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January 7, 2005

that's rich!

Maybe we'd all feel better if we reverted to locker-room jokes about the President's surname.
• Poll: Americans ambivalent about Bush

Hey, my despair is totally gone!

I also hear the President is dumb as well -- that's a laff!

Posted by mrbrent at 10:43 AM

January 6, 2005

accidents happen

Yahoo Headline Box needs a new thesaurus:
• Democrats force debate on election mishaps

Whether you buy into accusations of electoral skullduggery or not, characterizing the events being debated as "mishaps" is generous at best and moronic at worst.  Why not replace "mishaps" with "contretemps", or "giant invisible Gambian rat in the room that everyone knows about but no one wants to discuss"?  Or why not delete "mishaps" entirely?  It still scans.

But it certainly does suggest a unique (and probably effective) alibi for Ohio's Secretary of State.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:15 PM

think of the time you'll save

Yesterday, an old pal asked me e-mailically, "Am I the only one who's closing in on Malcolm Gladwell overload?"  I recognized the name, but didn't really remember any specific experience with Gladwell, so I responded that yes, she is the only one.

But I was wrong.  So happens that the NYT's Janet Maslin reviewed Gladwell's new book, so I got my ass brushed up on Gladwell's public profile: feature writer for the New Yorker, cross-discipline hyphenate, McLuhan for a new generation.  He coins phrases; he parses the intersections of culture, commerce and neurology; he gets paid a lot for public speaking; and he has big hair.

Nope, I've never read him.  Maybe I have, in the New Yorker, but nothing made his byline stick out in my head.

But, after my half hour of independent research, I'm happy to say that, not only is my friend not the only one to be closing in on Malcolm Gladwell overload, but more, importantly, my friend's e-mail is actually the event signifying Malcolm Gladwell overload.  You blink, and boom, Gladwell's passed the tipping point.

So, when you next see coverage of Malcolm Gladwell, just remember that if it weren't for my friend and her e-mail, you wouldn't be so sick of that freakin' guy.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:00 AM

January 5, 2005

gathered wool

Seems I'm spending the bulk of this day thinking instead of writing.  Fortunately for me, my thoughts are as hilarious and insightful as my writing!  It's a big party in ma head, and I'm the guest of honor!


But here are some of the thought-inspiring pieces I've spent time with today:

David Neiwert discusses escalating conservative rhetoric and its implications.

Heidi MacDonald rounds up reaction to loss of greatest comix creator ever, Will Eisner, including definition of new fave game "Five Card Nancy".

Somebody unretired.

Carry on.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:43 PM

that was no marshmellow

This morning: foggy.  No, I mean, like, in my head, it is foggy, as it is outside, also.  Foggy.

Didn't eat or drink anything that would make me so -- rather, I had this dream where I'm on vacation with the Titivil family and we become best friends with Julie Delpy.  Famous French actress Julie Delpy.  And no, not that kind of best friend.  Instead of being famous or French she was down to earth and, well, French, but her English was fantastic.  And we would just walk around, and sit at cafes, and talk for hours and just laaaaugh...

Oh my God.

I dreamed the third movie in Rick Linklater's "Before..." trilogy.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:07 AM

January 4, 2005

take a right at spiders from mars

I thought that every amusing American place name had already crossed my desk.

I was wrong.

Seems like a nice place, though a likely candidate for a Logan's Run type situation.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:20 PM

backtracking upwards

House Republicans today made a courageous stand against themselves, withdrawing two proposed rules changes that would have protected the House Majority Leader's position in the event of his indictment, and increased the margin of vote required to institute ethics investigations of House members.  Read the actual journalism memorializing the event here, which has the full rundown but no swear words, like "fuck".

Predictably, self-congratulation ensued.  "It's a mark of a leader to take a bullet for the team and not for the team to take a bullet for the leader," Rep Mark Kirk (R-IL) is quoted as saying.

And personally, I think it's great, kind of like the rebel firefighter who goes into business for himself as part-time arsonist.  No better reason to clap yourself onna back than for bravely standing against your own unpopular and wrong idea a few weeks later.  Watch for the President to be taking credit for saving Social Security six months after his reform package fails to pass.

It's all about failing upward, and when I grow up, I want to be just like them.  Only eviler.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:47 AM

January 3, 2005

words are back off the shit-list!

Sometimes, even the alternate meanings of verbs can crack me up.
• Large Gambian rats worry Florida officials


Posted by mrbrent at 1:34 PM

words used to be my friends

The Administration's war on the English language continues, as related by the Yahoo Box o' Headlines:
• Bush to work on promoting 2nd-term goals

There is an actual story, filed by the AP, associated with this headline, but I like the headline more.  It's so much more illustrative than a standard President-at-the-beginning-of-his-second-term piece.

First off: the act of "promoting" is only sometimes an actual task.  If you are opening a car wash and you want people to know about it, you promote it.  If you would like to give your secretary a bigger desk around which to chase her, then you promote her.  Promoting goals, however, is just not a direct action.  There may be some new business world jargon which I am (happily) unfamiliar that goes by the handle "promoting goals", meaning something like "getting to yes" or "imminentizing the eschaton" or something, but still.  No.  Sorry.  Goals are something to achieve, or intend to acheive.  And you don't promote the goals, you promote the actions to achieve the goals.

But the headline doesn't even foreshadow any actual promoting to be done by Bush -- rather, he's gonna work on promoting.  You know, practice saying things in front of a mirror, maybe have a good long think about exactly how he wants this "promotion" to look and feel.  Does he want spotlights, and a big long red carpet?  Or would he rather put a promotional flier under the windshield wiper of every car in America?  He's not quite sure.  He'll work on it.

And it goes without saying, so I'll say it: the work is hard -- it's hard work.

The mechanism of the headline is similar to the semantic kung fu the President has been usung in his press conferences lately -- repeating talking points as actual statements.  The talking points are there for reference, to remind the speaker to make sure that the talking point is either reinforced or evoked by the statements made.  Repeating the talking point over and over again destroys the exercise.  (And blows kayfabe, if you weeel.)  Same with the headline -- it's not the President that is supposed to be working on promoting the goals, it's his spokesmen.  In a sense, it's the headline that should be working to promote.  It's like telling America that there is no Santa and the secret ingredients of the Colonel's fried chicken recipe at the same time, all in a headline!  That no one will care about.

Except me.

Sorry to go all Safire there for a second.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:04 AM

January 2, 2005

it's never not politics

It is U.S. custom, of course, in times of natural disasters in foreign lands, to send a delegation of American officials to assess damage/get photos taken with devastation as backdrop.

Our present (and future) President has deemed it necessary only to send the outgoing and internationally popular SecState and GOP rising star Jeb Bush.

My foreign service experience is wanting, but it was my impression that, in the past, such missions of mercy were always bipartisan, to demonstrate to the world that certain undertakings were beyond politics.

I suppose Jesus told W to do it.  Though I suppose, given circumstance, Jeb was the only brother he could send.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:25 AM