Filed under:Blogging — posted by Anwyn on October 30, 2006 @ 9:16 pm

My blogfriend Xrlq isn’t somebody I’d consider riling up just for amusement. He’s an attorney, father of two, and a Virginia transplant, and when he gets up a head of steam he can typically argue circles around me, which is one reason I’m glad we’re so often on the same side of the issue.

But he’s hot and bothered now about Hot Air, one of my favorite sites. He finds Allahpundit & Co. to be too quick in jumping the gun, downright wrong about some things (comments #33 and #39), and unwilling to listen to corrections because the comment section is limited to registered commenters culled during short, limited registration periods. His disdain came as a surprise to me, because while I’ve known Michelle Malkin, who runs Hot Air, isn’t his favorite person in the world, I had no idea he harbored a similar opinion of Hot Air, which, almost needless to say, I don’t share. Hot Air is a great political site, which helps to concentrate many of the issues I care about in one place and brings me relevant video clips that I don’t watch when they’re on TV because I’m too busy watching, um, serial dramas, and if the comment section is not the easiest at which to find good discussion, it is not quite the Sycophants’ Hall of Fame that Xrlq finds it to be.

He’s said his next post will lay out his criticisms of the site and his proposed solutions. I’ll be very interested to read what they are, beyond “open comment registration,” which is easy enough to predict. It’s a good thing to have a reality check on one’s favorite things every now and then, so … let’s hear it. Aside, it’s probably a good thing for Allah’s hat size to be told now and then that he’s not the greatest thing since tabbed browser windows, but he won’t hear it from me. After all, I’m just a sycophant. … Kidding.

Update: Below in the comments, Xrlq indicated that he thought I was trying to pick a blogfight with him in this post. Far from it. The post was meant to lay out the initial salvo from Xrlq to Hot Air and look ahead to Xrlq’s next post on the same–i.e. describing a blogfight between Xrlq and Hot Air, although Hot Air’s not really playing the game, so the term “blogfight” may be a bit inaccurate here. But I can see how my statement that I wouldn’t like to have X mad at me and then going on to disagree with him nevertheless could look like I was looking for a fight. I’m not. Just going for what I always expect out of the blogs–lively debate and discussion, which we’re having.

Life’s Irony

Filed under:Blogging,It's My Life — posted by Anwyn @ 8:46 pm

In college, I had a politically aware roommate who enthusiastically took advantage of our school’s cultural offerings. While we were at school, she heard speak, among others, P.J. O’Rourke, Dr. Ruth, Patrick Stewart, and Spike Lee, whilst I preferred to either moulder in our room, reading or watching TV; moulder in a computer lab, hopelessly addicted to what were then the very new-fangled interwebs; or moulder at another school about an hour distant, macking it up with my boyfriend.

The irony comes in here: the very interwebs that once kept me from broadening my horizons are now my primary connection to politics, culture (at least the pop kind), and information generally. Good thing I’m still addicted.

Hey Bill, Dancing with the Stars is Kinda Nice

Filed under:Politics,Television — posted by Anwyn on October 28, 2006 @ 10:54 pm

Letterman had O’Reilly on last night, and my respect for Bill went way up. Dave’s game plan, apparently: depart from format of “funny show, have a good time with guest promoting his/her work,” go straight from “How ya doin’?” to “Your work sucks” without leaving guest time to answer even innocuous “How ya doin’?”, have unfunny, quasi-serious political discussion in which you come off earnest but a bit lacking. Bill’s game plan, apparently: Keep cool, sit back and see how much rope Letterman’s willing to pay out. Answer: not too much; just enough to put an edge on the discussion. The Associated Press got it wrong, surprise:

“You’re putting words in my mouth,” [O’Reilly] told Letterman at one point.

“You’re putting artificial facts in your head,” Letterman responded.

It was actually Letterman who said O’Reilly was putting words in his mouth, following Bill’s only misstep: accusing Dave of repeating the “Bush Is Evil” mantra when Dave said nothing like it. Letterman responded, “You’re putting words in my mouth. Just like you put artificial facts in your head.” But Dave’s answer to O’Reilly’s question, “Do you want America to win in Iraq?” was bass-ackward. Paraphrased Dave: “What I would like is for Americans to stop dying over there and for there to be stability in the region. If that means an American victory, okay. But I don’t know if it’s possible to have stability over there now with or without an American presence, so I’d do whatever it takes to stop Americans dying.” Even more paraphrased Dave: “It’s okay with me if Iraqis go back to dying the way they did under Hussein, if that’s what happens when we leave, as long as no more Americans do.” Which is a valid point of view, but fails to even consider the possibility that an American victory could be the cause, rather than the result, of his nebulous idea of stability over there.

Come to think of it, I guess my respect for Dave went up a bit as well, despite his rather childish treatment of O’Reilly, simply because he didn’t devolve into the “Bush Is Evil” mantra I’ve come to expect from so many mindless bots who won’t rid themselves of the horrifying but fascinating possibility that they might live under the most evil government since the Third Reich. Some people are too desperate for drama. I don’t think Dave’s one of them; he came across, for the most part, well intentioned and even “thoughtful,” but a little lacking.

Bill’s assertion that people would rather watch Dancing with the Stars than read the news out of Iraq hurt, though. Hey Bill: news is depressing. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be. I defy anybody to squash down a big ol’ grin of delight while watching Emmitt Smith deliver a killer mambo. He and his partner Cheryl are the most genuine and likeable people on the show–my only “reality” TV weakness. It’s less reality and more an actual contest with objective standards and rules, which is why it makes the cut. Anyway, back to the grin: watch and squash if you can.

Assimilate This

Filed under:Blogging,Politics — posted by Anwyn on October 27, 2006 @ 9:09 pm

I have only a basic grasp of how this works, but if it counteracts nefarious attempts to game what should be a neutral search system for the gain of Democrats, then I’m for it. Anti-Googlebomb bombs away.


Connecticut: Ned Lamont
Maryland: Ben Cardin
Michigan: Debbie Stanbenow
Missouri: Claire McCaskill
Montana: Jon Tester
New Jersey: Bob Menendez
Tennessee: Harold Ford
Virginia: James Webb

Democrat Held Seats

(CO-03): John Salazar
(GA-03): Jim Marshall
(GA-12): John Barrow
(IA-03): Leonard Boswell
(IL-08): Melissa Bean
(IL-17): Phil Hare
(IN-07): Julia Carson
(NC-13): Brad Miller
(PA-12): John Murtha
(WV-01): Alan Mollohan

Republican Held Seats

(AZ-08): Gabrielle Giffords
(CT-04): Diane Farrell
(CT-05): Chris Murphy
(CO-07): Ed Perlmutter
(IA-01): Bruce Braley
(IL-06): Tammy Duckworth
(IN-02): Joe Donnelly
(IN-08): Brad Ellsworth
(IN-09): Baron Hill
(FL-13): Christine Jennings
(FL-16): Tim Mahoney
(FL-22): Ron Klein
(KY-03): John Yarmuth
(NC-01): Heath Shuler
(MN-06): Patty Wetterling
(NM-01): Patricia Madrid
(NY-20): Kirsten Gillibrand
(NY-24): Michael Arcuri
(NY-26): Jack Davis
(OH-15): Mary Jo Kilroy
(OH-18): Zack Space
(PA-06): Lois Murphy
(PA-08): Patrick Murphy
(PA-07): Joe Sestak
(PA-10): Chris Carney
(VA-02): Phil Kellam
(WI-08): Steve Kagen

Blank Blog

Filed under:Blogging,It's My Life — posted by Anwyn on October 20, 2006 @ 6:30 am

Where’re you going, instead of staying and blogging?

To my ten-year college reunion. Ulp.

Where’ve you been all week, instead of blogging?

Getting ready to go to my ten-year college reunion. Shopping for clothes is a huge pain in the ass.

Update: And what’s your excuse this week?


Filed under:Bumper Stickers — posted by Anwyn on October 15, 2006 @ 8:04 pm

I have to confess to a little admiration for that bumper sticker that says “Coexist” made up of various symbols. I see it and think, “Duh. We would if they would.”


