It Wasn’t A Crime, It Was A Strategy

In case you missed the President’s speech this evening, here is a summary:

“September 11, 2001.”


“Well, enough about that. Let’s talk about my failed foreign policy.”

My favorite line was “If we yield Iraq to men like bin Laden, our enemies will be emboldened; they will gain a new safe haven; they will use Iraq’s resources to fuel their extremist movement.”

Oo that was crafty of you, getting Haliburton in there early to siphon off as many of those dangerous resources as possible.

Factual Inaccuracies In The Path To 9/11

I was among the rabid right-wing bloggers fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of the ABC / Disney miniseries The Path To 9/11. While I applauded the filmmakers for bringing to light some hard truths regarding the attacks (where “hard” is defined as “un-“), I feel obligated to point out a few minor errors and inconsistencies:

  • The Starr Report alleged that President Bill Clinton engaged in oral sex with Monica Lewinsky, not Zacarias Moussaoui (though it’s easy to see how the two names could get mixed up).
  • Evidence that the Taliban was founded by Tipper Gore is circumstantial at best.
  • There is no record of Madeleine Albright describing the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole as “more of a prank, really” and dismissing it as “no big deal.”
  • Michael Moore spent most of 2001 working on his film Bowling For Columbine, so it’s unlikely he could have found time to give the 9/11 hijackers flying lessons.
  • The scene in which Howard Dean punches Jesus is a dramatization.
  • The cockpit recordings from United Airlines Flight 175 have never been released, so there’s no verification that that the last voice heard is a terrorist saying “this message brought to you by”
  • Blooper! When the Clintons are in bed and Bill is reading to Hillary “to get her in the mood” he is holding Mein Kampf upside-down.
  • The 9/11 Commission did not conclude that citizens could guard against future attacks by purchasing Lilo & Stitch DVDs.
  • Sandy Berger and Osama bin Laden were not the co-stars of the 1983 hit comedy “Bosom Buddies,” so it’s unclear how they could have “forged a strong and lifelong friendship” while serving as such.
  • The finale, in which Bush crashes Airforce One into a remote Afghan stronghold, emerges unscathed from the wreckage, and defeats Al Qaeda using nunchucks and pyrokinesis, is actually a composite of several different events.

Lost And Confound

I went to an oral surgeon today. Yeah, don’t ask. I will say that this wasn’t the visit where they actually do the work, this was the one where they tell you how much the subsequent visit is going to cost. What a great racket, dentistry. At least kidnappers have to go through the trouble of cutting letters out of newspaper to make a ransom note; oral surgeons just tap your teeth with a miniature pick for thirty seconds and then demand a suitcase full of unmarked hundred dollar bills if you ever see your bicuspids again. As a kid I got 50¢ for each tooth that fell out; now I have to pony up a grand for each one I wanna keep.

Anyway, I also had to fill out a bunch of forms. One was a seemingly standard questionnaire, will all sorts of predictable queries like “How often do you brush?” and “Do hot or cold beverages cause you discomfort.” But the penultimate question struck me as a bit odd. I read — I kid you not — “How would you feel about losing your teeth?”

Ummm, why do you ask? Is that likely? Is this so you can plan what “collection strategy” your goons will employ if I miss a payment? Or maybe, if someone answers “No biggie,” they let Mycroft the intern handle that patient’s bridgework.

Honestly, I had no idea what to write? “That would be a bummer” just didn’t seem to do the question justice. Ultimately I left it blank, though not before considering “Relieved that I would no longer have to answer questions this stupid.”

I Like Like

This afternoon my local NPR station had a program devoted to language — specifically, which words people love and hate. As with most things in this world, the hate:love ratio was skewed heavily in favor of the former. For every person calmly rhapsodizing about the beauty of “loquacious,” there were half a dozen Angry Grammarians incensed by “very unique” and railing against “I could care less.”

I’m amazed by how worked up people get over this stuff. Yes, I have long disliked the misuse of “literally,” dating back to my first day of college when my English 101 professor said the school had so many new student that it was “literally bursting at the seams,” but my emotional response pretty much tops out at “slightly annoyed”. Some of the folks calling into the program, meanwhile, sounded like they were ready to knife the next person to mix up “imply” and “infer.” And nearly all of them claimed that their linguistic pet peeve drove them crazy or drove them nuts. After a while I felt like calling in and saying, “You know what drives me crazy? People who equate the steady deterioration of mental health with a mild irritation over the use of “irregardless.”

