Just got an unusually amusing bit of hate mail:
I just read your critque of Gore's speech. What misleading crap. Of course since your rightwing idols are lying, cheating, fascist scum, it only stands to reason. Who ever heard of The National Center for Public Policy Research? This is just another ultra right conservative bullshit center that creates propoganda for right wing justification. Get a life.What's amusing about this is that if you put the author's email address into Google, you get a website offering to sell you vinyl Crop Circle Stickers (in a choice of thirteen attractive colors, no less) that you can use to deter aliens from abducting you.
Signs of the Times Graphics
The website says: "Earthling, this is your last chance to purchase your safety. Place these stickers on your car or notebook and maybe you won't be abducted."
This gentleman doesn't appear to be overly popular over at the John Kerry for President Blog. So I guess this letter is not a sign of an emerging belief in alien abduction among leftists generally.
That's a relief. We've got enough looney leftism already, what with Roland Emmerich claiming the Acropolis is turning into a ski lodge of the gods.
Addendum, March 11, 2006: Almost two years later, an indignant response arrives:
I am the guy you wrote about on May 28th 2004 calling me a "leftist Looney." You obviously don't know what you are talking about. I can now see why you get so much wrong. You make ridiculous assumptions regardless of the facts. I ran across your article about my "Crop Circle" vinyl designs site (which I took down for various other reasons) the other day when I Googled my name. I found it quite humorous since you got almost nothing right. You quoted my webmaster's sales catch phrase to humorously sell vinyl designs and took it to represent my political philosophy. LOL! No wonder you get so much wrong! I just like the crop circle designs and their formation is an idle curiosity to me and has nothing to do with my political philosophy. You are an idiot.
By the way, what do you think of your "Fuhrer" now that he has exposed his colors for the whole world to see? How long before you think he will be impeached and his entire administration held accountable for the crimes they have committed? As for my not being popular on Kerry's site so long ago, I only considered him the lesser of two evils and he would not be my choice for an alternative candidate in an obviously broken and corrupt system. All I can say is the Republican controlled Congress and their stolen 2000 and 2004 elections have gotten the people who voted for them just what they deserved.
PS As far as aliens go, one of the only thing alien to the human race I can see anywhere is you and the people who think like you.
Daly Thoughts, the Blog of the Electoral College Breakdown 2004, has kindly linked to a post on this blog by my husband David Ridenour, our VP.
Dales' Electoral College Breakdown 2004, by the way, tracks the presidential polls based on what they predict about the Electoral College. It is a fast way to make sense of the poll data we get from the news. After all -- and as Al Gore would tell you -- the popular vote doesn't decide the presidency. Only the Electoral College counts.
Meanwhile, Sean at the always-worth-a-visit "Everything I Know Is Wrong" blog posted some very complimentary remarks about posts on this blog by our executive director, David Almasi.
Finally, as long as I am talking about other blogs, allow me to recommend this Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness post to anyone who has wondered, as I have, about the news media's practice of referring to certain geographical locations as "holy cities" -- but not others.
This incident recounted in this Tasty Manatees blog story is unfortunate.
I have never been one of those who adhered to the convenient (for non-Germans) thought (pervasive in some quarters post WWII) that ethnic Germans were/are more likely to commit human rights abuses than other First World states and peoples. However, they're not less likely, either.
However, as Tasty Manatees notes, the Der Spiegel report alleging that Americans can't be trusted with POWs might not be entirely reliable. Der Spiegel has erred before.
This would be a good time for the German government to set the record straight.
I've received an e-mail asking the question: Does anyone know an address for sending a letter to Al Gore?
If anyone does, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll share it.
ADDENDUM: I'm told Gore works at Metropolitan West Financial, LLC. They can be contacted at:
Metropolitan West Financial, LLC
11440 San Vicente Blvd., 3rd Fl.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Gore also serves on Apple's Board of Directors:
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014
Executive director David W. Almasi finds some poor choices being made by one of America's largest toy retailers:
The Tom Cruise movie "The Last Samurai" received an R-rating largely because of its violent content. It's now on sale at Toys "R" Us. In a Sunday newspaper insert covering May 16-22, "The Last Samurai" was grouped with family-targeted movies like "The Haunted Mansion" and "Peter Pan" among the "hundreds of titles" to be found in Toys "R" Us stores at "Geoffrey's Box Office."
Online, Toys "R" Us is teamed up with Amazon. While the site is geared toward selling kid-friendly fare, it's still linked directly to Amazon's main site. As pointed out in an October 2003 National Policy Analysis, Amazon and other media and electronics stores routinely offer adult-themed videos for sale on-line without safeguards to keep them out of the hands of young people. Selecting the "all products" search field and typing in "Girls Gone Wild" (the infamous collections of girls exposing themselves on camera) on what was toysrus.com linked me to an Amazon catalog providing a selection of 78 DVDs and 44 video titles including "Dormroom Fantasies" and "College Co-Eds Mardi Gras." That's a problem.
Toys "R" Us is the largest toy retailer in the world, but it is losing out to Wal-Mart here in the United States. Wal-Mart refuses to stock some of Hollywood's racier titles like the Girls Gone Wild collection and even prevents people from purchasing R-rated DVDs at new self-serve check-outs without verification of age. That attracts family-oriented shoppers.
Any questions as to why some people prefer to shop Wal-Mart?
From executive director David W. Almasi:
How soon people seem to forget. Liberals were apoplectic last February 23 -- exactly three months ago to the day -- when Education Secretary Rod Paige called the National Education Association a "terrorist organization." Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe called it "hate speech" and called on Republicans to "immediately renounce" Paige's comment.
Now Democratic Senator Tim Johnson (SD) compared certain parts of the Republican Party to the Taliban at a campaign rally on May 23.
The only difference between Paige and Johnson thus far is that Paige apologized. Johnson thus far has steadfastly refused to do so.
And none of his colleagues have renounced his comments, including Terry McAuliffe.
A good post today on the Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness blog about proposals by Charles Krauthammer and Gregg Easterbrook in favor of raising gasoline taxes.
I agree with all of it.
Correspondent Edward Kitsch recommends this fine article by former Delaware Governor Pete DuPont of the National Center for Policy Analysis in today's Wall Street Journal putting all the "gasoline prices are rising" news media stories in perspective.
...in spite of what you read in the paper -- outrageous gasoline prices entered into Google gets you 15,000 links -- its current inflation-adjusted price of $2 a gallon is about its median price over its 85-year existence, and with the exception of the 1980s spike, it has been steadily declining over the decades.The article contains a lot more of interest.
Better still, improving technology has increased the number of miles one can drive on a gallon of gasoline, to 22 in 2000 from about 13.5 in the early 1970s . So the cost of gasoline per mile driven has fallen nearly in half, from more than 13 cents to a bit more than seven cents. Meanwhile median income for a family of four (in inflation-adjusted dollars) has increased to more than $63,000 today from less than $46,000 in the 1970s.
As a side note, the next time I hear a broadcast media report that gas prices are higher I think I might scream. The fact that gas prices have increased led the local radio news stories in DC today -- despite the fact that they've been reporting this story for over a week!
It would be different if they added new information to the story each day, but they don't.. It is always the same thing: Gas prices are over $2! People don't like it! And then they invariably talk about OPEC, as if OPEC production levels were only factor involved in the pricing of gasoline.
As Pete DuPont's article shows, there's a lot we Americans could do if we really care to reduce the price of gas at the pump. This isn't all about Saudi Arabia.
National Center Executive Director David Almasi is a fan of the article "Wimpy U.S. Olympic Committee Tells Athens-Bound Athletes: Curb Your Enthusiasm" by James Lileks.
A few quotes follow, but we recommend the whole thing:
The United States Olympic Committee has requested that our athletes curb their enthusiasm, since we are, you know, uh, hated...Blogging fans will recognize that James Lileks is more than a columnist. He also runs a truly exquisite blog. I don't use the word "exquisite" (defined by Webster's as: "carefully selected or sought out; hence, of distinguishing and surpassing quality; exceedingly nice; delightfully excellent; giving rare satisfaction; as, exquisite workmanship") lightly.
Earlier this year the U.S. Olympic soccer team was having a qualifying match in Mexico; they were up against Canada; and they won. The United States won, whereupon the crowd started chanting "Osama! Osama!"
Seventeen Mexicans died in the Sept. 11 attacks. Twenty-four Canadians died in the Sept. 11 attacks. You remember that big apology from Vicente Fox, don't you? No?
The Olympics are supposed to be above politics, but that's nonsense... When the United States beat the Soviets at hockey in 1980, the political overtones were explicit: Kissy-face detente aside, Ivan, we enjoy beating you. We really do...
Sudan, which is ethnically cleansing its Christian blacks, could hoist its flag. China, whose treatment of Tibet birthed a million indignant bumper stickers, can run around with the flag held high. Russia can flatten Grozny, and its athletes can be assured of huzzahs and applause.
It's not that these governments are better than the United States. What counts is that they are not the United States...
My favorite Lileks posts are the ones about Gnat. Oh, and do buy the dang book. I did. It's great.
I received a quick e-mail from Joe Roche Sunday evening.
He could not write a long note, but he did give a clue as to his recent activities, saying "my battalion was right in the middle of the Karbala fighting."
He also recommended "a link from the NYTimes that is really surprising because it is right on the nose!"
(I don't know if he meant that as an editorial comment about the general quality of the New York Times' reporting, or if he was simply showing his enthusiasm over this particular article).
He also recommended this ABC News Online report.
Joe also had time to add a paragraph about care packages before signing off:
We're receiving more and more packages every day. We add them to our convoys to deployed units, so all the soldiers are getting things. I really hope somehow the thanks is sent out. I know some soldiers are trying to write to some of the people. It is really hard though. Mostly, the addresses get lost when we tear into the boxes and spread things out.I think we can tell how much the boxes are appreciated simply from the phrase "tear into the boxes."
The British left-wing newspaper the Guardian apparently thinks Americans give a damn about the opinion of effete Old Europe filmgoers.
A story titled "J'accuse" to this effect carries an astonishing sub-headline asserting that an Cannes film festival award to Michael Moore's anti-Bush film "may have changed the course of history."
How many divisions does the Cannes film festival have?
The article calls the award to Moore's film "...a spectacular rebuke to Republican and corporate America, a stunning exocet of scorn launched from the epicentre of old Europe."
They are a little full of themselves. This award represents a bunch of movie people from Europe restating something they say all the time: They don't like us, they don't like our values, and the really don't like us when we stand up for our values.
American moviemakers mostly don't like America. We sure as heck don't expect anything different from the French.
But before I end this, a note about the irony of the piece's headline:" J'accuse." For those who don't know history (let's include the Guardian here), this is a title of a famous newspaper piece condemning one of very many examples of French anti-semitism. Yet the Guardian uses the term against the USA's foreign policy -- which it despises in part because it believes we're too pro-Israel.
I'm getting a kick out of May 24 articles in the British newspaper the Independent.
It seems that the prominent Greenie James Lovelock has called upon his fellow members of the environmental left to abandon their opposition to nuclear power. Lovelock believes that global warming fears are understated and fears of nuclear power are exaggerated.
I'm enjoying the fact that a leading environmentalist is echoing something we've said many times before: If you truly believe carbon dioxide emissions are causing the planet to warm and that this warming would have dire results, you presently have two choices: nuclear power or shutting down much of the world's economic activity.
On this latter, narrow point, Lovelock apparently agrees with us. Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, according to the Independent, don't.
We, of course, believe that the theory that human beings are causing dangerous global warming is vastly overstated, but we like nuclear power's environmentally-friendly attributes nonetheless.
