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Thursday, January 22, 2004
In celebration of the Year of the Monkey, we're outta here.

Yes, it's true, the long-promised move to Movable Type has at last been completed.

The new URL is

Update your links.

Click Here to go now.

Go on. Don't be afraid.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
It's the Year of the Green Wooden Monkey!

The site linked to above claims the Chinese New Year started at 13:05 Pacific Time, with is 10:05 Eastern Time, which makes no sense. It starts on January 22nd in China.

So for the purposes of the monkeys here, the Year of the Monkey begins when we say it does.

We'll let you know.

Smile and grin at the change all around

Forgive me if the Dean howl/bray thing is completely played out. I just haven't had my say about it yet, outside of an email or two. What struck me is that I haven't heard anybody put that sound clip in place of / alongside the screechy climactic "Yeeaaaaaaaaaaaa" near the end of The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again."

[pause for effect]

Given its vaguely political (okay, "revolutionary") lyrics, I don't think I'll ever be able to listen to that song in the same way again.

Monkey Lies!I was lied to by my fellow Monkeys. Lied to, I tells ya. Ben and David both assured me that Boodles Gin has a side-effect that can best be described as "hallucinogenic". Well, I'm here to testify that last Saturday evening I had "enough" Boodles-based martinis, and there was not a hallucination to be found. In fact, I find both the taste and effect of Bombay Sapphire to be much more satisfying.

How much of that stuff do you have to drink to see monkeys fly, clocks melt, and Howard Dean self-destruct?

Speaking of lies, I did NOT lie about how long the "I'll miss you most of all, Scarecrow" portion of "The Return of The King" lasted. I went to see the movie again last Saturday and I timed it. Twenty minutes, almost to the second, between the time Frodo wakes up at Auntie Em's house and the point where The Cowardly Lion Sam arrives home to spawn a baker's dozen little hobbits. Yawn! The movie was a little better the second time, though.

Monkey MailIn an off-line e-mail, R.B. Monkey sent this paragraph:

> Robb, in your 2004 post you could have included _the airing_ of the
> one-time Alarm reunion (though it was obviously taped in '03). I
> watched the Berlin reunion. It was a fun program. Terri Nunn looks
> almost better than ever.

Interesting. Usually, the opposite is true. Examples:

1. Debbie Harry
2. Heart
3. Exene Cervenka (who was not exactly heart-stopping to begin with)

I saw the reunited X twice last year, and the second time we were so close to the stage that, well, I pretty much wished I wasn't so close to the stage. I shudder to think what Johnette from Concrete Blonde looks like now, because she was damn scary in her prime. Siouxsie seems to have weathered the storm, though, if the picture on the cover of a 2002 DVD performance is any indication.

I'm holding off judgement on the Alarm thing until I hear it. Unlike Mitch, I thought the Alarm had one good EP and album, followed by one "pretty good" album (Strength) and about three total pieces of shite. Hopefully Mike Peters has grown up and settled down a little, because the stage banter was just embarrassing.

Year of the Monkey MadnessOkay, three musical reasons why the Year of the Monkey is already shaping up to be a great year:

1. The Pixies (all four members) are back together
2. Camper Van Beethoven will be releasing a new album this year
3. Tony Levin is back in King Crimson

These are very "retro" delights, to be sure, but when exciting things are happening with three of my Favorite Bands Ever, I can't help but assume there's Monkey Madness behind it.

So I'm reading this story about jury selection for the Martha Stewart trial. if there is one trial that its easy to get out of, it would be this one:
One potential juror answered in the questionnaire that he did not trust Stewart. In a follow-up interview, he told the judge: "Sometimes people that are — that are powerful are not so trustworthy." He was disqualified from the jury.

Or this lady:

"A woman reported that she worked on the trading desk at a securities firm where the Stewart case is talked about "very regularly" and said she would have trouble ignoring news reports about the trial.

"She was disqualified. But before she left the judge's private robing room, according to the transcript, she addressed "the defendant" — presumably Stewart — and said: "I am a huge fan of yours. Good luck.""

These people didn't try enough:

"One woman was allowed to continue after saying she did not believe the government was doing enough to prosecute corporate scandals. And a man was cleared even after saying he believed money, in some cases, could buy justice."

TomorrowYear of the Monkey(s)

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year. The first day of the Year of the Monkey. I wonder if anything interesting will happen. Will we do anything to celebrate? Time will tell.

A Quiet Revolution

The subhead from this London Guardian story almost says it all: "Even Beethoven's Ninth could be at risk from Brussels bureaucrats." At issue are the European Union's new workplace noise-reduction rules. Orchestras across Europe are trying to figure out how to comply with the regulations, but "It is no exaggeration to say that the directive has the potential to change the orchestral repertoire as we know it, and to alter the nature of concerts as they have existed for over a century." Evidently, the musician unions have been complaining about this for quite some time, and not without reason. As an erstwhile drummer and heavy-metal concertgoer, I live with a (relatively) mild case of tinnitus. After awhile, I figured out that I could save myself a lot of pain by investing 50 cents in a pair of earplugs. I don't understand why the musicians most vulnerable to hearing damage simply don't do the same. You can still hear. And you don't need a contract provision or a government regulation to tell you the obvious. Unless you're European, I guess.

That Running Man is Burning!

Jam..., er, the Chosen..., ah, I mean, Dr. Monkeystein took another hit off the bong and wrote: "And David, well he turned to collecting DVDs and running around naked playing bongos at Running Man."

Running Man. Yeah. If that were true, I could see dropping the 500 bucks for a ticket. Hell, I'd pay 600.

Which reminds me of one of my all-time favorite Joe Rogan lines: "TV is now officially out of control, and I couldn't be happier. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: were about 3 seasons away from 'The Running Man.' If that happens and I get to host it, my life's work will be complete." (Not quite right: He wrote that in January 2001. But give it time. Give it time.)

Update: Monkeystein, that foul revisionist, has corrected his post. It was funnier the first time! What gets purged and airbrushed out of the record next, Monkeystein? How far—how low—will you go?

My Articles Have Less Carbs Than Any of the Other Monkeys

So I guess "low-carb" is the new "low fat"-- all the new products will proclaim that they are "low carb! low carb! low carb!" Take it from Dr. Monkeystein-- a man who lost 100 pounds-- there are no magic bullets, there are no gimmicks that will make lose weight faster or whatever. Losing takes patience, common sense, toughness, creativity, exercise, and a sensible diet.

I am a Prophet, Or at least Psychic....

The front page of The New York Post says it all. One moment I'm comparing Howard Dean to the Frankenstein monster, and the next thing you know he's acting like him.

Y'know who I feel sorry for? The kids. Those young deluded Howard Dean supporters. For one bright and shining moment, they actually thought they could change the world. But they learned the cruelest lesson of youth-- the lesson we Monkeys learned so many years ago -- no you can't, I mean change the world.

Many a bottle of Irish whiskey was consumed to drown that bitter truth. Ben, drank the most of course. I turned to strippers, marijuana and ecstacy to deal with it. And David, well he turned to collecting DVDs and running around naked playing bongos at Burning Man.

It's a lesson every generation must learn. It'll be interesting to see how the Dean kids REACT.

Bill MaherItem one: Bill Maher is an idiot.
Item two: When did Ron Silver turn into a hawk?
Item three: Why am I watching this?

Tuesday, January 20, 2004
State of the Union

Frankly, I was shocked that President Bush implemented martial law. I mean, what's the point? But I was truly sickened when he ran the Bill of Rights through a paper shredder. That was over the line.

The Curse of Dr. Monkeystein, Part II

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: [To HOWARD DEAN] Hello handsome! You're a good looking fellow, do you know that? People laugh at you, people hate you, but why do they hate you? Because... they are jealous! Look at that boyish face. Look at that sweet smile. Do you wanna talk about physical strength? Do you want to talk about the Olympian ideal? You are a God! And listen to me Howard, you are not evil. You... are... good!

[HOWARD DEAN starts to cry, and DR. MONKEYSTEIN hugs him]

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: This is a nice boy. This is a good boy. This is a mother's angel. And I want the world to know once and for all, and without any shame, that we love him! I'm going to teach you. I'm going to show you how to walk, how to speak, how to move, how to think. Together, you and I are going to make the greatest single contribution to politics since the creation of bumper stickers!


The Curse of Dr. Monkeystein, Part III

[A mob of angry Democrats with torches storm Dr. Monkeystein's castle.]

MOB: To the castle! Kill them both!

[int-- Dr. Monkeystein's laboratory. The Doctor has hooked up Howard to some sort of machine.]

FRAULEIN LINA: Oh, Dr. Monkeystein what will this machine do?

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: I hope to connect our brains and in doing so moderate the monster's views and message.

FRAULEIN LINA: Ooh, it sounds dangerous.

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: It is baby.


[FRAULEIN LINA and HUNCHBACK DAVID start the process... Meanwhile the angry Democratic Mob is attempting to knock down the front door of Dr. Monkeystein's castle. ]

MOB: Kill them! Kill that doctor! Kill the monster! Tear them both to pieces!

[After a few minutes of trying they finally and they rush to Dr. Monkeystein's lab.]

MOB MEMBER: (seeing Dr. Monkeystein lying on his table) Here's that crackpot doctor. Let's get him first!