The usual whipping boy in these lexical bitchfests is the word “like.” Everyone lambasts the word as meaningless filler, abused by unintelligible mumblers who can’t string together three words without having to stall for time. It’s ironic* that a word meaning “affection” gets so little.

Me, I like like. I think it’s a great word. And I suspect that those who dismiss it as vacuous are not listening to how it is actually used.

In truth, like has a fairly well-defined a widely understood meaning when used in conversation. It signals that the facts being related are guesswork and hyperbole, or that the dialogue being recounted is a paraphrase at best. It serves as a warning to the listener: Caveat Emptor.

Really, “like” is more than just a word — it is practically a auxiliary verb that puts the entire statement into a new tense. Call it the “Past Approximate.” If someone tells you they once ate fourteen eggs in one sitting, you recognize that is a boast; if someone says they ate, like, fourteen eggs, you know instinctively that the number was probably closer to five.

Critics of “like” point to it’s excessive use by youth as proof that every successive generation is getting dumber. The must be used judiciously, to be sure — I also like the word “callipygian,” but wouldn’t want to hear it six times in a sentence (well, depends on the sentence, I guess).. But perhaps widespread use of the Present, Past, and Future Approximate tense actually demonstrates the opposite, that kids today are more comfortable with nuance and subtlety than their forefathers, more aware that anything communicated by something as clumsy as speech can only come within spitting distance of reality.

* Send enraged screeds about my inappropriate usage of “ironic” to

Highest Form Of Flattery

defective yeti … IN THE NEWS!

As far as the judge was concerned, the paper he ordered Brandon Dickens to write as punishment for ducking jury duty was plagiarized ...

Dickens, formerly of Tyrone Township, originally landed in [the judge's] doghouse in June, when he failed to return to jury duty after a lunch break. The judge ordered him to spend three days observing a civil trial and to write a five-page paper on the history of jury service.

When Dickens turned in the paper Aug. 30, a court employee recognized phrases from something else the employee had read previously. An Internet search showed many of the phrases came word for word from "Trials and Tribulations," a story by Seattle writer Matthew Baldwin that appeared in an online magazine, The Morning News ...

Apparently I’m an inspiration to an entire generation of civic duty shirkers. Makes a guy feel are warm inside.

The story first appeared in the Livingston Daily and was subsequentially picked up by AP. Jennifer and Patrick were the first of many to send it my way, and thanks for that.

In forwarding the story, one reader said “his has got to be a sign of the quality of your writing.” Well, that’s one interpretation. Another is that Mr. Dickens just plugged the phrase “stuck in jury duty goddammit” into Google and swiped the first result.

Friday Afternoon Scratchpad




Jesus Christ, these bloggers are getting more aggressive every year.

Sorry, Man

Sorry, Man


Because I am a staunch opponent of animal cruelty, I’ve decided to stop using KY jelly. I recently learned that it is made by taking an adorable little ducky and cutting off its first three letters.


Porn Films For Robosexuals

Some Like It Bot
Rebel Without A Program
Output Anything
Uncanny Valley of the Dolls
The Old Man and the PC
Anode What You Did Last Summer
Cool Grasping Mechanism Luke
Neural Network
Cape Amphere
Schindler’s Array
The Cogfather
A Roomba With A View
In the Heat Of The Byte
An Affair To Cache
Chariots of Wire
Men In #000000
The Best Gears Of Our Lives

The Bad Review Revue

Trust The Man: “Opening a film with a small child straining on a toilet and talking about poop isnt just a bad idea; its an invitation to unfortunate metaphor.” — Manohla Dargis, New York Times

Zoom: “The director of Zoom is Peter Hewitt, who also directed Garfield. Nothing more to say about that.” — Stephen Williams

Crossover: “The entire movie seems to have about the same budget as a 30-second sneaker commercial. I’m not talking Nike, either. I’m talking a commercial for Steve’s Second-Hand Sneaker World and Falafel Emporium that you’d see on NY1 News at 3:08 a.m.” — Kyle Smith, NEW YORK POST

Accepted: “As wild as a sixth-grade prom.” — Rene Rodriguez, MIAMI HERALD

Material Girl: “You’ll find yourself longing for the intricate plotting and ensemble acting skills of an Olsen twins movie.” –Luke Y. Thompson

John Tucker Must Die: “Whatever the target demographic was in pre-production, now it’s limited to sexually active 14-year-olds still retaking the sixth grade.” — Michael Atkinson, VILLAGE VOICE

Beerfest: “If you like to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, you’ll probably like this movie. If you’re a cognac person, the scene where the great-grandmother performs a sex act on a sausage may not be refined enough for your tastes.” — Peter Hartlaub, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE