2.23.2002

CHARLES M. JONES, genius, reportedly died today. He was 90 years old.

I saw Jones present a collection of his cartoons at a Melbourne cinema in 1988. Asked what inspired his famous Bugs Bunny the Bullfighter epic, the director said:


"A Warner Brothers executive marched into our studio one day and told us, 'Gentlemen, there is nothing funny about bullfighting. Nothing funny at all! I never want to see you people make a cartoon about bullfighting.' And then he left. Up to that point, none of us had even considered making a bullfighting cartoon."



Bye, Chuck.

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE LEAGUE OF JUNIOR FASCISTS:


ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Maryland already has a state sport. A state exercise may be next.

Four students from a Montgomery County elementary school proposed to a House committee Wednesday that walking be designated as Maryland's official state exercise.

"If more people get out of their cars, we'll have a friendlier, healthier, happier home," 8-year-old Will Smith told members of the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee.

Will and his classmates made the trip to Annapolis to back the bill introduced by state House Delegate William Bronrott.

"Walking is an activity anybody can do at any time. You don't need any equipment," said Emily Haislip, 8.



I wonder how Will and Emily and their baby-tyrant classmates made the trip from Montgomery to Annapolis. I bet it wasn't on foot.

Here's another great exercise for children: working in coal mines. Back to work, Emily! Haul that coal, Will, or no gruel for you!

THEY'LL publish just about anyone at FoxNews.com these days …

AN OPEN LETTER TO PEARL'S MURDERERS from the VodkaPundit. Controlled fury.

WATCHING THE REPORTER: Jennifer Weiner agrees that infamous toxic scar Elizabeth Wurtzel is "pathologically self-absorbed and possibly deranged", but notes with curiosity this paragraph by the Toronto Globe and Mail's Jan Wong:


"A moment later, Wurtzel appears. She's in jeans that expose her pale, white midriff. Under a thin, blue turtleneck, she appears to be braless. Her famously generous breasts, bared for the cover of Bitch (and GQ magazine), look smaller, sadder and droopier."



Weiner writes:


"How is it even possible for breasts to look sad? Did Wurtzel draw little frowny-faces on them before putting her shirt on? Smaller, okay. Droopy, fair enough. But sad?"



Given Wurtzel's massive drug intake, we probably can't completely dismiss the frowny-faces theory. Who knows what a Prozac-heroin-cocaine-Ritalin user will do with a marker pen and a few idle hours? Even so, Weiner makes a good point. Wong was being mean.

Then again, so should she be.

DAMIAN PENNY has performed some Google surgery on one of the defectives who is proud to appear on this list of Slobodan supporters:


"The name I picked at random was a Canadian writer, Stephen Gowans.

"My, my, what an interesting fellow is Mr. Gowans. He produces a one-man newsletter called 'What's Left', which I dare you to look at if you can stomach it. He is the first writer I've come across who defends Robert Mugabe, saying he's being set up the same way Milosevic was. Unbelievable."



Being strong of stomach, I went to the Gowans site. What a whip-song writer Gowans turns out to be! Here are some lines from his Mugabe defence:


"Zimbabwe's strongman wages war of land, screamed the headline.

"It's hard to imagine that the man in question, Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president since 1980, could be called worse.

"Dictator, authoritarian, warlord, thug. These would all be hurled Mugabe's way. Mugabe is to be feared and hated, the words say. Someone whose ouster we can all applaud."



The words say?

KEN LAYNE says it simply and correctly: Daniel Pearl's death is sad and wrong. Layne also notes:


"Today is a good day for bloggers to remember that there's nothing to blog without guys like Pearl out there writing the stories and collecting the news."


NOT for the first time, a disconnect between the US media and the US public is evident. The press canned Australian speed-skater Steven Bradbury, but all the email I've received from the US has been pro-Bradbury. Some examples:

From William B., of Idaho:


"I watched the semi-final speed skating event and just before the start saw Steven Bradbury look to the guy on his right and say 'good luck.' The other guy looked at him like Steven was some kind of dork. I started pulling for him instantly but didn't think he had a chance. What a wonderful win and congratulations to all you Aussies out there!"



From Dave K.:


"Not all Americans feel that way - we were cheering."



From Tim C., in New York:


"Everyone I talked to thought that it was a bit of an odd ending but, hey, that's the rules of the game and the Aussie won fair and square. How could you not think so when you saw the priceless look of disbelief and big goofy smile as he crossed the finish line? So no ill feelings from where I sit.

"As for the guy who shouted out that Bradbury shouldn't be on the podium, well, there's no shortage of assholes over here, that's for sure. But I can assure you those comments don't in any way represent the majority of American opinion - just like the whining columnists in the Guardian don't represent the majority of British opinion or John Pilger doesn't represent Aussie opinion (I hope!)."



From Dave I.:


"Here's one more American who thinks Stephen Bradbury won fair and square. I watched the re-runs, and saw nothing that should have led to any DQs. It was a good race, and a fun ending."



From Randall P.:


"We have a sport over here in the US in which the luck of surviving and missing big crash pile-ups is a key factor in whether one wins: NASCAR racing as exemplified by the Daytona 500. It's great fun to watch a single car manage to either recover from a collision or weave around competitors that are spinning wildly out of control. So it seems perfectly natural and sporting for Steven Bradbury to win a skating race for similar reasons. Good for him."



From John R.:


"Just wanted to weigh in as another American who was pleased to see Steven Bradbury's victory (for that matter, I was pleased to see Alisa Camplin's victory. What a sweetheart!)"



From H. F:


"Count me in as another Yank that says that Bradbury deserves his medal. I like to think of it as very similar to an automobile race; if there was a pileup on the track on the final lap involving a whole bunch of cars, whomever made it through and crossed the finish line first would be the winner, no questions asked."


SERIAL drug abuser and poisonous inhuman void Elizabeth Wurtzel makes a living writing books about her inability to avoid becoming addicted to whatever drugs happen to be available on a given day.

The funsters at Modern Humorist have peered into the future to discover what Miss Wurtzel will write next. Following are excerpts from their preview-reviews:


The Claritin Mystique

"Precocious literary light Elizabeth Wurtzel emerged triumphant from her battles with Prozac and Ritalin, but her struggles were far from over. Now, in this raw, unflinching memoir, she shares the pain and desperation of her unquenchable thirst for seasonal allergy relief."

Ditropan Highway

"In her trademark luminescent prose, literary 'it' girl Elizabeth Wurtzel lays bare her secret shame: that years of drug abuse left her with an acute case of overactive bladder and urge incontinence."

OxyContin, Mon Amour

"Ms Wurtzel tells how she brought her consuming addiction to the world of staged performance art, snorting ground-up OxyContin horse pills in a camouflage bikini while doing calisthenics with Maureen Dowd and Lenny Kravitz."

Feed the Monkey: A Life in Pharmaceuticals

"Broke, abandoned by her public and unable to find a doctor willing to write her a prescription, she sells herself to the Schering-Plough pharmaceutical corporation to be used as a laboratory test animal."


2.22.2002

BLOG WATCH I: Your guide to who is saying what, where

Andrew Sullivan: New York gay couple permanently dressed for Broadway opening nights; Cheney's lies; is Rummy giving too much away?; book club author chat; global water more important than global warming; Slobo's supplicants; CFR is a barrier against cynicism; indoor tents for Dubya's China visit

Glenn Reynolds: New Orleans rave victory; is InstaPundit being blocked?; NYT makes up story; mock InstaSite; the importance of "feelings" in education; there isa Mount Arafat (it's identical to Mount Ringo); Clinton's Enron links

Glenn Reynolds on FOX

Matt Welch: Nader's plan for peace in the Middle East; the murder of Daniel Pearl; commence the Googling of Slobo apologists; more from magical Ralph; the wit and wisdom of Cajun James; demanding a "lede dwarf"; monster Slate numbers

Bjørn Stærk: Kim Jong Il, party guy; is Fisk real, or the invention of wily Saudis?; Norway-Australian warfare reaches fierce new level

Rand Simberg: Gitmo lawsuit thrown out, stomped on, torn up; come down hard on Pearl’s killers; Condit's Chandra-related re-election plea; Russian space riddle; space exec locked in the past

Rand Simberg on FOX

Ken Layne: Arafat/Ararat confusion cleared; Rudi's replacement is a bowling pin; how to deal with Pearl’s killers; chopper down in the Philippines; Gray Davis is sick; the Corvair was cool at any speed; Triple J plays something good for once

Ken Layne on FOX

Shiloh Bucher: Slobo's trial a farce; magical space-bra works in all gravitational situations; watch your Beetle being born

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Delicious codeine waffles; Pearl's murder an act of barbarism; end the judicial-nomination standoff; hunt and kill the Pearl kidnappers; blogging is the bane of conventional journalism; Two-Minute Will is required reading

Will Vehrs on FOX

Lawrence Haws: Farley the Green calls Haws a "mini-Goebbels"

James Lileks: Interland man wonders why Lileks is leaving; Lileks tells him; Interland man gets huffy; Lileks deploys accurate noun; Interland man hangs up

Iain Murray: Explaining French grouchiness; the Great Plan to poison Rome; no to the Euro; environmental hobgoblins snipe at Lomborg; an old doomed Saudi has Georgia on his mind

Juan Gato: Idiocy all it takes to write a Wurtzel book; Enron is a business scandal, and that's all it is; piling on Nader; the holy Doctors of Education must be worshipped; Olly Stone to make film with stupid leftist theme, again; evening spent being stupid

Bill Quick: Destroy Pearl's murderers; dumb teacher suspended; whiny oldtimers get legislative support; mediocre singer attacks mediocre singers; Enron is more evil than the evillest axis

Christopher Johnson: Russia plans its own Olympics; Israelis bombard Scotland; Charley Reese has lost his mind

James Morrow: NYT celebrates Kandahar's thrilling diversity; airlines are such nice organisations; Wurtzel doesn't even cut it as an insomnia cure; Condit's abnormal fantasy

Now over at the temple

Oh, they really pack 'em in

The in crowd say it's cool

To dig this chanting thing

But as the wind changed direction

The temple band took five

The crowd caught a whiff

Of thatcrazyBlog Watchjive

WHO WINS? WE WIN! Mark Steyn's latest:


"Of the 20th century's three global conflicts - the First, Second and Cold Wars - who was on the right side each time? Germany: one out of three. Italy: two out of three. For a perfect triple, there's only Britain, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. Even now, with their military capabilities shrivelled to almost nothing, the only guys actually on the ground in any combat role with the Americans are the British, Aussie and Kiwi SAS boys and Canada's JTF2. I think there's something to be said for being on the right side of history."


MATT WELCH continues writing in a way that defies limits. I've just finished his Reason piece on the sanctions against Iraq, which was so disgracefully good it made me consider giving up journalism. I mean, how to compete?

Welch's pursuit of Ralph Nader is so precise and clear it's almost medical. And it's free. We live in strange, beautiful times.

2.21.2002

KATHY KINSLEY joins the growing number of fair-minded US folk who support Australia's Steven Bradbury:


"Yes, ladies and gents, the man won that gold fair and square. Racing of any sort is a combination of speed, determination, skill, balance, tactics, and luck. Steven Bradbury might not have had the speed (though he obviously had enough to qualify), but he certainly had the rest of it. A race is not a dance, where 'pretty' counts for points. In a race, the first one across the finish line wins. Steven was first across the finish line. He won. Our guy got the silver by essentially crawling over the finish line. He won the silver. Deal with it.