[The Villagers hold Dr. Monkeystein up, over their shoulders, yelling and screaming. They start off with him.]

A GIANT VOICE: Put that man down!
[Everyone quiets down and turns towards the Voice. There, on his operating table -- holding the removed tubes from his head -- sits the Monster, Howard Dean.]

AN OLD WOMAN:'s the monster!

JOHN KERRY: No, it couldn't be.

HILLARY CLINTON: Yes it is. It must be.

HOWARD DEAN: I said: Put that man down!

[ The frightened Villagers carry Dr. Monkeystein back to his table and lay him down.]

HOWARD DEAN: For as long as I can remember people have hated me. They looked at my face and my body and they ran away in horror. In my loneliness I decided that if I could not inspire love, which is my deepest hope, I would instead cause fear. I live because this poor half-crazed genius, has given me life. He alone held an image of me as something beautiful and then, when it would have been easy enough to stay out of danger, he used his own body as a guinie pig to give me more moderate political beliefs and a somewhat more sophisticated way of expressing myself.

Putting Iowa Into Perspective

By Dr. Frederick Monkeystein

I'm really disappointed the Howard Dean thing didn't work out. Could you have imagined THE FEAR of Democratic Party establishment had he won? Remember what the Bushies did to John McCain before Southern Tuesday in 2000? That's what will have to be done to Dean. And I'm convinced they're still gonna do it. They have to-- as message to any other Democratic interloper with crazy ideas-- "if you don't play ball, this will happen to YOU."

Basically what I'm talking about is the destruction of Howard Dean. His political career is over. The Democratic faithful will make sure of that. And Hillary Clinton's fingerprints are all over this. She knows what she doing. John Kerry-- like he has a shot against Bush. Kerry won't make any noise in South. And John Edwards, a lightweight.

Hillary is playing her cards well. Dean was a threat to her in a way the others weren't. That's why she-- oops, The Democratic Party-- must destroy him.

I'm Not an Economist, But I Play One on My Blog

By Dr. Frederick Monkeystein

Now on to other matters. One of other Monkeys, who shall go nameless, proposed a national salestax to fund the federal government. Here again, I quote the ramblings of a mad man:
Problem #2: The tax system sucks. Paying taxes on our income is absurd. The most "law-abiding citizens" get screwed by income taxes. Taxation, whatever there is of it, should be based on consumption, and be collected at the point of sale. Will "black market" transactions take place? Sure, but I don't think significantly more than they do now. People don't want to buy a couch or even a beer in a back alley somewhere. They want to go to the mall and shop.
Dr. Monkeystein would now like to point to today's front page of The Wall Street Journal-- jut to show how insane unnamed monkey's idea would be:
Payback Time
Government Pushed Plastic
To Juice Up Economy
Banks, Borrowers Suffer
Obviously, Unnamed Monkey was serving as economic advisor to the South Korean government. Which he should not have. He is not an economist. And a Kenseyian, which should tell you everything you need to know about Unnamed Monkey.

I telll you something else about Unnamed Monkey. He doesn't know who Paul Romer is.

I go: "Hey, Unnamed Monkey, did you read that new Paul Romer paper?"

"Who's Paul Romer?"

"He's an economist from Stanford University. Haven't you ever heard of new growth theory?"

"What's new growth theory?"

"You are advising the South Korean government on how to stimulate their economy, and you don't know about new growth theory? Get out of my offfice."

Anyhow people, do not take financial advice from Unnamed Monkey. If Unnamed Monkey comes up to you with a "once in lifetime opportunity"-- do not give him any money. If Unnamed Monkey comes up to you with a hot stock tip. Don't take his advice. Dr. Monkeystein has warned you.


Drudge has a short audio clip of Dean's prima... er, howl of madness. Be advised: It's profoundly disturbing. He sounds to me like a wounded animal caught in a snare.

Churchill's Parrot: "F--- the Nazis!"

Peter Schramm at No Left Turns alerted me to this delightful story about Winston Churchill's parrot, which is still alive and swearing at the scruffy age of 104. A couple of choice bits:
Her favourite sayings were "F*** Hitler" and "F*** the Nazis". And even today, 39 years after the great man's death, she can still be coaxed into repeating them with that unmistakable Churchillian inflection. Many an admiral or peer of the realm was shocked by the tirade from the bird's cage during crisis meetings with the PM....

...Peter Oram bought her for his pet shop after Churchill died in 1965. But he was forced to move her into his home after she kept swearing at children.

Crazy For Feeling So Blue...

Loyal Infinite Monkeys reader Guy points out Jonah Goldberg's take on the Dean craziness last night:
He then let loose what could only be called a primal scream: ?YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAGGGHHHHHH!?

Okay it could be called other things too. But whatever it was, he sounded like he meant to go to a proctologist but accidentally visited a chimney sweep instead.
This is indeed funny, but after thinking for a moment, I'm offended. "Primal scream"? No, no--primal screams are what monkeys do. Speaking for monkeys--as I always do, as sadly too many have no voice--what Dean did was not primal. It was crazy, batty, daft, potty, lunatic, mad, manic, nuts, screwy, unbalanced, wacked, koo-koo for Coco Puffs, off the deep end...but not primal.

And, yes, Dean saw the bunnies, George.

I just get at the irony of the situation: Iraqi women will have had more rights under Saddam Hussein than they do after American intervention. Shame on you President Bush.

So I was poking around over at the Ayatolla Sistani's website. And man, let me tell you something-- Iraqi women are screwed. And I'll tell you something else: Theocracy. It's coming to Iraq. And I can't believe my tax dollars are paying for it. The Bush administarion is getting played out big time by Sistani. Big time man. It's obvious to me that they are so afraid of the guy, and they so want to get out of Iraq badly, that they are willing to concede to anything at this point. Including I'm forcing Iraqi women to wear hijabs.

Monday, January 19, 2004
Well, I got sucked into Evangelical Outpost's question of the week:

What are some of the misperceptions that people have about evangelicals?

As an example, Joe offered, "Many people mistakenly believe that most evangelicals (75%) are premillenial dispensationalists." Many of the comments focus on this example.

Not to get bogged down on eschatology (I know it was just an example), but if you exclude denominations that are arguably heterodox (Oneness Pentacostals and other Unitarians, Mainline denominations that refuse to make their clergy affirm basic "settled" tenets such as the virgin birth, diety of Christ, etc.) and Catholics & Orthodox, who haven't traditionally been labeled "evangelical", then I think you do probably find dispensationalism to be the majority report, at least in America. And the high-profile folks probably tilt the perception even further. Myself, I'm somewhere between amillennial and postmillennial, but I was raised dispensational, and most of the largest churches in the west are at least nominally dispensational.

But what do many folks (particularly non-Christians) perceive about evangelicals? That we define ourselves by what we are "against". Evangelicals are against homosexuality. We are against abortion. We are against pre- and extra-marital sex. Maybe we're against ordaining women. Perhaps we're against smoking, drinking, drugs, dancing, or playing cards. Don't forget that filthy rock and roll music. Unless we live in the South, we're probably against anybody who identifies themselves as a Democrat. Just examples, but telling examples.

So what if we're against those things, right? Doesn't the Bible say God is displeased by those things? In some (fewer than you'd think) cases, yes, but I think it is a major problem that Christianity is identified by the things it's against, rather than what it is for. Why aren't we identified by our above-average propensity to forgive injustices done to us? By our tendency to avoid settling matters in courtrooms? By our extraordinarily ethical business practices? Why are Christians not perceived to be agents of God's grace on this earth?

Yes, we're all sinners, but if that's the case, then shouldn't we be seen as particularly aware of our own shortcomings, rather than just pointing out those of others? As I heard one (very conservative Reformed) pastor say, "Moralism obscures the gospel." I think about this a lot, and I really agree. Yes, we should engage the culture intellectually and by other means. We should talk about right and wrong. But more than that, we should be agents of grace. Influence with positive action instead of negative. Be known for our love instead of our self-righteousness.

I speak to myself, of course, as much as I do to others. May we all find the grace to reflect God's image accurately.

See Ya Later, Dick

Gephardt? Out. By Friday. If not sooner.

Oh, Dear God, No

Kerry takes Iowa. I can almost live with that. But John Edwards in second? The mind reels...

The Vaunted Dean... er, Kerry Juggernaut

How is it possible that Sen. John Kerry is poised to overtake Howard Dean's "big mo" in Iowa and New Hampshire? Not his winning personality, that's for sure. I'm not sure Kerry can pull it out. But if he does, the real reason will be in no small part due to a Keyser Soze-like figure named Michael Whouley. The New Republic's Michael Crowley has the story. (Link via Sullivan, who has his own take on what's happening in Iowa.)

A Sea-Change at the Wall Street Journal?

Doubtful. But it's not every day you see an article such as this published on its venerable (and, incidentally, pro-immigration, pro-open borders) opinion page.

Christmastime Is (Still) Here

I'd like to think I have the Christmas spirit 365-days-a-year. Oh, if only it were true. Not only would I be a better man, it also would help explain why all of our Christmas stuff is still up, 13 days after the 12th day of Christmas.

Turns out, we're not the only ones.

It's Pun-tastic!

Check out today's Best of the Web. Taranto has really out done himself. I have no more puns to offer. He's used them all.

It's Anybody's Race...

Current temperature in Iowa City, Iowa: 11 degrees F. Outlook for today: High 17F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.
Monday night: Mainly cloudy. Low around 5F. Winds light and variable. In other words, a nice day for a caucus. And no snow is expected until Wednesday. Dean better hope his maniacs are more organized than the pros over at the Kerry and Gephardt camps. I may be kicking myself tomorrow for not sending that 10 bucks I promised back in November.

Sunday, January 18, 2004
I'm not entirely convinced by the Iowa polls (Mickey Kaus discussed this on Thursday), but it does seem like the Democrats may have come to their senses. What was supposed to be an easy stroll into paradise for Dean may become an "Of Mice and Men" moment, with the Democratic party saying, "Do you see the bunnies, Howard? Tell me about the bunnies..."

Keats & Yeats, etc.

In light of the descriptions in my quiz results just below, I feel compelled to post these quotations. They do not prove beyond all measure that these particular founding fathers were devout Christians squarely within the bounds of traditional Orthodoxy. But they should serve to give our James (The Chosen Monkey," "Dr. Monkeystein") pause in the points he repeatedly supports by citing several quotes critical of the church.

Jefferson in a letter to Moses Robinson (March 23, 1801):
…The Christian Religion, when divested of the rags in which they (the clergy) have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of its benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind.
James Madison, in a letter to William Bradford (September 25, 1773):
I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way.
And on Franklin:
     Toward the end of his life Benjamin Franklin wrote the following letter to Robert R. Livingston, which reveals a strong faith in God:
I am now entering on my 78th year; I wish now to be, for the little time I have left, my own master. If I live to see this peace concluded, I shall beg leave to remind the Congress of their promise, then to dismiss me. I shall be happy to sing with old Simeon, “Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”
     In 1790, after a full, long and useful life, Franklin’s mortal remains, according to the terms of his will, were laid to rest in the burial grounds of Christ Church, Philadelphia, later dubbed “the Nation’s Church” because of the pivotal role played by members of this church leading to the birth of the nation.
Franklin was also a friend of the well known 18th century evangelist George Whitefield, whose sermons Franklin made a point of listening to, "[so] often, I came to distinguish easily between sermons newly compos'd, and those which he had often preach'd in the course of his travels."

I bring these citations up for the purpose of challenging James' claims that these men were purely "Men of Reason" who thought the faithful "rubes," were essentially hostile to matters of faith, and were dismissive of matters Christian. But beyond this handful and the few true "deists," I wish to point out that much of the remainder of those we recognize as our Founders openly embraced Christianity. Blogger Joshua Claybourn, in this IDS News article, has a brief description of some of the information that I used to have handy, but can't find in my jumbled mess of materials at home:
Out of 250 Founding Fathers, only three were deists, or not religious. That leaves 247 others who were wholly Christian.

In fact, of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 27 of them held seminary degrees or Bible school degrees. In his first official act, President George Washington did the unthinkable: He prayed in public. "Most" of the founding fathers were actually Christians, and they merely reflected a faith held by "most" of the country.
I've also run across an interesting page, called A Table of the Religious Affiliations of American Founders. It's a bit low-tech, with a sort of ASCII table layout, but it's an assembly of information that I've never seen anywhere else. It's quite an undertaking by a fellow named Ian Dorion.

Perseverance of the Quizzes

Over at Evangelical Outpost (it's daily reading now), I found another quiz. Must. Take. Quiz. First time through:

"What a mystery is this, that Christianity should have done so little good in the world!
Can any account of this be given? Can any reasons be assigned for it?"
You are John Wesley!
When things don't sit well with you, you make a big production and argue your way through everything.
You complain a lot, but, at least you are a thinker and not afraid to show it. You are also pretty
liked by people, and pretty methodological about your life and goals. You know where you're going.
Some people find you irritating, so watch out for people leaving you out of things they do.

Hmmm, parts of that seem accurate, but Wesley? Aw, man... And you know how these quizzes are: there are always a couple of questions that have some multiple choice options with two answers that are really hard to choose between. So I retook the quiz and chose the alternate tough-choice answers. Here's how it turned out.

"Sin is incurable by the strength of man, nor does free will have any validity here,
so that even the saints say: 'The evil which I do not wish, this I do.' 'You are not doing the
things which you wish.' 'Since my loins are filled with illusions,' etc."

You are Martin Luther!

Yeah, you have a way of letting everyone know how you
feel, usually with Bible quotes attached, and will think your way through the issues, although
sometimes you make no sense! You aren't always sure of yourself, and you can change your mind about
things, something you actually consider a strength. You can take solitude, especially with some music.

What theologian are you?

A creation of Henderson

Friday, January 16, 2004
Friendly Advice for a Bartender (You Know Who You Are)

First, a Manhattan is not a Martini with bourbon instead of gin or vodka. A Manhattan, in other words, is not a glass of cold bourbon with a spritz of sweet vermouth and a cherry in it. A Manhattan, properly understood, is two parts bourbon (although rye is preferred) to one part sweet vermouth. I know this isn't what you were taught in bartending school. Trust me, it's the right way to make the drink. No point in arguing. Really, no point at all.

Second, a Kahlua-and-cream is not a shot of Kahlua with cream on the side, no ice. It's actually a very simple drink to make: just put some ice in an old-fashioned glass (to clarify: "an" in this case is singular; it means "one"), add an ounce or two of Kahlua, and top it off with half-and-half or whatever. It ain't rocket science, chum.

Assimilate those two simple things, and I guarantee that next time you'll get a better tip.


[INT-- DR. MONKEYSTEIN's Think Tank]

BEN: I hear you're doing some groundbreaking research Dr. Monkeystein...

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: Yes... yes I am. Would like to see what I'm doing?

BEN: Of course.

[DR. MONKEYSTEIN takes BEN to his secret laboratory.]

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: You're quite sure you want to come in? ...Very well.

[DR. MONKEYSTEIN locks door and pockets key.]

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: Forgive me, but I'm forced to take unusual precautions.

[DR. MONKEYSTEIN and BEN walk down lomg row of stairs. At the end they are met by the humpback DAVID.]

DAVID: Master, everything is ready.


[DR. MONKEYSTEIN gives DAVID a treat and then they enter the secret laboraory. There are various large machines humming, ecectricity flowing from them, and LED lights flickering. In jars are various body parts and organs.]

BEN: Dr. Monkeystein, what is this?

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: I have decided to create the perfect Democratic candidate to run against President Bush in the fall. We've stolen body parts from various morgues across the country. Tennesse, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Vermont, Iowa. Swing states.

BEN: This is dangerous! You don't know the political consequences of your actions!

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: Dangerous? You poor old fool. Have you never wanted to do anything that was dangerous? Where should we be if no one tried to find out what lies beyond? Have your never wanted to look beyond the clouds and the stars, or to know what causes the trees to bud? And what changes the darkness into light?

[DR. MONKEYSTEIN and DAVID both adjust knobs on a machine.]

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: But if you talk like that, people call you crazy. Well, if I could discover just one of these things, what eternity is, for example, I wouldn't care if they did think I was crazy. The brain you stole, Ben. Think of it. The brain of a dead man waiting to live again in a body I made with my own hands! And to implement my policies-- both domestic and abroad.

BEN: You're crazy!

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: Crazy, am I? We'll see whether I'm crazy or not. David, begin the process.

[Suddenly, a crack of electricity shoots into the body underneatch the sheet. Again and again. And again.]

BEN: It didn't work.

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: No! Nooooooo!

[DR. MONKEYSTEIN begins sobbing.]

BEN: Now, now Doctor. You should have known better-- there is no perfect Democratic candidate.

[Suddenly the body moves.]

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE!

BEN: In the name of God!

DR. MONKEYSTEIN: Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!

[DR. MONKEYSTEIN unbuckles the creature from the straps holding it. It rises and the sheet falls away from its face to reveal it is HOWARD DEAN.]

BEN: You've created a monster! It'll destroy us all!!!!


Word of the Day

If I'm not mistaken, "Kanaga" is Aleut for "Ka-BOOM!"

Oh, wait, you wanted to know about "Kananga." Isn't that some guy who runs one of those Nigerian banking scams?

Today's word of the day is... Kananga. Can anyone tell me who Kanaga is?

Thursday, January 15, 2004
Radio! Is! Time!

It's almost a week now since I had XM installed in the Black Mariah (Hmmm. I'm still not quite certain about that name). Early verdict: far better than expected. Better than FM, easily. But the real surprise is that it may threaten to make AM talk radio dispensable, too.

Why? For starters, I can get the Phil Hendrie Show live. See, in L.A., Hendrie's show is tape-delayed. It airs on KFI from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. I'm home by then, most days. But on XM, Hendrie's on live from 4:00 to 7:00, so I can listen to him on the drive home. Ideally, I'd listen to Colonel Slanders' Olde Tyme Calumny Programme, but his L.A. and Inland Empire affiliates, in their wisdom, cut off his third hour and broadcast Captain Blowhard's Big Angry Bloviation Show instead. Oh, well. Their loss.

