Saturday, January 07, 2006


See. Told you.

All the News That Fits

Am I the only one who never saw this...

If you're a regular reader of Turkish Press or Geo in Pakistan, you already know that on December 23,
    Three Algerians arrested in an anti-terrorist operation in southern Italy are suspected of being linked to a planned new series of attacks in the United States, Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said Friday.

    The attacks would have targeted ships, stadiums or railway stations in a bid to outdo the September 11, 2001 strikes by Al-Qaeda in New York and Washington which killed some 2,700 people, Pisanu said.

But if you have been relying on the U.S. media to warn you about things like this, you haven't heard anything about it.

You would think that the arrest of terrorists planning to "outdo 9/11" would warrant some news coverage in the United States, but that's not what the editors at your Ministry of Truth decided. On that day in history, they thought the important news was that six Sudanese were abducted in Iraq, that Fidel Castro said that Bush is 'very much a fool,' that there was a vast US effort on eavesdropping (the NSA), and that the federal government was running a top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area.

So the news that day was not that terrorists had been planning to blow up ships, stadiums or railway stations in the United States, but that things were going badly in Iraq, that President Bush was thought to be a fool, and that the government has been spying on people in the U.S.

Do you ever wonder whose side these people are on?

Choo-Choo 2

A female colleague who threatened to pull my pants down and spank my naked bottom if I revealed her name--it's Cynthia, by the way--tells me that each engineer a company can recruit for its business creates 2 more jobs in that company and 5 more jobs in the local community.

We should staple a Green Card to the diploma of every foreign student who graduates with a degree in math or science.

Earlier: Choo-Choo!

Pinter Revisited

Pinter pissed me off. Apparently pissed liberals off, too.

Mark Bowden, national correspondent, the Atlantic
The cultural event that most disappointed me in 2005 was the Nobel address given by Harold Pinter. On the occasion of receiving the world's most prestigious literary prize, the brilliant playwright chose to deliver a passionate anti-American speech. This was not just a criticism of the Bush administration, or of the invasion of Iraq (popular and legitimate targets), but a sweeping indictment of the United States of America as the taproot of evil in the world over the last 60 years. Lord knows, America deserves criticism (we are pretty good at criticizing ourselves), but when you consider the millions slaughtered by Pol Pot in Cambodia, the widespread and ruthless repression of the late Soviet Union, the fact that one-fourth of the world's population still lives under the thumb of a repressive Chinese Communist regime, that Islamofascists are plotting acts of mass murder (including an attack that killed 52 and injured more than 700 in London last year) as the vanguard of an effort to sweep away from a large portion of the planet the cherished freedoms and tolerance of Western society, Pinter's reading of history old and new was juvenile, bizarre, and willfully narrow. At one point he compared the (appalling) persistence of the death penalty in America to the murderous practices of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Pinter is, of course, entitled to his opinion, and thanks in no small measure to the sacrifices of Americans, he is free to express it. But we are free to be disappointed in him. I was.

Economy Anemic. Who Knew?

I told girlfriend-not-Jen that because Bush hoorayed the economy yesterday the NYT would boo it today. They of course didn't let me down (maybe they just stuck in the word "anemic" not really knowing what it word meant). If only their stock was as predictable.

Jack's got the full truth...

The great American economy is getting tougher to ignore. Pessimists are having a harder time finding things to complain about. The declining economy the President inherited was a good target for a while, but the economy has grown an average of 4.1% since the Bush tax cuts and policies began to take effect in 2003. Not to worry, jobs lag economic growth. Complain about that. But this year the economy produced 2 million jobs and brought the unemployment rate down to 4.9%. Okay, we are spending ourselves into debt. Well … no. As any accountant knows debt alone tells you nothing. Net worth - assets minus liabilities - is the key measure. Household net worth is at an all time high, 27% higher than during the high point of the Clinton boom and twice as high as in 1995.

What about the basis of our prosperity? What about productivity? For the last five years productivity has been growing at 3.5% a year. American workers are now 17% more productive than they were in 2001.

Here's the Economic Fact Sheet, IYI.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Flight 93

We are going to take back the cockpit.

I pray to God Hollywood does not screw this up.

Watch the trailer.

Anything for an Ashley

A way hott "Ashley" in the Fall burned me a copy of the Fall Out Boy CD, saying they were the best band in the history of time. Of course. (Maybe she'd never heard of a little band I like to call O-Town?)

I'm not a fan, but their song titles are pure genius: "Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song so We Wouldn't Get Sued," "I've Got a Dark Alley and a Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth," "Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends," "I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me," "A Little Less 'Sixteen Candles', a Little More 'Touch Me.'"

There's your plug, Ash.

Presbyterian Pamela

Speaking of Presbyterians...that's right, rumor has it CJ's one.

According to a Malibu friend and Pepperdine professor, the former Baywatch star and girl who kept me "combing my hair" in bathroom for hours teaches a Sunday school class at Malibu Presbyterian.

See. Told you Presbyterians were cool.

P.S. Malibu friend also reports that Pamela jogs four days a week on their campus. Classes do not meet those days.


Last Fall I considered podcasting my lectures but thought better of it since I usually use class time to sober up, and since I usually pepper my remarks with shitloads of profanities, you know, to keep interest up, and since I don't relish saying things like, "But, Your Honor,..."

But, hey, knock yourself out, UC...
Something strange is strapped to Nancy Jennings' arm.

Standing at the front of a classroom, Jennings is reviewing the syllabus of her Introduction to Mass Communication course, which started Tuesday at the University of Cincinnati. She gives the students her e-mail and phone contacts and tells them they need to score 462 points to get an A in her class. And then she says this: "I am strapped in. We are recording. This is very new. This is experimental. This is the first time it's been done on UC's campus."

"I Can See Daniel Waving Goodbye"

With apologies to Elton John...

It's been a while since we at my local Presbyterian church picked up snakes and drank poison and prophesied for the Baby Jesus and whatnot. And in about three spins of that way cool wheel page mover thingy on your mouse (not its technical term), you'll see Professor Namewithheld is no prude (doesn't it just make you dig your fingernails into your palms when people refer to themselves in the third person, especially people who don't even have the courage to reveal their true identities in the first place). But I'm coming out of the closet. I'm coming out of the closet of...of...pipeddownedness (not a word) and into the living room or general dining area anyway of quitpokingfunatmylordandsavioredness. To wit...

{It's the raucous, not the meek, who are inheriting the earth in NBC's prime-time provocation, "The Book of Daniel," which has its premiere tonight. And the flock of the Rev. Daniel Webster (Aidan Quinn), an Episcopal minister in Westchester County, N.Y., seems to be following his outrageously wayward lead. Their errant behavior has a few NBC affiliates in the heartland debating the supposed disrespect in depicting churchgoers who indulge in worldly delights.}


{Two television stations are refusing to broadcast a new NBC series about an Episcopal priest who abuses painkillers, has a gay son, a promiscuous straight son, a daughter who deals marijuana, and a wife who drinks too much.

Conservative Christian groups have condemned the depiction of Jesus as blasphemous, accusing the writers of portraying Christ as tolerant of sin in talks with the priest.

The show's creator and executive producer, Jack Kenny, said he drew on the emotionally guarded family of his male partner for the series. He said his goal was to depict how "humor and grace" help a flawed man struggle with his faith and family. He said the writers never meant to mock religion or Jesus.

However, Bob Waliszewski, of Focus on the Family's teen ministries, said the show portrayed Christ as a "namby-pamby frat boy who basically winks at every sin and perversity under the sun."

"When the pastor's teen son is sexually active and having many romps with his 15-year-old girlfriend, this Jesus says, `A kid has to be a kid,'" Waliszewski said. "I don't think NBC would have portrayed a Muslim cleric or a Buddhist monk, the Dalai Lama, in a show this way. Why? Because they know to do so would be mean-spirited and insensitive."

"Boy, you never know, do you?" Jesus mutters from the sidelines, when one character reveals a lesbian relationship.}

Okay, that last bit's pretty funny. But still...

Waiting for Godoogle

This just in: God resigns. Google takes over.

Earlier: Googlization.

Blame Bush, Not Byrd

I lost a bad bet to a running buddy yesterday.

He wondered how long it would take the NYT to blame Bush for the Sago 12 coal mining catastrophe. I said Sunday. He said sooner.

Today this cost me $20 bucks and my dignity, as part 2 of the bet requires me to sing "I Like My Women Just a Little on the Trashy Side" to my girlfriend-not-Jen Saturday night at Karaoke Kenny's.

{In accounting for the deaths, inspectors should look as well into the budget cutbacks and staff attrition that have marked the Bush administration's management of its own ranks in the Mine Safety and Health Administration.}

Sago's senator, "Byrd" or something, a Democrat, gets a pass, of course.

$114 Million for Cunning Linguists

If engineering ain't your bag, baby, you might consider this, from today's Chronicle...

{Speaking before a crowd of 120 college presidents here, President Bush announced on Thursday that he would ask Congress for $114-million to teach languages critical for national security to students from kindergarten through college.

The president's request, which will be made formally in his budget proposal for the 2007 fiscal year, includes $14-million to create a new National Language Services Corps of teachers and translators for the armed forces. Under the president's plan, students who receive scholarships through the existing National Security Education Program would have the option of serving in a new Civilian Linguist Reserve Corps or a Language Teacher Corps after graduation instead of with the federal government.

The goal of the proposed program is to produce 1,000 new teachers of Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Hindi, Russian, and other "critical" languages, and 1,000 reserve linguists in those languages by the end of the decade. Only 15 public schools now teach Arabic, and only 2,000 people teach Chinese in American schools, according to State Department officials.

In addition, the proposal would:

  • Increase spending on the National Flagship Language Initiative, an existing program, to $13.2-million, from $6-million, to produce 2,000 advanced speakers of Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Persian, Russian, and Central Asian languages by 2009. The program provides fellowships to students and money to colleges to establish centers for the study of critical languages.

  • Create new summer immersion programs in critical languages for up to 275 college students a year.

  • Provide up to 200 additional Gilman Scholarships, which the State Department gives to low-income students, by 2008. This year, 536 low-income undergraduates will receive $5,000 Gilman Scholarships to study abroad for at least four weeks.

  • Add overseas language study to 150 Fulbright scholarships for Americans each year.

  • Expand the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program to allow 300 native speakers of critical languages, up from 200, to come to the United States to teach in universities and schools next year.

  • Increase federal support for immersion language-study centers abroad.

The president's speech marked the start of a two-day "Summit on International Education" at the State Department. Scheduled to speak today are Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Karen Hughes, the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and foreign affairs. The college leaders will also meet in small groups to discuss issues like global competitiveness, nongovernmental partnerships, and export controls.

In his remarks, President Bush put his plan in the context of the campaign against terror, saying that foreign-language expertise is critical to national security and foreign diplomacy. "We've got to convince people of the benefits of a free society," he said, "and you can't convince people unless you can talk to them."}

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Today the National Academy of Engineering announced that seven engineers will receive $1 million in prizes for their achievements in the field. I tell you this to encourgage you, dear college student, to consider an Engineering degree.

In 1990 the U.S. graduated 60,000 engineers compared to China's 15,000. In 2005 the U.S. graduated 53,000 engineers compared to China's...wait for it...300,000.

When I read that, both my eyeballs went out of their sockets like you sometimes see in one of those Hanna-Barbera cartoons.

Please, oh dear god, please, college student, consider an Engineering degree.


From today's Chronicle...

{More students are declining to reveal their racial or ethnic identity on their college applications, but, as it turns out, many of those students are white, according to a report released on Wednesday. The number of students whose racial or ethnic classification was reported by their colleges as "unknown" nearly doubled from 1991 to 2001.

The study's main conclusion is that colleges need to collect more-precise data on the racial and ethnic backgrounds of their students. Otherwise, some students stand to gain an unfair advantage by being considered minority students in the admissions process.}

Sentences like that last one make me want to set my hair on fire.

Chaise-ing Tennis Balls

Dublin is apparently hott. Who knew?

Actually, one of my "Ashleys" in the Fall knew. She was Irish and hott, too. But didn't know it. The hott part. Which made her even hottter.

She also told me a pickup line a "Mitch" used on her: "You must be Irish. 'Cause my penis is dublin'."

You don't know how bad I wish I'd've come up with that.


Still recouping from my school's bowl game, I wasn't thrilled with last night's national championship game (the first half of our game was way more exciting). Plus, today I got a hangover you could sell to science.

And I still think USC is the better team and would win, like, 8 times out of 10. But you gotta show Texas some love.

Just like we heart our mommas and sweet iced tea, we heart us some college football down here in the South.

Second Termitis

Today's NYT has an interesting op-ed...

{A second-term president will, in effect, automatically be fired within four years. Inevitably his influence over Congress, and even his authority over the sprawling executive branch, weaken. His party leadership frays as presidential hopefuls carve out their own constituencies for the next election.}

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sucking Times

Gawker's got this...

{It must suck when your company announces several hundred layoffs over the last few months. It must suck when your company cancels its discount-stock-purchase program. It must suck when your expense accounts are tightened, when hiring freezes are instated, and when you learn you'll be getting a smaller bonus than you'd hoped. And it must really suck the most when these things have happened and then you wake up one morning, as New York Times employees did today, to learn from the Observer that your company nevertheless handed out a few million bucks' worth of stock to a half-dozen or so top corporate managers.

The gifts, according to a SEC filing:

• Janet Robinson, CEO: 74,000 free shares of stock, worth about $2 million, plus $4 million in options.
• Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman and publisher: 30,000 free shares of stock, worth about $800,000, plus $4.1 million in options
• Michael Golden, vice-chairman, IHT publisher, and Sulzberger cousin: 12,000 shares, about $300,000.
• Leonard Forman, CFO: 12,000 shares, about $300,000.
• Scott Heekin Canedy, President: 12,000 shares, about $300,000.
• Martin Nisenholtz, SVP and digital-operations chief: 8,000 free shares, about $200,000.
• Catherine Mathis, VP and chief flack: 1,750 free shares, about $50,000.}


The Chenster will say this today:

{Another vital step the President took in the days following 9/11 was to authorize the National Security Agency to intercept a certain category of terrorist-linked international communications. There are no communications more important to the safety of the United States than those related to al-Qaeda that have one end in the United States. If we'd been able to do this before 9/11, we might have been able to pick up on two of the hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon.}

Another Blogger Bites the Dust

The university is not really just a place where people get together to complain about parking. The university is a place for a free exchange of ideas, right? Somebody forgot to tell DeVry University...

{A professor at Devry University in Westminster, Colorado, has been fired, she says, for some "water-cooler kvetching" about the institution on her blog.

Meg Spohn, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Denver, served as department chair of communications and composition at the Westminster campus until mid-December. On her Web site, Ms. Spohn had critiqued the university's online training seminars and hiring practices -- complaints, she argues, that were fairly antiseptic.

But campus officials evidently saw something a bit more sinister in her online musings. And Ms. Spohn may have a difficult time if she chooses to fight the firing: Colorado is an "at-will" state where companies are allowed to dismiss employees for any reasons not prohibited by federal law.}


The "" domain name is available. Buy it. 'Cause it is coming.

See You in Class

Spotted in the Texas Tech University Daily Toreador:

OB/GYN DEPARTMENT is seeking models to assist in teaching gynecological exam skills to medical students. For details call Paula at [number deleted].

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Correction: 400 Is the New 30

We were just saying this. Now 60 Minutes has this.

{How’s this for an offer you can’t refuse: how would you like to live say, 400 or 500 years, or even more and all of them in perfect health? It’s both a Utopian and a nightmare scenario but there are those who say it is well within the realm of possibility.