Lovelock, by the way, is a self-described "outstanding scientist" and "pioneer in the development of environmental awareness." He is credited by himself and others with creating the "Gaia Theory," the notion that, as Lovelock puts it on his website, "the planet Earth [is] a self-regulated living being."
The notion has been adapted by neo-paganists and New Agers, some of whom now worship "Gaia," regarding the planet Earth as a "goddess."
The news media was all over the allegation that someone in the White House made public the fact that former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV's wife is affiliated with the CIA. But does the news media cooperate in the investigation to find out who did it?
Time magazine, NBC and Newsday won't.
The Washington Post reports that the Washington Post won't say. (Yes, you read that right. The Post talked to itself and didn't get a reply.)
More farce from the Post, which recently strongly implied that it didn't know the cause of death of one of its most famous columnists, Mary McGrory, when pretty much the entire newsroom had to know. The Post does this sort of thing all the time.
But back to the free pass on crime: Would a blogger be free to refuse to cooperate in a law enforcement investigation of an illegal action that he covered in his blog?
If no, then why should the establishment press be treated as though its journalists are above the law?
If yes, then Mafia Dons, drug dealers and other miscreants may soon start blogs. I would if I were one.
Some interesting poll data from the Sunday Washington Post. An excerpt:
More than a third of Americans say they don't trust President Bush 'at all' as a source of information about the environment, according to a new survey of attitudes about the environment by the Global Strategy Group for the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences. Kerry fares somewhat better, with 24 percent saying they don't trust him on the issue.The lesson for politicians? Don't bother approaching environmental issues from a political perspective. It won't help you anyway. Just do your issue homework, and then do the right thing.
But before Kerry's campaign tries to make hay out of that finding, consider the flip side: Although 26 percent of Americans say they trust the president 'a lot' for environmental information, only 12 percent say they feel that way about Kerry.
National Center executive director David W. Almasi is critical of "The Day After Tomorrow" director's muse:
In an interview with SCI FI Wire, "The Day After Tomorrow" director Roland Emmerich admits he previously pledged never to make another disaster movie, but "when you find something that you can give people [a] message, but still make it an exciting movie... you kind of get very, very, kind of excited about something." What got Emmerich so excited? He read the book The Coming Global Superstorm by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber.
Yes, it's that Art Bell. Bell used to host "Coast to Coast AM" from his trailer located near Area 51 in Nevada, pumping out stories about aliens, monsters and government conspiracies to insomniacs nationwide. And, according to reviews of the book posted on Amazon, the factual basis of his book -- Emmerich's muse -- leaves much to be desired.
Interestingly, many reviews, though written years ago, suggest the book is more movie fodder than textbook.
It certainly doesn't sound like something to which Al Gore should be hitching his political reputation, but he seems to be doing so.
Here's what Amazon's layman critics said:The Hanged Man from Fairfax: "I bought this expecting some science, some facts, some hard information. Instead, I got 'lost' civilizations, fuzzy facts, and (this was probably Strieber's contribution) a passable bit of science fiction. Pass on the book and stick to Weekly World News."
Charles D. Johnston from Atlanta, Georgia: "This book takes yelling 'Fire!' in a crowd to a new level. Using a combination of vague references to unknown writers, clearly slanted style, and half-science, this book is clearly commercial in intent and seeks to capitalize on the 'sky is falling' mentality that was so evident before Y2K. The authors are more interested in making money than real science..."
Jerald R. Lovell from Clinton Township, Michigan: "It's distressing to know that Barnum was right about one being born each minute... Anyone with the slightest knowledge of weather knows the scenario of ten feet of ice and all that other glop is impossible under the laws of physics... The book has its value, though, in that it does show the Dark Ages, where superstition reigned and truth hid, are never that far away. The authors should go back to tossing burnt sheep bones and reading tea leaves, and not masquarade as scientific seers... What a commentary on our educational system! I weep for the future."