"I know the US guy was the gold 'favorite', I know some people in the US are disappointed that he didn't win. But quit acting like a bunch of whining five year olds who have just been told they have to share a toy with a friend. Especially when that friend is fighting by our side, and taking losses too.

"To Australians only: ... on a cheerier note: Two golds so far! Good on ya, mates!"



Good on you, Kathy.

SLOBODAN Milosevic isn't impressed with prosecution attempts to locate witnesses who'll testify against him. In his latest court appearance, the monster sneered: "You will probably get down to the prosecutor's driver or a hairdresser."

MOIRA BREEN is the latest FOX blogger. A highlight of her column:


"During my childhood in sub-tropical Florida, only the well-to-do had air-conditioned homes. Now, as far as I can tell, the entire state is climate-controlled. And what was good enough for my grade-and high-schools isn't good enough for al Qaeda."



NICE people: following is an unedited extract from a liberal chat room:


"Barbara Olson, rest in pieces.

"I was very pleased to see her die. That was the only good news to come out of September 11th. Now there's one less lying, evil, hateful bitch in the world, and because of that the world is a better place.

"She devoted her life to telling calculated lies about the Clintons in an attempt to discredit them and support a Republican coup. She deserved what she got."


A JUDGE in New Zealand has apparently become a fan of the Unablogger. Naturally, his job is now at risk:


"A New Zealand High Court judge is under pressure to resign after revelations he accessed internet pornography at work, while five of his colleagues who also logged on to sex sites have been cleared of any wrongdoing."



Dreaded New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, a Mary Robinson wannabe, has weighed in with her opinion:


"The issue here is work computers and what is appropriate in work time. Clearly this is not appropriate in work time."



Clark will now decide what people in New Zealand can and can't do between the hours of 9am and 5pm. If it ain't "appropriate", you're fired.

SHORT item by me in today's Australian.

MIRANDA DEVINE directs her laser eye towards anti-warmongers who live in freedom as others die for it:


"Those who call themselves pacifists are always quick to wage war on the valour of the men who risk their lives to defend their country. They don't actually like valour or courage or self-defence or any of the old-fashioned manly virtues, fancying that humankind needs to evolve beyond such testosterone-fuelled peculiarities. They just want people to be nice to each other."



Miranda is writing about Australia's sole military victim – so far – of the War on Terror. It's a beautiful column. Some more extracts:


"As SAS trooper Andrew Russell's body is flown home to Perth, it's hard to fathom the price we expect some Australians to pay for the security of the often unappreciative rest. His wife, Kylie, now has to bring up alone the two-week-old daughter he never saw because he was in Afghanistan fighting for freedoms we still take for granted.

"Sure, the military will give the 33-year-old a funeral with full honours and his fellow soldiers will rally around Kylie and baby Leisa. Newspapers will run tributes to her 'wonderful, private and unassuming' husband and publish photos of him, handsome, smiling, upright, the epitome of Australian manhood, with so many ribbons on his chest and, on his beret, the winged-dagger crest of the nation's finest fighting force.

"But will we really appreciate how precious was this first Australian life lost in combat since Vietnam? Or will the same old blowhards disparage that gift, as they have the contribution of soldiers since World War II when the Australian Left derided the diggers as 'five-bob murderers'?"


AS a freelance journalist, I'm always looking for new places to sell my work. Hustle, hustle, hustle! And I think I've found a terrific paper that's just perfect for a writer like me.

That is, someone who prefers to make things up because, hey, life is easier that way.

It's the Arab News, the English language Saudi daily. Last Sunday's Arab News ran a comment piece – "Why Do They Hate Us, A Politically Incorrect Answer" – allegedly by "John Adams" of Los Angeles. For a US citizen, "John" has an oddly Arabic manner of phrasing:


"A lot of nations in the past have been in a state of denial about their wrong doings, because of an easy win in Afghanistan we have stopped asking the question that was raised on Sept. 11, 'why do they hate us ?'.

"Yes, we will find Al-Qaeda and destroy it, but what will we do about people like Wafa Idris? A 28-year-old, educated, good looking, Palestinian paramedic who blew herself in Jerusalem."



I don't know, "John"; maybe she could get a job in a Tijuana nightclub. The rest of "John's" copy leaves little doubt about his background:


"We have provided $120 billion in aid over the year to Israel. We still provide $2 billion in military aid to a nation that has killed thousands of civilians, that occupies land in direct conflict with UN resolutions, that humiliates the subjects of the occupied territory, strips them in front to hundreds of people, cut their olive trees, assassinates leaders and civilians, detains thousands without charges, bulldozes civilian houses, blows up radio station and the office of statistics."



While some might be disgusted by this obvious fraud, I see opportunity. Here's my freelance piece for the Arab News; I hope they buy it:

Why They Are The Hating Of Us, by Aussie Tim Mate, Sydney.


"It is not the hamburger, rolling along the street, that is the reason for the hating of us dirty Westerns. Not also is it the luxury goat in every garage, proud and supple.

"No, they are the hating us for being the dog scum Jew-lover pig filth that we all are in the West, me included. As a genuine Australian cobber from out back, I tell you now this: we are every week killing of Arab babies for fun of it. Yes!

"I say to my wife, Barry, we are out of the babies again. She goes to Western market wearing no clothes because of decadence and return with fresh babies. Put on disco music and dance for the killing!

"I go now to make beer with mates and laugh at Phil Hogan show. Shalom."


"It Was Like The United Nations Over There": In more ways than one, Mr Hicks. The father of Taliban Dundee claims that a coalition of international imbeciles was working for Osama bin Laden's forces in Afghanistan, although how he thinks this revelation will possibly help his son's case is difficult to imagine. Another quote:


"I refused to call him Mohammed Dawood. At one stage there, he did go through the business of saying, 'Can't you call me Dawood? That's my name', and I said, 'No, you were born with a different name.' "



Mr Hicks has also changed his tune over earlier comments to the press:


He denied ever having said that his son was a terrorist, as reported in some sections of the media. "To me, I think he was looking for adventure ... He wanted to fit as much as he could into his life."



Terrorism as a life experience. Cool.

KEVIN Drevik, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, is an American who was exhilarated by Steven Bradbury's gold medal performance. He writes:


"I am just one of many Americans who watched the short-track race the Aussie won. While I was stunned, I also cheered. It was impossible not to. Congratulations to the land down under."



Kevin is in good company. Here's an extract from Charles Krauthammer's Washington Post column (via the sharp-eyed Glenn Kinen):


"I confess right here my lack of patriotism. Speed-skating patriotism, for example. Take that crackup in which the American hope, Apolo Ohno, got tangled in a four-man pile-up a few meters from the finish line, and the leisurely Australian, way behind and praying for a miracle, cruised into first by stepping over bodies.

"I feel bad for the American kid, and, for that matter, for the others left sprawling on the ice. But what a great outcome. Australians had never won a gold medal in any Winter Olympics. They needed an act of God - and they got it. Praise the Lord.

"Yet the Salt Lake rink was racked with boos. Pshaw! Here was a chance to wave the Aussie flag and dance Matilda for blokes who've stood with us in every damn war, even the nastier ones like Korea and Vietnam. Why, we should have been trying to fix a race for them, not complaining when they won one by pure luck."


BLOG WATCH I: Your guide to who is saying what, where

Andrew Sullivan: Rosie O'Donnell's shock announcement will shake your world; Maureen Dowd exhibits the logical powers of a slow three-year-old; constriction is the key to massive book sales, and happiness; café Catholicism; major Greek posing; book club debate; Welch's unerring Nader radar

Glenn Reynolds: OpenSecrets commences changing politics; Amnesty silent on non-US prison woes; Al Qaeda still has pulse; Der Spiegel's rockin' Bush war cover features Terminator Condi; Layne firming as favourite to claim Slate editor role

Matt Welch: Alternative views on Czech PM's Arafat line; how to erase Gray Davis; Meciar not all bad

Rand Simberg: Bill Clinton, the Oy from Hope; the Brits, in vain, mainly invade Spain; deconstructing Der Spiegel; down on hate speech; Gray Davis "the worst"

Ken Layne: Fat rich white guy appears on many networks, attacks fat white rich guys; airman deserves Black History Month notice; North Korea is evil; Italian coppers alert to terror threat; Wurtzel's irrelevance reaches new heights; when soccer turns rioty; Tsar have a record out in Australia? Why wasn't I told? Who's monitoring these things?

Ken Layne on FOX

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Tax avoidance is a sneaky deal; school voucher system tipped to win; Kathleen Parker is a Dowd antidote

Will Vehrs on FOX

Lawrence Haws: ELFs of evil

James Lileks: Playskool's killer Street Seam unavailable in local store; simultaneous education/destruction of promising girlchild on schedule; family heroin intake ruining health; radio revolutionary rails against reason; to the moon, Alice!

Juan Gato: Enron is not a compelling reason to abandon capitalism, and would those Enron monkeys please return my shirt?

Bill Quick: Police complaints list tells it like it is - a sample: "11:21 a.m. A motel employee reported someone with a four-inch knife threatening to 'F' him up, destroy his car and follow him to his home"; campaign finance reform doomed; powerful, clear-thinking libertarian; many intelligent people gather to investigate the confounding possibility that Winnie Mandela could somehow be corrupt

Rallying Point: Will WorldNetDaily follow the FOX lead?; plea to intelligent lifeforms beyond earth; gay adoption opposition is plain homophobic

Christopher Johnson: Arafat's unjust cause becomes clear; Brit workers betrayed by political market forces; Bob Ryan's anti-Olympic blather; Andrea Harris first in race to smash idiot

James Morrow: Amnesty should be slapping around the French, not the Aussies; Smarter Times proves, yet again, that it lives up to its name; NYT advised to bring credit card to Sydney for advanced Morrow-led wine lesson (note to NYT: bring at least a couple of cards); anti-Americanism rampant in Saudi Arabia, despite obvious reasons to be anti-Saud; Patten commences damage control

And then you're in the man from Mars

You go out at night, eating cars

You eat Cadillacs, Lincolns too

Pause and check outBlog Watch II

And you don't stop

You keep on eating cars

Then when there's no more cars you go out at night

And eat up bars where the people meet

Face to face

Dance cheek to cheek

Don't strain your brain

Paint a train

You'll be singin’ in the rain

Said don't stop, to the punk rock

Well, now you see what you wanna be

Just have your party onBlog Watch III

2.20.2002

FAIR AND BALANCED: Ken Layne, Australia's favourite favourite American novelist, has commandeered the Fox News website. A sample:


"French figure skating judges have replaced military tribunals as the judicial scandal of choice. The prisoners at Guantanamo Bay get three squares a day, top medical care, a Muslim chaplain from the U.S. Navy and cigarettes and hugs from the Red Cross. Will their final judgment be issued by the International Skating Union? Will they all get gold medals and go home as heroes with lucrative endorsements?"


I'VE KILLED SARCASTIC HECKLERS … BUT, THEN AGAIN, TOO FEW TO MENTION: Reuters reports the case of a man shot dead for making fun of a karaoke singer's rendition of Frank Sinatra's "My Way".

If I'd been packing heat last November, David Penberthy and Malcolm Farr would be mortuary decorations. My karaoke version of Helen Reddy's "Delta Dawn" was sublime.

GOLD, GOLD! "After failing to win a gold medal for 68 years, Australia has won two in two days": Michael Beach – the Daily Telegraph's man in New York, whose last visit to Australia included a spectacular acoustic guitar session in a Bondi backyard – reports from Mormonville.

THE AXIS OF AUSSIES: George W. Bush pledged yesterday to support Australia with "American power and purpose" as part of a vision for what he called a fellowship of free Pacific nations.

BOB Ryan of The Boston Globe is a sports columnist who doesn't understand sports. Here's Bob's take on the short-track speedskating final at the Winter Olympics, won by Australia's Steven Bradbury after all the other finalists crashed at the final turn:


"In the event we needed a further reminder that we live in an imperfect athletic world, we had a doozy served up last night …

"Bradbury, 28, is a three-time Olympian who picked up a bronze in Lillehammer as a member of Australia's 5,000-meter relay team. But as an individual? Come on! Four years ago, he was 19th in this race and 21st in the 1,000. In the 2000-01 World Cup season he was 44th in the 500 standings. What is he doing with this gold medal?

"Oh, I forgot. It's short-track, and those of us who don't follow this goofy little enterprise are supposed to understand that multiple crashes that allow the wrong person to win are part of the deal."



In Bob's perfect world, only the "right" person would ever win. So why bother holding a race, Bob? The gold medal could simply be given to the "right" competitor. Who needs the excitement of an unexpected result?

Bob's version of Wimbledon would last for as long as it took to present the championship trophy to the top seed. Not much fun for the spectators, sure, but at least you wouldn't have some Croatian outsider ranked 125th in the world coming along and wrecking everything.

Under retrospective Bob rules, the 1980 hockey gold medal would be taken from the US and handed to the Soviets. Good luck with that campaign, Bobby.

A few writers have compared short-track speedskating to NASCAR. There is a saying in motor racing: to finish first, first you must finish. Nobody carped that the "wrong guy" won when Mario Andretti's Lola broke down only 23 laps from the end of the 1987 Indianapolis 500; all instead celebrated Al Unser Sr's unexpected victory.

Bradbury's fellow racers were delighted by the underdog's win, but some of the Salt Lake City spectators weren't. One bastard in the crowd yelled at Bradbury that he "shouldn't have won" and "shouldn't be smiling". Nice chap. I hope a gang of Mormons beat him up good.

And here's a cute note from a poster at the Cleveland paper's Olympic forum:


"can you imagine that Australian dude who won by default celebrating as he crosses the finish line??? How patheitc. The guy was in LAST the entire race and would have finished LAST had it not been for that collision. I would be embarrassed to stand on that podium and accept the gold knowing that the only reqason I won was because everyone else fell down."



Get that guy a job at the Globe! Or maybe he'd fit in at NBC. The US Games broadcaster loves Olympic tragedy profiles – you know the sort of thing:"Little Jenny Smith was born without a head, arms, or legs. Now she's the bobsled for the US luge team!" – but turned against a genuine Olympic struggler as soon as Bradbury crossed the finish line.

The NBC commentators called for the race to be re-run, presumably because Bradbury wasn't an approved NBC struggle story. Meanwhile, the Washington Post's Michael Wilbon – who stands apart from the US sports media's legion of error-prone dimwits – nailed NBC, Bob Ryan, and every other Bradbury naysayer with this wonderful column.

Mike knows sports. Bob knows predictions. Sport isn't predictable.

2.19.2002

AND he probably didn't even get paid overtime. A French court has ruled that a man who drank himself to death at a work party was the victim of an "industrial accident".

AS a general rule, anything opposed by naked protesters is a good thing and should be supported. This is the case with Sydney's nuclear reactor, a tiny facility that produces medical isotopes and such.

BLOG WATCH I: Your guide to who is saying what, where

Andrew Sullivan: Ralph Reed's contribution to society; book club fest; Will Hutton wrong, wrong, wrong

Glenn Reynolds: Moira Breen for Slate editrix!; TV double standard hurts men; FOX knows Blogs; Unablogger warning; is InstaPundit God?; grouchy over P-Day; cool Amiel column; grinning terror vision; siding with Moyers, despite widespread anti-Moyersism

Matt Welch: Lefties fall for Gray Davis; 1940 and France explained; forensic examination of Iraq sanctions

Rand Simberg: When statistics deceive; Brits pounded into metric shape; Thatcher still wobble-free; aerospace fans, collect your collectables here; Bill no longer big in Hollywood

Ken Layne: All you need to know about securities law; Wired way behind blogging curve; Scooter is our man in the White House; Layne's Berkeley show involves no nudity

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Chicken Soup for the Tone; marching through the Netherlands; belated Nixon admiration; Cochin memories; God, trust, and condoms; TV Punditwatch

Will Vehrs on FOX

James Lileks: Note to self: kill bin Laden; late night Lileks; Bloodwake bloody bad; praise the car; oh, Uptown … those were the days

Iain Murray: Metric martyrs

Juan Gato: Turning Dutch; get well, Chick Hearn; how does "socially conscious" serve as a synonym for "left wing"?

Bill Quick: Don't diss the Instaman; Argentina syndrome spreading; bring on the multi-party Presidential debates; enormous anti-Bush protests; Spain conquered; Dubya now outranks Reagan; San Francisco in global warming panic

Rallying Point: Be vigilant; individual's individualist speech rocks; Peek-A-Booty is vital blow for freedom; religious hypocrisy on 9/11; James Taranto creepy

Christopher Johnson: The vote is in – add Saudi Arabia to the axis!; no anti-Semitism here, says the Guardian

James Morrow: The shallow veneer of diversity; Wash Post accidentally supports case for ignoring Geneva Convention; absurd TV chef's goose is cooked

Blogs, exciting and new

Come aboard. They're expecting you

Blogs, life's sweetest reward

Write to them, they write back to you

TheBlog Watchsoon will be making another run

TheBlog Watchpromises something for everyone

2.18.2002

CHRIS Patten's interview with The Guardian, published on February 9, becomes more vexing with every examination.

One particular paragraph, which summarises Patten's beliefs about divergent European and American opinion on how to deal with terrorism, is especially worth re-reading:


"While Europeans believe in tackling the root causes of terror, Washington seems keen only to eradicate the symptoms. While Europeans believe in 'engaging' potentially hostile nations, trying to bring them into the fold, Washington brands them an 'axis of evil'. While Europeans believe in acting together, multilaterally, the US seems ever more bent on acting alone."



The strange thing about these statements – in fact, the thing that strikes as strange about the whole Europe-US impasse – is that Europe has much greater experience of terrorism than the US, and, when faced with terrorism, acted much as the US is acting now.

It's as though Europe has forgotten about Italy's Red Brigade and Germany's Baader-Meinhof gang. The Red Brigade was formed in 1969 and killed about 400 people during the following decade; Baader-Meinhof began at around the same time and killed dozens.

Both groups were eventually defeated by force. The terrorists were hunted down, shot dead, or jailed. Neither Italy nor Germany sought to bring Red Brigade idiots or Baader-Meinhof maniacs "into the fold"; they sought to capture them, and (happily) killed many of them as they did so. They did not "engage" them, except in gun battles. And, once these so-called "symptoms" of terror were dead or in prison, the "causes" of terror magically vanished. By the mid-'80s, the Red Brigade and Baader-Meinhof had essentially ceased to exist

(Britain, meanwhile, attempted to engage the IRA in various ways, with predictable results. The IRA has killed more people than any other European terror organisation. The Real IRA continues to kill innocents.)

Italy and Germany didn't seek multilateral agreements with other nations over the international pursuit of their terrorists. They didn't need to; all understood that these groups were wrong – maybe even evil – and must be stopped.

And stopped they were. The Europe of twenty years ago provides a lesson for the Europe of today: you stop terrorism by stopping terrorists.

UPDATE: And George W. Bush knows it, too. From the NY Times:


WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 - As a new and glaring rift emerges between the White House and America's allies over how to pursue the next phase of the war on terrorism, something
odd has happened: President Bush and his top aides now seem to welcome, even to egg on, the sharp differences prompted by Mr. Bush's determination to expand his battle against what he calls "evil" regimes.

In private, his friends and closest aides report, Mr. Bush fumes about weak-kneed "European elites" and scared Arab leaders who, in his view, lack the courage to stand up to states that may one day provide terrorists with nuclear or biological weapons.


IT'S impossible to remain happy about winning an Olympic medal when this story shares every newspaper front page in Australia today:


A two-week-old baby girl will never meet her father after he was killed by a landmine in Afghanistan over the weekend - the first death of an Australian soldier in the war on terrorism.

Andrew Russell, a 33-year-old career soldier from the elite SAS Regiment, who joined the army as a teenager, was leading a convoy when his four-wheel-drive hit an anti-tank mine in southern Afghanistan.

WAS there ever a more appropriately named Winter Olympian? America's Apolo Anton Ohno – as in "Oh no, I've crashed in the 1000 metre sprint with just 10 yards to go before winning my first gold medal" – tonight was taken out in the final turn, along with all the other leading competitors … handing victory to Australia!

The wily and tactical Steven Bradbury had been cleverly lurking several metres behind the pack in last place when the final-corner mayhem cleared his path to the line.

This is Australia's first Winter Olympics gold medal. Not just at Salt Lake City; it's our first ever.

Bradbury's comments after his win were generous and funny: "Maybe I'm not the most deserving guy, but I got the gold and I'm stoked about it. I thought maybe two would go down and I'd get the bronze. Then I saw them all go down and, 'Oh, my God.'"

What's with the crowd, though? They booed the lucky Australian. To hell with them.

Ohno wasn't glum. In fact, his post-race remarks were wonderfully sportsmanlike: "My quest, my journey, is not about winning four golds. It's about coming to the Olympics."

MARGO MAIL. Some reaction to Margo's World of Wonder::

From Humphrey H., in Australia:


"Your unhealthy obsession with Webdiary tends to show your own insecurities. I have enjoyed Webdiary for some time. My only problem with Margo is that I cannot get published. She seems to think that my point of view, as a relatively uneducated building worker, has less value than some overeducated prick form the Eastern suburbs or Switzerland.

"If only people like Andrew Bolt, Piers Akerman, Alan Jones and yourself would spend less time slandering your opponents and more time finding creative solutions to our woes the happier I would be. Nobody likes a smart arse, Tim, and you strike me as one.

"I subscribe to Crikey, who take a more even-handed approach to our world.

"I look forward to your criticism next week of Howard, Ruddock and Reith and their cabal of compliant public servants."



From Richard P:


"I've been reading Margo's World of Wonder - magnificent! I haven't laughed so much in ages. Keep up the good work."



From Paul M., in Melbourne:


"I figure you've got too much time on your hands. Pointing out the idiocy of a lame duck like Margo Kingston is as necessary as explaining that water is wet. I agree she's fucked, but why shoot fish in a barrel? She damns herself with every word she writes.

"I think you should heap shit on George Bush. He is the world's most evil and most stupid man."



From Bill S., of Canada:


"I accidentally stumbled upon Margo's Webdiary last year. I read it a couple of times but could never make head nor tails of it and gave up. Naturally I immensely enjoyed your send up of it.

"What I found interesting and possibly disturbing was Margo's endorsement of Pauline Hanson's protectionist policies. In another forum I had noticed an ultra-lefty Australian endorsing Pauline and now I understand why.

"Let's wish Margo a speedy return from Africa so you can continue making fun of her. Now if only somebody could de-construct one of our Canadian lefty commentators like Judy Rebick ... "



From Jack R., in Sydney:


"What you neglected to mention to all your blog readers, in your curiously obsessed bitch pieces on Margo's Webdiary, is that her site is always generous with space for contrary opinions. She herself has run stuff ten times nastier than yours attacking her, on many occasions.

"She also happily gave you (very effective) rights-of-reply there when you sought it - another bit of Webdiary history you failed to advertise. It's called 'debate', mate (as opposed to one-way shit-flinging).

"Funnily enough, you're not the first 'fearless' iconoclast to damn Margo as a biased, hysterical fuckwit from the isolated safety of their own cyber-space niche. No doubt you won't be the last; targets which refuse to cower behind the easy, obvious defence of knowing irony invariably attract a long queue of cheap shooters.

"Never let it be said that you don't know which way the political wind is blowing, though; I can hear the government's spin doctors gratefully applauding your every word, Tim, you latter-day Eric Blair, you.

"You really do believe that you're operating in his grand tradition of sceptical intellectual analysis, don't you?

"Your obsession with Margo is dumb. This blog site is technically one of the best of its kind I've seen. As a journalist, you're clearly well-connected, experienced, capable of enviable intellectual precision and - usually - interesting, at the very least in a road accident kind of way.

"Which makes such a vicious hatchet-job so bizarre. You and Margo are two sides of the same journalistic coin.

"Instead of wasting time and spleen attacking Margo's approach to the trade, why not save your tougher deconstructions for the real targets...whether those targets be 'anti-market' bullshit-artists like Naomi Klein (who it's clearly your journalistic pleasure to attack), or 'pro-market' bullshit-artists like Ken Lay (who it should be your journalistic business to attack)?"



From new blogger Charles Austin:


"I have been enjoying your blog for about two months and it has inspired me to start my own, though like so many others, I don't expect to be able to keep up with the true stars of blogdom. After your treatment of Margo, I certainly don't want to get on your bad side.

"Nevertheless, I have posted my first long screed concerning the Olympics and the distinction between events in which winners are recognized and those in which winners are selected."



From Charles Q., of Mississippi:


"I think Margo blindly stumbled on to a new political process.

"Obviously newking is when a monarchy is imposed on a country.

"Would Afghanistan clamor for the old king or a newking? We still don't know. Although Karzai looks more vital and certainly has a better fashion sense than the old fellow in Rome, time will tell if he lasts more than the 6 months, or 2 years, before the certain future assassination attempts on his life from the erstwhile Taliban or a different wannabe newking."

"In the meantime, Tim, thanks for the laughs."



From Alex B., in Detroit:


"Margo Kingston's complaint seems to be that the Australian government is enforcing immigration laws enacted by a freely elected parliament.

"My favorite part is her discussing how she reacts to legislation and government acts she doesn't like. She cries and 'grieves.' And yet, for some strange reason, some people still take her seriously. As is hardly unusual among the left, she sees politics as a means of expressing her goodness and superiority. I can't say 'only idiots would take her seriously' but it's hard to see why anyone else would.

"Then again, Mr. Blair, I'm just a crass and crude American. My government won't even wait to take action until the French instruct us. I think we should be listening to the French prime minister more often ... what's his name? Petain? Laval? Something like that."



From Brian K., of the US:


"Now more than ever I want to visit Australia. It is the people like Margo that define living in a good place. Where you find people that are so crazy and still making money and out of a hospital while not in touch with public opinion or reality for that matter - now THAT is a free society.

"We have our share of wackos in the in the U.S., but from your resident Webdiarist, I can deduce that Australia must rock!"



From Frank R., in New York:


"You're a bad man. I've been going in and out of Margo’s World all day and not getting much work done. That's why I'm still going at 1 am. You should print up a desk calendar, with one of Margo's inspirational insights on very every tear-off page. It would be priceless."



From Mark M., of the US:


"Great work. 'Margo is a delusional hysteric' is rank opinion, but your analysis would tend to support this."



From Bob C., of the US:


"I have no idea who Margo Kingston is, but I suspect she might be our own Molly Ivins operating in your country under a second identity. Or a horribly ill-conceived cloning experiment."



From Mike R., of the US:


"I just had to write and congratulate you on your incredibly funny Margo commentary. I spent half an hour, snorting and laughing!

"I don't suppose Margo herself as dropped by to see you expose the goofiness and ill-logic in just about everything she's written (even the stuff she spelled correctly)? If so, her email to you would be a hoot to read ...

"I had always thought many journalists leaned a bit left, but Margo has let it hang out for the world to see. Incredible stuff. Most amazing were the pleas to sponsor Labor on a Sydney Morning Herald website.

"Great work. I hope many Australians (and other folks from around the world) had a chance to see your work and watch a 'great mind' of journalism being exposed."


BLOG WATCH I: Your guide to who is saying what, where

Andrew Sullivan: Latest letters; pussy heaven

Glenn Reynolds: What is it with the French?; sooling the EU on to Mugabe; Frankfurter realises where Europe stands – at the back of the line, dribbling; Natalija the Goth; hurt cheats to help them; brother's band causes blogging delay

Matt Welch: Is Michael Moore ever right?; Pierce's homefried infancy; you're talking about my wife, French-bashers; Ralph Nader is Unfunny At Any Speed; Tim Robbins may not be evil, but he sure is stupid

Bjørn Stærk: KimFest 2002 a riot of "ardent worship"; solid history of Afghanistan; the day Germans landed on US soil

Ken Layne: Dave Barry is on itin Salt Lake City; Enron for Children; imagine! A riot! At a soccer game, of all places!; take the Russians' gold; Noam Chomsky literally can't get arrested

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: The flaw in Natalija's Valentine's tale; "She's got 'em, I want 'em, and it ain't fair!" - Springer-style blog war erupts; tax efficiency declines; why not criticise Bush on domestic issues?

James Lileks: Awaiting newness

Iain Murray: Scary Dr Who memories prompted by robot; first steps of the Iraq cakewalk

Juan Gato: Bush fumes at Eurowimps; Maureen Dowd gets paidto do that?; nothing much happening at the Gato ranch on Saturdays, not like them Gato boys out Montana way, all busy with cattle and such; poor old Helen Thomas

Bill Quick: Buy Bill's book!; Iranian triumphalism; immigration services sometimes tricked by nasty people; party on, North Korean dudes

Christopher Johnson: Joe Sobran's axis of weevil; hellish image prevents acceptance of European point of view

James Morrow: Can't get enough of that oldtime peaceful religion

It's just your Blog Watchin'

you're telling me lies, yeah

Blog Watchin'

you wear a disguise

Blog Watchin'

so misunderstood, yeah

Blog Watchin'

You’re really no good

2.17.2002

AUSTRALIAN singer Mark Seymour is deeply political. He'd like you to think that he’s a serious man who understands complex issues. That's why he disses John Stuart Mill in magazine interviews and writes pop songs about things like state funding cuts for Australia's prisons.

Has it got a beat? Can you dance to it?

Back in 1995, Seymour's primary cause was the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, which was to be relocated from Adelaide to Melbourne's Albert Park. This provoked much whining from whiners. The park would be destroyed, evil would stalk the streets, society as we know it would implode, etc.

Seymour's whines were among the whiniest. He announced that his band, Hunters and Collectors, opposed the decision to hold the race in Albert Park. He played at Grand Prix protest rallies.

Nobody important paid any attention, and the first Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne went ahead in 1996. Hundreds of thousands of people showed up. The race has been held there every year since, to an ever-diminishing hum of discontent from a few diehard losers.

And what's happened to Seymour? He's changed sides! The Serious Man of Australian Song appears on page 27 of the latest F1 Racing magazine in a promotion linked to this year's Grand Prix:


"F1 Racing, Jaguar Racing and Beck's are giving away 8 double passes to see Mark Seymour in concert held during the Grand Prix weekend.

"Winners will receive: 2 tickets to the Mark Seymour concert; 2 Beck's t-shirts; 2 Mark Seymour CDs; 2 Jaguar caps."



The concert, at Brunswick's Cornish Arms Hotel on February 27, is sponsored by the racing magazine and the Jaguar Formula One team, which might be why Seymour doesn't mention the show on his website.

I wonder if any protesters will turn up.

PALE HOLLYWOOD: Mark Steyn rips Ocean's Eleven, a bloodless remake of the shambling original. Some highlights:


"In contemporary Hollywood, everyone agrees on everything but labours under the misapprehension that he or she is daringly 'transgressive': Julia Roberts dislikes Republicans, Brad Pitt likes Buddhists. Faced with guys who are genuinely transgressive, the Robertses and Pitts recoil in horror, like Mother Teresa at a lapdance club."

"Frank [Sinatra] was a non-pliant celebrity, the guy who disdained to fit in, no matter how much they wanted him to. He sang at the 1956 Democratic National Convention, and afterwards the Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn, the second most powerful man in the country, went up to him and put an embracing arm round his shoulder. 'Hands off the threads, creep,' snarled Frank."



Cool.

THE Punters Club, a notoriously filthy inner-Melbourne dive, is to cease operating as a live music venue.

A lot of people will mourn this, making the usual speeches about yuppie invasions and loss of community. In truth, the music was the worst thing about the place (despite the extravagant claim in this article, which compares the shabby Punters Club to New York’s CBGB). Second-worst thing: syringes in the toilets. Third-worst thing: anarchist students knocking over your drink, then fleeing into Brunswick Street before you could bash them.

Melbourne's Age newspaper has been running stories about The Punters Club's impending change for months, possibly because most of its journalists live nearby, in Fitzroy and Carlton. Perhaps they think the place is "genuine" or "gritty".

I used to live around the corner from the vomit-scented beer pit. This had only one benefit: a friend who worked behind the bar refused to accept any of my money, no matter what I ordered. Once he even paid me to drink there so he'd have someone to talk to besides the mournful black-clad teenagers who filled the front bar.

AN Australian soldier has been killed in Afghanistan.

GOLD medals for everybody!

The IOC's decision to award gold medals to cheated Canadian ice spinners Jamie Sale and David Pelletier may have opened the floodgates to medal claims by dozens of ripped-off Olympic competitors.

Australia's Raelene Boyle has already put her hand up for a consolation gold. Boyle finished second behind steroid-loaded East German Renate Stecher in the 100m and 200m events at Munich in 1972.

"Where East Germany is involved it should be investigated - there is documented proof in the Stasi files that the East Germans all cheated. It is conclusive," says Boyle. Footage of the races shows the lightly-built Australian competing against what looks like a large, hostile man.

Boxer Roy Jones jnr, robbed of gold by swindling judges in Seoul in 1988, is another who might have claims for a retrospective medal. Bring on the lawyers.