But, music-wise, XM blows everything else away. I've said that L.A. radio is a wasteland. How is that possible? L.A. is the second largest radio market in the United States. True. But it's programmed to death. Truly exceptional radio exists in pockets, but the exceptions only prove the rule. Jim Ladd on KLOS has what is probably the last free-form radio show in the country. It's great—especially when Ladd isn't talking. Payal Kumar's "Soul Jazz" show, which airs on KKJZ for three short hours on Saturday nights, is probably the best program on the station and the best of its kind anywhere. Classical music is holding on, barely, although this city's one commercial station has followed the trend of playing more "bleeding chunks" of works to squeeze in more commercials. Such are the demands of commerce. That's why we have CDs. (But that's a discussion for another time.)

And that's about it. Oh, yes, there are a few slices of interesting musical offerings on NPR-affiliates. But I almost never listen to them. I'm not interested. Anyway, XM is better.

When was the last time you heard Rush's "Xanadu" on the radio? I can't remember... until this week, when I heard it twice in as many days. (In fact, if XM has one major drawback, it's the strange repetition. Rick Henderson elaborates on the problem. Why this is the case, I wish I knew. But I'd rather hear "Xanadu" over and over than, say, . . . I don't know . . . whatever Top-40 crap is in heavy rotation now.) When was the last time you heard the 24-minute live jam version of the Allman Brothers' "Whipping Post"? I'd never heard it before this week. But I also heard a lot of music that I don't normally hear anywhere other than my own CD player. If you will excuse the cliche, it was like a breath of fresh air.

Can it get any better than this? Yes. In February, XM is going completely commercial-free. In March, it's adding 24-hour weather and traffic for 15 cities, including L.A. I expect a lot of people think paying $10 a month for radio is stupid. Don't tell the XM guys, but I'd happily pay double . . . especially if they can do something about the repetition.

Update: No sooner than I post this item do I receive quite a shock. I bound out of the office, into the jeep (Primate Wagon?), only to find that Phil Hendrie has been replaced by . . . Captain Blowhard! How can this be?!? Panic and much cursing ensued. I flipped around a bit, thinking I would have to retract everything I said. I listened to an obscure Police song. Listened to Pink Floyd's "Sheep." Then I came to my senses, and flipped back over to the talk and funny channels. Sure enough, the XM guys had moved Hendrie over to "XM Extreme." Thank heavens. I'm not saying I would have done anything rash, like going on a three-state killing spree, or cancelling the service. But, rest assured, I would have written a very stern letter. Very stern indeed.

Update 2: Good Christ, I've rewritten this post nine or 10 times. So many typos. And I wrote the thing sober. The first time, I mean.

You know something, we may just have a fought a war to turn Iraq into Iran? I hope not, but I lost my sense of optimism weeks ago.

So we just put up a lifesize poster of Howard Dean in the office. And let me tell you, he's a little guy. Ben size. I don't think i can vote for a guy who's smaller than Ben. No disrespect to my buddy Ben of course. But still, I don't think I can do it. A President has to be a man of VOLUME! SIZE! STRENGTH! Like David!

Moon for Moon People!

I can see it 200 years from some on the Moon City started by President Bush complain on his blog:

Okay, so we've got an immigration "problem". Among other things, thousands of folks are sneaking onto The Moon, working jobs that most Moon people don't really want, and using our social services without Moon tax.

So what's the problem here?
Problem #1: Too many social services. Getting rid of the illegals is, in this instance, a classic case of treating the symptom and not the disease. Cut programs, cut programs, cut programs. Don't give up on this and start blaming illegal consumers.

Problem #2: The tax system sucks. Paying taxes on our income is absurd. The most "law-abiding citizens" get screwed by income taxes. Taxation, whatever there is of it, should be based on consumption, and be collected at the point of sale. Will "black market" transactions take place? Sure, but I don't think significantly more than they do now. People don't want to buy a couch or even a beer in a back alley somewhere. They want to go to the mall and shop.
I've got to get back to work, but here's my "radical plan", sure to offend economists and other practical people:

1. Let more rockets fly, in both directions

2. Stop delivering Moon social services to people who don't pay taxes

3. Get Mars and Starbase Delta to dump their current currencies and use the Earth Dollar

4. Annex both converting all of their existing states and provinces to Earth Territories

5. Get myself off the moon-- cause digging for moon rocks suck.

Did You Know Your Congressman Loves You?

Great little story about working as an intern in Congress:

"Everyone inside the Beltway knows that for the average citizen to write or call his or her U.S. representative is a waste of time. Period. Yet, through a force as mysterious as gravity, this kind of information stays within the circle. Whenever I hear someone proudly declare that they feel so strongly about an issue, they are going to write to their congresswoman, I say, "Don't bother."

Don't bother, because the only person who's going to read your letter or hear your phone call is an intern, or if you're lucky, a legislative assistant (L.A.), at the bottom of the congressional payroll."

On answering phone calls to the congressman:

"The procedure for handling the Voice of America is as follows: 1. Listen. 2. Agree. 3. Get rid of it by saying 'I'm sorry the congressman was not able to take your call, but I'll be sure to pass along your concerns next time I see him.' "

Problem #2: The tax system sucks. Paying taxes on our income is absurd. The most "law-abiding citizens" get screwed by income taxes. Taxation, whatever there is of it, should be based on consumption, and be collected at the point of sale. Will "black market" transactions take place? Sure, but I don't think significantly more than they do now. People don't want to buy a couch or even a beer in a back alley somewhere. They want to go to the mall and shop.
You've lost your mind. The credit card companies would never go for it. So basically what you're saying is, we can fund our federal and state governments with our credit cards.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004
I would, of course, be remiss if I did not point out the Year of the Monkey Fever.

Lileks Sweatshop Scandal

The tabloid attacks on James Lileks just keep comin'. For years, many have speculated that all of the output from the purported columnist / blogger / author / super-dad / site-redesigner / collector / traveller / obscure hipster / radio man / over-achieving ultra-organizer could not possibly be the work of just one man. Rumors were whispered about outsourcing. Tech geeks chatted about robots or clones. Children told tales of elves. But this photograph recently smuggled out of the tunnels under Jasperwood explains it all.

AthensA late-breaking plug for the DVD edition of the delightful film "Athens, GA Inside/Out". I always loved this movie about the mid-80's music scene in the town that is home to the University of Georgia, but it's been out of print for years. I paid $40 for a good copy on VHS just a year ago. Well, in true Murphy's law fashion, it was re-released in 2003 on DVD with commentary by the director and producer. The commentary was as deliciously low-tech as the movie itself. You won't be able to rent it, but it's definitely worth the purchase.

It's ugly to see what the liberal media is doing to Howard Dean. They want to stop him, whether because they don't believe he can win, or because they just try to tear down every rising star. The ridiculous and offensive "analysis" of his wife staying out of politics, the attempt at a new Troopergate (no, no links--I'm not dignifying this stuff) is terrible to see, and I'm no fan of Dean. He, and the political process, deserve better.

Vote for the "Smarter Smart Guy"

As you may have read by now, Fraters Libertas is running a poll to determine the best weekly guest on Hugh Hewitt's Daily Cavalcade of Lies and Right-Wing Agitprop. John Eastman, one of the Smart Guys, is currently running neck-and-neck with Frank Gaffney. Now, I know Frank and I like Frank. Let it be said that Gaffney is a good man and a good American. But I also know John, I like him, and above all, I work with him. So I gotta go with the home team. I hope you will do the same. Vote here. And please do it soon. Voting stops tomorrow morning.

ImmigrationOkay, so we've got an immigration "problem". Among other things, thousands of folks are sneaking into America, working jobs that Americans don't really want, and using our social services without paying taxes. So what's the problem here?

Problem #1: Too many social services. Getting rid of the illegals is, in this instance, a classic case of treating the symptom and not the disease. Cut programs, cut programs, cut programs. Don't give up on this and start blaming illegal consumers.

Problem #2: The tax system sucks. Paying taxes on our income is absurd. The most "law-abiding citizens" get screwed by income taxes. Taxation, whatever there is of it, should be based on consumption, and be collected at the point of sale. Will "black market" transactions take place? Sure, but I don't think significantly more than they do now. People don't want to buy a couch or even a beer in a back alley somewhere. They want to go to the mall and shop.

I've got to get back to work, but here's my "radical plan", sure to offend economists and other practical people:

1. Open the borders, in both directions
2. Stop delivering social services to people who don't pay taxes
3. Get Mexico and Canada to dump their current currencies and use the U. S. Dollar
4. Annex both countries, converting all of their existing states and provinces to U. S. Territories

Step 5, "move to Baja" will pretty much take care of itself.

I don't have "venom" for Christianity. Just a healthy skepticism, and I'm not alone:

"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise." --James Madison

"That Jesus Christ was not God is evidence from his own words."-- Ethan Allen

"As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion...has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his Divinity..." --Benjamin Franklin

"The clergy converted the simple teachings of Jesus into an engine for enslaving mankind and adulterated by artificial constructions into a contrivance to filch wealth and power themselves...these clergy, in fact, constitute the real Anti-Christ." --Thomas Jefferson

Keep checkin' in

Thanks for the increase in vistits lately, folks. I've love to post a few ideas/theories/observations, but I've got so many papers to grade. Perhaps over lunch, or after school. Today's staff meeting has been pushed to Friday afternoon (that's what the teachers do when the kids get a half-day-Friday. < Eeyore voice> yee haw < /Eeyore voice>).

