Friday, November 30, 2001

LEAVING THE MATERIAL WORLD: One of the perils of working late nights / early mornings -- is that you're the first to hear the news that everyone else won't get until hours later.

I would have liked to have had three more hours of not knowing.

One of my greatest regrets is that I was born just a little too late to have been a Beatles fan -- my coming-of-age music was Emerson, Lake & Palmer. So, while most will be remembering his music today, I'll just mention that I'm especially grateful to George Harrison for personally financing Monty Python's Life of Brian and Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits -- a couple of all-time faves which I haven't re-watched nearly often enough lately.

What a shame that this is what finally pushes Afghanistan "below the fold," even if only for a day or two.

"IT" IS COMING! "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer apparently thinks she has the scoop on Ginger, the "personal mobility vehicle" that will revolutionize ...well, personal mobility.

Apparently, Diane isn't aware that Mr. Garrison of "South Park" has already
nailed the story.

Thursday, November 29, 2001

WINDOWS XP MADNESS RAVAGES BRAZIL!
(Babel-Translated from a web developer's Blog at http://amnesia.tux.nu/):

I committed a madness today! =)!

I made one upgrade in mine maquinozza, I retired my Ruindows 2000, and installed Ruindows XP! wuahahawuahaha!

I do not know where I was with the head to make this...

I find that now that I go to have that to make one upgrade in my brain not to commit more atrocities as this! hehe...

but paradinha until it functioned bacana... I installed the XP of the zero did not stop so far...

I had that to reeinstalar all tralhas, easy creator compact disc 4 did not twirl...goes to have that to buy piraton of version 5... 3dmax4 gave pirada in the XP and I so far did not obtain to make it to function direitinho...

what I was chateado same was that the XP still does not have to driver it my to scanner bagacerozzo a thousand nine hundred and small ball... fuck! = (!

I go to finish selling it and buying something more current... the XP is this tŠ bacan„o... everything blue. twirling more fast than old the 2000 and still it did not stop (still). hehe...

soon plus it starts to give those coarse errors and bizonhos... poor it is a same disaster!

it does not obtain to buy a Mac and he is if deluding with sisteminha new there of the put Micro$oft visualzinho "aqua ".

oooooo illness! =)

Isn't it nice to know that, all over the world, people are basically the same -- just trying to survive the Microsoft hegemony like you and me?

Usage Note from Dictionary.com: "Hegemony" may be stressed on either the first or second syllable, though the pronunciation with stress on the second syllable may be winning out. Seventy-two percent of the Usage Panel prefers it.

SECOND-GUESSING OSAMA - PART DEUX: Echoing the sentiments expressed in this space last week -- in a linked essay that will disappear or be replaced one week from today, so click fast! -- Terry Golway of the New York Observer observes:

Rhetorically, we have condemned those who carried out the atrocities of Sept. 11 and those who may be planning more of the same as heinous mass murderers, no different than the thugs who populate our maximum-security prisons. But if we consign the terrorists to military trials and military justice, we may be giving them undeserved dignity, a status in which they will take no small measure of perverted delight.

My point exactly. Thanks to the Bush/Ashroft military tribunal decree, Osama's best available exit strategy is to walk out of his cave tomorrow morning, wave the white flag, and turn himself in for trial and execution by our brand-new Soviet-style star chamber. Short of starting up his very own Blog and earning an Instapundit "Seal of Approval" sidebar link, what better way for Osama to spread his message widely to as many potential future binLadenites as possible (--that the United States embraces corrupt, evil, dangerous values--) than with his closing argument in the most-watched kangaroo courtroom drama in the history of the world?

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

CLONE, CLONE OF MY OWN ... If The Onion is the National Lampoon for the New Millennium, UThant.com is its Spy Magazine. Here's the paragraph that Instapundit couldn't bring himself to quote verbatim:
On Monday, White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer addressed the [cloning] issue by declaring that "scientists should not have the hubris to try to usurp the rightful role of G-d." Fleisher added that, "On an unrelated note, we have rained more fiery death from the sky on Middle Easterners who have incurred our wrath and must suffer our awesome vengeance."

By the way, UThant -- Mind Over What Matters knows darn well that Frankenstein was the doctor, not the monster. We were also the first blog to make an eerily prescient reference to Weird Al Yankovic's non-hit single "I Think I'm a Clone Now." See two items below. We're keeping score now, buddy!

POST TOASTIES: I made some casual disparaging remarks about the New York Post in this space recently -- an easy, safe target, I thought -- but this afternoon, a colleague happened to leave a copy of today's Post laying around, and I must confess to being taken aback. What a difference a makeover makes!

Be it traditional print or online media, a publication's style and substance are intricately dependent and feed back upon one another. A publisher cannot give less consideration to either one without compromising the other. In the case of the old New York Post, its historically yucky appearance did not merely mirror its yucky yellow journalistic standards -- I would go so far as to say that it reinforced them, encouraging its editors, reporters and columnists to hold their standards to a permanently low ebb. Surely, few could be expected to hold themselves to high standards, after seeing their work horribly reproduced, day after day, in an ugly typeface, in smeary, blurry ink, on the cheapest grade of newsprint available.

(Full disclosure: In real life, I'm a self-employed graphic designer. About ten years ago, I was employed to produce some display graphics for the Post on one single occasion, and for some unknown reason they never used my services again. Even more distantly in the past, I worked for sportswriter Phil Mushnick's sister Ann Sue, as a business forms analyst at a very badly-managed insurance company, where we both got laid off shortly before the whole operation went under. Just a couple of odd connections -- for what they're worth.)

But -- by golly, this is not the old New York Post I wouldn't have been caught dead reading last month. From a technical perspective, The Post's implementation of full process color printing -- both on the cover and, in limited use, inside! -- is downright impressive. High-resolution photo images ... clean, tight registration, on bright white stock ... very nice! And from a design standpoint ... well, it's not going to be mistaken for the cutting edge, but it looks ... good. Amazingly good. In fact, it's now marginally better-looking than its longstanding rival New York tabloid, the Daily News, which has been making do with low-grade color printing for a number of years. (A turn of events which hasn't escaped the News's jealous attentions.)

I hardly expect this handsome redesign to coincide with Murdoch's Mouthpiece becoming any less sensationally right-leaning. But there's a way to do right-leaning without betraying intellectual honesty -- and wouldn't that be a bold next step for journalism in this burg! (That they've had the smarts to hire Josh Marshall from time to time bodes well indeed.)

Now, if only they could get some decent comics ...

HOLDING TWO CONTRADICTORY THOUGHTS SIMULTANEOUSLY:


Calvin and Hobbes never jumped the shark...

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

I THINK I'M A CLONE NOW: If the pro-cloning camp is going to take a serious stand against the criminalization of science, the first thing it's got to do is to re-frame the debate through semantics.

The word "clone" itself evokes cinematic images of, alternately, Dr. Frankenstein's operating theater -- the sickly, sterile factory-laboratories of Spielberg's A.I. -- and of course, legions of lookalike suicidal super-soliders of George Lucas's Attack of the Clones ... the sunken eyes of soulless automatons stacked like cordwood in refrigerated storage ... Killer Clones from Outer Space ... Dawn of the Clones ... It's hopeless. The PR baggage of the word alone will doom clone research in its infancy.

Just as the anti-abortion movement has bolstered its support in the guise of the more palatable "pro-life" movement ...

Just as the opponents of a fiscally responsible Estate Tax -- applicable only to the richest 2% of American taxpayers -- have successful morphed themselves into bold defenders against the dreaded Death Tax (evoking a sense that the tax was as terrible, swift and certain as death itself!) ...

Likewise, suppporters of legitimate, sensible cloning research must immediately seek to remove any reference to the word "clone" from the debate, and replace it with a suitable, user-friendly alternative. May I be the first to suggest these:

Pro-LifeExtension: This one has the one-two punch of first corrupting the anti-choice lobby's favored "Pro-Life" label, and then forcing actual pro-lifers to reconsider the tenuous moral link between cloning and abortion rights. After all, how could anyone logically position themselves as being both pro-life and also against the extension of life, as held out by the promise of organ cloning? (Granted, many right-wingers manage to rationalize being both pro-life and pro-death penalty -- but the purpose of these semantic exercises is not necessarily to change anyone's mind, but to make them work harder at rationalizing mutually exclusive positions. Let their brows furrow a little deeper while they try to hold two more contradictory thoughts simultaneously!)

Bio-SupplySider: Now we're really getting somewhere! By corrupting the shorthand for supply-side economics -- another conservative favorite -- we're also suggesting that cloning technologies will eventually "trickle down" from the wealthy elite to the struggling middle class. Sure, I won't be able to afford a cloned kidney anytime this decade -- but with any luck, my "birth kidneys" will hold out for at least another 20 years -- and by that time, when organ-cloning techniques are actually proven and certifed safe by the FDA, it'll be cheap enough that I can afford a set of new, genetically custom-matched kidneys right about when I'll actually need them.

ReproCidivists: All right, I'm reaching here -- but the word sounds a little like declaring yourself to be so much in favor of reproduction per se that you'd gladly do it again and again and again, by any and every means possible. Opponents would be cast as being against God's commandment to "Go Forth and Multiply." (And, burdened with a label like "AntiReProCidivists," who can even figure out what they're for or against?)

But we need to move fast. If the Pro-Clonies can do it, it won't be long before the Anti-Clonies get into the act. Watch for them to start peppering their moral diatribes with loaded words like "Pro-soul" and "Anti-soul."

Monday, November 26, 2001

TOM TOMORROW / TED RALL REVISITED:


For my recent critical outburst, Bill Sherman takes me to task thusly:

Gotta admit, Jay, Iím puzzled over the high dudgeon you expressed with Ted Rallís cartoon: it seems like a less deft version of something Tom Tomorrow did a few weeks back. The root themes of both cartoons Ė the basic idea that this conflict will not resolve things as simply as our politicos wish us to believe Ė seems pretty obvious and hard to argue.

Perhaps decades of writing for an underground newspaper have made me jaded, but Rallís cartoons, in general, seem to fit quite easily within the parameters of material printed by the left-wing press. This stuff still seems pretty mild compared to the graphics that were being plastered on undergrounds during the height of the Viet Nam war (thereís a Greg Irons cartoon that visualized the hero of Dalton Trumboís Johnny Got His Gun as Time magazineís Man of the Year that still makes me cringe). But maybe that level of profound outrage was something cartoonists had to work up to over several years of unresolved conflict.

Rallís cartoon was ham-fisted, but it reflects ideas that commentators have been warning the Bush Administration about since the conflict started Ė the danger of leaving a country worse off than it was before we got there is a real one (you could argue that whatís Bush Senior did with his desert adventure). And while the administration seems to be making efforts to avoid this trap, Iím not necessarily gonna expect an ideologically framed political cartoonist to acknowledge that fact.

Writing the above got me pondering the matter of political cartoons, in general: basically wondering whether the humanistic liberally-slanted cartoons I remember from my youth (artists like Mauldin, say, or Walt Kelly) were a blip in an art form that more typically looks at its subjects with a harder, more jaundiced eye. Donít know enough about the history of the form to say for sure: those few samples of his pics that Iíve seen reprinted indicate that an early op/ed giant like Thomas Nast could get pretty nasty, though.

Mind Over What Matters replies: Ted Rall's general "nastiness" can be a sublime pleasure. Even when his work makes me cringe, I'm well aware that's the effect he's going for -- and he usually does so in the service of an important, unpopular point. Where I take issue with both Rall and Garry Trudeau more recently is not with (what some would call) their blistering anti-American cynicism, but rather, with their wholesale abandonment of trademark sarcastic wit and style, in favor of hitting me over the head with the large polo mallet. Lord knows, the Left needs articulate spokesmen and women -- now more than ever! -- but both of these men are coasting.

(Extra-Credit Essay Question for MOWM Readers: What event marked the exact moment when Doonesbury jumped the shark?)

Sunday, November 25, 2001

PDQ NOT AWOL: Professor Peter Schickele is apparently giving his New York City audience a miss for the first time in thirty years -- but the Professor is not retiring the PDQ Bach franchise by any means. According to Ticketmaster, there are concerts scheduled for Tucson and Thousand Oaks, in February, Reno NV in April, and Orlando FL in May. Go figure.