Filed under:Miscellaneous — posted by Anwyn @ 7:57 pm

While leaving a parking garage. As I was exiting the little hut that houses the elevator and stairwell, two guys were walking toward it–one large, six-foot-plus guy with scraggly beard, earring(s?), leather jacket, one smaller, somewhat scrawny, black-trenchcoated fellow. The smaller guy was saying in a rather … piercing … voice: “And I have that hip-swivel that only comes when I’m about to–” at which precise moment they entered the elevator hut and thus exited my hearing range.

And no, I don’t want to know. At all.

Christian Discriminated Against Because Her Religion is Least Oppressive

Filed under:Church of Liberalism,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on October 13, 2006 @ 7:16 pm

Oh, the irony. The lefties who decry “radical Christianity” as “just as bad” as “radical Islam” look nuttier all the time. This woman, a garden-variety British Airways employee with an “unblemished record,” is not to wear a symbol of her religion, solely because her religion is not repressive enough to require her to do so, unlike the religions of some of her coworkers.

The airline’s uniform code states that staff must not wear visible jewellery or other ‘adornments’ while on duty without permission from management.

It makes exceptions for Muslim and Sikh minorities by allowing them to wear hijabs and turbans.

“Without permission from management.” Why can’t she get permission, given that others are granted exceptions because of the requirements of their religion? Obviously, because that crazy ol’ “radical” Christianity refuses to do anything so radical as restrict its members’ dress or “adornments.”

[BA chief executive Willie Walsh] added: “We have previously made changes to our uniform policy to accommodate requests, after a detailed evaluation process including Health and Safety assessment to incorporate the wearing of Sikh bangles.”

But Miss Eweida said: “BA refuses to recognise the wearing of a cross as a manifestation of the Christian faith, but rather defines it as a piece of decorative jewellery.”

Well, that’s the double-barrelled question, isn’t it? An exception shouldn’t be made for Miss Eweida on account of garden-variety jewelry, should it? If I worked next to her and she got to wear her cross while I left my, say, silver swan pendant at home, that would be a bit unfair, no? But if I worked next to her and got to wear my iron bangle while she had to leave her Christian cross at home, that’s also a bit unfair. Oh, a religion of oppression requires it? Right, off you go, then.

What a world. It simply begs the question, “Why is British Airways restricting any tasteful jewelry on their employees?” Wouldn’t you think they get barraged with requests all the time? At the very least an eased-up dress code would seem to be called for. Is that amount of control over your employees really worth all this fuss? Geez, with that much dress restriction, working at BA is starting to sound like … a religion.

Fall TV 2006: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Filed under:Reviews,Television — posted by Anwyn on October 12, 2006 @ 11:34 pm

I’m a fan of Aaron Sorkin. I loved Sports Night from the very beginning, and though it took me a bit longer to warm up to The West Wing, warm up I did. They were witty, intelligent, occasionally gripping shows, basically nothing somebody else hasn’t said long ago somewhere else, so I won’t rehash them here. I quit watching WW shortly after Sorkin’s exit; I didn’t want to stop, but I just didn’t enjoy it any more. I’ve never been an ER girl, and ER in the White House is exactly what it became.

With all that, I expected to enjoy, if not immediately fall for, Studio 60. Matthew Perry, for pete’s sake! Always one of my to-die-fors from Friends, the idea of Matthew Perry speaking Sorkin lines had to be a sure-fire. Bradley Whitford, fresh off the stale WW and, hopefully, just fresh.

Alas. Fresh seems to be the last thing Sorkin’s capable of producing right now. Old inside jokes and self-parodies, knee-jerk liberal platitudes and Bush/Christian/conservative bashing are Studio 60’s mainstay so far. Surprisingly, it’s not even who/what he’s bashing that I mind. It’s that it’s so done. There is no longer anything new, brave, smart, clever, or stylish about whinging (no, I don’t mean “whining,” I mean “whinging,” pronounced to rhyme with “binging,” see also Firefly) about Republicans, calling Christians stupid, ignorant, naive, and extreme, or tipping the wink to your old shows, to the amusement of those shows’ fans and nobody else. And new, brave, smart, clever, and stylish used to be Sorkin’s hallmark. There were a few hat-tips from West Wing to Sports Night, but the latter was on only two seasons and had few viewers, so those inside nods were gracious and felt good to us diehard fans who hated to see SN go. But WW was on so long that you’d have to either have no TV or have no workplace water cooler … or no blogs, a category Sorkin recently added to his shit list, judging by a rant Perry gave in episode two … not to see the copying. And memo to Thomas Schlamme: Sports Night lines delivered under West Wing lighting are not working. I-knew-it-when, so when the Studio 60 character Harriet Hayes marches in to unleash the fury of the woman scorned on Perry’s Matthew with a speech straight out of Sports Night, I’m hearing Felicity Huffman but watching Allison Janney, who tonight will be played by Sarah Paulson. It’s disturbing.

The worst part about Sorkin’s kneejerking is that it’s contagious. When he spends two or three episodes nonstop bitching about stupid Christians (and guess what, I know there are plenty out there. Plenty of stupid people of all philosophic persuasions out there, folks) and conservatives in general, he makes me think “bullshit” when he trots out a story about Grease and The Crucible at a Missouri high schoolthe latter having been cancelled “because it portrays Christians in a bad light” after uptight Christians complained about the former. But it’s a true story, of course, because as Perry’s character, again, said, when slurring Liberty University in Virginia (founder Jerry Falwell being one of Sorkin’s true hates, from SN right on up), “I don’t want to get anything wrong.”

Well, Sorkin, you’ve got it wrong. Quit your bitching. It’s annoying. It’s far more self-righteous and whiny than it ever was in the faux White House, which is saying something, since the pontificating found a far more appropriate venue on Pennsylvania Avenue than it ever will on the Sunset Strip. Your players are working hard for you. I was worried about Perry, who seemed deathly nervous in episode one and whom Sorkin wasn’t helping out by alternately writing him as a total screw-up one minute and the grown-up in the creative partnership with Whitford’s character the next, but he’s settling down and might make a fine grown-up nonChandler. Whitford I never worry about. Paulson is sweet and totally entertaining–her Holly Hunter impression is ear-poppingly accurate–and the rest of the cast, notably D.L. Hughley, are working hard to make it look easy, and it’s effective. Amanda Peet is keeping it low-key; she’s a wait-and-see for an emotional moment for her character, but the one who’s impressing me the most is Steven Weber. He’s a great foil for Peet’s character, and who knew he could do that if, like me, you’d only seen him being goofy on Wings?

I will say there is one aspect in which I would like to see Studio 60 emulate The West Wing a little more: Timothy Busfield, you are sweet and charming. Please regrow your beard. Thank you.

Fall TV 2006: The Instant Gratification Years

Filed under:Television — posted by Anwyn on October 11, 2006 @ 10:37 pm

I love TV. I watch a lot of it. For me it’s stories and more stories, an addiction I’ve carried since childhood when I read everything I could get my hands on at every spare minute. For me, TV is an extension of reading–more stories, told in a different format. I think that’s an unusual perspective; it’s more the norm to hear TV bemoaned as a replacement for reading, but I’ve always had the reading thing down pat and am in no danger of having my brain rotted (I think …), so I enjoy as much TV as I can. Something I’ve noticed recently, but particularly this year, is the trend towards instant gratification in the relationships portrayed on TV. It’s not a wholly unexpected phenomenon, but I don’t think it’s working out as well as the TV execs could have hoped.

Remember the shows you watched when you were a kid and a young adult? If you were a … what’s that term the kids use nowdays? … shipper, like me, you rooted for the romance and the happy ending for the leads, whether it was the girls on The Facts of Life, Angela and Tony in Who’s the Boss? (yes, all right, I watched it in syndicated reruns after school. Sue me.), or later, Mac and Harm in JAG, Scully and Mulder in The X-Files, or more modern examples like Donna and Josh in The West Wing or Casey and Dana in Sports Night. You rooted for it, and it never happened–at least, not until the show was about to end (I actually don’t know what ever happened to Donna and Josh; I quit watching WW when it started sucking). There was a reason for that–the tried and true formula dictates that sexual tension is what drives the relationship between the leads and that it evaporates as soon as they get together. It’s dead true. It worked. It kept us watching.