Tuesday, January 13, 2004
On Israel

Two years ago, a former friend of mine--a fairly prominent libertarian journalist and writer--suggested that America's goal in the war on terrorism was to "make the world safe for Zionism." I had some difficulty responding to that claim. In the end, I said that "Maybe the U.S. should just cut Israel loose." I'm not sure he understood what I meant, but perhaps our imagined outcomes were the same. He thinks that the United States shouldn't support Israel. I think that the United States should get out of Israel's way. What would that mean? For one thing, Yasser Arafat would cease to draw breath and the Palestinian Authority would no longer exist. For another, the Ba'athist regime of Syria would be consigned to the ash-heap of history in short order. I suspect that Israel would pay a heavy price for taking such a course. Would it be worth it? Yeah, I think so. The one thing the Arabs understand, above all else, is force. Haven't we learned that by now? Well, some of us have.

What the Arabs need is total humiliation. Their leaders need to be killed, and their ideologies (e.g., Wahabism) discredited. I don't know if they're ready for democracy, and I don't care. It doesn't matter. What matters is that they understand that they are, in fact, savages, primitives... losers. And they're going to stay that way, until which time they no longer pose a threat to the Civilized West.

That's what I think, anyway. Unfortunately, that's not the policy of the governments of the United States or Israel. So take all of this with a heavy dose of salt.

Current Drink: Calvados. Current Song: "Walk Away" by Black Sabbath on "Heaven and Hell".

LileksWhy does Lileks have a daughter that's the same age as my girls? So that he can make all of the humorous and poignant observations before they can even congeal in my head, that's why.

I like Spongebob, though. When my girls first started watching it, I thought, "this is a show by pot-heads and for pot-heads", but I have really grown to enjoy the (fairly post-modern) humor. James is right about the commercials, though. Thank God for TiVo. A blessing for the parent that is concerned about their kids' television intake but too spineless (or possibly practical?) to throw the television away. My girls have a library of "parent approved" DVD's, and a generous supply of three shows on TiVo: Spongebob Squarepants, Powerpuff Girls (with the "Him" episodes deleted) and Dora the Explorer. We still have to forward through the commercials, but we don't have to put up with any of the other crap on these channels.

I miss Rolie Polie Olie too, by the way. May he rest in peace. The girls just don't like the Disney Channel morning fare anymore. I tell my wife they're boycotting the network until the wicked Michael Eisner is ousted. They're those kind of children, you know. Principled.

Full belly, empty glassZzzzzzz.....

Oh, hi there. My belly is full, and my glass is empty, so I've just got a few minutes. What? What am I having? Oh, the food was okay. Chinese from this little place in a strip mall not far from my hotel. The Kung Pao chicken was about average - I'm not a fan of zucchini in my Kung Pao, and I prefer more water chestnuts. Also, I asked for "extra spicy", and it didn't really even qualify as "spicy". The pork fried rice was sub-par - not "fried" enough. I blame California for this. I got three fortune cookies, though. Here's what we know: "You will have a long and healthy life." Hmmm. I'm not sure what to think about that. Is that a blessing or a curse? Hard to say. "You have a deep appreciation of the arts and music." Well, I love music, but I'm a complete Philistine. Moving on. "You will always get what you want through your charm and personality." Nothing could be more true. For the next guy.

The wine, however, is excellent. I've praised Trader Joe's before, and it is now a ritual for me to stop there on my way into Rocklin and pick up a couple of bottles of sub-$10 red wine that I've never tried before. Tonight's selection: Amarone della Valpolicella 1998 from Conte Di Bregonzo. I think I paid $9.99 for this bottle, and I don't know much about wine, but so far I haven't been lead astray by "cheap and Italian". Here's a little something I learned about this wine and the Amarone style:
Amarone is an ancient wine style made by the unusual method of letting the grapes dry on racks before committing them to winemaking. The result in this case is rich, ripe brooding fruit with ample complexity added by earth and who knows what. I'll be buying more of this stuff.
Okay, whatever. But it's good beverage.

I've got something French for tomorrow - I'll tell you about it then. Oh, and I picked up a bottle of Boodles British Gin, on the recommendation of fellow Monkeys Ben & David. I'm told this gin has an effect that can only be described as "hallucinogenic". A full report will be delivered on Friday.

So, what have the Monkeys been working on since I left for the airport? Ah, yep, more Paul O'Neill stuff. If you ask me, Paul O'Neill can commit no crime greater than going on walkabout in Africa with Bono. But I thought he made [she who must not be named] look really silly on the Today show this morning.

Anyway, what else? Oh, James doesn't care for the "evangelicals". No new news there. This is a tough issue - on the one hand, I don't really care for most "evangelicals" either. On the other hand, I hate to see the decay of the language. Equivocating protestantism and the particularly kooky Pat Robertson/Tim LaHaye/etc. brand that gets presented as "typical" in the media seems a common but frustrating problem. I have to say, I do think a lot of neo-cons and other Christian conservatives love "Israel" simply because they're Dispensationalists. But this is equivocation, too. The contemporary nation of Israel has no meaningful relationship with "God's chosen people" of the Old Testament. Anyway, historically speaking, Dispensationalism is an aberration. A pimple on the wrinkly bottom of Christian orthodoxy. Best not to make too much of it.

So, while I do not share James's venom for Christianity, I happen to agree about Israel. We should stay out of it. No funding, no defense, and no restrictions on Israel's actions. Let 'em nuke the hell out of the middle east if they think that will make them safe. We'll see what happens.

Okay, enough of my meandering mumbling. Time to look through the DVDs and see what geeky director's commentary I can watch until the wine puts me to sleep. Good night all.

James 2:19

Well, after The Chosen Monkey's post immediately below, I guess I can write off the idea of InfMonks being considered by the Blogdom of God Christian blog aggregator. Well, for the record, let me announce that I believe the Bible. Yep, the whole kit and kaboodle (not to be confused with Kaballah).

To put it in The Chosen's own terms, there are so many ... holes in [his argument] I can drive a Mack Truck through it.

UPDATE: I should add that I'm also one of many evangelicals whose understanding of the end times isn't based on a Left Behind model, and nothing in my theology depends upon the modern state called Israel.

Marty, You're Not Thinking Fourth-Dimensionally!

A very fascinating interview with Israeli historian Benny Morris.
Benny Morris. Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.
Are you a neo-conservative? Do you read the current historical reality in the terms of Samuel Huntington?
"I think there is a clash between civilizations here [as Huntington argues]. I think the West today resembles the Roman Empire of the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries: The barbarians are attacking it and they may also destroy it."

The Muslims are barbarians, then?
"I think the values I mentioned earlier are values of barbarians - the attitude toward democracy, freedom, openness; the attitude toward human life. In that sense they are barbarians. The Arab world as it is today is barbarian."

And in your view these new barbarians are truly threatening the Rome of our time?
"Yes. The West is stronger but it's not clear whether it knows how to repulse this wave of hatred. The phenomenon of the mass Muslim penetration into the West and their settlement there is creating a dangerous internal threat. A similar process took place in Rome. They let the barbarians in and they toppled the empire from within."

Is it really all that dramatic? Is the West truly in danger?
"Yes. I think that the war between the civilizations is the main characteristic of the 21st century. I think President Bush is wrong when he denies the very existence of that war. It's not only a matter of bin Laden. This is a struggle against a whole world that espouses different values. And we are on the front line. Exactly like the Crusaders, we are the vulnerable branch of Europe in this place."
Now that all said, Europe is fucked. And they know it. I suspect in about 50 years will be more Arab than European. The European is dying. Metasphorically and demographically. Europeans just aren't having enough babies to replace their populations. And the Arabs are. The question that has to be asked is, will the Muslims assimilate? I don't think they will. And we could be facing a Europe that has essentially become majority Muslim and anti-west, and have nukes.

You might say this sounds rather far-fetched. This De-Europing of Europe. But think how quickly the population of California changed in twenty years time.

I'm not so crazy now am I?

Anyhow, on to Israel. I really think its a mistake for the United States to have any policy towards Israel. I think conditions would get better if we got uninvolved. Not out of cowardice, but out of indifference. American indifference is very powerful thing. Seriously. If i were President, I'd kinda have a Prime Directive like in Star Trek. And my Prime Directive for Israel would be not to get involved the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But you know unfortunately Bush has to get involved-- because the fucking evangelicals with their visions of the Apocalypse and all-- will force him to. Which is a shame, because we shouldn't get involved. But the religious wackos got the president's ear. Now before anyone get all upset before I'm slamming evangelicals-- I am one of the most religious people I know.

It's just I refuse to believe the fiction that is called The Holy Bible. The Bible is just as fictionalized as any Michael Crichton novel. Seriously. And the four Gospels-- that's biggest case of reverse engineering ever done. The Gospels written 100 to 150 years after the death of Christ. And it wasn't just four, there were hundreds of them. Anyhow, 100 to 150 years they rewrite his life so that all of the prophesies from the Old Testament come true.

