June 30, 2004


I have the Penguin Concise Dictionary of Art History here - excellent nighttime reading. A postmodern masterpiece in several ways. First, it contains no art whatsoever. Second, every artist, regardless of their talent, significance, or achievements, gets between 1/4 and 1/2 page of coverage. And third, it has a cute little Penguin on the side, which must refer to Linux and the emerging postcommercial ethos.

The weirdest part, though, is that most of my favorite artists begin with "H":
Winslow Homer
Edward Hopper
David Hockney (I know, it's trite, but I like it)

Throw in the Hudson River School. That doesn't leave out too much, from my perspective. Brueghel, I suppose, Joseph Cornell (who is robbed, by the way, getting half as much space as Hockney) and Velasquez. And Goya and Ingres are just one letter away.

And that's my posse.


An enjoyable list of allegedly factual orders this genius received while serving his country.


A little list of refutations.


If Fox News really (don't click this link if you're at work) ran this promo - I'd say yes, probably.

Reaction from the peanut gallery here.

June 29, 2004


Thank god, artists and all of us still can libel cheap plastic toys, and most important, recover $2 mil (!) in legal fees. A district case, this is yet another critical ruling in favor of freedom for the week - a particularly serious point, actually, and it should put a crimp in the truly despicable and dangerous practice of companies suing people who give public comments against their projects and products in government hearings.


Now then:

I hear that Barbie Malibu can suck the chrome off a trailer hitch.

I should also comment that, according to reliable ex-girlfriends, every Barbie in the world is put through an exhaustive smorgasboad of sexual depravity, with Ken, with GI JOE, with other Barbies, with the Bear, with every vinyl doppelganger with a lack of pulse and a smile on his face. That Barbie is a shameless trollop!


Dark Star and Wizards have both made it onto DVD. These are two of my favorite teenage flicks and they really do stand up pretty well. Wizards has a version narrated by Ralph Bakshi and still has one of the best endings in movie history. There is also a good interview with ole Ralph. Get them both and some microwave popcorn and you have got a "Family Man's Banquet".


Starman - never seen it. Stargate I have seen, though not the one where Unas holds Daniel... Wifey watches it a lot.

It's not bad, compared with practically everything else on TV. It has that MacGyver guy in it. A nerdy professor type. A hot macho blonde. A big bald black alien. A phlegmatic superior officer.

These guys are basically the green berets of the galaxy. They teleport into alien systems and provide advice and support to alien civilizations that are being menaced by the bad guys. Sometimes they kidnap evil aliens and bring them back to earth for interrogation.

I enjoy it because every show has a well-staged firefight between the good guys and aliens, robots, savages, monkey frogs, or whatever happens to be around. And, they don't always win. The MacGyver guy's usually up for moving in and killing everything in sight, but the professor usually is able to decode the crystal tablet's ancient runes and summon an ancient message from a transcendentally powerful entity that solves all problems and makes the galaxy safe again.

There are better ways to waste an hour, but I'm a family man now.


No more "delayed Miranda warning" confession-extraction tactics. (5-4 vote)

Internet pornography is ok (Ashcroft v. ACLU, case no. 03-0218)! (5-4 vote)

Just wondering how many Ashcroft vs. ACLU cases are pending?

Today on SciFi!

Vacation time, and I'm takin' it easy for all you sinners. One thing I like to do on vacation is read the TV schedule. I can't work the remote on my mom's TV, but I figure I get more out of reading about TV than I do out of watching it.

It's come to my attention that this is a special day on the SciFi channel. What is great about science fiction is that it opens a universe of possibilities -- anything can happen! But even the wildest dreams of speculative fiction could not have predicted that today, June 29, 2004, we would witness the Starman marathon (or "Starmanathon") on the SciFi channel.

Now, I've never seen this show (I might have been accidentally exposed to the sucky movie it was based on, but I've mostly suppressed the memory), but here's what I (and you, I hope) are missing:

7:00 AM Starman: Society's Pet. Guest Janet Leigh. (TVG) (cc)

8:00 AM Starman: Starman's arrest leads to a mystery. (cc)

9:00 AM Starman: Blind girl learns Starman is an alien. (cc) [Perhaps the name "Starman" tipped her off.]

10:00 AM Starman: Guest David Spielberg. (TVG) (cc)

11:00 AM Starman: Hitchhiker steals Starman's car. (cc)

NOON Starman: Starman, Scott split in Mexico. (cc)

1:00 PM Starman: Con men save Starman from Fox. (cc)

2:00 PM Starman: Starman invited to photograph a wedding. (cc) [Where's Tivo when you need it?]

3:00 PM Roswell: Liz and Max adjust to a new reality. (cc)

4:00 PM Sliders: Overworked citizens attend fantasy camps. (cc)

5:00 PM Stargate SG-1: Unas holds Daniel. (cc)

6:00 PM Alien Fury: Countdown to Invasion (TVPG, '00) (cc)

[I'm pleased to see that the SciFi channel provides closed captioning for all of their programming, so that deaf people can hate this crappy channel, too.]

June 28, 2004


"A state of war 'is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens,' Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (news - web sites) wrote in the most significant case of the day, a ruling that gives American-born detainee Yaser Esam Hamdi the right to fight his detention in a federal court."

In other news, unnamed administration officials characterize O'Connor as "disgruntled" and "having an agenda". Who appointed her to the court, anyway?


Too darn dangerous, say experts.

Firefox is the place to be, man. I like my browsers like I like my cars - fast and unencumbered with safety features.

Socialists of the Willing

I was interviewed for a local cable show today on the Patriot Act (you know it was a minor TV appearance when you have to quote yourself like this.) But I got one good line out:

Apparantly, the FBI even seems to be monitoring Socialists. I don't know what they're afraid of- universal health care?

Thank you. I'll be here saving American democracy all week.

Radical Left-Wing Anti-American and Recently Elected President of the United States, Al Gore

Al Gore gives a damn nice outraged round up of the Administration's dissembling on the Iraq war and the erosion of American Democracy. And he oughta know.

June 27, 2004


Friendly Dog Prevents Killing Spree?
News report motivates Bush administration to form the first "Friendly Dog" elite paratroop division to be used in Operation "Rumples", a blitz-oriented attack on downtown Fallujah.


Federal Judge forced to apologize for remarks about Bush.

My remarks were extemporaneous and, in hindsight, reasonably could be -- and indeed have been -- understood to do something which I did not intend, that is, take a partisan position.

I'd take this guy duck hunting anytime! Extra points for an excellent non-apology, apology.

June 26, 2004


Memories of my youthful indiscretions, give me fitful, sleepless nights filled with bitter remorse. But the first step to recovery is reflective confession, so it is here in this blog that I choose to admit to the world this unsightly fact: I am a recovering Warball Sadist.

(One former victim pictured here)

Yes friends, I strode the gymnasium like an executioner, preying on the meek and the helpless. My victims could have been your friends, your brothers or sisters, your beloved paramour. I relished my role as judge, jury and executioner as I hurled the ball with such velocity I could send the weakest, meekest 6th grader to the nurses office in a torrent of sorrow and tears. I was at the top of my game and the world was my oyster. Only pain and humiliation awaited by foes.

Pick sides, it didn't matter. Anyone across that black centerline was finished before they touched the red, rubber gym ball. Attempt to hit me and I would catch their pathetic, girlish stroke. Attempt to avoid me and it would go harder. I would start with the weakest, the sickest, and the most downtrodden. I would cut them out of the herd with throws so lightning quick that some scarcely saw it coming. Once hit, the fallen would slink, head down to the side of the gym to wait, until I was finished and a new game would begin. Those with glasses were my favorite victims. Head-shots were my favorite cruel, punishment.

Yea friends, I have seen the error of my ways. I was a ruthless bully, the play-yard bruiser everyone silently loathed and feared. Befriended only by the Wormtongues of the school my lot was a lonely, brutish existence where catching the ball and throwing ball gave me hollow victories based on pure, bloody carnage.

For those of you I left sprawling on the hard gym floor I ask forgiveness. For those whose horn-rimmed glasses I have crushed, I plead for clemency. I am a changed man. Let this be a cautionary tale, for the sunset of my youth has come and I have retired from the elementary school gym many harvests ago. But my kind still lurks, hunting your children and grandchildren in a never-ending ballet of disaster. Prey for the children, and for the Warball sadist who hunts them. As for me I make this vow: I shall warball no more forever. Peace be with you always.

A Minor Event That Might Determine the Election's Outcome

Green Party Spurns Nader. The biggest damage is the lack of automatic ballot access in 22 states and D.C.

Farewell Cold War Tension

Remember when we hated and feared the Russian's and they were the very best at the game of hockey? Remember how we cheered as our team of beloved upstarts beat the Russians in Lake Placid. All our hatred and fear could be expressed and released in 3 periods of all out controlled violence.

It is with great sadness and melancholy that we see our former foes are still the very best at hockey, but now they are playing on our team--Russians Go First in NHL Draft

What will take the place of hockey in the "New World Order"? Cricket? Curling? Beheading relay? Whatever it is, it won't be the same. Gosh I miss the Cold War.


I've been trying out Mozilla, and like it. It's fast and less vulnerable to, shall we say, custom-built involuntary "helper" code. Here's some evangelism for anyone who's interested.

Panic is Such An Incendiary Word

This shocked me - The ACLU uncovered FBI memoranda about the search of innocent people's records under infamous section 215. If you were thinking it's just about library records (and remember they can lock up the librarian for telling you your records were searched) think more along the lines of your medical history, apartment key, your DNA. Also, Ashcroft is lying his ass off about 215's use. The FBI itself contradicts the Administration's "just for terrorists" take.

I encourage you to browse this site.

June 25, 2004


With the name Burnout 3: Takedown, I know the intentions are good.

And the trailer is sublime, with one of the finest endings in the history of cinema. It warms my heart to know that, in a world of cant and sloganeering, someone is taking the trouble to teach our youth things that matter.


With Reagan passing and Clinton publishing, Gallup is out checking mindshare. The results are interesting. My personal favorite (from an 11/03 poll):

Q: Who do you regard as the greatest United States president?
17% Kennedy
17% Lincoln
13% Reagan
11% Roosevelt
9% Clinton
7% Washington

I had not realized how popular Kennedy was, either in his own time (remember, the election vs. Nixon was close), or today.

I'm a big fan of Clinton's, but I'm not putting him ahead of Washington until they name a state and city after him and put his face on the quarter. People are fickle - how can they forget how he put down the Whiskey Rebellion in the Monongahela?

A call for innovative thinking

Take Rasmussen Report's Red Blue Chart, which predicts how the electoral votes of every state will be cast. As of today, that's 203 for Bush and 204 for Kerry, and 127 in the "toss up" states, in which the polls put GW and K less than 5% apart. (There are nine of 'em.)

Assume, for the moment, that the decided states will stay that way. Let's examine the effects of some hypotheses on how the toss ups will settle out.

The Rasmussen site itself presents three scenarios: if Bush or Kerry somehow garner and maintain a 5% popular lead nationwide, the winner of the popular election wins a convincing majority of the electoral votes, as God and the Founding Fathers intended.

If polling errors are thrown out the window and states go to the candidate who leads by as little as one pollee, Kerry gets the nod 286 to 247.

But the people in the toss up states are largely keeping their own counsel. What happens if, as the stakes get higher and the campaign gets uglier, they revert to type and the states are distributed as they were in the last election?

My numbers say it would go to Bush, 278 to 260.

Seven of Nine, One Down

I want to be the first to point out this particular connection:
1. The Democrats will have to take 7 of 9 playable US Senate races to recapture the Senate, a very difficult but increasingly possible task.
2. Illinois GOP candidate Ryan explodes in scandal with his now ex-wife, Jeri Ryan, of Star Trek fame who played oddly compelling borg Seven of Nine


How does Microsoft produce such great software? The keys to the kingdom are here. The "guy in the room" rule more or less explains why no truly great software has ever been produced at Microsoft, but also probably explains why they're the most successful software company in the world.

But I don't understand why they would avoid cross-platform functionality. The QA on that seems like it would be pretty easy.

June 24, 2004


Friday is the anniversary of Custer's last stand. It is a good moment to reflect on the greatest military leader in the history of the American West, the man who took Custer down and never lost a straight-up fight - Crazy Horse.

Think I'll pick up McMurtry's little biography...

The Dick Cheney Guide To Political Civility

If someone says "No, we will proceed with the Halliburton Probe,"
say: "Fuck You."

If someone says "Perhaps We should slow down our destruction of the earth", say : "Stuff that Mermaid Shit Back Up Your Glory Hole"

If someone says "Dick Cheney" say, "As soon as possible"


"Today ... the government of Iran has informed the United Kingdom, Germany and France that it is resuming production of uranium centrifuge parts," Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton told lawmakers.

"And we have informed them that we have resumed manufacture of cans of whoop-ass."


As a public service, I direct you to this collection of Fark "I'd Hit It" cliches. A particularly good recent thread on this subject concerns a 21 year-old Swedish princess.


Last night I listened to this interview with Jack Pritchard, who worked on the North Korea issue for both Bush and Clinton, and has written a book about the experience.

His account of the Bush administration's refusal to take the NK situation seriously ("it's not a crisis unless we say it's a crisis") is especially disturbing. Clinton may not have gone after Al Qaeda hard enough, but he was ready to go to war against NK in 1993-94 - Bush wasn't, and now those loons can threaten us with nuclear weapons.

A not-so-comforting thought - in the 1999 negotiations the North Koreans explicitly threatened to nuke Palo Alto - where I'm now sitting - because it was the hometown of negotiator William Perry.

The locals, understandably, advocate preventative measures.

June 23, 2004

"It's damned unfair!"

BBC NEWS: US war crimes immunity bid fails

To quote Frank Drebin, "Do you realize that if I shoot somebody tomorrow, I could be arrested?"

June 22, 2004

Oh, Alright I'll Do It

1000 Posts! Yay!


Stop building SUV's strung out on OPEC.
Hold up, wait up
You know we come correct.
You wanna change things up?
Well, hey, just get set.
It's easier to sit back than stick out your neck.
It's easier to break things than build it correct
We've got a president we didn't elect
(but he does look hot in a flight suit)
The Kyoto treaty he decided to neglect,
and still the U.S. just wants to flex
Keep doin' that wop we gonna break our necks
It takes a second to wreck it
it takes time to build
you gotta chill
Hate-filled people wanna keep us in check
Tearin' down each other is what they expect
If you want love, well, hey, that's a bet
We've got to give before we can get.

- The Beastie Boys


Just thinking that if you're an Iranian cleric, Bush is by far the better choice as next president of the U.S. He has permanently alienated the international community, making it virtually impossible for him to extract himself from Iraq and go after Iran. Kerry, by contrast, might actually put together a functioning coalition that would manage the occupation reasonably well.

This article (and several others I've seen) says we aren't even close to the manpower we need to occupy Iraq effectively. Even drafting 150,000 human targets would barely fill the gap.

Iran would also prefer Bush to Kerry because Kerry would probably be able to work more effectively with Blair. With Bush and Blair there's enough political difference that maybe you could drive a wedge if you worked it right.

Finally, Iran likes Bush because he's such an easy symbol. His Dad fought a war for oil, he fought a war for oil, he's a Texan cowboy etc. etc.

But Kerry would be a fairly easy target too, given that his paternal granparents were Jewish. One way or another I suppose they'll be able to keep the hate machine running.


From diseases caused by lack of decent drinking water. So why is it that every time I turn on the TV I get footage of some nutjobs beheading a Korean?

Call me when they behead 6000 of them every day for a year or two, maybe then I'll care. Crikey.

4 Posts Away From 1000

The Iron Spirits 1000th post is coming up, probably today, particularly now that I mention it. What bon mot will push us over?

June 21, 2004


Brian Rodgers has no idea why the Bush campaign would let a domain as potentially valuable as Bush2004.com slip out of its grasp.

But since it did, Rodgers, a former resident of President George W. Bush's hometown of Midland, Texas, took the opportunity last fall to snap up the domain, along with identical dot-org and dot-net extensions, for $8,000...

"He's a sorry son of a bitch and I'll do anything I can to bring him down," said Rodgers, who now lives outside Austin and is using the domains to house a satire site poking fun at the president.


Tired and sweaty from a long day of geopolitical rumination? Well, the good Doctor has the prescription:

Pour yourself a tall glass of Odwalla Summertime Lime Quencher, on the rocks. Ah, beautiful - note the lovely color as it sits there in its sweating glass. Take a small sip. A little too sweet, you say? I suggest a shot of a top-tier bittering agent, such as Sauza Hornitos tequila, and perhaps a dash of salt.

Um, be a little careful with this. I disavow responsibility for anything that happens after the third one.

Weapons of Mass Cousinfuckin'

Here's a couple of cupcakes to toss on the Bake Sale of War Planning:
Iran is not run by madmen. This is particularly important to remember when they are busy cousinfuckin the Royal Navy. Right wing religious cousinfuckers with intimate relations with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, to be sure, but this is a rational if twisted regime with a functioning economy, court, and bureaucracy and some ability to respond to its people desires. It isn't backward the way Afghanistan is, not by a longshot, and it isn't demonic in the Sadaam/Kim Jong Il vein. Iran's overwhelming desire after 25 years is international respect; they seem to want a distant normalization with the West, whatever they say- a prospect made much less possible by W. They're not given to casual genocide; this should be obvious but it needs to be made clear. The nuclear program seems to be a way to continue to establish national legitimacy, power and deterrence (in this case with Israel), primarily for internal consumption, much like Pakistan. Put another way, they're not likely to nuke or invade anyone unless they are on the receiving end of national humiliation. And unlike Iraq, Iran did not seem to have strong extra-national interests in additional real estate.

An interesting example is the position of women, culturally oppressed but unlike much of the Mid east a critical part of the working and professional class. This is totally unlike Afghanistan, or even Saudi Arabia (where apparantly no one local is part of the working or professional class).

Encouraging Poll; Plus Notes on Cousinfuckin'

New ABC poll has delightful bad awkward news for W.

Meanwhile, I note a problem, unavoidable but distorting, with phrasing of most polls that include Nader, (the cousinfucker), on the question. The phrasing usually says something of the order of Bush, the republican, Kerry, the Democrat, or Nader, the Independent. The work independent, like the phrase working class, has a different meaning for Americans than it does for political scientists. Last I looked, a large majority of Americans defined themselves as working class, and nearly a third identify as independents. Most would identify being independent as a positive trait. If I think of phone polls I've answered, or' given, people aren't thinking "Nader" so much as "Independent," which probably bumps up Nader much the way Perot was in 92. But I don't expect a major independent vote this year any more than I expect a substantial rise in support for Marxism. Which leads me to a partial prediction at the election: W down or up, Nader polls under 2% total, not the 4 to 7 he (the cousinfucker) often gets.

June 19, 2004


Well, Bill Clinton is out saying he supports the decision to attack Iraq, on the grounds that in a post 9/11 world you couldn't take the risk of letting a lunatic have weapons of mass destruction. Tony Blair is obviously on the same page. Putin says Iraq was planning an attack, though Russia still thinks the war was a mistake (?).

What I'm getting at here is that the war was not just a neocon adventure (although the neonitwits get full marks for screwing up the occupation). After the election, someone is going to have to make the same judgment about the other members of The Axis of Evil, Iran and North Korea. Clinton's logic applies to both of them, particularly given Iran's latest shenanigans.

The problem is, Iraq was the easy one. Most U.S. forces are already committed, so in order to attack Iran or North Korea, we have to get out of Iraq. This gives Iran big incentive to keep stoking the fire there. After the election the President will have a choice of stalemate in Iraq, or finding a way to create sufficient forces to take down Iran, which now must be considered the headquarters state for Islamic fundamentalism (yes, they still chant "Death to America" down at the mosque).

Ways to free up resources to attack Iran:
1) Reinstate the draft.
2) Convince our allies to help with the Iraqi occupation. Unlikely now, but a big terrorist event in Europe might change that.
3) Install a successful and stable democratic regime in Iraq. Ha ha, just kidding.
3) Leave Iraq to its fate.
4) Anyone? Buhler? Anyone?

Assuming we figure out how to attack Iran, that leaves the little problem of North Korea (which was topic A in the 2000 Clinton/Bush transition briefing, BTW).

There's a fairly easy way to fix the Korea thing. Let China know it's their problem and they can fix it, and if they do...they can have Taiwan. Kim Jong Il's head will be on a pike by sunset.

And then the world will be safe.

Except that China will now be master of the Pacific rim. My solution for that is to throw France off the Security Council, put Japan on, and give Japan all the nuclear weapons it wants. France will try to forestall this by capturing Bin-Ladin right in front of the election, but it won't be enough, the stakes are too high.

Hey, you want to make an omelette you gotta break some eggs.


Very well done, but takes a little of the romance out of it.


For any system, there's a system that beats that system.

June 18, 2004


Looks like Rawlings's morning meeting was a bit more difficult than mine.

June 17, 2004


Enjoy the computer lab. And meet your neighbor.


June 16, 2004

Another view. Not much depth of field, but a better sense of their physicality.The "floor" is about 30" by 24", and it's worth noting that they are layered in color to acheive "fleshiness" like a traditional painting, just with the impasto way out of control. I just sent these to Liquitex, and they're getting bopped around for technical ideas.

For your general edification: a technique I may have mentioned: View #1 of sculpted acrylic paint maquettes (about 10" high), using a wire armature. This the first test of a plan to build large, life-size 3-d versions of the figurative objects and gestural marks in my paintings. They are free standing, and made largely of thick blobs and glazes of acrylic paint.

Log Cabin Lollypop of Death

Northern Lights Boulevard, Fall 1969

Around the time little Blueberry Lake was unnecesarily replaced by the Sears Mall, I used to love to go with my parents (in the new used beige Landcruiser) to the precursor of Alaska State Bank, which sat in a friendly log cabin across Denali street. I have a fine memory of that bank- all that warm wood Alaskaness, an old fashioned safe, a wood stove, iron bars across the booths, nostalgic even then, and free lollypops with the string loop for us urchins. These lollypops were of higher than usual quality, and delicious. As time went by, and money stank up the air, the staff were less friendly, the lollypops diminished in quality, and the fairy tale bank was torn down to make way for new dead pipeline prefab.

One time we went there,I nabbed a 'pop, and we drove west on Northern Lights Boulevard to the green sheet metal hardward store across from B and J's. (It was somewhat paved there, two lanes without shoulders, incredibly dusty - rather the opposite of a boulevard) Just as we pulled in, a blank crash thumped next to us, and a body was flying high across the glare of the sun - a thud. A man, perhaps 25, now unmoving, lying face up on the ground with blood in red rivulets netting his face, his blue denim jacket. His motorcycle lay there, white and red as well, and a guilty car stood shocked with a massive dent in the chrome grill. I don't remember getting out of the Landcruiser, but I remember standing there and looking, too surprised to be horrified until later. I was shooed away. I imagine that I held tightly onto the candy. Not lime: was it lemon, orange, or cherry? Why did this man ride motorcycles? Why did the driver kill him? My wise and patient father explained something, but that did not clarify the matter.

Much later, I got to go to the gold rush ice cream palace across the street, remembering horror as they came in with their ridiculous fire engine giant sundae on a stetcher celebration, which seemed to my jaded 6 year old eyes, a little forced, a little tasteless. It was not my birthday. What was death?

"The friend of my enemy is...my friend?"

BBC NEWS: Bush names Pakistan 'major ally'

I can't decide when they knew that this friendship was meant to be: was it when they propped up the Taliban? or when they sold nuclear technology to North Korea?

Stuff I Got in the Mail Yesterday

Newly released SCTV DVD set

Contains the first nine 90-minute episodes aired on NBC beginning in 1981. Haven't watched any of it yet, but read the liner notes in which Conan O'Brian, Ben Stiller, Fred Willard, et. al. attest to the show's preeminence in the canon of sketch comedy. I have to say that just reading some of the character's names had me laughing out loud: Skip Bittman, Count Floyd, Dr. Tongue (and his hunchbacked assistant, Woody Tobias, Jr.), etc.

The new Beastie Boys album

I really, really enjoyed listening to this. Probably their shortest album since Licensed to Ill (at just over 42 minutes), so there's no dross, or much experimentation. They get back to basics, kick it Old School, rock the party, and pimp-slap W. on the political tip. Word. Just good clean fun, with a message of peace and tolerance, except for the Bush administration and, naturally, sucka' MCs. (Cheney == "Sucka' VP?")

Beam Me Up!

BBC NEWS: Teleportation breakthrough made

June 15, 2004


If you're quick, you can find an interview with that young DJ, who also moved on, cached at Google. A brief excerpt:

ARC: How long have you been at KROQ?

yDJ: Since April of 1987, when they rescued me from Anchorage, Alaska, where I was doing afternoons and production... I thought that if you wore a bolo tie, that meant you were alternative, because that was all I had seen in Anchorage. There’s not a lot to help you figure out what alternative is up there, and I was at a KLOS-type station at the time, which I thought was the coolest thing going.


If the speaker refers to any other human, group of humans or countries (recognized or unrecognized) as "folks" watch where you step.


Summer 1978. It's warm out, I'm about to go out of state for awhile. There's a party of the usual Steller suspects at someone's house out in the burbs, DJ'ed by the son of a local radio personality. The DJ has to go to the bathroom, so, inexplicably, turns the reins over to me. I go to the emergency Dr. X playlist, which remains in effect to this day:

The Boys Are Back in Town - Thin Lizzy
Slow Ride - Foghat
Fool for the City - Foghat

People are dancing and sweating up a storm. The girls are taking on that nice glow that just makes everyone feel better.

Just as I'm thinking you don't really need a DJ, you could just play Foghat all night, the DJ returns in a panic: "We've got to slow this down. Everyone's out of breath man!"

He puts on some lobotomized disco ballad and restores order.

And I'm thinking: the time has come to move on - you are with them, but you are not of them.

A lot of water's gone under the bridge since then. But some things don't change. And Foghat's playing the Red Lion Casino in Elko, Nevada Friday night.

Gratitude for the Pythons

Reading through Eric Idle's journal of touring through America early this year, I cannot exhaust my gratitude for these gentlemen's piercing, anarchic minds and kindly souls. What would our world view have been like without their work? Perhaps darker, more bitter, yet less clear, less a balance of unavoidable absurdity. The work seems inevitable only in retrospect, and remains a massive source for brutal honesty, deepest silliness and genuine humanism in comedy. Certainly, not every bit was good, no one's is - but they produced ingenious, highest-risk writing and performance, and held their real contempt for the brutality and arrogance of assumed authority. The Pythons built my comedy values, and therby, many of my actual values. I owe them many of my own favorite thoughts, and a knack (I hope) for sniffing out and shoveling away the most dangerous bullshit.

Idle wonders later in the journal: what if the Royal navy had gone around performing comedy reviews instead of shelling everyone?

June 14, 2004

I think therefore I am a Lot

New old python Lyrics to Camelot Song!

Bumped with Celebrity

Yesterday, I arrived at the Cincinnati gate for my American Airlines flight home, yet again, for the 4th time in a row, bumped to standby without cause or explanation. The gate was also moved. I walked up to the gate and just asked the first person I saw in line if it was the right gate, who was facing the otherway. The shockingly beautiful woman responded positively. She was clearly stressed out, I think from having her flight cancelled earlier. (They should just change the name to American Cancelines.)

As I'm buying a container of orange Tic-Tacs for the first time in 20 years, I glance back over to note that she is on the cell phone discussing a salary arrangement and is dusting off her beige airport chair with a Kleenex. About this time it dawns on me that I've been chatting with Halle Berry, a fact confirmed by the guy next to me who says to his wife: "Did you see? - that's Halle Berry."

A transcript of my conversation with the lovely Oscar-winning Halle Berry:

Me (Walking up with blue bag and big shirt): "Is this the gate for the flight to Chicago?"

Halle Berry: "I think it's supposed to be."

Me: "It's a bit confusing."

Halle Berry: "It certainly is."


Cheney lied about Halliburton.

The terror report was made up.

Come on.

June 13, 2004


After mourning the death of Reagan, former Bush appointees turn on him instantaneously:

"The group, which calls itself Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, will explicitly condemn Bush's foreign policy, according to several of those who signed the document.

" 'It is clear that the statement calls for the defeat of the administration,' said William C. Harrop, the ambassador to Israel under President Bush's father and one of the group's principal organizers."


Not that I'm a closet fan or anything, but Bush Sr. going sky-diving at 80 is impressive.

What's weird about people is that their risk aversion increases as they get older and have less to lose. Teenagers (incremental life expectancy 70 years or more) drive drunk too fast on icy streets without wearing seatbelts while smoking. Meanwhile 80 year-old women drink organic boullion and stay indoors.

And they've discovered that old people who work out and are physically active do much better than those who give in to the cultural expectation that they shut up, eat their oatmeal, and watch TV.

But T.S. Eliot had the best take: "Old men should be explorers." Why send a perfectly good young adult on a suicide expedition to the Antarctic? Send some old geezers no one will miss anyway. I'll volunteer.

June 12, 2004


Good-bye to Ray Charles. Lest we forget:

I don't need no doctor
'cause I know what's ailin' me.
I don't need no doctor
'cause I know what's ailin' me.

He gave me a medicated lotion
but it didn't soothe (backup chicks: IT DIDN'T SOOTHE!)
my emotion...

I don't need no doctor...


"The poll numbers reflect a slight improvement for the President. Based on interactive polls conducted June 1-6 by Zogby Interactive of Utica, New York in 16 battleground states around the country, Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry would defeat the incumbent today by an Electoral College tally of 296 to 242. However, races in several states are simply too close to call. Two weeks ago, Mr. Kerry held a 102-vote lead in the Electoral College, 320-218."

I still suspect Abu Ghraib and its many cousins will linger longer than the Reagan halo effect, though Reagan's timely demise kept this atrocity out of the headlines.

And that Monty Python line running keeps through my head: "I'm not sure I like the sound of these here boncentration bamps."

June 11, 2004

Way to Represent, UAF!

DJ Fired for Celebrating Reagan's Death

June 10, 2004

Step One: Admit You Have a Problem

Shell admits fuelling corruption in Nigeria.


Is anyone else appalled about the wistfulness with which the country is looking back on the 80s? I’ll give you some memories of the “Reagan” years. The economy was in the tank, fingers were way too close to the nuclear trigger and skirt lengths were definitely too long. Every jerk I went to school with was a "Gordon Gekko" business major whose deepest dream was to own a BMW. I remember laying awake each night, straining to hear the sound of incoming missiles, with more than just a little justification brought on by our little, dead solder. Give me a break. He was a charming, fascist. And did I mention that skirts were way too long?

Here, here to Dr. X for pointing out the real hero of the Cold War. We survived despite the best efforts of the man most of America is now going dopy-eyed over. No bagpipes for you Mr. Reagan.

Whew.......I feel better.


The Globe and Mail weighs in with an observation that had also occurred to me as I heard the umpteenth solemn NPR report on the funeral. Ronald Reagan did not win the Cold War, Mikhail Gorbachev did. The fall of the Soviet Union was an inside job, and Gorbachev conducted it masterfully.

Think of the magnitude of Gorbachev's achievement: he executed a conspiracy to destroy the system, under the noses of a generation of apparatchiks trained to a level of extreme paranoia to prevent just such an occurrence.

Think of what would have happened if Hitler or Stalin had woken up one day and said "you know, we've got this all wrong - we need a more open system, one in which the diversity and dynamism of the individual can help move society forward, without too much interference from the state." Molotov or Himmler would have been in power by sunset.

Ronald Reagan, rest in peace. And on this occasion, while he is still alive to appreciate it, a brief salute also to the Great Gorbachev, without whom none of it would have been possible.

June 09, 2004


From Richard Cohen: "It is commonly said that we are a nation of laws, not men. And we are. But beyond the laws, we are also a nation of men and women with a common ethic. Some things are not American. Torture, for damned sure, is one of them."


Here's some poetry to tide you over:

I keep thinkin' 'bout that night in Memphis,
Lord, I thought I was in Heaven.
I keep thinkin' 'bout that night in Memphis,
I thought I was in Heaven.
But I was stumblin' thru the parking lot
Of an invisible Seven-Eleven. (What was I doin' out there?)

- Top, ZZ

New Beastie Boys Album Next Week

I just heard three songs from it on KEXP.org just a few minutes ago. Very nice, and finally, very political.

June 08, 2004


Amusing article today in the NY Observer on the more frivolous side of the non-profit world.

As for non-profit healthcare, I agree w/ Sea Lord's general take. Note, however, that abolishing the "Net Income" line from the financial statement does not reduce the voracity of the pigs at the trough. Kaiser's last CEO made $2.2 mm in 2000, and, if memory serves, considerably more in prior years. He was praised for making the non-profit HMO more "bottom-line oriented."

My advice to investors in for-profit healthcare providers is to study carefully the history of the following companies: Columbia/HCA, Tenet, Medicis, and Healthsouth. If you still want to buy one, lie down until the feeling goes away.

June 07, 2004


Submarine Posted by Hello

This one made me late for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The damn things go back and forth and back and forth right under the Hood Canal Bridge, stopping traffic and making a general nuisance of themselves. Something about "Protecting the Free World" or other dribble. I say, go threaten humanity some place else. But they really are pretty cool, in an 8th grade boy sense of coolness.


Non-profit hospitals are considerably more economically efficient. A couple of points - private non-profits are also efficient and effective at delivering financial services (credit unions), growing and marketing farm products (large farmers coops), education (universities), software (certain forms of open source), energy (not entirely fair but say The Seattle City Electric Utility as opposed to Enron). Is there strong evidence that for-profit enterprises, particularly in large publicly-held enterprises, are ever more efficient over the long term? They have huge additional costs with administration, stock dividends, fantastically bloated executive compensation. When the institution doesn't really offer or benefit from aggressive entrepenurial energy, and stable expansion is preferrable, one might well ask why the hell anything is for-profit?

Also, non-profit hospitals kill you less.

Nelson's Last Orders

Number 16: "Engage the enemy more closely."

(Photo taken from the deck of the HMS Victory.)

Another Software Recommendation

Here's a good, free email client (Mozilla Thunderbird) that appears to be doing a good job of filtering my spam (after just a wee bit of training).

Republicans Outsource Fundraising

Not to be thought hypocritical, I suppose, the RNC has opened call centers in India to raise money from people (with jobs) in the U.S., this according to The Daily Mislead.

Fahrenheit 9/11: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Looks like they found a distributor that was not in the hire of The Enemy. The trailer looks, um, sensational, in every sense of the word.


I was walking on the Coastal trail near Earthquake Park with blond granola punk Peggy looking for edible mushrooms. The leaves are down, brown, deep cool grey settles on the grey soil. In the dells of shoulders of clay formed by the earthquake lie dark brown pools of perfectly still water. We surf up along the stationary clay waves. We're talking lightly, eyes glued down, carrying plastic grocery bags of mushrooms. Peggy tells the story of her conservative, elderly mother accidently making soup for her out of the far too interesting kind of mushrooms, and watching in growing amazement, on the edge of panic, as her father, a former Republican legislator, her, and mom, begin tripping, star trails brightening the kitchen.

We break the birch grove at the coast and a slick grey form appears prone at high tideline, the size and weight of a human body. It makes no sense for several seconds, it was once alive, familiar and alien, in the first stages of decomposition. It has fins, but wrong, neither fish nor fowl, impossible to recognize, then: the corpse of baby beluga whale. It is a robbery of happiness.

June 06, 2004


Tim's blog arrives.

Added Title Field

Typing tags is tiring -- try titling.


I activated the comments setting. Now you don't have to edit the post to add comments -- hurray!

June 05, 2004


Winter 1978. I'm trying to graduate early by taking night courses at UAA. I park the van and walk across the icy parking lot to a class that, to this day, remains the finest college experience I've ever had: History of the Fantasy Film.

Class met once a week in the auditorium. We watched a movie, then discussed it. Some of the movies were:

A Trip to the Moon
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Flash Gordon serials
King Kong
Bride of Frankenstein
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Phantom of the Paradise
The Rocky Horror Picture Show

On Halloween night, during Dracula, the teacher ran around the class wearing a black cape and glow-in-the-dark fangs.

After the movie it was discussion time and the gloves came off. It was a smart group (Satch Carlson was in this class, ok?), and the good-humored teacher just let it roll.

I'd drive home tired as hell, laughing.


Gigli's on cable tonight. We give it a try. How bad can it be? We last seven minutes.

Al Pacino is in Gigli. He gives a bad performance. He has a bad pigtail and a bad necktie.

He is, however, the best thing we see during the seven minutes...


This morning Kenai, our 8-year-old mutt and I took a walk on the beach near our house. It was a very low tide and we had the beach completely to ourselves. As I strolled along sipping my espresso and turning over rocks, several harbor seals came quite close to the shore to check us out. This is not an uncommon sight were we live but I rarely have the seal's undivided attention.

I remember Charles Wohlforth's unparalleled, outdoor survival advice about how to survive bear encounters in the wild. When approached by a bear, he tutored us, campers must lock arms, begin a high-leg kick and belt out "Were In the Money" as loud as lungs will allow. I am certain to this day that this advice will work on most bears. I'll have to ask him if it works on polar bears.

Back to the seals. Seals like "Were In the Money". In fact the half-dozen quickly swelled to 15 or-so as I sang. Now that I had a proper crowd, politics took hold. I decided to see how they would like my Bush impression: "duhhh, STRONG...duhhh, RESOLVE.....duhhhh, GOOD FOLKS...duhh, STRONG...duhh, TALL" My crowd of seals immediately dove and began to diminish.

Time to change tack. In order to recover from my seal gaff, I decide to do my best "siren call". I started to whistle "Patty's Leather Breeches" a traditional Scottish jig. This went over wonderfully with tail slaps and head bobbing all around.

A good artist always knows when to stop so on the high note, Kenai, the seals and I went on our way. I am glad I live in an area where I can have such morning adventures, and I am glad seals don't like Bush.

[By the power vested in me as First Sea Lord, For Services to the Crown, I Request and Require, You, Eric, to serve as Viceroy De Los Osos De San Juan De Fuca. You may be so recognized, and you Refuse This Service, Sir, at Your Peril, as Do The Crowns' subjects, who do Not Recognize Your Orders, as the Verisimilar Authority of the Crown. -Right Hon. First Sea Lord]


Has anyone read any Larry Kaniut books? I stumbled across him on Amazon. I'm interested, of course, because of the severe dissonance between the pastoral visions presented by, say, Alaska magazine and death's relentless pursuit of lonely humans in the air, sea, and outback. Kaniut appears to understand, at least, that awful things happen in Alaska, though it looks like he's taking kind of a National Enquirer approach to the presentation.

[I've thumbed throught these. Bathroom hack reading - it's hard for bears munching on people not to be interesting. What you're looking for is Johnny's Girl, as far as I know the only memoir set in the full decrepit glory of Anchorage, written spritely by ADN reporter Kim Rich. It explains among other things the very sad tale of the Sears Mall Vacuum Store (her small time hood father's) we all remember, with white fluff forever sprinkled on a bright red carpet across from the candy store. -Right Honorable First Sea Lord]


Here is the text of his recruiting ad: "Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey, Small Wages, Bitter Cold, Long Months of Complete Darkness, Constant Danger, Safe Return Doubtful. Honor and Recognition in Case of Success."

He got over a thousand responses.


I take it from your question that you're still browsing the web the OLD FASHIONED way! RSS is a kind of XML that allows you to distribute and aggregate web content. Using an RSS aggregating client (like the aformentioned RssReader), you can poll RSS-enabled web sites (many news sites, including BBC and Yahoo! News, and most blogs, including ours, support RSS in one form or another).

Check out this BBC article on why you might want to use RSS.

There are lots of RSS aggregating clients. Some are standalone apps (like RssReader), some are integreted into IM aggregation applications (like Trillian), some are Outlook or IE plug-ins. Within a year, I'm betting, RSS readers will be integrated into most new browsers and email applications (the Mozilla Project's FireFox already has it.

I set my RssReader to receive updates of Eisentgeist, Today's Tomorrow's Headlines, Bagpiper's Road, and Yahoo! News Top Stories every 10 minutes. (Oh, be carefull -- Slashdot gets mad if you poll them more than once every 30 minutes, the luddites.)

June 04, 2004


Asshats patent double-clicking.


Summer 1981. I'm driving along the Seward Highway out of town for no reason, and see an empty car by the side of the road. No one around - no place to go, it's all rocks and surf on the right and cliffs on the left. I stop and look around, then turn around and go to work my shift at KSKA. I decide to call the cops and let them know about the car.

An hour or two later, a cop drops by the station. He wants to talk about the car. We have a friendly chat in which his inarticulateness reaches stratospheric levels ("I want to...I'm trying to...achieve...a rapport with you").

He gives up and leaves. On the way out I ask him what's up.

"I dunno," he says. "I suppose someone got killed."

[This is excellent - short, interesting, and ineffably Anchorage-like. More! -Right Honorable First Sea Lord]


(These don't have to be yours, funny, or even verifiable. It's the search for the soul)

When I was about 14, I was taking my favorite bike route around Lake Spenard on a warm summer day, and plopped the bike next to an empty floatplane dock. I noticed a metallic shine on the lake bottom, a beige and small box, and managed to fish it out with a wet sleeve. I opened it: about $14,000 in uncashed checks to a flying service, and some change. Amazing! I figured out a phone number from one check - they answered gruffly and I went to a apartment (The former Puffin Inn) to drop off the box. A kid opened the door, a lady came out to take the box. She thanked me brusquely and some guy let me have the change, about $5. A rolling letdown it was, a rude person considering the situation of just handing back her $14,000, and never a whiff of explanation. I wonder to this day if I foiled- or just set back - a plan to screw up someone's air charter business.


I have to admit that I was vaguely pleased the other day when I was at a meeting for public speakers (we got a free pen), when Krist Novoselic of Nirvanna (along with Formost Foo Dave Grohl and that other guy, who I was recently informed walked to the local 7 Eleven every day and ate a hot dog) called- and was bumped -so our meeting could continue uninterrupted. Also at this meeting, a new, remarkable innovation: a large, take-away pot of hot, organic coffee IN A BOX! Brilliant!

Also at this meeting, the constitution is apparantly fucked.


During a brief lull in my pollutant-driven endocrine-estrogenic fog, it occurred to me that the concept of masculinity has become somewhat adulterated in modern times, a process that started in the 60s and perhaps reached warp drive in the late 70s, then prompted a reaction so severe that the resulting juvenilia virtually finished the job.

The emergence of champions of self-promotion in chess, boxing, and tennis only made matters worse.

So I've decided to clear things up. There are four kinds of male humans: chimps, sheep, nerds, and men. The chimps, sociopaths who respect only wealth and physical force, will always be with us. The sheep are not hard to spot either, and mostly work for chimps. Nerds have in modern times upgraded their position, and now have the wherewithal to retaliate. For all the bitching and moaning, I'd guess they're now fighting the chimps to a draw.

Which leaves the real men. A short list. Here are identifying features:

- Friendly enough, but not chatty. This is a recognition of the poverty of discursive intellectual structures in a world ruled by force and compulsion.

- Doesn't care what you think. This is a recognition that despite the extraordinary energy humans have invested in prescriptive behavioral systems, most people do whatever they want then rationalize it afterward. Real men are disinclined to listen.

- He is reluctant to prove it, but a real man is a better fighter than a chimp. Or two chimps. Maybe even three (multimedia, but worth it).

- Real men are all about honor. It is not about "dissing." It is not about fighting someone over a splash of Coke on your tux. It is about going after a seriously bad guy and taking him down.

- Real men never joke, though they sometimes smirk or laugh ruefully at the folly of their fellow man.

Here is a brief list of real men (all fictional, of course):
- Alan Ladd in Shane. Bonus points for an irony- and cynicism-free performance.

- Bogart in The Maltese Falcon. An anti-hero, but lives by the code.

- Mickey Rourke (yup) in Rumble Fish. Demerits for the smirk.

- Bronson and Robards in Once Upon a Time in the West.

- John Wayne in pretty much everything. Stalin, the Uber-Chimp, pathetically admired Wayne, but also wanted him dead.

Here are some examples of modern pop idols who do not meet the criteria.

On a happier note, it is nice to be able to say that the old-school ethic has crept back in athletics. Lance Armstrong dominates his sport without being a jerk.

My favorite example, though, was a Seattle-Chicago basketball game in the late 90s. Gary Payton trash-talked Michael Jordan before the game. Jordan then dropped about 50 points on him. Afterward the interviews went something like this:

Q: Michael, did Payton's comments before the game motivate you to step it up?
A: No, I just try to contribute any way I can for the good of the team.
Q: But surely it gave you some satisfaction to put him in his place?
A: Gary Payton's a fine ballplayer. I just tried to go out there and execute, and thankfully my teammates and I were all on the same page.
Q: Was there some payback there Michael?
A: No, I'm just trying to help our team achieve its goal of winning a championship, one game at a time.

That's a man.

[Quibbles - I must point out, real men don't turn in their friends to the House Un-American Activites Committee, Chimpolitik if ever there was any, which disqualifies John Wayne. Real Men joke frequently, thought short of jackassitude (ref Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, or say Shackleton in reality. -FSL]


The Foo Fighters' artist rider (brought to you by the Smoking Gun) is an enjoyable read - gets better as you go along. My favorite line: "The silly items like gum and candy bars make a difference to these boys that are far from their families and friends. The band travels on its stomach, just like Foreigner or Motorhead."


I've set our little blog to publish a site feed, so now you can be updated through any RSS reader that supports "atom files" by pointing it at http://eisengeiste.blogspot.com/atom.xml.

I've looked at a couple of RSS readers, and here is the best free one I've found so far.

[Why? What's a site feed? What's RSS? What's a reader do? What's an "atom file"? And while we're at it...why is Bruce Willis a star? - Dr. X]

June 03, 2004

Note Benny's Wagon


With Anchorage, Alaska becoming for many of us a city dug into the memory rather than the daily skin, and with the city itself growing less characteristic, I think it might be time to try to staple together a coherent collective narrative of experiences that are specific to our pasts in Anchorage, both glorious, chilling, or filled with that particular sky aluminum grey. This evening's whimsy is to collecy quintessential stories, whose purpose is to target the particular qualities of living in the city of Anchorage, as opposed to fishing in Alaska.

The city as an afterthought, an airport, an aftershock: when I return not only am I struck by a remoteness I easily ignored, by how little physically remains from even twenty years ago (and how only the tiniest geographic shards feel like they were once home), but by the stage-like quality, a crowded ghost town.

What was it? America itself is homogenizing, and Anchorage was nothing if not ghostly, a mist of Americanism somewhere between the shark's teeth of the Alaska range and the peeling puke green paint on the trailer's propane heater.

We were perhaps, the children of the very last sane converts to manifest destiny, the end of the road for the relentless expansion of Western Civilization. Here, between a PJs and Ft. Richardson, Americans' relentless physical domination of the Earth stopped, largely out of room.

I was thinking about small brown frogs that seem to have disappeared, about the botched, peculiar attempts to hide bodies in Spenard , about nuclear tipped anti-aircraft missle silos dominating the subdivision, about French Stewardesses cutting an erotic swath through the Upper One, about a cop busting a cocaine ring at Wendy's by ordering sugar on his hamburger. In this worldy, insular, time-drunk place, what was distinct, hilarious, historical?

Start here. It might be worth a new blog.

June 02, 2004


"Although there were only a few hours left until nightfall and Brueys' ships were in a strong defensive position, being anchored in line in a sandy bay, flanked on one side by a shore battery on Abu Qir Island, Nelson ordered an immediate attack...

"As a final point on the command of the British fleet, it may be noted that Nelson had barely recovered from the loss of his right arm, sustained during the unsuccesful attack on Tenerife the previous year. And he had just been involved in a dishonourable campaign against the Neapolitan rebels. The victory at the Nile helped to raise Nelson's popularity further at home, and to cement his reputation in the navy, as one of the most able commanders of his generation. He was wounded again during this battle, a bullet or splinter gashed opened his forehead, blinding him with blood and at first feared he would die. He was later helped back on deck to watch the latter stages of the battle."

June 01, 2004


Recovery of a Hurricane's bits on the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

[Full marks for 1) ramming a German plane, 2) living through the experience, 3) living into the 21st century to see this day. - Dr. X ]