But the last couple of years, instant gratification has really taken over. How many shows have I started watching last year or this year in which the leads get together right way or even are already together when the show starts? **SPOILERS AHEAD** for anybody who prefers to watch their television later, in DVD batches.


The Rant: IMDb

Filed under:Rants — posted by Anwyn @ 12:34 am

Is it just me or is IMDb getting bigger all the time and not better? It used to be I could be watching a show the night it aired, get all fidgety about a guest star or bit player, look them up right then to find out where I’d seen them before, and *bam* IMdB had the info. That night! The same night the episode aired! In a big long page attached to the main title page of a show entitled “guest appearances.” Now they have the “episode guide” and “episodes cast,” which is how you look up guest stars–you find the episode you’re watching and they have the whole cast there. Supposedly. Because more often than not, these days, I look up an episode and it’s full of misinformation and completely *without* the information I went there looking for–a few guest appearances or bit players or recurring characters, but by no means all, and certainly not the one I’m looking for. And as for misinformation, the “episode cast” frequently lists stars in the main credits whether they appear in that episode or not and sometimes still list them in every episode a season after the actor has quit the show completely.

It’s annoying. Yeah, I know, it’s an incredible service they do for the average viewer, for free, so why am I complaining? Because they used to have the info. They don’t now. Change should aim toward improvement. They haven’t. It’s too bad.

More Reasons to Homeschool

Filed under:Church of Liberalism,Priorities,Sad — posted by Anwyn on October 9, 2006 @ 9:30 pm

Every time I read stuff like this, homeschooling looks more and more attractive. And that’s not even considering school shootings.

Motivated by a parent’s complaint about a past Christmas pageant, [Windmill Point Elementary School’s Principal] Floyd canceled plans for A Penguin Christmas because of its title and use of such holiday characters as Santa and Rudolph.

When I was little, it was fashionable for Christians to complain about the commercialization of Christmas at the expense of the story of the birth of Jesus. Now, apparently, the prime symbols of Commercial Christmas, Santa and Rudolph, are also too religious. Principal Floyd, your good judgment is running round loose somewhere on its own. Send someone to fetch it home.

But wait! Is Santa too religious, or just too exclusive?

In light of national media attention to the story, Deputy Superintendent Sandy Wolfe reminded principals last week to “please ensure that all student celebrations, activities and events are inclusive of the various cultures and beliefs held by our students, their families and our staff.”

So it isn’t enough to ax all reference to the origin of the word Christmas; you have to represent everything else at the same time.

Call me crazy, but wouldn’t sticking to Santa and forgetting Christ do the job of separating church and state pretty nicely? Or maybe some of these administrators are educated enough to be aware of the origin of the word Santa.

The article offers some hope for public schools, however, that is especially encouraging to this ex-choir teacher:

Area choral directors say it would be impossible to teach the history of music or explore a variety of genres without including religious hymns, a position courts consistently have upheld as constitutional. … Civil-rights groups say such performances are acceptable as long as a variety of music is performed, and students who feel offended are given alternative assignments.

Alternative assignments, indeed. Ever tried running a choir in which kids were allowed to opt out of a particular song? Take five kids away from a 20-kid choir and see how you sound on concert night. This choir director is bang on:

Conductor Jeffery Redding, who chose the music for high school choir members, insisted he’s teaching music, not religion.

“Choral music started in the church, so I cannot shy away from education because of someone’s religious beliefs,” said Redding, who teaches music at West Orange High School in Orlando. “I could do a whole concert with cowboy music, but if somebody doesn’t like cowboys, they would be offended.”

Any choir kid offended by Christian choral music should be given the alternative assignment of going to a real class instead of choir, one where they might have to do more than show up to get an A. See how fast they take to the music of the church then.

Too Much Merlot

Filed under:Miscellaneous — posted by Anwyn @ 8:34 pm

… and not enough merlot drinkers, apparently, especially after one of the characters in Sideways dissed it. Poor maligned merlot; I’ll have to make sure to do my share to prop up its self-esteem.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace