Friday, March 31, 2006
Thanks to: Customer Servant, TMH Bacon Bits, Imagine Kitty Magazine, Don Surber, Quietly Making Noise, Third World County
Technorati Tags: password, satire, gameshow, haniyeh, ahmadinejad, sheehan, moore, ludden
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Canival of Comedy (#48) at Dr. Phat Tony's.
Carnival of Satire (#27) at The Skwib.
That ought to do the trick.
I'd also love to see some sanity returned to the legal system. It's past ironic how the beautiful ideals of civil and human rights created out of the ashes of so much past injustice and violence have now been warped into a weapon to perpetuate new and further injustice.
Dear Western Standard reader,
Our magazine has been sued for publishing the Danish cartoons, and I need your help to fight back!
As you know, the Western Standard was the only mainstream media organ in Canada to publish the Danish cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed.
We did so for a simple reason: the cartoons were the central fact in one of the largest news stories of the year, and we're a news magazine. We publish the facts and we let our readers make up their minds.
Advertisers stood with us. Readers loved the fact that we treated them like grown-ups. And we earned the respect of many other journalists in Canada who envied our independence. In fact, according to a COMPAS poll last month, fully 70% of Canada's working journalists supported our decision to publish the cartoons.
But not Syed Soharwardy, a radical Calgary Muslim imam.
He asked the police to arrest me for publishing the cartoons. They calmly explained to him that's not what police in Canada do.
So then he went to a far less liberal institution than the police: the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Unlike the Calgary Police Service, they didn't have the common sense to show him the door.
Earlier this month, I received a copy of Soharwardy's rambling, hand-scrawled complaint. It is truly an embarrassing document. He briefly complains that we published the Danish cartoons. But the bulk of his complaint is that we dared to try to justify it - that we dared to disagree with him.
Think about that: In Soharwardy's view, not only should the Canadian media be banned from publishing the cartoons, but we should be banned from defending our right to publish them. Perhaps the Charter of Rights that guarantees our freedom of the press should be banned, too.
Soharwardy's complaint goes further than just the cartoons. It refers to news articles we published about Hamas, a group labelled a terrorist organization by the Canadian government. By including those other articles, he shows his real agenda: censoring any criticism of Muslim extremists.
Perhaps the most embarrassing thing about Soharwardy's complaint is that he claims our cartoons caused him to receive hate mail. Indeed, his complaint includes copies of a few e-mails from strangers to him. Some of those e-mails even go so far as to call him "humourless" and tell him to "lighten up". Perhaps that's hateful. But all of those e-mails were sent to him before our magazine even published the cartoons. Soharwardy isn't even pretending that this is a legitimate complaint. He's not even trying to hide that this is a nuisance suit.
Soharwardy's complaint should have been thrown out immediately by the Alberta Human Rights Commission, just like the police did. But it wasn't. Which is why I'm writing to you today.
According to our lawyers, we will win this case. It's an infantile complaint, without basis in facts or law. Frankly, it's an embarrassment to the government of Alberta that their tribunal is open to abuse like this.
Our lawyers tell us we're going to win. But not before we have to spend hundreds of hours and up to $75,000 fighting this thing, at our own expense. Soharwardy doesn't have to spend a dime - now that his complaint has been filed, Alberta tax dollars will pay for the prosecution of his complaint. We have to pay for this on our own.
Look, $75,000 isn't going to bankrupt us. But it will sting. We're a small, independent magazine, not a huge company with deep pockets. All of our money is needed to produce the best possible editorial product, not to fight legal battles. This is clearly an abuse of process designed to punish us and deter other media from daring to cross that angry imam in the future.
One of the leaders in Canadian human rights law, Alan Borovoy, was so disturbed by Soharwardy's abuse of the human rights commission that he wrote a public letter about it in the Calgary Herald on March 16th. "During the years when my colleagues and I were labouring to create such commissions, we never imagined that they might ultimately be used against freedom of speech," wrote Borovoy, who is general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Censorship was "hardly the role we had envisioned for human rights commissions. There should be no question of the right to publish the impugned cartoons," he wrote.
