other hobby/disease/vice/addiction;

7) Jeff could watch Play Misty for Me, and ponder the notion that every fan is a potential stalker. This might lead him to watch his step and drop the threats of quitting.

Just tryin' to be helpful.

Posted by Attila at 10:35 AM | Comments (3)

50,000 Hits

This week. Probably within about 48 hours.

Not that, you know, I keep track.

I mean, this is art for art's sake; why on earth would I need an audience?

Posted by Attila at 10:29 AM | Comments (5)

More on Tsunami Aid: This Is Not a Competition

Chuck Simmons is keeping a running tally on private American tsunami aid on the left sidebar of his main blog page. Check back with him when you're worried that we're "not doing enough," but keep in mind:

1) This is not a contest among nations; we're all just doing what we can;

2) Some people will always criticize whatever the U.S. does, and we just need to deal with that rather than get all hot and bothered;

3) We aren't likely to get "the highest ranking" on a per-capita basis (I believe that honor goes to the Dutch), and that's okay. The U.S. and the Australians are taking the lead and doing tremendous good over there right now, and we should be happy about that.

This class isn't graded on a curve, okay?

Posted by Attila at 10:26 AM | Comments (2)

The Diplomad

. . . has a few updates. Looks like the EUs will mostly follow the UN model (that is, hold meetings) and the Dutch will likely throw their lot in with the group led by the Aussies/Yanks.

Posted by Attila at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

I'm Having a Mulder Moment

I really want to believe.

Posted by Attila at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

Now That I'm Over the Slump

I should point out that, as a mid-level blogger, I'm the perfect place to advertise if you're just starting out (or have a low-key blog you'd like to publicize more effectively).

I get a decent amount of traffic, which isn't just my core readership but a resonable number of heavy hitters who stop by on at least a weekly basis. (No, that doesn't include Glenn Reynolds, but you'd be surprised how well a person can do without getting any Instalanches whatsoever.)

I'm back up to 500+ hits a day, now that the post-election and holiday slumps are over with. I'm still small enough, however, for ads to be really cheap ($10-$20/month, depending on my stats at the exact moment you buy the ad).

Keep in mind that if you do want to run an ad, an image, photo, or icon (some kind of artwork, no matter how simple) will likely make it more effective. So try to have that ready when you get started. And I've been told that it's easier to find me in the Blogads system by going through my existing adstrips, rather than trying to find me on their site. (Go to the right-hand sidebar, and find "I've wanted to sell out all my life," or [further down] "Advertise here.")

We now return you to your regularly scheduled less-overt—understated—ad-whoring and link-whoring. Which means I can take off these fishnets and high heels, now, and get back into my corduroys. Yay!

Posted by Attila at 07:35 AM | Comments (4)

You Can Blow Out a Candle . . .

"But you can't blow out a fire."

The governor of Baghdad was just assassinated. In that light, Smash's observation about Bin Laden's increasing desperation is particularly important to bear in mind.

Democracy is coming to the Middle East, and neither the Baathists nor the Islamists can stop it.

Both Bin Laden and Zarqawi are living on borrowed time.

That said, I'm sick to death by what we've seen and what we will see this month. But there's no way around—only through.

Posted by Attila at 07:15 AM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2005

The Diplomad

. . . continues to report on the efforts of the Australians/Americans, and the tragic, funny floundering of the U.N.:

In this part of the tsunami-wrecked Far Abroad, the UN is still nowhere to be seen where it counts, i.e., feeding and helping victims. The relief effort continues to be a US-Australia effort, with Singapore now in and coordinating closely with the US and Australia. Other countries are also signing up to be part of the US-Australia effort. Nobody wants to be "coordinated" by the UN. The local UN reps are getting desperate. They're calling for yet another meeting this afternoon; they've flown in more UN big shots to lecture us all on "coordination" and the need to work together, i.e., let the UN take credit. With Kofi about to arrive for a big conference, the UNocrats are scrambling to show something, anything as a UN accomplishment. Don't be surprised if they claim that the USS Abraham Lincoln is under UN control and that President Lincoln was a strong supporter of the UN.

