Saturday, July 26, 2003

Caught in the Web 

OK, in the interests of fairmindedness, let's mock an idiotic leftie. The Georgia Straight's antiwar column, 'Caught in the Web', has been a marvel of incoherence. The column this week discusses the amount of causalties Iraqis have suffered (6,000-8,000), then writes this:
If the U.S. had waited the 10 years or so for Hussein to die, or the shorter time before he likely would have been overthrown, it is hard to see how he could have accomplished a 10th of the damage that has resulted, and will result, from Gulf War III.
It's not hard to see at all. Mass graves, apply, repeat. And sanctions, according to leftie critics, killed 500,000 Iraqis last decade. Think 50,000 Iraqis will die this year? Besides, when Saddam died, he would have been replaced by his equally brutal, late and unlamented sons. And it was very unlikely that he would have been overthrown.
I know there must be some Vancouverites that can oppose war intelligently. The Straight should hire one.

Who wants to read a Canadian conservative newspaper? 

On my way back from Saltspring, I noticed a column by Elizabeth Nickson, with a subheader 'On Saltspring Island'. Nickson has written many columns about how hard it is to be the only conservative on Saltspring, and how much she disagrees with her dumb hippie neighbours. Saltspring should institute a 'love it or leave it' policy. The column begins thus:
It seems I didn't even have to order my "Boycott Hollywood" licence-plate holder, which is a good thing because once you start advertising your feelings on your vehicle where does it end? I'll tell you where it ends. It ends in local writer Susan Musgrave's little toy city that is glued over every inch of her car, a truly fearsome thing to see bearing down upon one.
I have been fortunate enough to witness Susan Musgrave's car. It is a beautiful piece of art. People who attack it are mean. And how exactly are smurf figurines a way of 'advertising your feelings'? She continues:
So I resisted, and lo, the Slouching Beast is starting to implode, and in my most favourite way, with exquisite slowness.
Is the slouching beast Musgrave's car? No, it's Hollywood. Pay attention. Hollywood, as well as the rest of the entertainment industry, is imploding because of internet piracy. You may have heard about this napstergalaxy thing. Nickson says this development should "be a cause for joy in any thinking person's heart, left, right or centre". Note the introduction of political categories.
Nickson does get off a good line about why this piracy is taking place: Turns out that pitching all entertainment at 14-year-old boys has a downside, cause there are few things 14-year-old boys love to do more than play with computers, and get things free. Though it is odd to see a conservative celebrating property theft. In the realm of TV, Nickson notes that people are watching:
reality shows, filled with ordinary people making fools of themselves. The 2002 Emmy nominations, announced two weeks ago, honoured elite programming for the most part, shows aimed at affluent, college-educated people, like The West Wing and The Practice. And what happened to those two shows last year? Well by March, their ratings crashed to basement level.
Is she saying that The Emmys should not honor 'elite programming' (read: actual shows) and should nominate Survivor and America's Next Top Model instead? What does she think the Emmys are, the People's Choice Awards? She then sarcastically laments how tough it is for TV execs now that the West Wing has low ratings: "Where's the money for the $150,000 annual family vacation? Where'd all the good parties go? So very, very sad."
But don't the same TV execs that profit from the West Wing also profit from the success of reality TV? Their profit margins actually go up when they don't have to pay writers or actors. And she earlier celebrated the decline in ratings of NBA and NHL playoffs, which are much more like reality TV then they are like scripted hour-long shows.
She then babbles about how the media would make money by charging small amounts, and says she would pay to read newsmax.com. So far so unexciting, right? The elite liberal media is doing badly. Yay. But here's the mind boggling conclusion:
The reason...why right-wing non-fiction TV trumps the alternative by giant rafts of viewers is that those ideas are resonating. And The West Wing, and every other suburban-bashing, white-male bashing, free-enterprise bashing, America-bashing, freedom to have as much sex with desperate young men and women-promoting ideology has finally fallen flat on its face. Never to get up off that mat. Big cheers from the cheap seats on the Left Coast.
Whaaa? Reality TV (nice euphemism, by the way) is right-wing? A show with a sympathetic white male capitalist American president as protagonist is what-bashing? Temptation Island and Elimidate don't promote the freedom to have sex with desperate young bodies? Is this woman out of her mind? Why would anyone want to associate their political beliefs with Who Wants to Marry My Dad? There are no answers to any of these questions in the column. There are no indications that she will begin to make these left-right distinctions. What a psychotic column.
There is a particularly annoying conservative meme that the free market is always on the side of the angels. Fox News outperforms CNN because Fox is better than CNN. The Dixie Chicks' sales fell because they attacked Bush, and are therefore evil. However, conservatives do not follow this argument to its logical conclusion. Though Eminem sells more CDs than Beethoven, Eminem is not necessarily better than Beethoven. Just because Survivor has more viewers than the Simpsons does not mean the Simpsons is the the worse show.
Another example is the great Canadian daily paper, the National Post, in which Nickson's column is published. The Post is explicitly conservative, and used to publish practically all the good Canadian conservative writers (Mark Steyn was the best of them). But apparently the National Post's right-wing ideas are not resonating with the Canadian public, and the paper is hemorrhaging money. They have been forced to let go of their best writers, which means the Post reader is left with the garble emitted by Nickson. This saddens me; even though I usually disagree with the Post, I always like good intelligent writing, which it once had in abundance. Its degeneration should be a cause for sadness in any thinking person's heart, right, left, or center.

