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Thursday, December 13, 2001
Moira Breen has far too much fun taking apart this Guardian column. She also wonders if it's pointless to keep chopping this stuff into bits ... not as long as we enjoy it, Moira.

12/13/2001 08:37:19 PM

It's time for Tim Blair's 11 a.m. BlogWatch, just posted (it seems to be morning in Australia, for some reason) and great as always.

12/13/2001 07:08:36 PM

Charles Johnson has a lot of good links to bin Laden stuff. I've seen the tape, and everybody's pretty much said everything that can be said about it.

All I've got to add is ... What a lame party. No music, no drinks, no girls, no cigars, not even a poker game. Just a bunch of smelly old guys, coughing and mumbling, sitting on the floor and jabbering about all their dreams. That whiny dude on the right -- the one who keeps wiping his nose with the end of his turban -- is especially pathetic. Every party has one of those guys, who sits next to the popular guy and bores the hell out of everybody else.

SNIFFY AL-WHINEY: "It was so great, that one thing you did. Really great. And I knew a bunch of guys who had those crazy dreams, too. Really, I swear. This one guy, he had a dream about being a plane, and he was, like, flying and stuff. And another guy, he told me about his dream, and it was so cool, and you're so cool, Osama ...."

OSAMA: "Okay, dude, that's fine. But this party is about me, right? Why don't you get us some more tea. Now, let me tell you again about my great plans."

I've also heard a lot of theories about the reasons this little gathering was taped. What was the purpose? My guess is that these losers turned on the camcorder every time they sat down. Think of it as a combination of those dimwit tourists who walk through cities with their videocam always recording the sidewalk in front of them, and Nixon having all those audio recorders rolling around the clock.

12/13/2001 05:43:24 PM

Incredible. Benjamin Kepple wrote a smart essay on American Values based on my cheap little post about some woman on the Millionaire show who didn't know champagne could be opened without a corkscrew. This is why I love the Internet these days. And this is a good introduction to Kepple's site, which you should read.

12/13/2001 04:22:42 AM

I like the Penthouse Warblog, but it's missing one thing: links to the Warbloggers. If y'all need a list, try my Links Page.

I still need to add a half-dozen new links, but that's going to take another week or two. My little laptop is sketchy, the server keeps going down, I'm supposed to be finishing a book, and it's hard to edit HTML in a little text editor when I'm used to HomeSite 3.0 (from 1997).

12/13/2001 04:14:45 AM

Kepple redeems himself with this funny tale about meeting one of the JDL guys arrested for trying to blow up LA Moslems.

12/13/2001 04:08:41 AM

Scott Rubush seems to be getting a hard time from Benjamin Kepple, regarding Scott's neighborhood just down the street from mine:
I still consider Mr. Rubush's Neighborhood a semi-dangerous, rather unpleasant part of the city more notable for its decaying strip malls and vaguely threatening urban landscape than its high culture.

Come on, Kepple! It's a wonderful neighborhood. Full of great restaurants, pubs, museums, the HSS Bounty, the old Ambassador Hotel, sunshine and palm trees. The very vague plans for a print version of the LA Examiner call for an office in Wilshire Center, where rent is cheap because of the dot-com fallout. Also, I could take the subway from my neighborhood to Wilshire Center -- a five-minute walk and a five-minute ride on the Metro.

And strip malls in that part of town are unlike any strip malls in the nation. Crowded, crazy multi-story joints full of Asian restaurants, weird grocery stores full of delicious food, strange stacks of neon, travel agencies, smiling crowds of Korean kids with 40 cell phones and tiny mini-skirts, and the famed Mexican restaurant El Cholo down the street from the lovely old Wiltern Theater, where one can see Nick Cave or Tom Waits or Tom Petty. That whole part of town is like a very pleasant version of "Blade Runner." And that's a good thing, because "Blade Runner" was a very pretty movie with a sad story. Remove the sad story, and you've got exactly the kind of place you want to hang out in, when it's 2001.

12/13/2001 04:01:44 AM

Nice reader William Tobey of Lexis-Nexis has solved the Phil Donahue mystery. The following brief appeared in Newsweek on May 26, 1986:
Sometimes, even Phil Donahue has trouble relating to folks. "He kneed me in the groin," said the talk-show host. "And I punched him in the mouth." Donahue's opponent in the donnybrook was William Ferguson, a 24-year-old supporter of right-wing activist Lyndon LaRouche. Ferguson was handing out pro-nuclear-power literature at New York's La Guardia Airport when the TV star and his wife, actress Marlo Thomas, happened by. According to Donahue, Ferguson instigated the melee when he yelled, "You f---ing s.o.b., you should be in prison." Ferguson tells it differently: he says Donahue called him a "Nazi" and struck first. After continuing on to Boston -- where Thomas received an award for her work against nuclear arms -- Donahue reflected on the incident. "If we have to have war, let it be man to man and fist to fist," he said. "What [nuclear] technology does is make it impossible to be brave. If you drop a bomb on my neighborhood, I can't prove that I'm tough."

Thanks, William!

12/13/2001 03:35:42 AM

I missed this Jacob Weisberg column from Tuesday. It's pretty good, but he doesn't seem to remember that just a week ago, he was complaining about columnists who attacked doomsayers.

12/13/2001 03:30:43 AM

Joanne Jacobs destroys the Sydney Morning Herald's attack on Harry Potter and the Hobbits. She, unlike the SMH columnist, has read the books.

12/13/2001 02:53:13 AM

Lileks just wanted a car wash. He barely got one, finally, but in the meantime he had his revenge on Glenn Sacks, the SF columnist who thinks Johnny bin Taliboy was just experimenting with craziness.

12/13/2001 02:48:50 AM

Related to tonight/this morning's topics, Andrew Sullivan notes that his readers are smart and interesting people, and here are some of their letters about the Johnny Taliban debate.

12/13/2001 02:36:52 AM

Seems Matt Welch is on the same wavelength tonight. Take a look at his column on the Total Failure of the Professional Media, and smile ... because we're doing something about this Failure.

And this is a good time for a brief reply to my friend Amy Langfield, who wants me to be particularly concerned about the fate of war reporters.

But I'm not. I am concerned about soldiers fighting for us tonight, and the smart young spy who died at the hands of hateful fanatics like Johnny bin Laden, and the thousands who were killed by terrorists in New York, Northern Virginia and Pennsylvania three months ago. I don't know why I should have any particular concern for the fate of a reporter -- especially some scumbag fraud like Robert Fisk, who got mugged and claimed it mattered to the whole world. I will feel bad about the death of a reporter if that reporter was killed for trying to expose some hidden truth.

But Fisk is just a stupid jackass. His car broke down on the bad side of town, and because he's a well-paid know-it-all foreigner carrying a bag of money and toys, he got his ass kicked by the angry mob. Why should I care? Just because I've barely made a living writing -- writing comedy, for the most part -- doesn't mean I'm signed up to grieve for any stupid hack who gets slapped around.

With few exceptions, "journalists" are vain, self-important, snide, pompous, ladder-climbing ass-kissers who can't write and can't think and still believe everyone else is stupid. Look at those fools at the Pentagon briefings. Tell me why they shouldn't be castrated, for the safety of our human race. Read our "good" newspapers and tell me why I shouldn't despise these people. Read Brill's Content and tell me why anybody should care about media people ... whoops, Brill's Content is gone, because Normal People could care less about media cyborgs.

If a bad cop gets killed, I don't care. If a bad reporter gets mugged, I don't care. If someone or some group targets cops, reporters, Moslems, Jews, baby kittens, whatever, then I want that person or group brought to justice. But I refuse to have any special sympathy for reporters, especially reporters who intentionally go to dangerous war zones. Jesus, they line up for the chance! I've lined up for the chance, knowing damn well I might be blown to bits, or hacked apart by an angry local.

I oppose any special rules for reporters in War Zones, because reporters aren't any more valuable as people than doctors, aid workers, soldiers, civilians, firemen, priests, nurses, monkeys or giant Buddha statues. Existing war rules protect non-combatants, and existing war rules don't mean jack when you're fighting psychos like al-Qaida.

Proving the Great Buddha does indeed work through all our minds like a river of wine, here is the just-posted Tim Blair bit about Professional Journalism and the Liberty of the Internet.

12/13/2001 01:20:09 AM

Here's Hippie Johnny bin Laden pretending to be black, and here he's using a great new name ("Hine E. Craque") as he asks if it's okay for Moslems to look at images of Living Things.

Man, this kid is pathetic. It's too bad his parents didn't send him to the doctor. But, you know, tolerance and spiritual paths and all that are very important ... especially when your kid is a dangerous lunatic.

He is fighting for the Black Cause again in this note, which he ends with, "I need to take over the world now, so peace love and englobiness."

In this charming Usenet posting, Johnny McWhitey critiques the rap lyrics of another Usenet poster:

If I shoved a copy of critical beatdown by the ultramagnetic MC's up your ass, you still couldn't drop any phat shit. Take those generic lyrics back to your Wu-Tang Clan fan club meatings [sic], SZA, and keep them out of the eyes of the public. Thank you sir.

A year later, MC Johnny Tali-boy is ready to cut his own phat tracks, so he needs a vintage Moog to git buzy:

I'm looking for either one of these machines. I do know what each of these is worth, so please don't bother me with insanely high "vintage" prices.

Hateful little bastard, ain't he?

In a rare, short-lived dalliance with tolerance, Dirty bin Hippie -- this time using the name "Mr. Mujahid" -- used his wisdom to tell other Moslems to get along with each other:

Accusing a Muslim or a Muslim group of disbelief is in itself an act of disbelief. The prophet never accused even the individuals he knew to be hypocrites of disbelief, nor did he treat them in a way any different from other Muslims. No good can come from Muslims accusing Muslims of disbelief; this can only lead to arguement [sic], resentment, and further division. If you find a Muslim saying something which you believe to be in error, present to him/her your reasons for believing them to be in error and try to help them see the truth. Don't waste your time squabbling over petty differences.

12/13/2001 12:16:35 AM

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Would've been Frank Sinatra's 85th birthday today (or 86th, depending what wire story you read), according to the teevee news. I never get tired of listening to Sinatra, and I don't guess I ever will.

The night Sinatra's death was announced, I was already pissed off, sitting alone in the Tabloid.net newsroom. Every single person I knew in San Francisco had gathered in various homes and bars to watch the last episode of that Seinfeld show, and I was repulsed. Didn't like the show, didn't watch the show, didn't like the idea of the entire freakin' nation coming to a halt to watch this show. And then Sinatra died, so I wrote this angry column. It's not very good, but whatever.

12/12/2001 11:47:04 PM

Glenn Reynolds has a fine new column on FOXNews.com:
Not surprisingly, people who would rather be clever than right, who confuse oppositionalism with originality, who hold ordinary Americans and their beliefs in faux-aristocratic contempt, and who do all of this with an unshakable degree of self-righteousness, are not likely to be especially popular. (Note the similarity here to the also-unpopular news and entertainment media).

Indeed. My distrust of academia goes back to the beginning of my very short experiment with higher education. I planned to be a journalist, and had been editing my high school paper, free-lancing for local weeklies and monthlies (including the Sierra Club paper), briefly interning for the NBC affiliate, and anchoring and producing a weekly education-news show on cable teevee. And the very first "journalism professors" I came across -- at a shoddy, second-rate San Diego college -- were morons. They had no idea how a newspaper worked. Most of them hadn't been in a newsroom for decades, if at all.

Thinking it must be better at the Good Schools, I subscribed to all those academic journalism magazines (meaning, I stole them from the library). Terrible! Terrible writing, total self-righteousness, a clear contempt for readers and viewers, and a deep hatred for the kind of newspapers I loved: old-fashioned, big-headlined tabloids and their cousins -- mostly the afternoon papers in any American city. I read distinguished media experts as they mocked Ted Turner and his recently debuted 24-hour news station. I read the sneering obituaries for noble old newspapermen who caused trouble, drank every day, and didn't think they were any better than a plumber or a cop.

Who were these media academics? They sure didn't remind me of the old sportswriters from the San Diego Evening Tribune, who I used to hang around with in the press rooms at Jack Murphy Stadium. They didn't sound like the funny, foul-mouthed guys who worked the presses.

At SDSU, I fell in with the misfits who ran the Daily Aztec. Like another college daily in Southern California, the Daily Nexus, the Aztec had nothing to do with the Journalism Department. As a result, the paper was terrific, and the Journalism Professors loathed us. Which was fine with me, because by then I wasn't a college student. It turns out that many Daily Aztec reporters and editors were no longer college students. They just stayed around, kept collecting the meager but crucial paychecks, and put out a solid paper.

I have met and liked a few reporters with journalism degrees ... well, maybe one. I have met and liked a few more reporters with useful degrees (law, history, economics, etc.). But mostly, the reporters I've admired and called friends had no degree at all. Most of them -- Tim Blair is a fine example -- wouldn't be caught dead with a university degree. Reporting is a trade. The day reporters became "journalists," the whole trade went down the toilet.

Now I'm sounding like Bill James, which Bill James does much better. Read this Welch post for some better quotes on this subject. (Scroll down to "Bill James, on Professionalism and Journalism," if your browser doesn't jump to the post.)

12/12/2001 11:25:20 PM

The Norman Lear political group, People for the American Way, held a dinner last night to honor various lefties. I've got nothing against Lear's group -- it was a good reaction to the Moral Majority days of the 1980s. But, like any liberal California organization, this one is comically dogmatic.

I mean, where else but a People for the American Way awards dinner could someone shock the crowd by saying he supports the anti-terrorism crackdown in the United States? That's what Neil Young said last night, while accepting his free speech award:

"It's a tough time for all of us who believe in a certain way of life to come to grips with the fact that we have to kind of make a ... what do you call it ... this word's hard for me ... I think it's ... compromise. That's right. But it's temporary and we can't forget that it's temporary. We're gonna do the job and then we're gonna get back to being who we are."

According to Reuters and some music-news site called Launch, Neil Young "raised a few eyebrows among the liberal crowd by defending anti-terrorist measures that have angered civil rights groups" and his statement was "surprising [to] attendees at a dinner where he received an award for promoting freedom, justice, and liberty by defending U.S. anti-terrorist measures that are angering civil rights groups."

Oh no! But wasn't he against the Vietnam War? Didn't he write that song, "Ohio"?

Jesus. I guess an awards ceremony for those promoting "freedom, justice and liberty" is no place for an old hippie to actually support the defense of freedom, justice and liberty.

There's another gem in the Reuters story. Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the "South Park" guys, were given the "Defenders of Democracy" award:

Parker, dressed in a garish stars-and-stripes suit, had his own surprise. He declared that he and Stone were proud Republicans. "It's true,'' he added, apparently earnestly, as the audience wondered if the wacky comic was just joking.

"Apparently earnestly," as if it's impossible to comprehend that a couple of smart, hip guys in Hollywood could be Republicans. The Reuters reporter sounds horrified. First, Parker had the nerve to show up in a "garish" suit with an American flag pattern, and then the "wacky comic" had the nerve to say he wasn't a Democrat ... and he wasn't even joking!

I could say more about this, but I think it's all pretty obvious.

12/12/2001 10:17:14 PM

Here's the link to that Nick Gillespie we mentioned the other day. It's in the January issue of Reason. (Update: Virginia Postrel just sent a note, letting me know that the Gillespie link goes to another column. I should be more careful. Consider this a Correction.)

12/12/2001 09:14:57 PM

Sure, Bill Gertz is a decent reporter. But, why is the stupid, low-level Taliban/Marin jackhole suddenly reliable? He is a freakin' loser, and I'm sure he wishes all sorts of hell will rain on the United States this week.

Too bad he's in a military prison.

Now I go to bed. If the stupid jackhole John Walker is right, a terrible attack will occur sometime soon, maybe Sunday. My bet is that Johnny Walker will get a special kind of personal attack, and we'll all do the normal Sunday thing: read the paper, go to the Farmer's Market, etc.

12/12/2001 03:26:34 AM

Does the filthy site work now? We shall see.

12/12/2001 01:18:20 AM

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Jesus. I don't really believe there will be a big new strike against the United States, because it seems at least a few of those people jailed by the FBI and INS were supposed to launch new attacks. But this Washington Times story about Johnny bin Hippie's big ideas does not comfort me.

12/11/2001 10:41:00 PM

If you haven't read Jeff Jarvis' eloquent post about Sept. 11 and how it changed him forever, do so now. I don't know Jeff in the flesh, but I think I know him pretty well from reading his stuff and exchanging e-mails. He was there when the Twin Towers crashed down. (So was my friend Jim Lowney, who spent weeks in the Getty Images newsroom but finally escaped to photograph my wedding in Mexico.) Unlike 3,000 other people who happened to be in or around the WTC that rotten day three months ago, Jeff got out alive. But you can't go through that without damage.