And it gets better/worse:

UPDATE: WFP (World Food Program) has "arrived" in the capital with an "assessment and coordination team." . . . The team has spent the day and will likely spend a few more setting up their "coordination and opcenter" at a local five-star hotel. And their number one concern, even before phones, fax and copy machines? Arranging for the hotel to provide 24hr catering service. USAID folks already are cracking jokes about "The UN Sheraton." Meanwhile, our military and civilians, working with the super Aussies, continue to keep the C-130 air bridge of supplies flowing and the choppers flying, and keep on saving lives -- and without 24hr catering services from any five-star hotel . . . . The contrast grows more stark every minute.
Posted by Attila at 02:29 AM | Comments (1)

Work and the Holidays

Mark Steyn ran an interesting little column about the difference between European sensibilities and those here in the U.S. with respect to work. He points out that the European phrase "over Christmas" has come to mean between Christmas and sometime in mid-January, and that the entire affair takes nearly three weeks. He points out that for many here in the States, the next working day is a real working day, even if it's the 26th of December. I might argue with that, in that a lot of offices shut down or perform only essential functions between Christmas and New Year's, but there is an underlying principle that is correct.

I was just at the annual party of a Pasadena friend who calls his January function "Back to Reality," meaning that his soiree is the official dividing line between "the holidays" and "the real world." This always occurs on the first Sunday after New Year's Day, which means that it happened today, though the New Year's Day floats were still on display in Pasadena, which didn't help people in getting to his house. Many assumed that "Back to Reality" would take place the following week, but this friend is an engineer: January 2nd it was. My point being, there might be a little wiggle room on either side, but for most Americans with office jobs, the absolute maximum time off in the winter is probably two weeks, and for many it's closer to two days. For some, it's one day, Christmas itself.

My husband tells me that the 6th is a good, traditional last moment for taking down the Christmas decorations in the Catholic world, though I was always told the day after New Year's. I'll accept the later time as the real deadline, because that's my way. Again: there's a matter of interpretation, but there are eventually Real Limits. (Except for me: I got sucked into a 70-hour/week job one January and didn't box up my Christmas ornaments that year until late June. I've sewn a scarlet "Noel" onto my clothing, though, so people will know my shame.)

But the fundamental difference between the European approach and that of Americans is in our conviction that at some point "the piper must be paid." Even the entertainment industry, which on a superficial level resembles the European aristocracy—doing next to nothing between Thanksgiving and the second in January—takes that time after months of working schedules that would kill any number of Europeans (and I say that with love). Those whom many regard as the American answer to aristocrats, actors and actresses, work 12-hour days when they have a project, and sometimes spend the weeks or months in between projects in a state of nervous collapse. It just ain't the same as the European attitude that says we're entitled to six weeks' vacation every year, and someone ought to pay for it.

The French and Germans, who average 40 days vacation a year, assume the reason Americans don't take holidays is because they don't get them. In fact, it's very hard persuading Americans to take the ones they do get. In rural states, most federal holidays -- Presidents Day, Martin Luther King Day, etc. -- go unobserved except by banks and government agencies. It was all I could do to persuade my assistant not to come in on Christmas Day -- ''just for a couple of hours in the morning in case there's anything urgent,'' she says pleadingly.

''There won't be anything urgent,'' I scoff.

''What about all that European research you wanted me to chase up?''

''Those deadbeats won't be back in the office till the week before Valentine's Day.'' Since lunchtime on Dec. 23, every business in Europe has been on an answering machine.

So there's your difference right there: we have a drive here, a desire to get things done right. To put in the time to make it so. And it makes our economy stronger than those in Europe, which are roughly comparable to our more disadvantaged states (think Arkansas, Mississippi—nothing against these places, but not the model of economic development London and Paris should be emulating).

Steyn again:

In 1999, the average ''working'' German worked 1,536 hours a year, the average American 1,976. In the United States, 49 percent of the population is in employment, in France 39 percent. From my strictly anecdotal observation of German acquaintances, the ideal career track seems to be to finish school around 34 and take early retirement at 42. By 2050, the pimply young lad in lederhosen serving you at the charming beer garden will be singlehandedly supporting entire old folks' homes. If tax rates were to be hiked commensurate to the decline in tax base and increase in welfare obligations, there would be no incentive at all to enter the (official) job market. Better to stay at school till 38 and retire at 39. That's why America's richer, and why, though the Europeans preen about their kinder, gentler society, customers of Amazon.com have pledged more money to disaster relief in the Indian Ocean than the French government.

It's horrifying because it's true. Finally, Deacon's quote at Power Line that turned me on to Steyn's column in the first place:

Europe has a psychological investment in longer holidays: The fact that they spell national suicide is less important than that they distinguish Europe from the less enlightened Americans. Many aspects of European life are, indeed, very pleasant: jobs for life, three-week Yuletides, etc. But they're what the environmental crowd would call ''unsustainable development.'' Despite the best efforts of lethargic Scotsmen, it can't be Christmas all year round.

Nor would I really want it to be. Europe has a problem. A big problem. They are on an economic bender that will eventually produce one hell of a hangover.

Posted by Attila at 01:25 AM | Comments (13)

January 02, 2005

Too Cool.

I made Malkin's blogroll, despite our differences of opinion on how to fix the illegal immigration problem.

She even linked me a few weeks back.

Is this significant beyond my link-whorish existence? Maybe, in a certain symbolic sense: I wondered, after the last Presidential election, whether the neocons, more traditional conservatives, and libertarians who came together to re-elect President Bush would be able to get along at all after the task at hand was finished.

I've had a few spirited discussions lately on hot topics (medical marijuana, gays in the military) with some of the more traditional conservative bloggers and commenters out there, and I've been very encouraged by how rarely these talks degenerate into name-calling. It seems that most of us who would like to see the War on Terror won have been able to keep in mind how important that is, and focus in on it. We do need to hash these other issues out, and engage in the debates we are having now—but it needs to be done right.

Yes, I'll be doing more reading on the immigration issue. And I do agree that the existing "system" isn't any such thing, and is dangerous. So far, I'm pretty libertarian on the issue, and feel that a willing seller of labor and a willing buyer should be able to get together with as few restrictions as possible. (I believe people like me are called "Wall Street Journal" types, and there's usually some implication that we're blinded by our corporate financial interests, which I would desperately love to acquire—gas money for this month would be a nice start.)

But I'm willing to read and learn, and I'll certainly begin with Malkin's primers.

Posted by Attila at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)


Parents are upset that their local Catholic school is accepting as students the sons of a gay couple.

So a Roman Catholic education is "an advantage for life," but it's worth denying it to two boys because the adults in their household are gay? Presumably that's not the "fault" of the boys themselves.

The school administrators point out that if they aren't supposed to accept students whose parents don't follow Church teachings, then they shouldn't accept the sons and daughters of divorced people, either—or those who use birth control.

How do these parents sleep at night, knowing they are willing to let children suffer for "the sins of their fathers"? Literally?


Hat tip to Kay.

Posted by Attila at 11:13 PM | Comments (3)

New Uses for Tampons

Blackfive has an amazing story about a male Marine who accidentally got a care package meant for a female, and how it ended up saving another Marine's life.

Apparently, the fact that tampons expand helps them to stop the bleeding when they are inserted into certain types of wounds. Now the other guys have started carrying tampons around with them, just in case.

Superabsorbent fibers, individual packaging that keeps 'em clean—I can see it, and I wonder why we didn't think of it before.

Read the whole thing, though: it's told from the point of view of the Marine Mom who coordinated the sending of packages, and how her initial embarrassment about the mixup turned to pride in American ingenuity.

Via McGehee.

Posted by Attila at 10:09 AM | Comments (5)

One Possible Future

. . . Though, in all fairness, I must admit I hope it doesn't happen quite this way. Not in every particular, at least. (The film is supposedly eight minutes long, but it felt like 4-5. They say if you give it two minutes, you'll stay for the whole eight.)

Via the Commissar, who's declared himself a "light blogger" for the indefinite future. The Ghost of Allah, I believe, is whispering in bloggers' ears: "if it doesn't pay enough to be a job, are you enjoying it enough to make it a hobby?" Don't listen: he'll drive you mad.

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

Discovering the Hidden Gems of the Internet

Via Tulip Girl, I just ran across the most amazing set of blog awards for 2004. Voting is open for the first two weeks of 2005, but you'll need a lot of time, since virtually none of the blogs is the least bit well-known (with the possible exception of Tulip Girl herself). It's called the "Best of Blog" (or BoB/Bob) awards.

The concept is fascinating, and the entire enterprise is designed to 1) highlight smaller blogs that may not get too much traffic, and 2) steer away from political bloggers and toward those who focus on such concerns as knitting, writing, homeschooling (Tulip Girl's category), cooking, fitness, parenting, and sex.

It's a truly charming concept, and was put together by a group of panelists who made the sacrifice of exempting themselves from their respective categories. (And, no—I hadn't heard of any of them, either.)

Those of us who take the blogosphere seriously as a full-spectrum entertainment arena should check some of these "personal bloggers" out. (My own favorite on a few of those subjects is Angelweave, though Heather's blogging's been light lately and she keeps forgetting to set MT so that it shows the last several posts, rather than the last several days' worth of posts. The secret? Go to her main site, find the "recent entries" on her sidebar, and simply click on those one by one. That'll work until she fixes the display issue. She is the queen of fitness and nutrition bloggers, so stay and peruse the archives, too.)

It's also nice to remember that there's more to life than whatever political point of view we're respectively pushing (those of us who have a political bent, that is—and if you figure out what my own political orientation is, please do let me know). Don't our near and dear keep telling us we should "get out more"? Well, this is "getting out," without having to shed our pyjamas. Everyone wins.

Posted by Attila at 12:44 AM | Comments (4)

January 01, 2005

Talk About Your Chicken Soup.

People are doing all sorts of things to help the Tsunami victims in Asia.

Via Kay.

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

So Now

. . . I'm being accused of having dirty boobs. I don't think I do, because I'm positive my husband would have let me know. He's always checking them, and it was never before clear what he was checking for, exactly, but now I understand that it must have been dirt.

So I'm pretty sure that the quick-swipe-with-a-bar-of-soap-on-the-underside system works, and it takes 10 seconds, incuding rinse time. But just to be sure, I'll have my husband check 'em again. Because who wants to walk around with dirty boobs? Not me.

Posted by Attila at 02:01 PM | Comments (2)

Ukraine Crosses the Finish Line

I have to admit that I sort of held my breath until it was truly over.

And now Ukraine was one of the few countries in the world that simply couldn't celebrate the New Year under the dark cloud of the Asian crisis: it's too happy an occasion for them. Le Sabot Post-Moderne has pix of the festivities, for which Ukranians gathered in Independence Square as if they lived in New York; the snow started falling at midnight, and it was perfect.

Posted by Attila at 05:25 AM | Comments (1)

Have We Discussed Tsunami Relief Lately?

I keep forgetting to check in with The Diplomad daily; there are terrific on-the-ground reports there on Tsunami Relief.

As usual, the U.N. is shown to be talking, much more than walking:

[From the U.N. website] Mr. Egeland: Our main problems now are in northern Sumatra and Aceh. <...> In Aceh, today 50 trucks of relief supplies are arriving. <...> Tomorrow, we will have eight full airplanes arriving. I discussed today with Washington whether we can draw on some assets on their side, after consultations with the Indonesian Government, to set up what we call an “air-freight handling centre” in Aceh.

Tomorrow, we will have to set up a camp for relief workers – 90 of them – which is fully self-contained, with kitchen, food, lodging, everything, because they have nowhere to stay and we don't want them to be an additional burden on the people there.

I provided this to some USAID colleagues working in Indonesia and their heads nearly exploded. The first paragraph is quite simply a lie. The UN is taking credit for things that hard-working, street savvy USAID folks have done. It was USAID working with their amazing network of local contacts who scrounged up trucks, drivers, and fuel; organized the convoy and sent it off to deliver critical supplies.

A UN “air-freight handling centre” in Aceh? Bull! It's the Aussies and the Yanks who are running the air ops into Aceh. We have people working and sleeping on the tarmac in Aceh, surrounded by bugs, mud, stench and death, who every day bring in the US and Aussie C-130s and the US choppers; unload, load, send them off. We have no fancy aid workers' retreat -- notice the priorities of the UN? People are dying and what's the first thing the UN wants to do? Set up "a camp for relief workers" one that would be "fully self-contained, with kitchen, food, lodging, everything."

So I withdraw my implication that USAID might just be "another pretty NGO," and admire all those who are dealing with the stench of death, delivering food and water. And I spit in the general direction of the U.N.

Over and out.

Posted by Attila at 05:10 AM | Comments (2)

Conversation Re: Football

Attila Girl: How's the game going?

Attila Hub: Pretty good, actually.

Attila Girl: Why do those guys wear so much?

Attila Hub: Um . . . what?

Attila Girl: I mean, they've got these should pads and helmets and knee pads and everything. It really distorts the male form, you know.

Attila Hub: Well, you know, if they didn't wear the protective gear, they might get hurt. Matter of fact, they sometimes get hurt anyway.

Attila Girl: But, you know, if they wore outfits that showed a little more skin, people would watch these, um, these ball games. I mean, this could really be a popular sport.

[Commercial ends. Attila the Hub looks intently at the television, as if to suggest that this would be a good time for the conversation to end. Attila Girl goes sadly upstairs, feeling that her brilliant idea hasn't really been understood for the breakthrough it is.]

Posted by Attila at 01:55 AM | Comments (8)

More on Tsunami Relief

In my household we were cautious about how we gave, because UNICEF is—of course—loosely tied to those who took food out of Iraqi children's mouths to line their own pockets. And the Red Cross has been actively undermining U.S. policy in any number of ways. Even USAID has an agenda we have deep ambivalence about (they may be "progressive," but they do some fine work in Southeast Asia).

I'm sure any of those agencies would have spent carefully any funds earmarked for Tsunami relief, but we wanted to be absolutely certain that none of our contribution would be diluted by a very large bureaucracy, so we opted to go with Catholic Relief Services, reasoning that any of the church groups would be staffed with a higher number of volunteers (and near-volunteers), and our money would go further.

I'm working on contributing a Blogad to one or more of the groups that are collecting funds, but I'm also going to bend the rules and point out that my Google ads very often link to disaster-relief efforts, so they might also be a good resource (ordinarily, I'm not supposed to call attention to the Google ads, lest I campaign for clicks to 'em). Remember, also, to visit the Command Post Master List of Tsunami charities, which has some breakdowns in terms of countries (for those who want to target their contributions in that way).

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

Regular Scrooges, Here in the States

Via Power Line, Chuck Simmons' current tally of privately funded Tsunami relief stands at $169 million. That's not counting the $350 million we're giving via the Federal government, nor the relief administered by our military (which is there on the scene right now, handing out blankets, water and food).

Nor, of course, does it count the fact that many other Western nations can afford to be more generous because they spend precious little on defense—after all, Dad will beat up anyone who picks on them. (And we always do. We probably always will. Though at this point I'd like to bring our dead home from France; I really would.)

Posted by Attila at 01:24 AM | Comments (0)


. . . will be moving into the new pad as we begin 2005.

(I don't know if I'm supposed to link it, but I just did—so I suppose I'll find out.)

Posted by Attila at 12:40 AM | Comments (1)

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