Friday, January 16, 2004

The Power Of Prayer

"Our server has melted down"

-Andrew Sullivan

Thursday, January 15, 2004


For all your electronics and office needs, shop Best Buy.

Well, shop wherever you want, but at least consider Best Buy for a few seconds.

A tiny little plug is in order tonight, because a few hours ago I was able to exchange this piece of shit chair that broke1 within three weeks of purchase for this sturdier, more comfortable chair, despite not having the box the first one came in, nor the receipt. I just wheeled it in through the entrance (I vainly tried to convince my little brother to push me while I sat in it and barked out orders - "Starboard, you bastard, and run like the devil is nipping at your hindquarters!"), explained the situation, and received a full refund, which I immediately put toward the new chair.

Customer service is what keeps 'em coming back.

Anyway, I can finally be comfortable when using the computer again, so maybe now my sunny nature and lighthearted playfulness will come through more effectively here at VVH.

Just kidding - everyone who disagrees with me still sucks.

1. The chair I broke was actually quite nice- comfortable, nice soft suede, reasonably priced. Unfortunately, it has a critical design flaw: the arms. They are attached to the base in such a way as to place a tremendous amount of stress just behind the downward curve when one leans back - which wouldn't be a problem if they were metal, but they're plastic. The kicker is that that's the exact spot where they decided to put the bolts that hold the armpads in place. The first time I leaned back to get a really good yawn and stretch in, both arms snapped clean through, right at the bolts. The arms on the new chair are plastic too, but they have a supporting ridge that runs underneath them, adding a lot of strength in the critical spot - which isn't as critical, as the arms are a part of the structure of the chair itself, rather than just being bolted onto the sides.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

English Cop

Am I the only one who is disturbed by the growing practice of using the word "literally" for emphasis, even though one actually means "figuratively"?

Always in need of new hyperbolic twists to describe events that are largely similar to events that have occurred numerous times before ("He made a tremendous catch!", "he made an awe-inspiring catch!", "he made a god-like catch!", "he made a catch that defies the laws of physics as we currently understand them!"), sports writers seem particularly vulnerable to this benign form of spontaneous NewSpeak1.

Take, for instance, this:
"[Peyton Manning] literally put the Chiefs defense in the electric chair and kept playing with the switch."
No, Clayton, he did not, unless I missed the follow-up article in which you describe the charred remains of the Chiefs being cleaned off the field with a vacuum.

In the English language, the word "literally" signifies that what follows is untainted by hyperbole or rhetoric, and so you should pay close attention to it.

So quit crying wolf and just find a new adverb, damn it.

1 NewSpeak? How? By using a word in a situation where it actually means the opposite of its accepted definition, you ultimately render the word meaningless - the ultimate goal of NewSpeak as understood by Winston Smith.

Update: Good news/bad news.

Good news: According to the folks at the American Heritage dictionary, I am right about this practice being quite improper. But we knew that.

Bad news: According to the same source, I am wrong - it isn't new at all. Apparently critics have been bitching about this for quite some time:
" For more than a hundred years, critics have remarked on the incoherency of using literally in a way that suggests the exact opposite of its primary sense of “in a manner that accords with the literal sense of the words.” In 1926, for example, H.W. Fowler cited the example “The 300,000 Unionists... will be literally thrown to the wolves.” The practice does not stem from a change in the meaning of literally itselfif it did, the word would long since have come to mean “virtually” or “figuratively” but from a natural tendency to use the word as a general intensive, as in They had literally no help from the government on the project, where no contrast with the figurative sense of the words is intended."

Things To Read If You Think I Swear Too Much

I really like this riff on the idiotic effort to put Reagan on the dime...

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The Right Rediscovers The Concept Of "Implication"

The Right keeps trying to tell us that irony is dead -- due, one suspects, to the fact that it keeps kicking them in the balls -- but I know that it is alive and well, because it's coming damn close to killing me.


Glenn Reynolds excoriating Joe Conason for suggesting, in "the dumbest bit of oil-based conspiracy-theory yet," that Bush called for a mission to Mars so that Halliburton can drill there for oil, "an idea that could only occur to someone utterly ignorant of the laws of physics."


In an update, Glenn Reynolds saying in response to an email pointing out that Conason was not referring to oil drilling, "it sure seems like it to me, and a whole bunch of readers."


In yet another update, Glenn Reynolds agreeing with an emailer that Conason strongly implied that the drilling would, in fact, be for oil, and that his misapprehension was fully justified because of his hypersensitivity caused by the constant "blood for oil" accusations against the war in Iraq.


In the same update, Glenn Reynolds stating his belief that pointing to non-oil drilling in order to defend Conason's article "is more O'Neillesque backpedaling," and that Conason is "trying to have it both ways" by writing a technically correct piece that implies that Mars drilling would be for oil.

And then witness:

Glenn Reynolds, who makes frequent use of the phrase "they're not anti-war, they're just on the other side" when referring to terrorists and vandals, self-righteously denying that he "deliberately [blurs] the line between antiwar and anti-America," and then detailing the way in which what he says is technically correct - ignoring the obvious fact that the context, ambiguous phrasing, and constant repetition of the above phrase strongly imply an inherent connection between the two.

I don't know about you, but I say fuck it - I'm just glad to see that the Right now realizes that you can say something without saying it.

Now, let us talk of imminent threats to national security, hmm?

Pussy-Ass Liberal Promotes Diplomacy

Or, you know, an associate professor at the Naval War College.

From yesterday's Wall Street Journal's letters to the editor:
"It is ironic that David Frum and Richard Perle ('Beware the Soft-Line Ideologues,' editorial page, Jan. 7) dismiss diplomacy while using an example that clearly indicates the risks of an assertive foreign policy. They express concern over the future of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Yet the assasination attempts on Mr. Musharraf must be partly caused by frustration over assertive American actions abroad and Islamabad's reluctant support of those actions.

And condemning diplomacy because it has not solved an incredibly complicated problem such as the Israeli/Palestinian dispute is ridiculous. Their shallow perspective is akin to dismissing the utility of military force following our defeat in Vietnam.

My students at the Naval War College are chiefly military officers, many of whom served in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are not 'soft-line ideologues.' Yet it has constantly surprised me how many of them believe that diplomacy will be a crucial weapon in the struggle against terror. Given that military force alone will never defeat the diverse forces that generate terrorism, we must avoid the narrow focus that Messrs. Frum and Perle offer."

-Andrew L. Stigler
Associate Professor, National Security Affairs
United States Naval War College, Newport, RI

Monday, January 12, 2004


Why don't I ever get e-mail like this?


Except for a bit of difference in the shape of the mouth, Megan McArdle looks exactly like a girl I used to date.


Needless to say, the ex-girlfriend wasn't a mildly irritating libertarian with a tendency to say something inflammatory about her political opponents and then pretend not to understand why they got pissed about it.

Public Service

If, due to illness or a sharp blow to the head, you think it might be interesting to discuss the Paul O'Neill blitzkrieg we are currently experiencing with a Bush supporter, let me save you the time and effort.

You: Well, it seems like some of Bush's critics were right about his lack of engagement when it comes to -

Them: Oh, so, what, no screaming for an investigation?

You: I- what?

Them: The documents O'Neill showed on 60 Minutes were marked "secret"! Isn't that like outing a CIA operative? Huh? Huh?!?

You: Actually, those papers were released by the -

Them: Hypocrite!

You: No, you don't understand, O'Neill didn't leak those papers, they were-

Them: I tried! I really did! I hoped that maybe, just this once, the Left would show some integrity and show some consistency. I'm deeply disappointed. This only goes to show that I was right to call the Democratic Party the party of goat-fucking and socialism the other day. How can you live with yourself?

You: Um...

Them: I just can't hold a rational discussion with someone who refuses to snap out of their Bush=Hitler fantasies!

You: Look, what's your fucking -

Them: Oh, there's that Democratic rage again! No one will ever take you seriously! All you can do is sputter in outrage whenever someone talks sense!

You: I'm not-

Them: Valerie Plame! Valerie Plame!

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Dear JDC,

Go Philly!



Update: Ha ha!