I know a lot of people in New York and New Jersey and Washington, and the attacks hit all of them, forever. I've got nothing to compare beyond the way it hit way out here in Los Angeles, where we watched in dumb horror for days and couldn't function properly for weeks, months. I still haven't seen Ground Zero, or the bleeding Pentagon, but I've spent a lot of time around both attack sites ... before the attacks. And like anybody who ever spent time in NYC, I dug up my first snapshot of the Twin Towers, a few days after Sept. 11. My shot was from Jersey, before going through the tunnel to Manhattan in 1983.

All my rich friends were going to Europe that first summer after high school graduation. I got in my 1972 International Harvester Scout and toured the United States, after working for a month or two for my parent's company. Installed ice machines and duct work and walk-in freezers until I had enough cash to move. Camped under the stars and arches of Utah, at truck stops in Iowa and Oklahoma, and stayed with relatives and family friends in Arizona, Texas, New Orleans, Northern Virginia (with CIA people), and Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania relatives, all from the hillbilly hollers of Eastern Kentucky, warned me about New York. Terrible place. Full of crime and sin and weird immigrants. I couldn't properly explain how I needed to be in Lou Reed's NYC, how I wanted to walk Bob Dylan's streets and see punk shows where the Ramones played.

But they tried to put the Fear in me, a 17-year-old kid. This was pre-Rudy Manhattan, after all. I rolled into Greenwich Village, found a parking space on the corner of West 4th Street, and had a goddamned blast. Met beautiful girls, bought piles of old punk records and Bruce Springsteen bootlegs, walked the streets at 4 a.m. and escaped the many muggers, and finally found myself in a filthy loft rented by two girls from NYU. They were headed to California for the summer, and for a few fine weeks I lived in New York City. Every day I moved the Scout, and when I got parking tickets I tossed them in the garbage. Read the Post and Daily News every morning, walked the whole damned island a dozen times, almost got killed in Harlem, hit all the fine museums, sat outside the Dakota until the doorman told me to get lost, and basically acted exactly like a slack-jawed tourist punk who wanted the whole mad city in three weeks.

I didn't much care about the WTC, or the United Nations building, or the New York Times headquarters hidden in the squalor of Times Square. But I saw 'em all, anyway. Have been back 20 times since then, and that city has never disappointed.

Whatever. Just meant to point out Jeff Jarvis' Sept. 11 posting. But the Internet isn't working, so I'm rambling.

12/11/2001 10:36:27 PM

While this site is MIA -- I think the neighborhood server is being repaired -- I'll just post away, as if anyone can see this stuff tonight.

Tim Blair has much good stuff on the Aussie John Walker bin Hippie.

Glenn Reynolds offers his new special feature, the Dropped Ball Awards. (The only complaint I have with his choices is the John McCain entry. While McCain was wrong to predict we would need a huge amount of ground troops, he was basically correct in saying it couldn't be done with with air power alone. We did have troops -- special forces, mostly -- on the ground from the beginning, and we also lucked out with the Northern Alliance, who proved to be far more effective and focused than anyone could've guessed, based on their previous decade of infighting. And U.S. troops on the ground now are )

Gene Simmons -- the Israeli native and KISS member -- was just on Bill O'Reilly's show. Simmons is terrific. Even though he came to the United States at the age of nine, he still has the immigrant's outspoken patriotism. And why shouldn't he? He grew up in a country at war, his grandparents were killed by the Nazis, and he came to America and made a fortune in show business. About Israel, he's realistic. Make a Palestinian state, he says. Make it official, and give Palestine the chance to be good neighbors. If they continue with the suicide bombings, then go to war against Palestine and destroy the state. Not very nice, but it's a pragmatic way to solve the half-century battle. And, I suspect, it's why Arafat wouldn't take the peace deal arranged by the Clinton White House. Once you take that deal, you've got to start running a decent country -- you can no longer blame everything on Israel. Arafat was spooked by that idea.

12/11/2001 09:13:15 PM

Damn. Heather has revealed that her NPR troubles were nothing more than common Layne bait, a cheap ruse to get me to bash the liberals at NPR again. Like a stupidly named Australian fish, I took the bait.

She'll be on NPR again, or maybe was already on today.

About the weird newspaper words "lede" and "graf," she writes:

Incidentally, I hate the word "lede." Also: "graf." These are words that journalists banty about, used to describe, as far as I can tell, a LEAD paraGRAPH or some other paraGRAPH in a piece. As in "The lede is nice, but by the third graf things start to slow down." Why the misspellings? Why, damn you, why? Can someone flesh out this pretentious nonsense for me, so I can sit on my ass and whine instead?

(See, my loyal thugs know that I'm not really looking for information -- I'm actually signaling them to bash in the kneecaps of every journalist in sight.)

Okay, my Internet is acting up -- it must be either night or day -- so I'll answer this important question without any particular reference. We call it guessing. In the wonderful days before desktop publishing, writers, editors, proofreaders and layout people communicated in a strange written language of slang and code. When making notes on copy or pages, it was important to distinguish between words actually in the copy and directions to the various people typesetting, rewriting, editing, laying out the paper, or summarizing wire updates ("EDS: RECASTS LEDE, SUBS GRAFS 8-12, BOB DOLE STILL ALIVE.") . So the lead paragraph of a story became "lede," paragraphs in general became "grafs," the graf explaining the basics of the story was called the "nut graf," and all copy ended with --30--. Charming, ain't it?

There were also people (or devils) known as "printer's devils." Nobody knows who (or what) they were.

Most of these terms remain in use, and they still make newspaper people sound like assholes. But it's not a big deal, because most journalists are assholes. And it could be worse ... you could overhear them talking about ethics or the "American public."

Well, that's all the newspaper history you'll get from me.

Sincerely,
Ken Layne
Journalist, Liberal & Historian

12/11/2001 08:29:31 PM

Another strike against NPR: The people who bring us our daily gloom cut Heather Havrilesky's new commentary thing, which was supposed to run yesterday afternoon on "All Things Poorly Considered." Jackholes ....

I hope they replaced Heather's comedy with something really important, like more whining from one of the seven Anti-War Activists.

Such things usually go like this:

SMOOTH-VOICED ANNOUNCER GUY: Since Sept. 11, American public opinion has seemingly been "in favor" of what the White House calls the "war against terrorism." But commentator Blamey McWussheart isn't so sure ....

SHRILL ANTI-WAR WHINER: After Sept. 11, I began to wonder if people truly understood what had happened. I asked myself, "How will I get my message out, when all dissenting voices have been silenced by Iraqi sanctions killing millions of baby Afghans?" And then I knew that I, too, had been silenced by those who wished I would quit talking, because I'm a shrill anti-war whiner ....

12/11/2001 02:50:03 PM

Here's a news release about the NarcoNews victory. Why is this story being ignored? This ruling says that online news sites -- even small sites -- have the same "protected speech" protections as any big media outfit. New York Times! Wake up! Wired! Over here, dudes!

12/11/2001 02:41:10 AM

A resident of our fair seaside town Santa Barbara responds to Tim Blair's excellent column in The Australian:
If Mr. Adams comes to the U.S., I'll personally fight for his right to loudly call this the lousiest nation on Earth. As long as he'll fight for my right to scream out that he's a jackass.

Vilification laws are for children who are more concerned about hurt feelings than debate, free speech and open inquiry. Free speech can be painful, but adults should be able to handle it. The fact that Mr. Adams has been consistently against these laws [is] the best indication that he's a grown-up.

Even if his views of my country are infantile.

John Pearley Huffman

Santa Barbara, Calif.

12/11/2001 01:37:58 AM

It's midnight on the West Coast, 3 a.m. in New York, and god knows what time in Australia. I'm Ken Layne, with "InstaPundit's Salon SexWatch Early Watch." Glenn Reynolds will have our full report later this morning. But ....

Another week, another week with no actual sex in Salon.com's "sex" column.

Salon.com Sex | Fighting off fantasies. That's the title of the page. And, I must admit, this column fights fantasies. If you've been thinking about having sex, this column will distract you with ... lame relationship questions and extremely lame answers. Read four pages of this nonsense, and you'll be thinking of anything but sex.

Yes, one question mentions a past incident of infidelity. But other than saying some kind of infidelity occurred, at some point, the question and answer completely avoid sex. This column has bad tips on e-mail manners, stories about prep-school reunions and people not having sex afterwards, and whiny stuff about how hard it is to forget old relationships. You want sex? Read the newspaper. At least the newspaper has Macy's bra and panty ads.

This is getting ridiculous. Who writes these columns, Pat Robertson?

12/11/2001 12:22:58 AM

Monday, December 10, 2001

The Fisk Idiocy reminded Welch of our own beatings by foreign mobs. You know, Fisk's silly "look at me" reports were so locked up in his pathetic World View that I didn't even think of my similar experiences in a half-dozen countries. You cover a war, or a revolution, or any crowd in any unstable place, and sooner or later you will get knocked around by some thugs.

Most people want to be on teevee -- that is a global truth -- so most mobs will perform for the video camera, even if that camera belongs to a news operation on the other side of the globe, or the other side of whatever conflict. But a mob can't be trusted to act a certain way. It's a mob, after all.

In Macedonia a few years ago, I was covering some Ethnic Albanian protests for UPI. That meant standing at the edge of the crowd -- all angry young men in fake Adidas warm-up suits -- with my friend from the Albanian teevee station in Skopje. He was the anchorman, but he still covered stories in person. The cameraman was in the crowd. We could see his Betacam with the station's logo, lifted above his head as he tried to get closer to the stage. Suddenly, the camera dropped from view. Two cigarettes later, he emerged, blood streaming down his skull. The camera had been stomped.

"Jesus, why'd they go after your camera guy?" I asked my anchorman buddy. "You're the Albanian station. You're on their side."

"Ah, these people are stupid."

"Albanians?"

"No, no. Anybody in a mob."

What would Fisk say if he got stomped by soccer hoodlums back home in England? Why can't a jackass like Fisk just admit that he's a well-paid professional working for the Corporate Media, and that a bunch of bored, unemployed thugs anywhere on Earth would stomp him if he didn't hand over his bag of money and toys?

As Matt says about our minor beating in Bratislava -- one of about five I endured in that rotten city -- we barely mentioned it in our stories. I am no fan of Objective Journalism, but when you're covering a global event, you are not the story. You are just there to observe. Robbery and stinky hotel rooms might be used as color in your travel book or fiction, but trying to make yourself the star of the War is just sick. Nobody cares about you, or your stupid feelings.

Matt's description of the Slovaks' break from the Czechs also mentions that one of the drunk freaks waving giant Slovak flags from an observation tower was, in fact, me. Well, that's true. I had been working for months from a tiny little office in the old Pravda building (where I also slept), and the days leading to the Formal Split of Czechoslovakia were a bit tense. By the time the Prague crew arrived to help cover the big night, I needed a drink. And when the mob invited me to climb up the tower and wave the 10-foot-long Slovak flag, I was happy to help. Plus, they had more vodka.

I have no idea where the Malcolm X baseball cap came from ... but it seemed important to wear it.

Anyway, the friendly crowd eventually got surly, and while Matt and Jim Fassinger and various other journalists were being knocked around by skinheads, I was coming down the tower's ladder. A bunch of young thugs had crawled up from the front. They were knocking people off the tower. I figured I didn't really want to fall 25 feet onto the concrete, so I moved quick. They got me at the bottom of the ladder. It didn't hurt much, because I had about seven thick layers of clothes around my freezing body. When I found Welch and the others, they were slugging it out with another bunch of thugs. The details are hazy (in my brain, at least), but I sort of recall some police moving in, and the crowd thinning, and then I walked back to our translator Jana's family apartment about a mile up the hill.

Matt was sitting in the kitchen, nursing his barely bleeding nose, and claiming I was a traitor because I didn't get hit by the same skinheads who hit him. But he slept it off, and we had a nice breakfast the next afternoon.

The lesson here is, a) getting stomped by some creeps means nothing; b) it hurts less when you're drunk; and c) always carry a gun.

12/10/2001 10:43:41 PM

If you've been to Australia, you've probably noticed the Strange Australian Rules for naming things: the name must either be blandly literal ("Western Australia," "Sydney Opera House") or pointlessly diminutive ("breaky" for "breakfast," "footy" for "football") -- preferably both. This fascinates me. What is wrong with the Australian brain? You save no time calling Breakfast "breaky" -- you simply sound like a toddler. It's two syllables, either way. Same with "Footy," although that has the comical bonus of making thick-necked "football" players sound like homosexuals.

I was delighted to find that Tim Blair linked to an Australian seafood site, because it is full of evidence. Say you're an "Aussie," and you discover a fish with a thin, hair-like tail. By law, you must name it the Hairtail. A long, thin ribbon-like fish would be named, obviously, the Ribbonfish. And if you carefully followed both Naming Rules, a fish with a pattern of stripes would be, of course, the Stripey.

12/10/2001 09:17:50 PM

A great little sports column from Blair:
An important question has yet to be asked about the Segway, and it is crucial to the success of the nerd-carrying gyro-scooter: Will people want to race them?

Every successful mode of human transport has been adapted at some point for competition. Horses. Cars. Lawnmowers. Walking ....

We even race things that weren’t intended to even move. But the Segway?

12/10/2001 05:47:22 PM

Presenting Tim Blair's 10 a.m. Blog Update ... hopefully this will become a regular feature. It's like CNN's Headline News, but it's intentionally funny.

12/10/2001 05:43:27 PM

Can't find the Reason magazine/Nick Gillespie piece about all the drug eating, maybe because I'm tired, maybe because it's dawn, maybe because goddamned Howard Kurtz can't properly source his media column in the Washington Post.

But, according to Kurtz, Gillespie admits to taking "pot and alcohol, mostly, but also acid, mescaline, Ecstasy, mushrooms, coke and meth," in college.

I was supposed to meet Nick and some other good Reason folk at the Red Lion in Silverlake last month. I didn't show up, due to military concerns. But, if we're making lists, I might as well say that I've done whatever Nick has done ... and I never went to college. I did some of those drugs last month, and did a few of them last night. Fighting for freedom, etc.

But, having eaten all these things, I am still loyal to Chianti. It is the Drug of Democracy, the drink of the Romans. Yes, I admit to mixing the wine with water while I'm working, but that's no worse than chasing coffee with citrus juice.

And I've got a fiine article for you, Nick. Soon as I finish this awful novel.

12/10/2001 07:22:11 AM

Joanne Jacobs says, rightly, that my prescription for Johnny bin Hippie is "not nice." She's right. Using ugly language, I called for his castration and slow death.

But I've been soiled by my wife's cruel ideas. She's such a nice, beautiful girl, yet she's constantly demanding bin Laden's head on a stick. She has flown about 20 times since Sept. 11, and after every flight I get a phone call detailing all the terrible ways she would've maimed any terrorists. Laptops, the last Harry Potter book ... all are weapons, as far as my liberal wife is concerned.

And thank god for that. If I get smashed up by my wife, the terrorists win.

Jacobs, Jarvis, Reynolds, Welch, Johnson and many others have dismantled the Tali-boy's defense. Go to my Links Page and read 'em all.

12/10/2001 04:16:21 AM

CNN: "There is strong evidence Walker was in the middle of that uprising."

12/10/2001 04:04:18 AM

Maybe I should get a fat advance and write a non-fiction book called "Ian Fleming and the End of the World." Readers of this site know that I've taken great joy in comparing bin Laden's global gang of Super Villains to the stateless, global crime-terrorism syndicate Fleming created in the James Bond books as a stand-in for the Soviets. I've also detailed Fleming's just-take-the-money philosophy, which led to comical failures such as his book about Kuwait, commissioned by Kuwait's Royal Family.

In the new NYT magazine -- another one of those cloying theme issues -- one of the important new ideas of 2001 is illustrated by the author Fay Weldon's deal with Bulgari, the fancy Italian jeweller. Weldon wrote a novel called "The Bulgari Connection." This was printed by the jeweller, and 7,500 copies were distributed at a fancy company party. The book has since been released to the public.

This, according to the NYT magazine, is a bold new idea in the "content" industry -- and it was the biggest news in the publishing business until what's-his-name didn't want Oprah's book-club endorsement. High art literary tradition, etc.

As this Bond timeline explains, Ian Fleming was commissioned by Sotheby's to write a Bond story about the famous auctions, for the company's 1962-63 yearbook. The story, "The Property of a Lady," wasn't very good. It's not horrible, because Fleming was quite skilled at turning boring events -- long card games, auctions, backgammon, chess -- into high-tension drama, or at least good melodrama.

(The story, eventually released in the 1966 collection called "Octopussy," was recycled as part of the "Octopussy" movie's plot. Lame movie, too -- one of those late 1970s' Roger Moore pun-fests.)

So, not only did Fleming do this sort of Work for Hire some 30 years before Weldon made headlines for the same damned thing, but Fleming was so disgusted with his lame story that he turned it in, yet refused to take the money.

(He was dead long before the story was used in a Bond book and movie.)

While searching for the proper links, I found this curious note:

President Kennedy demanded a private White House screening of "Dr. No" as soon as the film was released. He read part of a Bond novel the night before he was assassinated. Lee Harvey Oswald also read Fleming that night.

Some of the 1964 Warren Commission testimony -- with Gerald Ford questioning Mrs. Oswald -- mentions that Lee Harvey was reading "From Russia With Love" before the assassination, possibly a copy lifted from the New Orleans Public Library. (My mom took a commie leaflet from Oswald in New Orleans. Also, for reasons I can't remember, she has one of Jim Garrison's pipes.) Later that year, both the Warren Commission report and Fleming's "You Only Live Twice" topped the bestseller lists. And the Beatles hit America. So, obviously, George Harrison killed JFK and Ian Fleming, who died a year after Kennedy and Oswald. God, this is going to do wonders for my Strange Google Search Request hits ....

12/10/2001 03:27:58 AM

James Lileks is tan, rested and ready ... well, I don't know about the tan, but take a look at his brutal destruction of Hippie Johnny Taliban's San Francisco apologists.

12/10/2001 01:43:41 AM

Sunday, December 09, 2001

Here's the Long Version of the exciting Fisk incident, in which Fisk reveals that he was mugged:
Then another kid tried to grab my bag. It contained my passport, credit cards, money, diary, contacts book, mobile phone. I yanked it back and put the strap round my shoulder. Justin and I crossed the road and someone punched me in the back.

You have to read about a hundred whining paragraphs about the Evil of the West before you get to the actual explanation of what happened. His car broke down. Some thugs tried to take his bag. He put up some kind of feeble struggle, and they beat him up.

The smart reader who sent me this link wrote, "As I thought, he just got mugged." Yep ... white boy breaks down in a bad neighborhood. The End.

12/9/2001 09:30:05 PM

Got this e-mail today:
From: *****@cornell.edu
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2001
To: layne@tabloid.net
Subject: consider your ass fact-checked.
"[Fisk's] comical ordeal reminds me of Phil Donahue's claim that he was jumped by thugs, or Geraldo getting punched by some creep he invited to his talk show. It says, "Pay attention to me! I'm really important! I have insight!"

It was Morton Downey, Jr. who claimed he was mugged in a toilet.

I can't believe I just spent an hour searching for the Evidence, but if I'm going to complain about sloppy reporting, then I'm up for Vigilante Fact-Checking.

Which is good, but I'd rather not waste too much of my life following the career of a jackass like Phil Donahue.

Anyway, here's a partial list of teevee news/talk hosts and their myriad claims of being attacked in the 1980s:

Phil Donahue, on an alleged 1986 airport altercation: "He kneed me in the groin and I punched him in the mouth." That's from a story about the year's dumbest showbiz news, in the Jan. 4, 1987, issue of the Toronto Star. (Sorry, no link. I used the Dow Jones subscriber database.)

1986 was the same year that Dan Rather claimed he was beaten by a gang of creeps in New York. Rather claimed the creeps repeatedly asked him, "Kenneth, what is the frequency?" REM made a semi-funny song out of this event, "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" (It's on the "Monster" album.)

On Dec. 2, 1987, an actress named Juliet Prowse was attacked by a leopard on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show." (From the Dec. 4, 1987, Friday's People column in the Bergen Record.)

At some point in 1988, Gerald Rivers (whoops, I mean "Geraldo Rivera") got beat up on his show, by skinheads. Newsday and the New York Post say Rivera's nose was broken by a "flying chair." The evil teen hate-mongers were later revealed to be actors. Rivera threatened to sue them, claiming he was hoaxed. (Many references to this, but I can't find the date of the broadcast.)

In April of 1989, now-dead talk-show host Morton Downey, Jr., claimed he was attacked by skinheads at San Francisco's airport. A strangely written piece in the April 27, 1989, edition of the Houston Chronicle describes the incident:

Morton Downey, Jr., held down by "skinheads" in the San Francisco Airport men's room! Hair clipped! Swastika painted on his face! Does interviews with local news stations with evidence of his degradation as yet unwashed off his visage! Worse! The San Francisco police reporting that a guy in the men's room with Downey at the same time said he witnessed no such attack! As much as implying that Downey did this to himself as a cheap publicity stunt!

A week later, Downey appears on the Donahue show and tells his weird tale. Donahue says, "I believe him." (Associated Press, May 3, 1989.)

And then, I lose interest ... but there you go. If anyone out there has Lexis-Nexis -- and actually cares about this -- do a search on Donahue for 1986. You could probably just search for that quote ("He kneed me in the groin and I punched him in the mouth").

12/9/2001 09:21:30 PM

Thanks to my fellow Angeleno Mickey Kaus for noting my latest Salon rant. It's the Dec. 5 post. I haven't yet added a link to Kaus' site on my Links Page -- everything is broken, again -- but I did put him on the much better LA Examiner. And I owe the LA Examiner some work ... the Sunday LAT should provide plenty of material.

12/9/2001 05:49:15 AM

If FoxNews is such a conservative, art-hating operation, then why does the network play such good music? The songs fading in and out of the commercials tonight include the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." I'll put Fox on for a while, and within a few minutes I'm hearing fine, dirty U.S./U.K. music. Can't CNN and MSNBC play some decent music around the commercial breaks? Are the Evil Conservatives getting me hooked with dirty rock songs?

While we're at it, can CNN do better than "America's New War"? It's not new ... it's just the war we're fighting. And that NYT "A Nation Challenged" section ... which nation, dudes? How about "The War on Terrorism," or "World War III"? Yes, NYC and the Pentagon got hit, and four commercial jetliners were pirated and turned into Death Bombs. But it seems like this nation isn't all so challenged. It seems like we responded, and will continute to respond.

Also, can someone please fire Ashcroft and Ridge and the rest of those clowns? We're running a King Hell war overseas, but our Home Front is a joke.

12/9/2001 05:35:56 AM

Here's the SoCal/Baja California quake that rattled Steven Den Beste last night.

12/9/2001 05:14:20 AM

More Funny Fisk, from Sept. 19:
So any idea of America sending its military across Afghanistan is a very, very dangerous operation in a country where America has no friends.

It is very significant -- though it’s been largely missed, I noticed by press and television around the world -- but just two days before the attacks on Washington and New York, Shah Massoud, the leader of the opposition in Afghanistan, the only military man to stand up to the Taliban, and the only friend of the west, was himself assassinated by two Arab suicide bombers -- men posing as journalists, by the way. I’ve been asking myself over the last two days, and I have no proof of this whatsoever, merely a strong suspicion, whether in fact, that assassination wasn't in a sense a code for people in the United States to carry out atrocities which we saw last Tuesday. I don't know, but certainly if America wants to go into Afghanistan, one of the key elements, even with a special forces raid, is to have friends in the country, people who are on your side. [But they] have just been erased, in fact erased two days before the bombings in America, and I find that is a very, very significant thing.

Want a Defense Expert? Don't hire Fisk.

First, the assassination of Massoud was on the Front Page of the Los Angeles Times on ... Sept. 11, 2001. I then read it online at the New York Times site (our daily subscription to the NYT started on Sept. 13). It was on the BBC the night of Sept. 10 ... I remember falling asleep to the news. I sleep to the BBC. I used to, anyway.

The story was certainly not "missed." I've often complained about the American media's failure in covering international news in the 1990s. But that story was well covered. Not hidden, Fisk.

It's 2001, and we can Fact Check your ass. And you, like many in the Hate America movement, are no longer able to dress your wretched "reporting" in fiction. We have computers. It is not difficult to Find You Out, dig?

Second, America had more than a few friends in Afghanistan. Despite the 1980s American Leadership failing to give the proper support to those who beat back the Soviets, the Afghans have been strangely friendly to U.S. troops. You see, Robbie, many leaders and intellectuals and professionals who fled Afghanistan moved to the United States. And, sadly for you, they like it here. And they want to export -- oh no! -- Western Capitalism to their pretty nation.

I'm not completely pleased with Washington's reaction to the quick collapse of the Arab Colonialist Army, but I'm not too worried. It is weak and stupid to say that the Northern Alliance (or the Pashtun Warlords down south) consisted of thugs and creeps a decade ago, so they will never be anything but monsters today. It is racist and insulting to declare that a nation's people cannot recover from a long civil war. In the late 19th Century, the United States was torn apart by Civil War. And a few decades later, this country became a major global power. A few decades after that, the United States was one of two global superpowers. Now, we're stuck with the Lone Superpower label.

I don't mean to predict that Afghanistan will be a major global power in a few decades. But the country is on the way to freedom, democracy and capitalism. People like Fisk want the world in tiny little boxes. There are oppressed nations, and "empires," and Nike, and whatever. There is no place in Fisk's world-view for progress. There is no place in Fisk's world for Japan and Germany recovering from WWII and becoming Global Titans. If Fisk produced the "Star Trek" teevee shows, there would be no blacks or Asians or women or robots or Russians or Scots or American Indians holding officer positions on the Bridge. The Bridge would be run by the white men Fisk hates so much, and the starships would have one goal: to exploit innocent races on other planets.

12/9/2001 05:07:06 AM

Tim Blair, with his eagle eye and Australian time-zone bonus, has already attacked the stupid whining bullshit from Robert Fisk.

12/9/2001 03:55:28 AM

Here's a stupid thing from War Expert Robert Fisk, about the War In Afghanistan, posted on Oct. 23:
This particular war is, as Mr. Bush said, going to be "unlike any other" – but not in quite the way he thinks. It's not going to lead to justice. Or freedom. It's likely to culminate in deaths that will diminish in magnitude even the crime against humanity on 11 September. Do we have any plans for this? Can we turn the falsity of a "war against terror" into a war against famine and starvation and death, even at the cost of postponing our day of reckoning with Osama bin Laden?

Boy, you're real smart, Fisk. You oughta be on those Miss Cleo commercials.

12/9/2001 03:48:37 AM

The American and British forces have done pretty well against the mighty Taliban, and Afghans have welcomed these foreign oppresors to that broken country. That must really annoy Robert Fisk, the blame-the-West writer who claims he just got his ass kicked by a crowd of angry refugees.

And leave it to Fisk to blame his beating on the United States:

"I later found out that the village housed lots of Afghan refugees, whose relatives had been killed just last week in the American bombing of Kandahar. It doesn't excuse them for beating me up, but there was a real reason why they should hate Westerners."

Whatever, dude! Maybe they beat the hell out of you because you're a sanctimonious asshole.

Your comical ordeal reminds me of Phil Donahue's claim that he was jumped by thugs, or Geraldo getting punched by some creep he invited to his talk show. It says, "Pay attention to me! I'm really important! I have insight!"

12/9/2001 03:42:50 AM


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