Borovoy went even further - he said that the human rights laws should be changed to avoid this sort of abuse in the future. "It would be best, therefore, to change the provisions of the Human Rights Act to remove any such ambiguities of interpretation," he wrote. That's an amazing statement, coming from one of the fathers of the Canadian human rights movement.
I agree with Borovoy: the law should be changed to stop future abuses. But those changes will come too late for us - we're already under attack. The human rights laws, designed as a shield, are being used against us as a sword.
We will file our legal response to Soharwardy's shakedown this week. And we will fight this battle to the end - not just for our own sake, but to defend freedom of the press for all Canadians.
Do you believe that's important? If so, I'd ask you to help us defray our costs. We're accepting donations through our website. It's fast, easy and secure. Just click on http://www.westernstandard.ca/freedom
You can donate any amount from $10 to $10,000. Please help the Western Standard today - and protect freedom for all Canadians for years to come.
P.S. Remember, Soharwardy's complaint will be prosecuted using tax dollars and government lawyers. We have to rely on our own funds - and the generous support of readers like you.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
The clear winners of course for a third straight year were Maori Six. Way to go boys:
But the battle for second was hotly contested amongst three dance acts, with the entire student body of Penn State University just nipping the next two acts at the wire:
Third place was where we had our first tie in four years, where Hartland Seniors and their Choo Choo Boogaloo came on strong at the finish to gain the third place tie, their best result since Old Elmer's arthritis got so bad:
But the big news was the great showing of the unexpected new entrants, all the way from the Middle East. Let's have a big Bob's Country Bunker hand for our co-third-place finishers, and a great bunch of guys, the new Palestinian Cabinet, and their rendition of the Hamas HokeyPoke:
And weren't they good sports, ducking all those beer bottles without breaking rhythm?
Congratulations to all our fine contestants. Don't forget, Wednesday is Lady's Night, all drinks half price if you're wearing a bra -- yeah, guys can wear a bra too; we don't want to get sued.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
So I ask you, who is the most dangerous political kisser? Peretz or Haniyeh? In all fairness, it must be said this is the only labial assault we've seen from Peretz so far, so it could just be a fluke. Then again, Haniyeh limits his activities to little kids and babies, never having even tried to smooch the stuffing out of Holocaust survivors -- if only for lack of opportunity -- so it could be a tight race.
Or is there some other dark-horse candidate I've missed? And no, Arafat's corpse is not eligible for this kissing contest.
But to claim that's all he said would be to misrepresent the stunning breadth and all-encompassing scope of his speech. Mr. Gaddafi also:
- ...invited Hugh Hefner to a slumber party in honor of the 20th anniversary of Mr. Gaddafi's invention of the silk jammie.
- ...caused a beauty mark to spontaneously sprout on his own face through the force of his mega-will, just to clearly illustrate to Cindy Crawford that they really look much better closer to the nose.
- ...declared himself the world's only real pimp and warned all the other suckas out there better check themselves.
- ...announced that Prince owes him royalties and 20 years of back interest for his unauthorized use of the color purple, which Gaddafi has trademarked in Libya.
They're all just jealous.
Monday, March 27, 2006
A Muslim couple in India has been told by local Islamic leaders they must separate after the husband 'divorced' his wife in his sleep, the Press Trust of India reported.That doesn't sound good at all. But fear not, if there is an Islamic marital problem, the answer is more Islam:
Sohela Ansari told friends that her husband Aftab had uttered the word 'talaq,' or divorce, three times in his sleep, according to the report published in newspapers Monday.
When local Islamic leaders got to hear, they said Aftab's words constituted a divorce under an Islamic procedure known as 'triple talaq.' The couple, married for 11 years with three children, were told they had to split.
All cynicism aside for the moment, this episode also shows that you can't spell insanity without a little sanity at the end:
The religious leaders ruled that if the couple wanted to remarry they would have to wait at least 100 days. Sohela would also have to spend a night with another man and be divorced by him in turn.
That actually makes sense. I wonder if the local leaders will hear about it before the recalcitrant couple is hacked to death with machetes for their impudence.
The couple, who live in the eastern state of West Bengal, have refused to obey the order and the issue has been referred to a local family counseling center. [...]
"This is a totally unnecessary controversy and the local 'community leaders' or whosoever has said it are totally ignorant of Islamic law," said Zafarul-Islam Khan, an Islamic scholar and editor of The Milli Gazette, a popular Muslim newspaper.
"The law clearly says any action under compulsion or in a state of intoxication has no effect. The case of someone uttering something while asleep falls under this category and will have no impact whatsoever," Khan told Reuters.
When bloggers marry jugglers:
- someone will swallow fire
- knives will be juggled
- the groom will change into a funny hat and gigantic floppy bow-tie to entertain his bride
- records will be broken -- not LPs, Israeli juggling records
- in a sign of real commitment, the blogging bride will display her newly acquired juggling skills for her husband -- we'll have to wait and see if he does a little blogging for her.
- the wedding will be blogged and posted the same day.
Mazel Tov to Yaakov and Leah Gabrielle (Trilcat).
It's the Carnival of Mediocre Media.
I've come across a number of whoppers bloggers have exposed to the world over the last week or so. If you've got one, send it to Centrerion.
It's even stranger when a four year old girl wants it for dinner. And eats it. And likes it.
Should I be worried?
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Linked to: Colbert Report, Don Surber and Pirate's Cove
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Well said. Couldn't agree more. So what's this next paragraph about then?
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz warned the international community Friday against complacency towards Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements delegitimizing Israel.
A nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state, thus heeding the president's statements is all the more imperative, Halutz told a conference at Bar-Ilan University.
'That mistake [of failure to take action] was made by others in Germany in the 1930s,' the chief of staff said.
Does this mean that Hamas has been making statements none of the rest of us know about? That Halutz is taking seriously some obscure Hamas memo that lives only in his desk drawer? Because I thought the rest of us were busy taking Hamas at their word:
The IDF chief also said that the establishment of a Hamas government in the Palestinian Authority won't necessarily lead to a rise in terror attacks.
'Hamas will want to prove that their image is unjustified, and will restrain itself,' Halutz said. He advised waiting and seeing how the Hamas government will act.
And, in the same article:
"The day will never come when any Palestinian would be arrested because of his political affiliation or because of resisting the occupation," Seyam told Reuters in an interview.
Does anyone other than General Halutz doubt he means it?
"Talks with the factions in the future will focus on the mechanisms, the shape and the timing (of any attacks)," he said. "But the right to defend our people and to confront the aggression is granted and is legitimate."
Friday, March 24, 2006
The strange thing is, even though I'm in my early forties now, I don't see the same calcification happening in my own musical preferences. While I still love my golden oldies, like Metallica and Alanis Morissette, I manage to stay somewhat current, and haven't reached the point where I dismiss new songs out of hand just because they're new and no longer made like they used to. Maybe I'm blind to my own bias, but I can imagine myself down the road a few decades, hanging out in my nursing home, watching MTV and thinking that, you know, a lot of this new stuff isn't half bad.
My own preference for keeping up with pop music might be explained by my immigrant status, missing a little bit of the old comfortable home, even if it has changed a bit since I left it. I don't keep up at all with modern Israeli music -- that just isn't comfort for me. The problem with this is I'll probably end up in that nursing home, trying to watch MTV, and all the old Hebrew-speaking fogies incarcerated along with me will be hollering for their Israeli oldies, like Aviv Geffen or Subliminal. I sure hope they develop hearing aids with built-in IPods by then; I'm going to need 'em. But they'll probably even have Eye-pods by then, so I probably don't have to worry.
Before I turn you loose and finish getting ready for Shabbat, I'm going to make one last speculation. I'm going to guess that most of the people of my generation and younger -- people in their early 40s or less -- will in general be more current with recent trends in music, even in their old age, than what has historically been expected.
Of course there are exceptions, but I get the impression that the 60's never ended for many people a few years older than me. But when the 70s rolled over into the 80s and then the 90s and so on, I think much of my generation rolled along with it.
Technology and modern marketing make exposure to new music more pervasive than ever. And the pace of change for so many things, from computers to cell phones, has trained new generations to expect and embrace the new.
What do you think? Do you expect to end up in your old age, tapping your toes to Frank Sinatra? Or will you be listening to -- well, I haven't the foggiest idea what they'll have to be doing in 30 years to seem new, but whatever that is.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Regardless of what you may be hearing in the Zionist controlled media, your new Hamas government is most assuredly not broke yet. Since we don't want any strikes this month, we will be continuing all the benefits and insurance plans you've grown to love and demand, for now. This is all very standard, nothing to worry about. Just fill out the forms below and submit them to your supervisor or Imam. Be sure to tell the complete truth, or there will be consequences.
Section 1: General Information
(Hamas/Islamic Jihad/DFLP/Al Qaeda/Al Aqsa/UN
Address When Hiding
UNRWA ID #
Next of Kin
Next of Kin's Next of Kin
*NOTE: do NOT provide your detonator cell phone here.
Section 2: Family Information
We need a little information about your family in order to calculate dental plan payments.
*NOTE: if female submit form 8b signed by husband instead.
Second Wife's Name
Third Wife's Name
Fourth Wife's Name
*if you remember it.
Fifth Wife's Name
*just kidding, only good Muslims work here.
Approximate # Children*
*NOTE: Under 18 and present or future martyrs only.
Section 3: Your Health and History
Your benefits include various life and health insurances. Our insurance underwriter requires certain information to calculate premiums and permitted coverage based on certain absurd definitions of risk. What can we do?
Any Israeli Friends
Enjoy Celebratory Gunfire*
*NOTE: Only of concern if performed straight up.
Number of Fingers
Work Accident Claims
Shot Martyr's Video Yet
Name of Imam or Mosque
Most Recent Cellmate
*NOTE: for munitions teams only -- red wire, green wire stuff.
Section 4: Extra Benefits
Check off the extra benefits you're interested in, and provide required information for those options
Amount Withheld Monthly
Explanation of why you expect to live long enough to retire:
If so, check the types of operations you expect to execute with the car so we can steal the appropriate size and model:
own martyrdom operations
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
We've known for quite a while now that AP, along with most news services, has implemented a policy of calling terrorists "militants" and then euphemistically demoting the militants down to activists before any text hits the wires. It's enfuriating to read carefully worded stories about "a suicide activist who apparently was killed in a blast today inside a crowded..."
But this isn't enough. Now they are taking political activists of centrist Israeli parties and calling them militants. Kadima terrorists can't be far behind -- and that is not election commentary either.
Seriously, I'm sure it's just a Freudian slip, or a computerized moral equivalence filter run amok. No big deal. Except glaring mistakes like these shine a little light on the kind of bias that creates mistake after mistake after mistake, always softening the edge of Palestinian terrorism while at the same time fabricating and embellishing themes of Israeli brutality.
Typographically it's a mistake I'm sure. Thematically? Not so much.
UPDATE: 24 hours later, there was no correction or even surreptious edit. I guess AP isn't reading my blog. Or it wasn't a mistake.
make me a match!
Find me a find.
Catch me a catch.
Oh the memories. I'm sure we all know the song. Fiddler on the Roof conjures up such warm and cuddly "matchmaker" images, doesn't it? A real old-world, traditional matchmaker, sort of like this:
That's Ahmed Al-Omari, one of Saudi Arabia's professional matchmakers. Arab News tells us a little bit about the Saudi shadchan, and recounts some of his wackiest matchmaking memories:
That's a little quirky, but I'm sure it happens in Hollywood all the time. "Aging starlet seeks eager young stud-muffin. Send resume and salary requirements to..." Of course that sort of thing probably doesn't come across your typical matchmaker's desk every day.
One of the strangest requests Al-Omari received came from a 60-year-old businesswoman who wanted a 25-year-old single handsome man. "She was offering SR2 million for the man of her dreams," he said.
Can't take a second wife!? Well now it makes sense. What red-blooded Saudi stud-muffin would agree to that?
But there was a catch: The contract would stipulate that the young stud couldn't marry another woman.
Al-Omari said he has yet to find a willing young man for her.
Tough job. Maybe he should consider training for a new career, something easier that could offer him a more normal life, like executioner.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The basic goal of every one of their 83 pages is to convince you that America has been manipulated by the Jewish lobby (AIPAC et al) into taking pro-Israel policies that the two professors feel are totally counter to US interests. While I don't feel any patriotic duty to rise to the defense of AIPAC or lobbyists, they are not the real targets of the paper; they are really only placeholder paper targets for an overwhelming litany of attacks against pretty much everything Israel is and does, and by extension, any action taken in support of it.
I wish I were exaggerating.
It's tempting to simply dismiss their paper, titled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," as little more than a poorly executed Raving Anti-Zionist Blog Carnival -- an 83 page blog carnival to be sure, but one not much deeper or better researched than a concentrated dose of Daily Kos. If that were the whole story then it wouldn't be worth promoting their paper by responding to it.
Unfortunately, its authors have somehow gotten it published on Harvard's stationary and internet servers and present it in the name of the Kennedy School of Government (KSG), boilerplate disclaimers notwithstanding. This veneer of authority is what makes a response necessary. I'm sure an overstuffed garbage bag with the KSG logo on it would render some of the garbage inside quotable in today's media. And frankly, I think I'd rather read quotes from stinking garbage than from this piece.
But how to respond?
There have already been a lot of great responses. I particularly enjoyed Martin Kramer's reaction; however, there are a lot of worthy posts on the subject. You can also find convenient roundups at Soccer Dad, Crossing the Rubicon and Little Green Footballs.
With so much already said, and said so well, I only want to add a few small points of my own.
The professors have presented their attack in a very clever form. I might call it proof-by-a-thousand-assertions. They assemble assertion after assertion, each stamped with KSG authority and the authors' personal assurance that they are true, and then count on the cumulative effect to render readers senseless, with agreement by default slipping in soon after.
I believe the professors' next paper, using the same technique, will be called "Santa Claus is Bad for America."
And an anti-Santa paper from these guys will only be marginally more convincing than this one.
A convincing case against Santa can be made based on nothing but facts.
Snow is cold. Kids get pop guns as presents and grow up violent. A holiday greeter at Walmart noted that people who have beards are generally fanatics. If Santa is pro-American, then why does he live at the North Pole? .... (83 pages later) .... FedEx could just ship the toys and cut out the whole Santa business if it weren't for the elf lobby. Consider how few people actually manage to speak out against Santa to get an idea how insidious his influence is -- in fact we can only pray that this paper itself manages to sneak through his net of influence to someday see the light of day.
Unfortunately, however, proof by a thousand assertions is difficult to counter effectively. Not responding to all the assertions allows the professors to dismiss opposition as missing the point, that the idea in general still stands on the weight of so much remaining evidence. But responding to each and every erroneous or misapplied assertion risks making the responder seem petty or obsessed in an agenda-driven way. Even more, I wouldn't be surprised if the paper's authors eventually point to the vast number of refutations as just further proof of the very same vast undue influence they are exposing.
I guess that's a risk we'll have to take.
The response I feel is most philosophically and rhetorically effective is just to clearly state that this paper is a moldering pile of donkey dung that wasn't true when the professors started with their hateful conclusion, and remained equally untrue with each piece of untrue and innappropriate evidence they slapped over it.
When a writer has to explicitly assert that all his assertions are true and uncontroversial, there's probably a reason. When a writer has to remind you he feels that anti-semitism is loathsome, there's probably a reason. When a writer has to add a caveat that there is nothing inherently improper about American Jews attempting to sway US policy like everybody else, there's probably a reason. When a writer has to clarify that his charges of undue Jewish influence are not conspiratorial accusations of "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" proportions, there's probably a reason. When a writer has to stipulate that terror attacks against even innocent Israeli civilians are wrong, there's probably a reason.
When a writer has to reassure you he believes Israel has a right to exist, there's probably a reason.
Technorati Tags: john mearsheimer, stephen walt, the lobby, israel, aipac, harvard, kennedy school of government
Regardless of what AP would have you believe I still prefer my explanation, since birds don't fire back at masked policemen, possibly hitting the crowds of bystanders milling about. If this were truly a raging gunbattle, would the police really take up firing positions so close to exposed crowds?
No, it has to be a Bird Flu Quick Response Unit.
(doff of the mask to Soccer Dad)
Monday, March 20, 2006
The Hamas figure most commonly called "moderate" is Sheikh Hassan Yousef:
So the job of "most moderate of the Hamas leaders" goes to anyone who refuses to rule out actions their employer has already forbidden. But is simply refusing to rule something out really such a big deal? I can honestly tell my kids I refuse to explicitly rule out talks with the Tooth Fairy -- it doesn't mean I plan to negotiate each tooth's pillow price with her.
The top Hamas figure in the West Bank, he was released from Israeli prison in 2004. Yousef is the most moderate of the Hamas leaders, refusing to rule out talks with Israel under strict conditions. He was elected to the new parliament.
But all that doesn't really even matter since the Sheikh's noble openness to talks is also dependent on Israel's a priori agreement that negotiations are limited to details of the exact method and timing of her demise. Hey, that "most moderate Hamas leader" gig is good work, if you can get it.
Great. So moderate means refusing to rule out talks. Let's just verify this assumption before we write it in stone.
How about Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh? Well, to start, he is at least a pragmatist:
Ok, please stop laughing, this is serious. What, would you prefer that Palestinian pragmatists slaughter their internal rivals instead? Maybe some of you shouldn't answer that one, but that's why they're called pragmatists instead of violent anarchists. A pragmatist, fine, but does Haniyeh qualify with the media as a moderate? You bet he does:
(NPR Morning Edition) Hamas presented a former university administrator on Monday as its choice to be the next Palestinian prime minister. Ismail Haniyeh has a reputation as a pragmatist who prefers compromise over conflict when dealing with Palestinian rivals.
So as a moderate, he must be open to talks, according to our definition.
The top candidate on the Hamas list and known as a relative moderate in the group, he was elected to the new parliament. Haniyeh is one of the most public of the Hamas figures, remaining available to comment on events even when most of the other leaders drop out of sight for fear of Israeli attacks.
So aside from Haniyeh's commitment not to murder his Palestinian political rivals as a method of domestic policy, what is his qualification as a moderate? He intends to never recognize Israel, so even if he were somehow coerced into negotiations, they would be meaningless as he isn't offering much besides choice of cigarette or blindfold -- unless you perverse sense of humor is interested in an offer of Alaskan or Balkan real estate.
“Indeed, from the hour the (Oslo) accords were endorsed, they became a part of reality to which we remain committed,” Abbas told lawmakers, adding: “The presidency and the government will continue to respect our commitment to the negotiations as a strategic, pragmatic political choice.”
Haniyeh did not agree. Abbas “was elected according to his program, and we were elected according to a different program,” he said...
So I did a little survey, trying to find the factor that is common to all Palestinians labeled as moderates. The best definition I could come up with is that a moderate is someone who is not wearing a mask. Take for instance Sheikh Abu Tir:
And if you don't believe leaving the mask on the nightstand can have such a big effect, just look at the moderating difference for yourself:
Arsenault interviewed Hamas's No. 2 candidate, Sheikh Abu Tir. Described by Bradley Burston in Ha'aretz as the "poster boy" for the moderate face of Hamas, Abu Tir contradicted this image, telling Arsenault: "Palestine is occupied since 1948. This is our right to fight," meaning that the armed struggle must continue until all of Palestine is liberated.
While there is the outside possibility that Mr. Abu Tir might have left his mask at home as a fashion statement rather than out of commitment to moderation, nevertheless, which one would you rather have in the government you are supposed to try to make peace with? If the question is too hard, pretend the mask is scarier, and the beard less so.
Of course I don't want anyone taking this analysis too far. For instance, none of these definitions of "moderate" apply to Israelis, so don't bother making a big deal to CNN or the New York Times that Binyamin Netanyahu appears all the time without a mask, and not only hasn't ruled out talks but has already actually handed over territory to the other side through negotiations. Mr. Netanyahu is a hardliner.