Though we live longer and healthier lives than our grandparents, 100 is more or less the outer limit because, catastrophic disease aside, we just plain wear out. But 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer talked to one scientist who says that’s old-fashioned thinking, that sometime in the next 20 to 30 years or so we’ll be able to recondition ourselves for the first steps towards immortality.}

My Google Laptop

The Googlization of everything continues...

{Sources say Google has been in negotiations with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., among other retailers, to sell a Google PC. The machine would run an operating system created by Google, not Microsoft's Windows, which is one reason it would be so cheap — perhaps as little as a couple of hundred dollars.}

Bigfoot Hoax?

Will That Be on the Test, Too?

We recently discussed this.

Here are a few papers and panels presented at recent MLA conferences:

"Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl"

"'She Must Be Raggin'!': Children's Literature and Menstruation"

"Taking Away the Threat: Cribs and The Osbournes as Narratives of Domestication"

"Judith Butler Got Me Tenure (but I Owe My Job to k.d. lang): High Theory, Pop Culture, and Some Thoughts About the Role of Literature in Contemporary Queer Studies"

"Jethro, Mama, Sassie Sue, and the Midnight Plowboy: Hillbillies, 'Common Sense,' Urbanity, and Blaxploitation Film"

"'Dude, Where's My Reliable Symbolic Order?': Gross-Out Comedies and the Rewriting of the Expressible"

"Apertures and Orifices in Chaucer"

"'The Entree Was Long and Streit, and Gastly for to See': Visual and Verbal Penetration in the Knight's Tale"

I Want My OC TV

Today's Chronicle has yet another doom and gloom story about the OC generation...

{A snippet of conversation that occurred during a National Public Radio interview with me last year illustrates the attitude that I'm describing:

Caller: "I'm a high-school student, and I don't read and my friends don't read because of all the boring stuff the teachers assign."

Host: "Such as?"

Caller: "Uh ... that book about the guy. You know, that guy who was great."

Host: "Huh?"

Caller: "The great guy."

Host: "The Great Gatsby?"

Caller: "Yeah. Who wants to read about him?"}

Monday, January 02, 2006

Syriana Script

It's been a while since I mentioned Syriana, but Warner Brothers has put the entire screenplay online.

Zapruder Hoax?

Hard to watch, real or not.

Big Imam on Campus

It is things like this that *do* keep me reading the NYT.

{Prince Talal: The gift is unrestricted!

NYT: No, it's not. It has to be spent on Islamic studies. Georgetown is renaming a center after you, and Harvard is naming a program after you.}

LOVE That Caption

I couldn't agree more.

Previously, this and this.

127 Is the New 30

Ray Kurzweil on BookTV tells us all to hang on.

Coldplay No Play?

Here's the insert you can read after you buy Coldplay's latest CD. Make trade fair, indeed!

boingboing has more...

Coldplay's new CD has rules: No MP3s, no DVD players, no car stereos

Michelle, My Belle

Michelle's got this...

{Did you see who Black Entertainment Television viewers named 2005's Person of the Year}

And this...

{QUEEN KATHLEEN BLANCO: Shortly after the two hurricanes, Gov. Kathleen Blanco decided to renovate some of her staff's offices. At the time of her decision, Blanco also was hinting at deep budget cuts to state programs and the possibility of laying off 20 percent of the state workforce.

The project cost $564,838.}

Why Dems Just Don't Get It

Op-ed in today's NYT.... When Nancy Pelosi is lecturing about religion, I have to assume a member of Anton LaVey's family wasn't available.

{NANCY PELOSI, the Democratic leader in the House, sounded like an Old Testament prophet recently when she denounced the Republican budget for its "injustice and immorality" and urged her colleagues to cast their no votes "as an act of worship" during this religious season.

This, apparently, is what the Democrats had in mind when they vowed after President Bush's re-election to reclaim religious voters for their party. In the House, they set up a Democratic Faith Working Group. Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader, created a Web site called Word to the Faithful. And Democratic officials began holding conferences with religious progressives. All of this was with the intention of learning how to link faith with public policy. An event for liberal politicians and advocates at the University of California at Berkeley in July even offered a seminar titled "I Don't Believe in God, but I Know America Needs a Spiritual Left."}