Think about it: some chick has a baby-- she claims she's never had sex. Come on, you're losing me already! So this baby grows up into a man. He goes into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights and hangs out with The Devil. But it gets better, this dude apparently has super powers: he can walk on water, he can control the weather, he can raise people from the dead, turn water into wine, died and came back to life. And oh yeah, apparently he can fly. And somehow he's related to King David even his father and mother didn't have sex. So, actually he isn't. There are so many plot holes in the Gospels I can drive a Mack Truck through it.

Now, I believe there is a God. I know this by my very existence. God made me a man of reason. And when something doesn't make sense, it don't make sense. And the Jesus story don't make sense.

It's funny when I was younger they scare me with stories of Heaven and Hell. It took me a long time to realize something: there is no such thing as Heaven or Hell, at least not in the way they taught me in Sunday school. I came to realize that Heaven and Hell is nothing than a metaphor for your state of mind.

You can choose to exist in Heaven or you can choose to exist in Hell. The trick to understanding all of this is to realize that right now as you read, you are in Eternity.

I'll prove it to you. Do two things: first close your eyes and try to imagine the moment of your birth. Try to reach back in your memory. It seems so far away doesn't it? Like an eternity. Close your eyes and try to imagine the moment of your death. It seems so far away doesn't it? Like an eternity.

Some people ask well what about the after life? And I answer: "I think God wants me to worry about The Now."

Anyhow, I'm The Chosen Monkey!

I had to do that-- this blog entry was getting too serious.

You work as a graphic designer for a newsmagazine. And you have to take a leak. So you go to the bathroom. And there standing at a urinal relieving himself is the editor of the newsmagazine. What do you do? Well, if you're me, you immediately turn around and go to another bathroom.

I just couldn't do it. It would be too damn weird. Peeing next to him would destroy the illusion of power that all leaders must have. In fact, the more i think why can't he have his own private bathroom? I mean he shouldn't be relieving himself with commoners like me. Seriously.

So I've changed my mind about the partitioning of Iraq thanks to Riverbend. If you aren't reading her most excellent blog, you're not getting the real scoop about the war in Iraq. You not like hearing everything she has to say, in fact I'm sure you won't like it. But read her anyway.

From the There's-Nothing-I-Can-Say-That's-Funnier-Than-The-Headline Department

Britain's 'Dr. Death' Hangs Himself in Prison Cell

Monday, January 12, 2004
More Paul O'Neill and Ron Suskind Silliness

Note also that O'Neill was waving around a cover page of an NSC document on a plan for post-war Iraq. As this Washington Times article points out:
...Bush supporters point out that under the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 signed by President Clinton, it was the law of the land for Washington to seek Saddam's ouster. They say it was only natural to be discussing contingencies based on the law's requirements.
Besides, isn't the knock on the administration supposed to be that they didn't have a post-war plan? Not only did they have one, but they were way ahead of the curve.

Bushite Imperialist Designs Exposed!!! Bush Was Planning to Invade Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates Before 9/11!!

Paul O'Neill and Ron Suskind argue that the Bush Administration planned to invade Iraq long before the attacks of September 11. But it's much worse than that! Court documents show that Bush-Cheney-Halliburton had their greedy eyes on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, too! Laurie Mylroie and Powerline's Hinderocket have the goods!

How to F***, by Uncle Sam

Have I mentioned before that the government has no business running an inherently moral institution like education? No? Well read this piece by Mitch Berg for yet another reason:
Second - abstinence only DOES work. It's all that is taught in Catholic schools; no contraception, no abortion, no sex. And students at Catholic schools have a lower rate of teenage pregnancy than public schools. That's because "sex ed" in the Catholic school doesn't divorce the physical and moral components of sexuality - something no public school in his day and age is allowed to do.
How is this not obvious? Actually, I think it IS obvious, but we don't really want to think about it. My friend "Fingers" talks about a concept that I like to call "sin-based epistemology". It's probably worth a longer post. The short version is that we accept "truths" not because they are coherent or logically flow from fundamental presuppositions, but because they in some way justify the lifestyle we want to live.

Sunday, January 11, 2004
Always note the asterisks

I'm mad at the folks at Dreyers Ice Cream. My wife told me that she was going to pop into the store to pick up some ice cream for an after dinner treat. She remembered that I had mentioned seeing a Splenda logo on some containers of ice cream recently. Yep. I described where they might be found in the store's freezer case and set about planning how to balance the anticipated goodies into my Zone style diet. Hmmm... but without knowing what the Nutrition Facts on this magical concoction would be, I had no idea what to calculate.

When she got home she scooped up a bowl for each of my sons. I had a few piddling interests occupying me, so it was a few minutes before I went to scoop a bit for myself. "Let's see, the label... the label... What da?" It turns out that the Splenda (a darn good new non-caloric sweetener made from real sugar) is one of the last ingredients listed. Apparently, they've added the Splenda just so they can put the logo on the front of the package. Oh, that's nice... Near the beginning of the list are the sugar alcohols – Maltitol, Polydextrose, Sorbitol, Lactitol. Each of these carries a little asterisk next to it. And below the ingredients list it's revealed:
*Sensitive individuals may experience a laxative effect from excessive consumption of these ingredients.
Regular readers may have the displeasure of remembering my first run in with the sugar alcohol sweeteners in my Christmas stocking candy. Oy.

Well, by the time I had uncovered the truth behind Dreyers No Sugar Added Ice Cream, the kids had already gobbled down their helpings. I'll spare you any updates unless there's a trip to the emergency room, or worse. I just wanted to post a Caveat Emptor on the Dreyers. In these days of low-fat donut hucksters being locked away, I think the food people ought to watch their step.

80's GuitaristsKing at SCSU Scholars offers this input in the "best 80's guitarists" discussion, supporting my choices of Marr and Fripp, as well as Brad's praise of Matt Johnson.

He also offers praise for the current King Crimson material, which I heartily echo. I've been able to see Crim three times in the last ten years, and each time has been a unique treat. It's like nothing you'll hear on the radio, or from other "progressive" bands, for that matter. Current drummer Pat Mastelotto has brought a very unique sensibility to the band's music - adding tasteful percussion loops and other samples to the already rich rhythm section.

One more quick note for 80's-era Crim fans: Touch guitar/bass player Trey Gunn has just left the band, and stick/bassist extraordinaire Tony Levin has re-joined the group. Should be interesting!

Saturday, January 10, 2004
I gained sixteen pounds over the holiday. I bloated up to 226 pounds. I place the blame on myself mainly. Then I go back to eating right like I usually do, hitting the weights with my gym partners, and I'm back to 208. Yeah! I am the Chosen Monkey. I do not carry holiday weight! The power of weight lifting. If you eat right and stuff, and do intense weightlifting, you'll never gain a pound.

Friday, January 09, 2004
On the Road Again, And Over the Air

Since last month's passing of the White Chariot of Freedom, I've been driving around the '81 Dodge van that I used all through college. A real workhorse, that van. I worry that the end may be near, though. The windshield wipers went out during the rain storm we had last week, the rearview mirror fell off about the same time, and, most ominous of all, there is something horribly wrong with the radiator (which, incidentally, is the original).

But that's my father's problem now—or, I should say, again. My temporary transportation predicament was resolved on Wednesday, when I purchased a '95 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. It's black and menacing. I've gone from light to darkness. So I'm thinking about a new moniker. The top-two names currently in the running: "Black Mariah" or "Mephistopheles." (Other suggestions welcome.)

The Jeep is very cool, and I got a great deal on it because it needed serious work. Like a new engine. The only remaining problem is the radio. It works, except that the LED display is out, I can't program stations, and it doesn't receive AM. So last night I stopped by Good Guys after work and talked to an eager-beaver of a sales guy about the pros and cons of car audio. I want a good sound system. I want to play CDs. And I want XM.

I'm sold on the virtues of satellite TV. Recently, my friend Rick Henderson sang the praises of satellite radio. (You can read all about his new-found love at Rick's fine blog, The Deregulator.) Could it be had without breaking the bank? Yes. I bought the XM Commander. I somehow talked the salesman into knocking off $30 on top of the $60 mail-in rebate, which means I got the unit for over 50% off retail. Is the service worth $10 a month? For the jazz and oldies stations alone, I'd say. With a few exceptions, L.A. radio is a wasteland.

I'm going back to Good Guys at 5:00 tonight to have my new Alpine stereo/CD player and XM Commander installed. I'll report back later on how it goes. Then all that's left to do is buy the fez-clad bobblehead monkey for the dash, and I'll truly be riding in style.

Here is an excellent post on Hugh Hewitt's Hindenburg/Dean metaphor.

Yeah, I know, I'm linking to a post on my own blog. But it's worth reading it if you missed it in the Chosen Monkey deluge; R.B. hits this one out of the park.

And it's worth pointing out that Hewitt isn't acknowledging this post, for some silly Nixonian reason that I'm not bothering to try to fathom.

Sometimes the Chosen Monkey gets crazy.



Airdate: 11/26/1995
A group of college buddies are strapped for cash. Their solution: form a website about television to try and make money. But it might not be such a great idea.

"Monkey See, Monkey Do"
Airdate: 12/01/1995
Phil’s favorite uncle dies, leaving him custody of what he thinks is a child-- but it turns out it's a spider monkey.

Airdate: 12/08/1995
Phil accuses Collier of snapping an unflattering photograph of him; Jason gets a bad haircut; and Ko and Wrenn decide to join a gym.

"Brevis Ipsa Vita"
Airdate: 12/16/1995
In a dramatic turn, Pete questions the meaning of life after the sudden death of his best friend and Teevee intern Kenny.

"Dear Diary..."
Airdate: 12/23/1995
Phil's diary winds up in the hands of Tori Spelling, after James sends it to her in a fit of rage.

"Benedict Michaels"
Airdate: 12/23/1995
The sinister Ben and the cold and calculating David show up at the Teevee offices. Collier and Wrenn trick them both into thinking that Phil is a traitor with radical political leanings--David thinks he's a fascist, Ben thinks he's a communist.

"A Thin Line Between Love and Hate "
Airdate: 01/11/1996
An energy force that feeds on anger, hatred and hostility takes over the Teevee offices. The creature flees only after Collier and Phil put their personal differences aside and sing a rousing rendition of "Ebony and Ivory."

"Take This Job And Shove It"
Airdate: 01/18/1996
The arrival of a new batch of e-mail from Teevee readers makes Phil depressed and he wants to quit, despite Snell's entreaties. Meanwhile, Collier learns he has successfully tricked Pete Ko into buying stocks in his fictitious dot-com company, Mfungo.

"You Can't Have Nice Things"
Airdate: 01/26/1996
Greg Knauss is given permission by Snell to hook his state-of-the-art computer program, the P.H.I.L. 1000, to the Teevee website. The program, modeled after Phil, is Knauss' attempt to prove that a computer can review TV shows more efficiently than humans. For a time, things go perfectly and Phil begins to feel useless and depressed. But eventually things go awry when the P.H.I.L. 1000 writes a glowing thinkpiece about "Full House." Phil, after numerous attempts by Knauss to shut the renegade program down, rises to the occasion and literally talks the program to death.

"Where's the Booze?"
Airdate: 01/31/1996
A vacation by Snell leaves Knauss in charge of Teevee. He declares prohibition of alcohol in the Teevee offices, which leads to a near riot among the Vidiots (especially from Collier and Phil).

"Better Read Than Dead"
Airdate: 02/07/1996
The sinister Ben Boychuk pops up at the Teevee offices again, and is convinced that Phil and Collier are communist sympathizers.

"Our Two Phils"
Airdate: 02/014/1996
A freak accident with a microwave oven splits Phil into two beings: one that is pure evil and the other good. What follows is a battle between the two as each battle for supremacy at the expense of the other, though it becomes obvious that they need each other. Knauss saves the day when he devises a way to recombine the two Phils.

"Write What You See"
Airdate: 02/14/1996
Pete Ko gets accepted to the "Famous Las Vegas Writers School" and begins to write his impressions of the Vidiots. Meanwhile, Phil and Jason concoct a get-rich scheme to sell Teevee T-shirts; James announces he is quitting; and Knauss tries to rid the website's coding of a pesky bug.

"I'm Cutting Myself Off"
Airdate: 02/14/1996
Horrified by the gigantic size of his monthly bar tab at a local watering hole, Collier vows to give up booze for a week. Meanwhile, Phil desperately tries to halt his sister's impending marriage to a man he considers unworthy of the Michaels' heritage.

"Cyra-Ko de Bergerac"
Airdate: 02/21/1996
Pete engages James' help in winning the girl of his dreams but it backfires. They make a second attempt to win her affection and are arrested for disturbing the peace. Special appearance by Barry White.

"The Big Three-Oh"
Airdate: 02/21/1996
Collier turns 30 and realizes he's never done any of the things he wanted to in life. The Vidiots try to cheer him up by giving him their own version of "This Is Your Life," but Collier decides his life has been wasted and jumps out of a window of the Teevee offices. Fortunately for him, the Teevee office is on the first floor.

"Gregg Wrenn, U.S.M.C."
Airdate: 02/28/1996
Wrenn decides that being the clown isn't for him and adopts a new, serious persona.
When that fails to win him any more respect from the Vidiots, he follows the advice of
Collier and decides to enlist in the Marines. But could Collier have given Wrenn a bum steer?

Airdate: 03/06/1996
Tom Shales tells Phil that he should write his memoirs and Knauss wrestles an old high school buddy for his wife.


By Mike Barber

Do you think I want to write these things? Do you? All I want to do, is watch some TV like your ordinary fat schlub from say... Staten Island. All I want to do, is slip into a vegetative state and lose myself to a half-hour to an hour's worth of quality entertainment. That's all I want to do.

But I can't.

Not when the "Today" show devotes an entire segment (as it did this morning) to some woman named Dottie from Alabama whose toy poodle has run away. Not when Matt Lauer proclaims, with a straight face, that he likes the poodles chances of survival because "he's a fighter."

What next? What next?!!! Tom Brokaw devotes the entire half-hour of The NBC Nightly News to a cat stuck in tree?

Is that news?!!! Is that what we should be dealing with as part of the national agenda?

In these modern times, either everything is a moral question or there are no moral questions. Nowordays, there are no compromises or there are only compromises. Never influenced, I shall keep my vigil. I will never let up. I will never surrender.


By Mike Barber

Have you seen that Celebrex commercial with the dog that does tai-chi? It's the cutest thing I've even seen. He lifts up his little paws and he does the tai-chi with its master.

Brilliant, I tell ya. Absolutely brilliant.

I have a dog you know. Stupid animal. The other day, I tried to teach him to do the tai-chi like that dog on the TV, and the stupid mongrel bit me.

It bit ME, it's lord and master.

Stupid dog. Stupid, stupid, stupid dog.

You'd have thought I kicked the animal or something, instead of attempting to teach the beast some simple skills to help it achieve a sense of inner peace.

Stupid dog.

I realize now, that the dog I thought I knew-- the dog I thought was loyal and loved me-- is in fact, a blood-thristy charlatan. All these years, he's only been pretending to be my friend, while coldly waiting for the perfect moment to strike. I have half a mind to take it down to the local animal shelter and have him put to sleep-- my sense of betrayal is that strong.

I'd do it today if I could. Lucky for him, the wife won't let me. But I'll have my revenge... oh yeah... if not in this life, then in the next.

Stupid dog.


By Mike Barber

Somebody told me that there's a hotel in Las Vegas that performs Starfleet weddings in a chapel that looks like the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise. If you wanted to, you could even get married as a Klingon.

Now I don't know about you, but I'd like to meet the guy who's able to talk his fiancee into doing that. I mean, this guy would have to have almost magical powers of persuasion. This guy would have to be on par with Count Dracula!

I've been married fourteen years. I still can't buy a new pair of underpants without getting permission from my wife.

Fourteen years.

When we got married, my wife micromanaged every detail of the wedding. There was no job to big or too small for her take over. She picked my suit. She picked my shoes. She even picked my haircut.

"I want your hair to look extra special on MY special day."

Her exact words.

She even planned my bachelor party: no stripper, no booze, no staying out late, and no Crazy Larry. No Crazy Larry! You know where we had my bachelor party? Chuck E. Cheese. And she only let me have five dollars in tokens.

Starfleet wedding my ass.

more old stufff that never ran. This was when I quit teevee just to spite phil and fictiooned created fictional writer named Mike Barber who summitted pieces to site for months. I had Phil totally fooled. And if i hadn't of gotten before ben's wedding and told he would have never of known....


I enter my home with the videos from Blockbuster like a conquering hero. Family movie night. "Three Kings" for Daddy. "The Story of Us" for Mommy. A Powerpuff Girls tape for the kids. Everybody in the Barber clan is happy.

It doesn't get any better than this.

But what's that delectable smell coming from the kitchen?

I know that smell. Could it be? Could it possibly be? It is.... I'm sure of it-- my wife, she's making Sloppy Joes!

Sloppy Joes.

Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy, sloppy Joes!!!

Now hear this! Now hear this: Mommy's making Sloppy Joes!

Jeffrey! Jeffrey!!! Put on a clean shirt son. Mommy's making Sloppy Joes! Sarah! Mark! Set up the TV trays in the living room kids -- tonight we feast like kings-- that's right, Mommy's making Sloppy Joes!!!

Sloppy Joes! Daddy's having Sloppy Joes!

Oh, that sweet red sauce is heaven sent. A little ground beef or ground turkey, some shredded cheddar cheese, all on a lightly-toasted onion roll. I tell you, if there's better TV-watching grub than that, I don't want to know about it.

Oh yeah....

Are you a loser TV exec?
You are in charge of programming for a major network (+75)... you are responsible for green lighting ER, Frasier, and Seinfeld (+50).... unfortunately you are also responsible for unleashing on the viewing public Caroline in the City, Suddenly Susan, and Veronica's Closet.(-50)... the late Brandon Tartikoff, your mentor, former boss and programming genius, calls you a schmuck in a deathbed interview for Esquire magazine (-25)... despite the fact that your network finished first in ratings for the 7th year in a row you are replaced by a guy who ran Marvel Comics into the ground (-100).

If your score less than 0 your name is Warren Littlefield.

Some of my old material of stuff that never ran or I never finished when i used to write for

Are you a loser sitcom writer?
After enduring four years of high school hell you receive your acceptence to Harvard University (+100)... upon your arrival you join the staff of the Harvard Lampoon setting up those all-important contacts for your future career as a comedy writer (+10)... to your frustration however, Harvard women won't touch you with a ten foot pole, because after all you're a pasty faced geek (-10)... after graduating, you head for Hollywood, greatly disappointing your parents, who had visions of you as a captain of industry (-10)... using that Harvard pluck you get a job working on a "hip" new show called "My Two Dads" (+10)... unfortunately you're only an intern, Greg Evigan hates you, and the show doesn't last the season (-35)... fortunatley you land on your feet and get a job working on "The New Munsters" (+10)... in a cunning career move you join the staff of "Blossom" (+10)... soon after you acquire a drinking problem (-30) sickened and disgusted with your career choices you decide to leave Hollywood (+25)... however a friend tempts you with an offer to "push the envelope" (-25)... thus begins your successful tenure on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" (+50)... however in a bitterweet irony after the end of the show's run you are pidgeon holed as a black writer despite the fact you are a Jewish man born and raised in New York City (-100).

If your score is under zero you are a loser sitcom writer.

ecto!I've praised the fine Kung-Log weblogging tool for OS X on these pages before, so allow me to steer you toward the announcement page for its successor, ecto. I do a lot of blog composition off-line, and this is the best tool I've found for composing on an airplane and posting later. Give this public beta a try and see if you agree.

John Derbyshire on the Britney Spears Marriage Fiasco

From NRO today:
[I]f a customary social institution is trashed and trivialized by irresponsible buffoons, we ought to exert more control over it—to tighten access, not loosen it. ...I have no confidence at all—not a jot, tittle, nor smidgeon of confidence, sorry—that opening up marriage to homosexuals will raise the general level of seriousness and respect which the institution enjoys in our society. The contrary effect seems to me infinitely more probable.
By the way, although many of the reports seem to hint at the true reason why this happened, I don't think anyone has drawn the obvious inference from this strange and tawdry event: Britney wanted to have sex with the guy, but she didn't want to have sex out of wedlock, as she had done with that cad Timberlake. So she got married. It's disgusting and inexcusable, perhaps, but (to my way of thinking) it's the only way the story makes sense. How could this silly, stupid, selfish girl have known her flight of fancy would have such repercussions?

Thursday, January 08, 2004
The Democratic Dirigible [UPDATED]

Earlier today, a question was posed by Hugh Hewitt. He blogged and later wondered on the air about how long the Hindenburg remained in the air before... you know. What brought the thought on was the past week's campaign performance by Howard Dean.

I may be exiled from Hewitt's show currently, but that didn't stop my curiosity. I googled it, and found that estimates ranged from 34 to 37 seconds between the fire breaking out and the airship completely collapsing on the ground. Interesting – but that didn't really make for a good Dean metaphor. So I decided to look into just how long the (in)famous Zeppelin's service life had been. That's when things got analogous.

The Hindenburg went into service on March 4th, 1936. It met its fiery end on May 6th, 1937, only 14 months later. About the same length as a political campaign.

As precipitous as the last week has been for Dean, I prefer to think of him not as the Hindenburg itself, but as the hydrogen that filled it. In my mind, the dirigible itself symbolizes the Democratic Party. The Hindenburg had been designed to use the stable, non flammable Helium as its lift gas. However, due to circumstances arising from a U.S. military embargo on Helium at the time, the folks in charge of the Zeppelin decided to take the risk of using notoriously volatile Hydrogen to get the ship inflated and off the ground for its politically motivated tour.

The largest-aircraft-ever-built was off to a fast start, setting a speed record for doubling back and forth from Europe to America. But 14 months later, it not only met a calamitous end, it brought an era to a close. Public faith in Zeppelins was lost. Such a craft would never again be trusted with the safety of passengers.

Nominating the volatile Dean as the "lift gas" for the Democratic Party seems to be about as risky as pumping Hydrogen into an airship covered with a cellulose skin varnished with its own flammable mixture of chemicals and aluminum flecks while there's a storm a brewin'.

On his website/blog, Hugh Hewitt has a slogan across the top: "Potestas Democraticorum delenda est!" (the power of the Democratic Party must be destroyed!) Perhaps after the seemingly inevitable Dean disaster it will have to be changed to "Oh, the humanity!"

UPDATE: Today (Mon. 1/11) Hugh finally linked to this post. ('bout time I must say, considering he suggested I flesh out these ideas from a pair of my own emails.) Anyhoo, I must point out something the "fact-challenged" Hewitt wrote in the post in which he linked to my piece:
The dirigible Hindenberg took 14 months to build but its last flight took about 35 seconds...
Ahem... It was "in service" for 14 months, flying around all over the world. That's not how long it took to build. And its final flight was a lot longer than 35 seconds. The thing was landing after a long flight, for cryin' out loud. It took about 35 seconds to collapse to the ground AFTER the first flames began to lick at the craft's skin.

Perhaps HH hasn't rebalanced his electrolytes from that grueling 5k run over the weekend.

More Calumny!

Hugh Hewitt described my friend and fellow Monkey R.B. "Brad" as a "rogue" and a "turncoat" on the air today. I say again: On the air. Before a national audience of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions. Or perhaps thousands. It doesn't matter. The fact is, Hugh will not take Brad's calls to let him defend his honor.

I attest before the sight of God and the Blogosphere that R.B. is a gentleman and a Christian. He teaches Latin at a small, struggling, entirely worthy private school in Arizona. He is a husband and a father. He is a good man, one of the best I've ever known. And yet a national talk show host sees fit to use the power of his microphone to defame his reputation and disparage his honor.

Shameful. Disgraceful!

So what are we to do about this? How are we to respond to such slander? A man's good name has been besmirched. His character has been assassinated.

As I understand it, Brad has a team of highly paid, well-educated attorneys at the ready (despite his humble station). But, apart from that, I might suggest the following: If Hugh won't take Brad's calls, perhaps he will take calls from people who can put in the good word for a virtuous man. The show's number is 1-800-520-1234. Hugh's on the air from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. pacific. He needs to be...corrected.

It's All Yale's Fault

I was reading in Time magazine how since 1988 no one but Yalies have controlled the presidency. For reason, this make sense to me. I wonder if this is a crisis for Harvard University? If somewhere a group of old Harvard guys standing around drinking complaining bitterly about the situation.

MIKE, CLASS OF '78: Charlie, this is just dreadful. We have got to get a Harvard man into the Oval Office.
CHARLIE, CLASS OF '66: And finally, once and for all, remove the stink of Yale from the White House.

Gart Hart? He's still Around?

I just read that ex-presidential candidate Gary Hart is thinking about running for the Senate again. For some reason, I just don't care. Gary Hart bores me. I'm sorry he does. And have you seen a picture of him lately? Whew, he hasn't aged well. To honest with you, he looks like a ghoul. And I'm not just saying that because he's Democrat either. I was one of the first people to point out that Sen. Trent Lott bears an uncanny resemblance to Herman Munster.

And I've always made fun of Sen. Lamar Alexander. You gotta, I mean his name is Lamar. Come on that's a no brainer. And I'll always make time mock Sen. Saxby Chambliss. What kind of name is Saxby. Who wakes up in morning and goes "I'm going name my son 'Saxby.'" Did his father have to name him Saxby because he had to pay off a bar bet or something? Who boy.

Unfortunately for the Left, the one Senator I love to mock more than any other is a Demcrat. The old stand by, as I refer to him. His name is worth a thousand laughs. And that of course is the honorable senator from Hawaii Daniel Akaka. Akaka. AKAKA! SENATOR AKAKA!!!!!! AKAKA!!! AKAKA!!! AKAKA!!!!!

Anyhow to summarize. Gary Hart. Don't care. Trent Lott. Looks like Herman Munster. Lamar funny name. Who the hell names their kid Saxby? And finally: Akaka.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004
HEADLINE: Brain mapping may guide treatment for depression

"For the first time..." my eye! Sheesh. I've been yappin' about this for, well... since my mom (a psychologist) told me about it a few years ago. I'm sure I've mentioned him before, but the pioneer of brain SPECT scanning is an honorable chap named Dr. Daniel Amen. He has a few clinics now. It's nice to see his theories gaining acceptance, but it's frustrating to see him snubbed. I suppose that's often the way for those who cut new trails.

Though I don't like the title, I recommend his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. I've got another of his, Healing the Hardware of the Soul, which again has a title that gives me a wave of sympathetic embarrassment. I haven't really looked through it yet, but it's supposed to have a section on the positive effects of Christianity on the mental disorders he studies and treats. Should be interesting. (Of course, I don't think that's a starting point from which I'd begin to witness...)

See this interesting collection of SPECT scan images of brains (normal and with various maladies). Note in particular the ones that show the effects of heavy alcohol abuse and drug abuse. It's a really good site, also by Dr. Amen. If you have any interest, this is the place to investigate.

I've begun to blog on these issues before, but mental health blogging ain't easy. Usually the drafts get deleted (by me, of course) before they ever make it onto the blog. There's so much to cover. There are so many misconceptions out there. There are so many caveats. It's also hard to know just how much of one's personal history and experience should be included or avoided. But it's really time to start breaking through the stigma of it all. So here's a post. It's not long enough. It doesn't do all it could. But it's a start.