An Israeli moderate would be someone who is dead. Or nearly so.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Who would ever have expected me, Dan Rather -- respected journalist, news anchor, and winner of more awards for excellence than Aunt Edna's Possum Pot Pie -- to try his hand at film criticism, especially on this wildly irresponsible frontier called rant logging. But thanks to Mr. AbbaGav, this retired old dog has a chance to try scratchin' a few new ticks.
What helped AbbaGav finally get me off my retirement couch was the experience of seeing John Belushi's dramatic performance in the recent hard-hitting journalistic would-be cinematic tour-du-force called Anchorman. This is a movie whose review cries out for the steady hand and clear unbiased vision of a Dan Rather because frankly it stunk worse than a... than a used diaper filled with... Indian food.
(How am I doing so far? It's not too often the masses are granted access to the straight, un-objectified raw opinions of a veteran journalist like this, so enjoy it while you can. Say, have I gotten one of those Instalanches the blog-spewers are always jabbering on about yet? Actually, we should really be asking Mr. Lanche if he's yet had the honor of one of my patented Insta-Rathers instead! Ok, let's get back to the movie.)
Now, you know I'd rip out my spleen with rusty pliers if it would help me give you even the tiniest extra dribble of my authentic journalistic insight into the inner workings of this film. Sadly, however, I won't be able to comment perfectly on everything in the movie because the group I had the misfortune of viewing it with continually ruined all the important parts for me by howling with inappropriate laughter, like a bunch of hyenas on LSD -- take my word for it, Uncle Dan knows a fair amount about LSD. But I just think it shows how the American appreciation for drama has just shriveled away right along with the attention span of this Empty Vee generation.
My bottom line: the movie was dramatically uneven. It had huge plot holes, the writing in places flakier than Aunt Mathilda's buttermilk biscuits. But it was also less accurate than the boys in the men's room down at Gillie's Tavern around closing time on half-price beer night. And even I can tell you, flaky but inaccurate is no way to sell a message these days.
I will give the flick partial credit; it did make a few astute observations. It did a good job of illustrating the key principle of success in lead-anchor-journalism: it's not about being the smartest -- no sirree Bob -- it's about making sure absolutely nobody works a story harder than you and gets away with it.
The movie clearly pegged the importance of sexual magnetism in a lead anchor. It showed that a lead anchor has to be well-rounded: able to sing and play jazz flute, while still devoting the heavy workout time needed to keep the guns fully pumped.
And, tragically, the movie showed the harsh reality of the anchor life. One controversial moment -- be it merely reading a little typo like "F*** you, San Diego" off the teleprompter or exposing the flawed service record of a presidential candidate -- and the rabid masses will turn on you quicker than a crack whore on a satisfied customer who simply forgot his wallet in his other pants.
But for every little scrap this stinker got right, it screwed the pooch ten different ways from Wednesday. Fatal flaw. Not good.
Dogs, even the faithful dogs of lead anchors, cannot speak English. It is astonishing that any movie purporting to take a serious look at the world of journalism would even dream of trying to pass such obviously fraudulent scenarios off as realistic. If only they'd had the good sense to consult with Dan Rather, but it's pointless now setting the hunting hounds on a piece of fried chicken.
And as much as this movie tries to pretend serious journalism is nothing more than having really, really great hair and reading exactly what's written on the teleprompter, it's not. It's so much more, like repeating whatever the producer's voice whispers in your earpiece while still continuing to read the teleprompter -- and baby, that's art.
Furthermore, no self-respecting lead anchor would ever, EVER risk his position by missing a broadcast just because his dog was drop-kicked off a bridge by an angry Hells Angel upset about having his motorbike destroyed by a carelessly discarded burrito. The movie's just not realistic.
But the film's most important mistake is that a real-life lead anchor would be constitutionally incapable of injecting himself into the story of the birth of a panda cub, just so he can save the life of his former co-anchor and erstwhile cuddle monkey -- even if she is purtier than one of Cousin Dorothy's black velvet Schnauzer paintings. It just isn't done.
So, in the end, can I recommend this movie to viewers? Well, it's like my Pappy always said, "It's like a porcupine: you don't want one in bed with you, but if you happen to be trapped in a collapsed West Virginia mineshaft for a few days and you've got a heavy pair of work gloves with you then those little varmints make for some good eatin'."
RELUCTANT, UNNECESSARY EDITORIAL CLARIFICATION:
There are some who are complaining about the minute details of precisely who did or did not star in this film, whether it was John Belushi as I reported, or some Johnny-come-lately Farrelly brother. But all the whining in the world doesn't address the fact that the major thrust of my review remains unchallenged, and still might be true. While I have not yet been able to authenticate John Belushi's starring role to the 110% level of confidence I generally expect of myself, still, no one has yet provided any persuasive evidence to the contrary, other than a bunch of useless "weblinks."
So carp on, rant loggers. Carp on.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Her four year old sister, Miriam, saw this and wanted a piece of the action for herself. "My tummy hurts. I want Acamol, too!" she complained.
"Sorry, Miriam, but Acamol doesn't help tummy-aches," Sharon informed her.
"Oh. Then I have a headache."
Friday, March 17, 2006
Two different photographers, two different news services, lots of different photos from several different locations, both in the street and on a rooftop. But one "boy" featured in all of them. What is my point? I'm not disputing that there indeed was a protest that included the throwing of rocks, as stated. But when you see the same boy starring in all the pictures from both news services, you have to start to wonder about the relationship between the protestors and the news service stringers in creating this feature presentation. Photos that appear coordinated between spontaneous rock throwers and ostensibly objective photographers and reporters start to call into question the nature of what the protest represents.
Daled Amos has a fantastic post on the subject of the relationship between newswire stringers and the subjects they are helping report on. And Mensa Barbie has a link to must-see video that shows far more explicitly the kind of relationship these photos only hint at. I strongly recommend checking out both pieces, and then taking another look at these pictures -- and maybe at a lot of other pictures.
There are a few other oddities about these photos. The rock throwers, and indeed hordes of onlookers behind, seem perfectly comfortable standing completely out in the open, unprotected from any Israeli gunfire, all while the crowd attacks an armed position. Suicidal commitment to national goals? I wouldn't expect a martyr's fervor from each and every person milling about in an onlooking crowd. More likely, they realize there is no need to seek cover.
So can we conclude that there was no real danger on that day, since no one seems concerned about shielding themselves from lethal fire? Not quite. Someone actually was killed on this day, an Israeli soldier (see the second photo's caption). And someone actually was concerned for their safety, taking trouble to shield themselves. It just wasn't the Palestinians:
Sure, there are clashes between Palestinian crowds and Israeli soldiers. I don't dispute that. But you might start to wonder if it really means what you're being told it means.
I'm not sure how the IDF will be able to stop this. And as the enraged militants' crispy carcasses pile up, you can bet the victim count will be trumpeted loudly in the media and the UN, the clear finger of blame pointed at Israel for its inflammatory actions and for fanning the flames.
NOTE: This is just a joking, sarcastic misinterpretation of what is in reality a perfectly normal picture of the widespread Palestinian terrorist factions' Pointless-Ritualistic-Ordeal-by-Fire fetish.
It remains to be seen if this will turn out any better than the suicide jumper training.
And we don't want the region to explode, do we? No. Just one tiny part of it.
I really want to like the Jordanian king. Any Jordanian king. They have such nice English and they don't usually appear in military fatigues. They face a Palestinian demographic problem perhaps as profound as Israel's, if not more so. And they don't usually come right out and openly scream at us Zionists.
But, in the end, this celebratedly moderate king prefers that no one should so much as lift a finger to forestall Iran's explicit threats to wipe a neighbor from the map with a radioactive eraser. He seems to forget his little country is just downwind of us here in Israel, and close enough to be a likely victim of Iranian targeting error. I would have to guess the king has a very deep royal bunker, and a nice buffer zone of problematic Palestinians dwelling closest to Israel's border. That, and the courage of his moderate convictions.
I think it might be time to stop calling for the moderates to stand up; I'm starting to doubt whether they would really help that much. We've reached the point where the only thing that will help is radical Islamic peaceniks. Are there any, other than exiled apostates permanently living in fatwa-induced hiding under 24 hour protection?
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Linked to: Third World County, Right Wing Nation, Don Surber, Imagine Kitty and NIF
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