A reader from Denver, Colorado: "...Superstorm is not even good science fiction. It is laughable, speculative, junk science and urban legends all thrown together..."
A reader from Ohio: "Great fun to read... but scientifically it's all hot gas."
A reader from Wooster, Ohio: "Before I read this book I had never heard of Art Bell or Whitley Strieber. Therefore, as a scientist, I read this book with an open mind... In my opinion, Strieber and Bell have hijacked the topic of potential weather-related global cataclysm, and used it as a vehicle to persuade the reader that advanced civilizations once existed on our planet and were lost in a violent climatic upheaval. They present legitimate scientific observations and as-yet unexplained phenomena (much of it unrelated to the topic of global climate) and casually link them to some of the more fantastic claims of pseudoscience. This book is worth reading for entertainment, but the reader should definitely keep in mind the saying 'you shouldn't believe everything you read.' The bottom line is this book is long on pseudoscience and speculations (more than a few of them outrageous) and short on substantial scientific information."
rb_748 from Brooklyn, New York: "This book contains all the hallmarks of the worst pseudoscience: no references or clear citations, misnomers galore..."
Jim Green from Torquay, Devon, United Kingdom: "This book reads like a poorly-edited screenplay for a crummy disaster movie. If it's that kind of entertainment you want, then fine. If, however, you're after a credible treatment of an important issue, then steer clear of these authors. The style is sloppy and repetitive, and it seems sensationalism is valued over serious research. A quote from p. 216 says it all: 'The two of us are amateurs.'"
Joel Foss from Lakewood, California: "If you're like a lot of readers, and you've been watching the news headlines about north pole ice melting, and increasingly harsh weather conditions, then you're looking for a book on global warming and it's possible effects. You're looking for a book that will tell you what scientists are saying; what tests they're doing; what indications they're looking at. You're looking for a book that will educate you a little without putting you to sleep. Well, THIS AIN'T THE BOOK! The author is a radio talk show host, not a science writer, and the book is about as educational as... a radio talk show! There is no attempt to explain; only to scare the reader..."
A reader from Rochester, New York: "Bell once again rehashes kindergarten-level scientific mumbo-jumbo to exploit current topics of interest, in order to capitalize on his fame and make a few extra bucks. Save your money and buy a book with some science content."
A reader from Olympia, Washington: "Baloney does not stick to paper very well. Not since Joseph Goebbels and the 'big lie' has there been such a gaseous expulsion of fairy tales masquerading as science..."
A reader from San Jose, California: "This authors mix wild and implausible speculation with pseudo-science to produce a book that, if anybody read it, would set the environmentalists back ten years. We just have to hope that few fall into the trap of reading it, like I did."
A reader from Troy, New York: "I enjoy a good 'wacko' theory book as much as the next person, but this book is a travesty. Arguments and assertions are made and never followed up. Veiled hints are made but never proven. Planetary cycles are alluded to but never stated succinctly. The writing is slack and there is no intellectual rigor..."
Dan Allison from Sunset Beach, Florida: "These two are QUITE the piece of work. America's most irresponsible broadcaster has teamed up with a guy whose career as a horror novelist was in the dumpster before he grabbed onto the UFO thing. The result is fear-mongering pseudoscience... Listen to their 'Coast to Coast AM' radio broadcast. Strieber is incessantly blaming capitalism for problems that, frankly, do not even exist. His calls for 'government action' are barely-disguised paeans for government control, collectivism, and restrictions on individual freedom. Bell, while slightly more conservative, will put ANY crackpot on the radio -- aliens, time travelers, you name it..."
Gary L. Scott from Aloha, Oregon: "The Coming Global Superstorm is science fiction pap. Light on fact and heavy on speculation extrapolated from junk science mixed with just enough facts to add some credibility to the book. Bell and Strieber have collected mountains of urban legends, folk tales and junk science, mixed it together and created yet another great book for the doomsday crowd."