P.S. Another example of the free market favoring the left here.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Animal Farm: Fact or Allegory? 

Fact, says blog:
Animal Farm, long assumed to be an incisive satire of political machinations in Soviet Union, was in fact a documentary novel based on an actual farm in Blackmore Vale, Dorset, where Orwell spent the closing months of 1936:

"'Obviously, he fictionalized the names and some small details,' said Leonard, a matrilineal descendant of the pig on whom the character Snowball was based. 'In that regard it's a lot like what he did with Down and Out in Paris and London. Still, the reality of life on this farm is pretty accurately conveyed, and I don't recall my grandfather having many issues with the finished product.'

Ann Coulter on pop culture: 

Even "Something About Raymond," which I've only seen a few minutes of (and I don't find it particularly funny). Its runaway popularity is because it is one of the rare shows on TV right now that is not about gay men.
She's also a Deadhead.

The hedgehog with the thorn in his side 

In high school I had a hedgehog named (of course) Morrisey. Hedgehogs are really really cute (though not very cuddly pets). Don't believe me? There's pictures here. There's also a fascinating hedgehog fun fact. I'd like to make it known once and for all that fun facts are my favorite kind of facts. Much better than the boring kind.

Operation Plastic Coated Propaganda 

Here, for a change, are leftwing playing cards, titled Operation Hidden Agenda. What is this hidden agenda that the cards speak of? The site does not say, but my guess is that it has something to do with some liquid that rhymes with mohel. The people on the cards overlap with my beloved war hero deck, but these have long explanations about why Colon Powell and the gang are bad. Definitely has better arguments than this deck of cards. And they all have Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam on the back. That's cold.
All proceeds go to various worthy causes including "THOSE PARTICIPATING IN PEACEMAKING AND RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING MISSIONS TO IRAQ." If only America went on Operation Relationship Build. Saddam and Bush could have discussed their personal boundaries, and constructively criticized each other's regimes. Ahh, those decks of cards. What don't they know?
There's a weird disclaimer on the site:"The Only 'Official' US Playing Cards, Don't Be Fooled By Imitations". Why is 'official' in quotation marks? Is this some strange ironic attempt to undermine all other political playing cards, accusing them of imitating this deck? Mysterios. Yet strangely compelling. Angry leftwing, deck, you are now the king of all playing cards. Until another, better deck comes along.
There's more information about how these cards came to be here. They were created by a San Fransisco 'social justice and morality' teacher, who wanted to create her own 'plastic-coated propaganda.' Best of all, they're printed by the same company that makes the Iraq's Most Wanted decks. It almost leads one to think that cardprinters are not motivated by love of their country, but rather by the desire to financially exploit the polarized atmosphere of wartime.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Best rap album ever? 

The best thing about 8 Mile, in my opinion, was the music playing during the film. Sice the movie was set in 1995, it included all the best rap made between 1993 and 1995, without any anachronisms. In many scenes, the music was playing so loud that the audience could not make out any of the dialogue, so that's another thing it had going for it. However, the soundtrack available in stores did not include any of those songs. It had some good stuff, but was mostly standard rap soundtrack filler. How disappointing.
Well, I have some good news for you. The soundtrack sequel is, for the first time in the long history of soundtrack sequels, better than the original. It's like a great rap mixtape, with one classic after another. It starts with Shook Ones, with its beautifully menacing intro that was used so well in the movie. Then there's Juicy, Player's Ball, Shimmy Shimmy Ya, CREAM...
Thank you, More Music from 8 Mile, for bringing joy to an aging rap geeks' heart.

Fear of a yuppie planet 

I went over to Saltspring yesterday. I had to buy Yann Martel's Life of Pi for school, and I was listening to the new White Stripes on my headphones. I started reading the book on the bus (and it's wonderfully written, and has a good 'this is all true' framing device). It was a hot day and there was a Starbucks next to my bus stop, so I went in and bought an iced coffee. I then sat down outside sipping my iced coffee and reached for Life of Pi, when it hit me: I've become a yuppie stereotype. At 22. My music, drink, and reading material are all absurdly trendy. So I read The Master and Margarita instead. My image is a fragile thing.

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