...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

April 30, 2007

Nicole Ritchie Loose In Germany

Wer ist das? Sie ist Nicole Ritchie, ich glaube...

Posted by annika at 10:30 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Fire Melts Concrete

I don't know. It looks like a controlled demolition to me.

I'm just saying there are unanswered questions is all.

Posted by annika at 10:17 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Annika's Journal Farewell Tour, Part V: Just To Be Clear

I will not be coming back to do one hour specials on "owatism" and "dipression."

Posted by annika at 07:02 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

April 29, 2007

Sunday Morning Jet Porn

Have you seen the History Channel's Dogfights on Randy Cunningham? That guy was bad-ass. Skill, too much balls and just enough luck. He and his RIO William Driscoll became the first and only US Navy aces of the Vietnam War.

Cunningham and Driscoll's May 10, 1972, sortie was one of the legendary dogfights of all time. Despite several tactical errors, and lacking a gun which would have been useful, they shot down three MiG-17s that day. The team became America's first "all-missile" aces.*

They flew the McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom. The navy plane in the video is not one of Cunningham's F4Js. The plane from the May 10 dogfight never made it back to the USS Constellation after Cunningham and Driscoll shot down their last MiG. They ejected over the ocean on the way back, after taking damage from an SA-2 ground-to-air missile.

* Trivia: of the four American aces from the Vietnam War, the top scorer (with 6) was a back-seater, USAF Capt. Charles DeBellevue.

Posted by annika at 08:23 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 27, 2007

There Must Be Some Mistake

It's simply not possible for a guy to hit fourteen home runs when the season is only 20 games old — and his team still be in last place?!?!

And how is it A-Rod only has 8 walks? Where's the respect?

Posted by annika at 09:01 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Annika's Journal Farewell Tour, Part IV: Searches, We Got Searches

I've seen lots of bloggers post their search terms for a laugh, but I've never done it. Until now.

Here are some of the most recent Google searches that brought people here, according to my Sitemeter.

  • hot tub girl

  • jessica alba feet (from Italian Google)

  • imus & andy joke

  • nancy sun, naked

  • cher 2007

  • crazy subaru

  • strappy shoes (from British Google)

  • fortune cookie

  • favorite flowers of marie antoinette

  • brittany goes

  • hot nude blondes videos (which took them here, to a post I called "Hardball Hardon")

  • sexy naked (which took them, coincidentally, to the same post)

  • hot naked stuff (you guessed it, same post)

  • brad p (which yielded this bit of comedy)

  • rosie o'donald coors beer (ha! they misspelled it like I do!)

  • ugly bird (which led hilariously, to this picture)

  • lindsay lohan's email- address (lol, I'll never be rid of 'em)

  • ugly fucking bird (haha! love the emphasis)

  • how to make a dna model

  • pregnant babes (an image search, which led to who else? Brittany)

  • kirsten dunst being beheaded in marie antoinette

  • sarah james is a fashion designer even though shes a poet and she dont know cuz her toes show it cuz theyre longfellows:-
That last one is inexplicably strange, but true.

Posted by annika at 06:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Lessons From The Iraq Experience

Allow me to recommend two essential articles from Armed Forces Journal that I think are necessary reading for those of us not on the fringes, who strive to understand rather than shout slogans back and forth. I find little to disagree with in either piece.

The first is "A Failure In Generalship," by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling. Colonel Yingling places blame squarely on Rumsfeld and his generals, for the failure to achieve our goals in Iraq.

The intellectual and moral failures common to America's general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship. Any explanation that fixes culpability on individuals is insufficient. No one leader, civilian or military, caused failure in Vietnam or Iraq. Different military and civilian leaders in the two conflicts produced similar results. In both conflicts, the general officer corps designed to advise policymakers, prepare forces and conduct operations failed to perform its intended functions. To understand how the U.S. could face defeat at the hands of a weaker insurgent enemy for the second time in a generation, we must look at the structural influences that produce our general officer corps.
My only criticism of Yingling's article would be against his proposal that Congress assert more control over the selection and promotion of general officers. On the contrary, while Congress has a role, it's the executive's job to select military leaders who can get the job done. I believe Yingling is correct to criticize the culture of conformity that produced sub-par generals at the war's outset. But that's common in every major conflict. War is a results-oriented game, and typically the dross is burned away after the first few months of battle.

In the case of Iraq, we had an unusual tendency towards inertia that can only be blamed on Bush and Rumsfeld's management styles. Whether you want to call it admirable loyalty or excessive stubbornness, neither Bush nor the SecDef were willing to change horses when necessary to get results. Of what other successful wartime administration can this be said? Not Lincoln's, not FDR's, not Truman's.

To be fair, one reason for this President's inertia was the withering and omnipresent criticism from the left, whether by Democrats or internationally. Bush, rightly or wrongly, made the decision that sticking to his original plan and personnel was better than adapting midstream to the changing situation on the battlefield. His enemies so vehemently accused him of being wrong, that he overcompensated in an effort to prove that he was right.

I don't give Bush a pass on this. It's no excuse to say that he did what he did because the left made him do it. It's the commander-in-chief's job to husband the souls of those men and women serving our country as wisely as possible. I'll grant him the best of intentions; I know the President feels every loss of life personally and deeply. But, good intentions are not enough. As I've said many times before, what we need is results, and the responsibility for getting results lies ultimately with the president. If Franks, Casey and Abizaid were not getting the job done — and I don't think they were — Bush should have been quick with the hook. (Bush knows baseball; he should have taken a lesson from old Sparky Anderson.)

The essential constraint that the entire war team missed is the constraint of time and patience. In a democracy, this constraint is strict and onerous, especially now in our hyper-political environment where the opposing party turns every issue into a power-play. Time and patience are part of the battlefield, and Bush's advisors were negligent in failing to stress that fact. Success in Iraq, if it was/is to be had, must be had quickly, with sufficient force and resources to get it quickly. Unfortunately, Bush and Company acted like they had all day long. Instead, time has now nearly run out.

The second article, by Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (ret.), is called "Wanted: Occupation Doctrine." His point of view is decidedly Machiavellian, but in a good way. Peters catalogues some lessons we should take heed of when planning for the next counterinsurgency campaign.

Consider just a few essential rules for successful occupations — all of which we violated in Iraq:

• Plan for the worst case. Pleasant surprises are better than ugly ones.

• All else flows from security. Martial law, even if imposed under a less-provocative name, must be declared immediately — it's far easier to loosen restrictions later on than to tighten them in the wake of anarchy. This is one aspect of a general principle: Take the pain up front.

• Unity of command is essential.

• The occupier's troop strength should be perceived as overwhelming and his forces ever-present.

• Key military leaders, staff officers, intelligence personnel and vital civilian advisers must be committed to initial tours of duty of not less than two years for the sake of continuity.

• Control external borders immediately.

• Don't isolate troops and their leaders from the local population.

• Whenever possible, existing host-country institutions should be retained and co-opted. After formal warfare ends, don't disband organizations you can use to your advantage.

• Give local opinion-makers a stake in your success, avoid penalizing midlevel and low-level officials (except war criminals), and get young men off the streets and into jobs.

• Don't make development promises you can't keep, and war-game reconstruction efforts to test their necessity, viability and indirect costs (an occupation must not turn into a looting orgy for U.S. or allied contractors).

• Devolve responsibility onto local leaders as quickly as possible — while retaining ultimate authority.

• Do not empower returned expatriates until you are certain they have robust local support.

• The purpose of cultural understanding is to facilitate the mission, not to paralyze our operations. Establish immediately that violent actors and seditious demagogues will not be permitted to hide behind cultural or religious symbols.

• Establish flexible guidelines for the expenditure of funds by tactical commanders and for issuing local reconstruction contracts. Peacetime accountability requirements do not work under occupation conditions and attempts to satisfy them only play into the hands of the domestic political opposition in the U.S. while crippling our efforts in the zone of occupation.

• Rigorously control private security forces, domestic or foreign. In lieu of a functioning state, we must have a monopoly on violence.

Many of the above precepts have been adopted by Gen. Petraeus and his staff, now in charge of the war effort. For that reason, I'm hopeful that success is not yet beyond our grasp.

In the article, Peters uses the word "occupation," but he doesn't apologize for it.

The first step in formulating usable doctrine is to sweep aside the politically correct myths that have appeared about occupations. Occupations are military activities. Period. An Army general must be in charge, at least until the security environment can be declared benign with full confidence. Historically, the occupations that worked — often brilliantly, as in the Philippines, Germany and Japan — were run by generals, not diplomats. This is another mission the Army doesn't want, but no other organization has the wherewithal to do it.
It's obvious that Colonel Peters has a distinct pro-military, anti-Foggy Bottom bias. I share that bias.
Consider the prevailing claim that an occupation is a team effort involving all relevant branches of government: The problem is that the rest of the team doesn't show up. The State Department, as ambitious for power as it is incompetent to wield it, insists that it should have the lead in any occupation, yet has neither the leadership and management expertise, the institutional resources nor the personnel required (among the many State-induced debacles in Iraq, look at its appetite for developing Iraqi police forces and its total failure to deliver).

The military is the default occupier, since its personnel can be ordered into hostile environments for unlimited periods; State and other agencies rely on volunteers and, in Iraq, the volunteers have not been forthcoming — even when the tours for junior diplomats were limited to a useless 90 days and dire warnings were issued about the importance of Iraq duty to careers.

These two articles deserve wide readership. Print them out and read them on your lunch hour.

Posted by annika at 03:42 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

April 26, 2007

Annika's Journal Farewell Tour, Part III: My Favorite E-Mail

I treasure all the correspondence I've had with y'all over the last four years, and I really mean it. I know not all readers participate in the comments section and it's nice to get e-mails from those whom we bloggers affectionately call "lurkers." You're like Nixon's "silent majority." I know you're there, and I'm glad.

I often suspect there are some famous lurkers who occasionally cruise my blog. At the beginning, before his Townhall re-design, Hugh Hewitt had me on his blogroll. That was an honor which I knew I did not deserve, but which gave me a lot of pride while it lasted. Anyways, even if Professor Hewitt didn't read me regularly, I'm pretty sure Duane did, which still qualifies as a "brush-with-fame" in my book.

Another big name who came here once, after reading my most infamous blog entry, was New York Post columnist John Podhoretz. He wrote me a very short e-mail that said simply "You crack me up." That was way cool.

Casca once told me he thinks Laura Ingraham reads me, but I'm not yet convinced. Michelle Malkin routinely ignores me, and has never deigned to put me on her blogroll (which for the life of me I can't understand, since that freak Schlussel is on there), but that's okay. I love Malkin anyway.

And to this day, I suspect that Wonkette stole one of my rubrics.

But of all the lurkers and quasi-lurkers that have come here to read my nonsense, there is one whose email makes me most proud.

To set the scene. It's the afternoon of November 2nd, 2004. Faulty (and I believe fraudulent) exit polls have just been leaked and posted by Drudge, which show John Kerry leading George W. Bush in several must-win states. For weeks, the MSM has been predicting a Kerry victory. Now it seems true and conservatives are panicked. It looks like that jackass is going to be president.

In that atmosphere, I wrote this post.

A week later I got the following e-mail:

you and hugh hewitt are the only two who helped keep my anxiety in check during pre election days. i'm embarrassed at my lack of confidence. the urge to find drudge and bitch slap him still burns in me. thenks for the encouraging words. . . . there's enough smart pretty cynical woman pundits, your writing is honest and funny w/out trying to sound clever or too sarcastic. keep it nice and real
That's the best e-mail I've ever gotten. I'm so gratified that I could have contributed in some small way on that fateful day, when we all needed to keep our wits about us. Despite the post election disappointments, and there have been many, I'm still proud of that post and happy that we all showed up and won.

So as I prepare to join the ranks of lurkers in about 24 days, may I say to all the lurkers at this blog, thank you for visiting!

Posted by annika at 07:51 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Calling All Smartypantses

That means you, Will.

Due to the intense boredom initiated by "a very special American Idol," I began channel flipping and became transfixed by the excellent PBS documentary called ENRON: The Smartest Guys In The Room.

[Aside: Let me note for the record that chief Enron assholes Lay, Skilling and Fastow were all baby boomers.]

Anyways they mentioned that Enron was a major promoter of the early "weather futures" market. When I heard that, I thought, weather futures? wtf? now I've seen everything.

But it's a real thing, and apparently weather futures have exploded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In fact, volume on the CME jumped 64% in the last year alone. It's now a 45 billion dollar market.

But what is it? How do you trade weather? According to CME's website:

CME created a weather derivative market which enables those businesses that could be adversely affected by unanticipated temperature swing or unusually high snowfall, to transfer this risk. It is estimated that nearly 30 percent of the U.S. economy is directly affected by the weather. As a result, the earnings of businesses can be adversely impacted by summers that are hotter than normal or winters that are much colder than anticipated. Just as professionals regularly use futures and options to hedge their risk in interest rates, equities and foreign exchange, now there are tools available for the management of risk from extreme movements of temperature. This sector of hedging and risk management products represents today's fastest growing derivative market.
A reasonably concise primer can be found here.

I guess the deal is that you can buy insurance to protect against catastrophic things that have a low probablility of occurring. But you can't easily insure against high probablility, low risk events like variations in the weather. Playing this market is a way for businesses to offset weather related losses. For example:

A ski resort depends on cold weather to stay in
business. To protect against the possibility of a warm winter, the resort can sell (go short) CME HDD contracts at a level they decide upon with assistance from a
weather-analysis company. A warm winter will result in a low HDD index, and the resort will hope to buy back its contracts at a lower price and use the profit to offset losses in the business.
I still don't get how it works though. I confess I don't understand futures trading as well as Hillary Clinton, but is this all smoke and mirrors bullcrap, or is it the wave of the future? And how, if at all, can this market be used to mitigate the effects of global warming?

Posted by annika at 06:06 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Random Thought

Fucken-a, why is Yahoo being so slow all the time? Holy crap.

Posted by annika at 05:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Three Thoughts On AI

Would it be heartless of me to say, "please no more telethons?"

Speaking of heartless, I'd like to "Imagine" there's no John Lennon. Oh that's right, there isn't!

And finally, ain't no way you're going to eradicate malaria with mosquito nets. Sorry.

Posted by annika at 07:34 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 25, 2007

Skadefryd Part 2: Rosie O'Donald Is Out

According to TMZ. Good news, I guess, but why don't they just cancel The View? While she was there it was easy to blame Rosie, but the show sucked long before she arrived.

Rosie hasn't announced yet, but how much you wanna bet she's going to spin it as "her decision," to "pursue other interests," blah blah blah. It won't be the fact that nobody likes a bully and she's a bully.

Rosie is the left's equivalent of Michael Savage — a loud, bigoted, egotistical, ignorant clown. The only reason Rosie gets away with it on tv and Savage is relegated to after-hours radio is that tv execs agree with Rosie's bullshit.

via Hot Air

Update: Rosie said, "my needs for the future just didn't dovetail with what ABC was able to offer me."

I was close. She just left out the "blah blah blah" part.

Posted by annika at 07:23 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

April 24, 2007

Hey Sheryl Crow

Take a look at these guys!

ROTFL that was awesome!

Posted by annika at 12:56 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 23, 2007

Skadefryd: Kiki On The Ropes

From The Philadelphia Enquirer, rumor has it that Kiki Couric, "an expensive, unfixable mistake," may get the boot next year.

[T]he former star of NBC's Today has failed to move the Nielsen needle on No. 3 Evening News since her debut seven months ago.

In a bottom-line business like television, that's a cardinal sin. Already-low morale in the news division is dropping, says a veteran correspondent there.

"It's a disaster. Everybody knows it's not working. CBS may not cut her loose, but I guarantee you, somebody's thinking about it. We're all hunkered down, waiting for the other shoe to drop."

Seven correspondents, producers and executives at CBS and other networks interviewed for this story spoke on condition of anonymity, given the sensitive nature of the Couric situation.

Couric and CBS were a bad fit from the start.

"From the moment she walked in here, she held herself above everybody else," says a CBS staffer. "We had to live up to her standards. . . . CBS has never dealt in this realm of celebrity before."

Media experts predict Couric's ratings won't improve anytime soon, given that news viewers tend to be older and averse to change.

Couric, 50, draws fewer viewers than did avuncular "interim" anchor Bob Schieffer, 20 years her senior. Much of the feature-oriented format she debuted with is gone, as is her first executive producer, Rome Hartman.

"The broadcast is an abject failure, by any measure," says Rich Hanley, director of graduate programs at the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University.

"They gambled that viewers wanted a softer, less-dramatic presentation of the news, and they lost. It's not fair to blame Couric for everything, but she's certainly the centerpiece and deserves a fair share."

CBS Evening News this season averages 7.319 million total viewers, down 5 percent from the same period a year ago, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Couric's viewership has dropped nearly 30 percent since her Sept. 5 premiere week, when she averaged an inflated 10.2 million viewers and led CBS News to its first Nielsen win since June 2001.

"A bad fit from the start" is an understatement. To be absolutely fair, I would also use the descriptors "lightweight" and "clueless bimbo."

Have you watched Couric lately? Talk about deer in the headlights, she makes Kathleen Blanco look like the embodiment of "confidence" by comparison.

Posted by annika at 02:42 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

April 22, 2007

She Would Have Been 90 This Wednesday

The greatest singer ever.

Critics of American Idol would do well to remember that Ella got her start in an amateur singing contest. From Ella's bio:

In 1934 Ella's name was pulled in a weekly drawing at the Apollo and she won the opportunity to compete in Amateur Night. Ella went to the theater that night planning to dance, but when the frenzied Edwards Sisters closed the main show, Ella changed her mind. "They were the dancingest sisters around," Ella said, and she felt her act would not compare.

Once on stage, faced with boos and murmurs of "What's she going to do?" from the rowdy crowd, a scared and disheveled Ella made the last minute decision to sing. She asked the band to play Hoagy Carmichael's "Judy," a song she knew well because Connee Boswell's rendition of it was among [her mother's] favorites. Ella quickly quieted the audience, and by the song's end they were demanding an encore. She obliged and sang the flip side of the Boswell Sister's record, "The Object of My Affections."

Off stage, and away from people she knew well, Ella was shy and reserved. She was self-conscious about her appearance, and for a while even doubted the extent of her abilities. On stage, however, Ella was surprised to find she had no fear. She felt at home in the spotlight.

Reminds me of one current AI contestant, actually.
'Once up there, I felt the acceptance and love from my audience,' Ella said. 'I knew I wanted to sing before people the rest of my life.'

In the band that night was saxophonist and arranger Benny Carter. Impressed with her natural talent, he began introducing Ella to people who could help launch her career. In the process he and Ella became lifelong friends, often working together.

Fueled by enthusiastic supporters, Ella began entering - and winning - every talent show she could find. In January 1935 she won the chance to perform for a week with the Tiny Bradshaw band at the Harlem Opera House. It was there that Ella first met drummer and bandleader Chick Webb. Although her voice impressed him, Chick had already hired male singer Charlie Linton for the band. He offered Ella the opportunity to test with his band when they played a dance at Yale University.

'If the kids like her,' Chick said, 'she stays.'

Despite the tough crowd, Ella was a major success, and Chick hired her to travel with the band for $12.50 a week.

And the rest is jazz history.

Happy Birthday Ella. I miss you.

Posted by annika at 09:23 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

April 21, 2007

Interesting Bit Of Trivia

I found this interesting:

[A]bout 10 per cent of the Victory's crew came from outside the British Isles: twenty-two Americans, one Brazilian, two Canadians, two Danes, seven Dutch, four French, three Germans, nine Italians, six Maltese, two Norwegians, one Portuguese, four Swedes, two Swiss, two from India, and five from the West Indies. Such a mixture was due partly to press-gangs and partly to volunteering. French men serving in the British Navy were usually royalist volunteers, opposed to the revolutionary and then Napoleonic regimes in France.
Source: Roy Adkins, Nelson's Trafalgar: The Battle That Changed the World, p. 50. Lots of interesting stuff in that book.

Posted by annika at 12:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Annika's Journal Farewell Tour, Part II: I Pass On My Wisdom To New Bloggers

I'm doing some email account housecleaning, and here's something I wrote a long time ago in response to a question from someone who was just starting a blog. It may have been Ted's daughter Mookie, actually. Although she's so smart she never really needed my advice.

This may not be terribly interesting for most of you, but rather than just delete it forever, here it is:

My advice to new bloggers is this: use blogger (aka blogspot). Like most people, I started out there. It sucks but it's free and they keep improving it all the time. It's relatively user friendly and you don't have to know HTML, but it is customizable if you decide to start tinkering with the template later on. Also it's easy for two or more people to group blog on, so you and your friend can do it together. That's actually a good idea, because it takes the pressure off when someone else blogs with you.

Sign up at https://www2.blogger.com/start

Pick a blog name that starts with a letter high up in the alphabet, because when people blogroll you, you'll want to be near the top of their list.

Sign up for Sitemeter, and Blogrolling, they are great, and both free.

Sitemeter: http://www.sitemeter.com/default.asp?action=newaccount

Blogrolling: http://www.blogrolling.com/

With sitemeter you can see how many visitors you're getting and get an idea of where they're coming from. You want to know who's sending you hits so you can return the favor and network that way.

You need blogrolling because it's really easy to add people to your blogroll. Otherwise you'd have to know some basic HTML, and edit your template every time you add or delete someone. so Blogrolling makes life easy.

To build readership when no one knows you, it's very important to leave comments and emails wherever you go, and be nice. Link to other blogs you like whenever they post something that interests you. Bloggers have larger than normal egos, and they love it when people are talking about them.

Leave comments early at big blogs that allow comments. these would be blogs like Wizbang, IMAO, Moxie, and A Small Victory. If you seem interesting, people will click on you just to find out who you are. If they like what they see they will come back, and maybe even blogroll you.

One measure of your success is how many blogrolls you are on, because that is what the Ecosystem measures, and most bloggers view the Ecosystem as the arbiter of blog success. Although I've done relatively well on the Ecosystem, I don't think it's very accurate. Still, if you're serious about political blogging, it's important to move up the ecosystem. It's like the US News and World Report of the blogosphere.

The ecosystem is here: http://www.truthlaidbear.com/ecosystem.php

Most every politically oriented blog is listed. If you do good work, you might be invited to join some blog groups who will add you to their own lists and then you're really on a lot of blogrolls. As you can see, I'm on Munuviana's list, Blogs for Bush, and the Bear Flag League [and the Cotillion]. That gets annika's journal listed on a lot of blogs that I might normally not get blogrolled at.

Another way to see who's talking about your blog is to check Technorati. It's kind of the poor man's Trackback (which is a device that lets you know when someone has mentioned you in their blog) Trackback is not yet available to the basic blogger setup, but if you go to Technorati, you can find out who's linked you. There is usually a delay in their list, but it's still pretty useful to check every now and then.

Tecnorati is here: http://www.technorati.com/

You put your blog's URL in the search box at the top. You can put anything in that search box and it will find out which blogs mention whatever you're looking for. So for instance, if I want to find out what other bloggers think about Britney, I could just type that in there. Or if I'm thinking about doing a post on a NYT article I read, but I want to see what others have said about it first, I cut and paste the article's URL in there. It's great.

Otherwise, have fun, include some humor, and pictures are good too, every now and then. A blog that is pleasant to look at is very important. Never use a black or dark background, light colors are easier to read. Some people (myself included) are annoyed by a blog with a black background and usually don't return unless the writing is exceptional.

Try to stay with the larger fonts, they're easier to read. And very importantly, break up your paragraphs! Short paragraphs are much more inviting to the reader. I almost never bother reading blogs that have huge paragraphs. Thing is, most people are reading at work, when they're not supposed to be, and they want to do it quickly. If a blog post looks like it will take too long to read, they'll move on. Column width and font size are also important to readability, and many bloggers don't pay enough attention to that. But then again, changing the defaults involves some knowledge of HTML, and people don't wanna be bothered with that sometimes.

So I advise you to do this when you sign up for blogger. Pick a template when it asks you, during the sign up process. then finish signing up until you get your blog. Then go into the blog editor before you even start writing, and click on the template tab. Then click on "pick new" right underneath the tab. Then you should see a much wider selection of new format choices than they gave you at first. Pick from one of those, because they are much better than the original choices. stay away from the orange one though. There are actually some bugs in the orange template, which make it hard to scroll on some browsers.

Anyway, that's all I got. I gave you the baby steps version, because I'm not sure how much detail you wanted, but it was fun. Feel free to email me if you need any more help."

If I had to add anything else to that advice it would be the following:

Be scrupulously honest when quoting anything. Perhaps I get this from having studied the Harvard Blue Book, but I think this is very important, especially for political bloggers. Credibility is your most important asset, and if you get the reputation for altering quotes, you're dead. If you take something out, insert elipses. If you change a word, put it in brackets. In short, follow conventional citation rules and you won't go wrong.

Posted by annika at 11:17 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 20, 2007

Annika's Journal Farewell Tour, Part I: The Day I Killed A Blog

One of the things I've learned about blogging is that there are many different kinds of bloggers. Some bloggers are born great, some have greatness thrust upon them. Other bloggers find their niche and end up workin' it like a supermodel. Still others suck eggs and always will. And some are just freakin' scary. But the one thing all bloggers have in common is that they start small and hope to get big someday. Or so I thought.

"The day I killed a blog" happened early in my career, when I was young and altruistic. Thanks to the generosity of a few big bloggers, I'd achieved some moderate success moving up the Ecosystem, (which has since diminished) and I thought it would be nice to spread the love. Pay it forward, like the movie says.

So when I came across a brand new blog, down at the unicellular microbe level of the Ecosystem, I thought I'd give the blogger a boost by linking to one of her more interesting posts. She was new, seemed like a nice lady, and though not the best writer around, I thought she could improve with some exposure. I, in my benevolence, decided to give her that exposure. I chose to link to a post in which her thesis was, "I'm a liberal but I support the Iraq War." (This was back in the day when one could say that type of thing with a straight face.)

I sent the chick some traffic, that was true. But unfortunately she couldn't handle the attention. Being a liberal who supports the war is not a prescription for attracting friendly commenters. Apparently there was enough variety in her viewpoints to piss off everybody who went there. I didn't actually get a chance to read any of the constructive criticism that I funnelled to her comments section, because her site was taken down after about a day of abuse. In the words of Carl the gardener, she quit the game.

So that was how I killed a blog. I love my commenters. You're the only reason I kept this thing going for so long, and I look upon this blog experience as a four year conversation with some really neat people. But when I linked to that little blog, I felt a bit like Hernán Cortés meeting the Indians. You're all a pretty exuberant bunch and some folks just don't have the natural immunities necessary for blogging. Some folks get a readership and then realize they didn't really want to be read in the first place.

Do I feel bad about what happened? Probably not, because although lots of people can say they started a blog, I can say that I killed a blog too.

Posted by annika at 10:29 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Eighties Video Of The Day

Remember this kick-ass Eighties song, by John Waite?


Posted by annika at 05:21 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

April 19, 2007

6MB Is Three!

Go wish a happy blogiversary to Preston, Smantix and Cranky at Six Meat Buffet, who are three and even occasionally act like it.

And keep in mind that though annika's journal may will come to an end in 31 days, when the bar* is over you'll be able to find me again at the Buffet! (Thanks to the generosity and/or foolishness of Preston Taylor Holmes!)

* July 24th through 26th.

Posted by annika at 06:53 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Bradford Wiles Update

Remember a few posts ago, I quoted from a prescient op-ed by VT grad student Bradford Wiles, published eight months ago?

Well, somebody did track Wiles down for his comment on this week's horrific event. Here's what he said:

On Tuesday, Wiles stood by that opinion in the wake of this week's massacre, telling Cybercast News Service that "the only way to stop someone with a gun is somebody else with a gun."

"The entire campus was a place where someone knew they could inflict the most damage with the least amount of armed resistance, and that's what you get with gun control," Wiles said. "If you let people like myself carry a gun legally ... then you have the possibility of stemming the tide."

Wiles, who wasn't near the campus buildings where Monday's shootings took place, said he doesn't believe an armed student could have prevented all of the bloodshed. But, he added, "even if just one person is not shot by that gunman because somebody had their legally licensed concealed firearm on them, isn't that enough?"

h/t Buckeye Firearms Association News

Posted by annika at 06:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Recommended Reading

An excellent and thoughtful essay on the nature of hell, by C. R. Hardy at NRO.

An excerpt:

And then, neither of us looking at the other, she said the following — slowly and deliberately, as if she had been formulating the thought all afternoon: “I also believe that hell exists. But I just realized that I don’t live as if I believed that hell exists. And Auschwitz, that’s just what man can do. But what can God do?”
Go read it.

Posted by annika at 11:02 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Very Strange Dreams

Last night I had my second dream in which Hillary Clinton appeared.

The first dream occurred about a month ago. In it, I was walking along a dirt path in a rural area. I hit the main road and began to walk down it when a large bus caravan drove by at high speed. There was one very strange looking bus, shaped like a flattened zigurat with wheels like inline skates, which leaned as it turned.

Suddenly the caravan came to a stop and I saw the Senator and the former President get out. I was astounded. They came up to me and introduced themselves, which was completely unnecessary. Bill didn't talk at all, but I was surprised to find that Hillary was extremely nice and personable, though a bit shy.

She asked me who I was supporting and I told her that I was a Republican, but that it was still a great honor to meet her and the President. The conversation sort of died out after that, but she remained very pleasant. I woke up wondering what the hell that dream was all about.

Last night I met her again, in some sort of narrow lobby crowded with people before an event. She apparently remembered me from the last time we'd met and seemed very happy to see me. We hugged and I told her that I really liked her, even though I couldn't vote for her. I also told her I had predicted on my blog that we'd know who the nominee was by Easter (not true in real life) and that it had been a pretty unusual race so far. Then she got kind of defensive and asked, "in what way?" I said, "well with the polls and stuff," realizing this might have been a sensitive subject. I woke up at that point.

I don't know what to make of these dreams. Hillary was very nice in both of them, completely different than I would expect. Plus I can't stand her in real life, so why do I like dream Hillary so much? It's weird that in waking life I actually follow Obama's campaign more closely and rarely give a thought to Hillary except when she fucks up in some way. I'm not known for precognitive dreams, though I don't believe it would be a stretch for my dreams to predict a Hillary win, even in the general. I think what it is is that Hillary symbolizes someone in my waking life, but I can't figure out who.

Posted by annika at 07:18 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

April 18, 2007

NBC Completely And Irresponsibly Throws Standards Out The Window

In pursuit of $ensationalism and the almighty ratings point, NBC proves that there is no longer any such thing as responsible media. Oh, Brian Williams made a big show about "not wanting to make Cho into a hero," even while holding up the pictures Cho intended to cement himself into the popular mythology.

NBC should have shredded the entire package immediately, not even handed it to the police, just burnt it as surely as Cho is burning in hell right now. Do they really think there aren't future sickos who will idolize Cho and memorize every word in his multimedia manifesto? Do they really think there's any possible journalistic justification that outweighs the virtual gaurantee that someone will idolize and imitate Cho the same way Cho idolized and imitated the Columbine murderers? Do they not understand that publishing the pictures and airing the video only gives the next mass murderer something to outdo?

Fucking assholes! But when the next mass murderer cryptically references the VT killer in his manifesto, you won't hear NBC or their ilk pointing the finger at themselves for creating the "cult of Cho." No, next time it will be "lax gun laws" all over again, and "easy availability of weapons," and "the incredible firepower of the nine millimeter," and "the NRA lobbyists," etc.

Posted by annika at 07:25 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Clinton Is In Trouble

I still think she'll win the nomination, but clearly Senator Clinton is in a dogfight. The RealClearPolitics average has her leading Bronco Bomber by only 6 points!

Update: More at Wizbang. Hillary's favorable/unfavorable rating is in freefall too.

Posted by annika at 09:14 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

April 17, 2007

More Thoughts On VA Tech

Here are some more random thoughts on the shooting, which occurred to me throughout the day.

The touchy-feely methods of preventing this type of violence failed miserably yesterday. For instance, one oft-cited preventive measure is for faculty members to watch for signs of a troubled loner with possible violent tendencies, then send him to counseling. This was done in Cho's case, by one of his English professors, to no avail.

After Columbine there was no end to the re-education and awareness-raising on the dangers of bullying. Kids were taught not to make fun of outcasts, but to be nice to them. Again, in Cho's case, members of his peer group tried to befriend the loner during sophomore year. One said they invited him to lunch, tried to get him to laugh and come out of his "funk." Again, this was done, to no avail. He apparently did laugh during the lunch, but it didn't change anything.

Time Magazine, perhaps the most ridiculously out-of-touch major news source in America today, professes to know "how to make campuses safer." Frikkin joke. Here's the best they came up with:

Some schools like Princeton train professors how to spot signs of depression, and access to mental-health services is a big part of preventive efforts on many campuses. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to tell someone if they see suspicious or troubling activity. Says Gene Burton, public safety director at Ball State University: "You need to get everyone on board." But as colleges and universities learned on Monday, it often takes a tragedy to expose just how many weaknesses there are in the system.
As I wrote above, they did that! It didn't work! Time Magazine... clueless fukkin idiots.

More: OMG, not to be outdone, CNN is just about as clueless as Time Magazine. No wonder they're joined at the hip.

Watch this video, which contains the absolutely hilarious warning that a semi-automatic handgun can fire bullets "as fast as you can pull the trigger!"

Dun-dun-dun duuuunnnh!

If anyone knows of a gun on the market that does not shoot bullets "as fast as you can pull the trigger," please let me know. I will make sure I don't have any of the manufacturer's stock in my portfolio.

Update: The anti-American New York Times reports that "officers also found several knives on Mr. Cho’s body." Will there be calls for stricter knife control? It's not unheard of.

Posted by annika at 07:36 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 16, 2007

Tech Shooting

The point has been made over and over again, and I'm sure I don't need to mention it on this blog, but I'll do it anyway.

It's ironic that some people who are criticizing the school for its response to the initial shootings this morning are the same people who will be calling for tighter gun control in the future.

If we learned anything from Katrina, it's the same thing we learned again today:

You cannot rely on the government to protect you from every harm!

In a land where the citizenry is unarmed, the government is the only thing that stands between a criminal and his victim. Thus, the one thing these types of shooters know is that all they need to do is outsmart the government in order to accomplish their evil.

Government, specifically the police, do certain things well, but preventing random acts of violence is not one of them. They can only respond after the fact. And the difference between that first 911 call and the arrival of SWAT (usually after the shooter has killed himself) today was measured in 32 innocent lives.

So when people ask "why didn't the school officials shut down the school right away?" the answer is, "well, I guess they fucked up." (Even though on a campus the size of Virginia Tech, I'm not sure that was practical, or that it would have even prevented the tragedy. Who's to say he wouldn't have found some other populated place to go on his rampage?)

Yes, government fucks up sometimes. Recognize this reality. Embrace it. Own it. Because the sooner we realize that government cannot gaurantee our safety, the sooner we'll stop willingly handing away our right to protect ourselves.

More: KG at Crusader Rabbit has a partial list of recent school shootings worldwide. And John Hawkins correctly identifies the deadliest school mass murder in U.S. history, the 1927 Bath School bombing.

Still more: I wonder if anyone in the MSM will contact VT grad student Bradford B. Wiles, just to see if his opinion has changed any by the events of today. My guess would be no on both counts.

Mr. Giles wrote the following in an op-ed published last August, after he had been evacuated from a campus building in the previous on-campus incident.

I am licensed to carry a concealed handgun in the commonwealth of Virginia, and do so on a regular basis. However, because I am a Virginia Tech student, I am prohibited from carrying at school because of Virginia Tech's student policy, which makes possession of a handgun an expellable offense, but not a prosecutable crime.

I had entrusted my safety, and the safety of others to the police. In light of this, there are a few things I wish to point out.

First, I never want to have my safety fully in the hands of anyone else, including the police.

Second, I considered bringing my gun with me to campus, but did not due to the obvious risk of losing my graduate career, which is ridiculous because had I been shot and killed, there would have been no graduate career for me anyway.

Third, and most important, I am trained and able to carry a concealed handgun almost anywhere in Virginia and other states that have reciprocity with Virginia, but cannot carry where I spend more time than anywhere else because, somehow, I become a threat to others when I cross from the town of Blacksburg onto Virginia Tech's campus.

Of all of the emotions and thoughts that were running through my head that morning, the most overwhelming one was of helplessness.

Read the whole piece here.

h/t Dymphna at Gates of Vienna

Update: Anti-American AP reports the following:

Two law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information had not been announced, said Cho's fingerprints were found on the guns used in both shootings. The serial numbers on the two weapons had been filed off, the officials said.

One law enforcement official said Cho's backpack contained a receipt for a March purchase of a Glock 9 mm pistol.

Did anyone think to ask why Cho would go through the trouble of filing off the serial numbers, then carry the receipt around with him?!?!!? Something is not right with that story. Why would somebody take the receipt with him on a shooting rampage? Especially after filing the serial numbers off (which isn't easy by the way)? Gun receipts are multi-page documents, at least mine is. If you ask me, it would be real convenient for the gun-grabbers if they could say this gun was bought legally just a few weeks ago.

Must-read: Publicola deconstructs the incident in his inimitable way.

[I]t has been preached from every rooftop of every school that resistance is bad. We even had a politician proposing using books as bullet proof shields as a solution to school violence. Not too long ago a teacher in Texas was "re-assigned" because he dared teach his students to fight back even if unarmed. For a number of reasons political & cultural we simply do not on the whole wish to face the idea that violence is an acceptable option in any situation.

That, & not the school's reaction (or lack thereof) contributed to the deaths & injuries at VT. [links omitted]

My friend Publicola says he can't take credit for my becoming a gun owner. That's wrong. It was he and Katrina that made me take the leap. Unfortunately, in California, the gun laws are designed to prevent self-defense. But as my sidebar quiz shows, if somebody busts into my home, I won't be jumping out the second story window.

Posted by annika at 09:27 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

April 15, 2007


I seriously don't know how people did their taxes before Turbotax.

More: Carlos Mencia explains why we need taxes.

Posted by annika at 11:16 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Titanic Sequel In The Works!

Great news for Titanic fans on this 95th anniversary of the sinking.

The amazing thing is that Leo signed on for this. And looks like Fred Thompson will make a cameo appearance too!

Posted by annika at 02:16 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

April 14, 2007


I seriously don't know how people did chores like vacuuming and ironing before the iPod.

Posted by annika at 02:54 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 12, 2007

Annika Asks Her Readers 2.0

What do you think? Will the Don Imus auto da fe, recently concluded, have the unintended result of making it easier to execute Rosie O'Donald when she makes her inevitable next outrageous statement?

In other words, is the threshold of firable offenses now so low that Rosie will no longer be able to get away with the shit she's been pulling for months on The View?

Or does the Imus controversy have no relevance to Rosie, since the culturally designated Torquemadas, Sharpton and Jackson, are unlikely to be offended by anything Rosie might say?

Posted by annika at 04:32 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

April 11, 2007

Bill Whittle's Newest

If you're like me, who waits impatiently for each great essay by Bill Whittle to come out, wait no more. The newest one is up! In it, Bill hits upon the motivation I've always suspected was the driving force behind the popularity of conspiracy theories: self-esteem. Or rather, the lack of it.

[M]ost normal people do not look at life from within a pit of failure and despair. Our lives are measured by small successes -- like raising children, serving in the military, doing volunteer work at your church – or just doing the right thing in a thousand small but important ways, like returning money if someone makes you too much change.

These are simply the small, ordinary milestones of a life of value. They give you a sense of identity.

But if I didn’t have that sense of identity rooted in my own small achievements, I wonder how likely it would have been for me to grab onto that sense of sudden empowerment, of being an initiate in some arcane club of hidden wisdom. I wonder what might have happened to me if being the Holder of Secret Knowledge had been my only source of self-esteem…the one redeeming landmark in a life of isolation and failure. Indeed, I wonder what power such a worldview would have over me if I could believe that behind the scenes lurked vast and unknowable dark forces – forces that could topple a president and perhaps even explain why a person of my deep, vast and bountiful talents was not doing a whole lot better in life?

When I uploaded my footage of the Truther at Ground Zero on YouTube, I intentionally checked the "no comments" box. For some reason, YouTube still submits comments for my approval and sure enough some idiot upbraided me for not drinking his particular flavor of kool-aid. I don't remember his exact words, but it was something like, "stop watching American Idol and do some research." I had to laugh at the irony of that.

To paraphrase Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller, "and where did you do your hard hitting data research... in your ass?"

Posted by annika at 07:07 PM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

My First And Only Duke Lacrosse Related Post

Now that the Duke Lacrosse thing is over, I think it's an appropriate time to review what did not happen in Durham. So here's Mary Katharine Ham to remind us, in a video she did way back in December.

Posted by annika at 03:35 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Latest LA Times/Bloomberg Poll

The latest LA Times/Bloomberg poll on the Iraq War contains a real surprise, which might explain why nobody is reporting it. The poll is dated April 5th through April 9th. The key question is this:

Generally speaking, do you think setting a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq hurts or helps U.S. troops serving in Iraq right now, or doesn't it affect the troops one way or the other?
And the responses, no doubt highly disappointing to the LA Times and other anti-American news organizations, were as follows (emphasis mine):
Hurts: 50%
Helps: 27%
No Effect: 15%
Unsure: 8%
The really crazy thing about the poll is that the next question asks whether the President should sign a funding authorization that includes a timetable for withdrawal, or veto it. The poll found 48% of respondents favoring such a timetable! Even though 50% believe it would harm the troops! Not only that, 45% believe Congress should "refuse to pass any funding bill until Bush agrees to accept conditions for withdrawal." Again, even though it harms the troops.

So much for Americans supporting the troops, if you believe the poll.

Predictably, the only news story I found on Google that even mentions the poll is selective in its coverage — i.e. they're incredibly biased. Here's the link. As of this writing, E&P completely failed to mention the first question I highlighted above, instead focusing on the second question. That's not just biased reporting, it's fucking propaganda.

Posted by annika at 12:00 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

April 10, 2007

Thank Don Imus

I have a somewhat different take on the whole Imus debacle. I've always thought he was totally overrated and I never understood his appeal or influence. Happily, living in California, I don't have to listen to him.

However, I think the huge uproar surrounding Imus's recent unfunny racial jokes, his subsequent apologies, public bitchslapping and two week suspension have shown us just how far we've come as a society that is unwilling to tolerate such insensitivity.

It is right and just that Imus be brought low, a-hole that he is.

I also firmly believe that this controversy has brought us closer to that glorious day, which will occur soon and possibly within our lifetimes, when no one will ever be insulted ever again. By anyone. At any time. In any way.


Update: It's official. Wikipedia now refers to "Imus in the Morning" in the past tense.

Posted by annika at 05:47 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

Rhetorical Answer

Captain Ed asks the rhetorical question on a lot of conservatives' lips these days:

[H]ow can we expect these [Democrat] candidates to face off against America's enemies when they can't bring themselves to face Fox?
The answer, of course, is that nobody expects them to face off against America's enemies either.

Posted by annika at 08:49 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

April 09, 2007

The Next QTs

I know the reason why Grindhouse did so poorly at the box office this weekend. Its target audience was busy making YouTube videos, trying to be the next Quentin Tarantino.

Check it out. Here are some of the more interesting ones I found:

"The Showdown" by Brandon Schneider and Kevin Eichenbaum. Looks like the 24 writers are fans, they stole the arm trick.

"Can You Dig It?" shows off some pretty good production values.

Here's Joel Cantwell's "McPhew," based on one of my favorite John Wayne movies, McQ. The cool thing about this video is that they filmed it in 1975, which was way before YouTube founders Hurley, Chen and Karim were even born! It probably sat in a box somewhere at the back of a garage, just waiting for YouTube to give it new life!

"Disco Cop" by Matt Clark & Paul Moloney is sort of Jakie Brownesque. Love the wigs. I also love that they used a most awesome song, The Osmonds' "Crazy Horses."

This next guy, Stuart Meads, from the UK, has a real thing for gemstones. I'm not quite sure what's going on there.

And finally, from Finland, "Cock Norris and the Russian Drug Lord." My mom always said Finns were strange people.

Posted by annika at 08:36 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Right Wing Bloggers Poll

John Hawkins' latest poll.

Posted by annika at 09:52 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Martin & Kelly

I never watch Live with Regis and Kelly, but caught a few minutes this morning because I wanted to see Gina Glocksen. Regis is out on the DL, and Martin Short is filling in. OMG, is there anyone funnier than Martin Short? He's off-the-hook! Regis better hurry back, or he may be out of a job.

Posted by annika at 09:38 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 07, 2007

UC Berkeley Education At Work

A couple of geniuses from my alma mater came up with this idea.

Perhaps it needs a little fine tuning, but it's a great idea, no?

h/t TechEBlog

Posted by annika at 12:36 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

April 06, 2007

Kiki On WWI

Here's Kiki Couric on today's anniversary of the American entry into World War I.

Did you catch that?

Listening between the lines, Kiki's message is this: If not for advances in modern medicine, over 413,000 Americans would have died fighting the Iraq war.

Am I reading too much into it? If it was anybody else, I might be, but this is the anti-American CBS News.

Posted by annika at 06:17 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

April 05, 2007

Marie Antoinette


I've seen almost every movie Kirsten Dunst has made. I think she's wonderful, and not just because she's half Scandinavian and half German, like me. In Marie Antoinette, just out on DVD, she gives a beautiful and sympathetic performance as someone I thought I was supposed to hate.

Only Sofia Coppola could have made this movie. It's very sensual, like all of her pictures. Lots of food, lots of pastels, lots of shoes (designed by Manolo), lots of flowers, lots of hair, and of course cake. It was filmed at Versailles — the Versailles — which is reason enough to see it.

Marie Antoinette's story is essentially a girl's story, and the movie never loses that perspective. It's told from her point of view alone, and thus the French Revolution never intrudes until the very end. That was the problem, you see. Court life was completely insulated from the real world, and Marie Antoinette really had no clue what was going on outside the palace borders.

She was an Austrian princess, who was sent to France to seal an alliance with the Holy Roman Empire by wedding the somewhat shy, but basically decent grandson of the Sun King. Louis XVI is played by Jason Schwartzman, who is Sofia Coppola's cousin.


After the wedding, Marie Antoinette's biggest problem is getting the dauphin to consummate the marriage. He's sort of an Eighteenth Century nerd, more interested in the inner workings of locks, than in producing an heir. Eventually, after a man-to-man talk from the Holy Roman Emperor himself, Louis is persuaded to do the deed.

Later, Marie Antoinette enters into a secret affair with Count Axel von Fersen of Sweden (A close confidant of Gustav III, the Swedish king assasinated during a masquerade ball, and whose blood stained costume I viewed last summer at the Livrustkammaren in Stockholm, a must-see museum, but I digress.) who's a real hottie. Louis never finds out in the movie, although historically there is some debate about whether the real Louis suspected that Fersen was the biological father of the dauphin.

Anyways, the movie is as slow and dreamy as one should expect from a Sofia Coppola flick. The photography is great, as is the set and costume design. Interestingly, the costumers made a conscious choice not to include any browns in the color palette, because they didn't want to suggest sepia tones, lest the viewer get the feeling it was a historical pic. Along the same lines, there's plenty of cool Eighties new wave in the soundtrack, to add a contemporary feel a la A Knight's Tale.

I gave Marie Antoinette four stars ("really liked it") on the Neflix scale of one to five. When I got back from Sweden, I rented Queen Christina with Garbo, and last month I saw and enjoyed Cleopatra. Now I'm inspired to rent Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett, to complete my quartet of movies about iconic queens.

Update: Casca asks an interesting question: "Do they show her head getting cut off?" Actually I debated last night whether to reveal the ending, but decided not to. This morning I changed my mind, so *SPOILER ALERT* she dies at the end.

Seriously though, there is one problem with the movie, and that is that they do not show Marie Antoinette getting beheaded. That didn't spoil the movie for me, and I totally understand Coppola's decision not to show it, but I think a lot of people (i.e. guys) will end up scratching their heads at the ending.

My boyfriend hated the movie. I think that's because it's a chick flick, and if you're doing a biography of Marie Antoinette, there's sort of an implicit promise that you're going to show her head getting chopped off. That's pretty much all most people know about the subject anyway. She says "let them eat cake," (which they show, but which she never said) and she gets her head cut off. So when the movie ends with Kirsten Dunst still having a head, there's a lack of resolution, and guys are all about resolution after the build-up.

For me, the movie was not about a chick who got beheaded. It was about the contrast between court life and the life of the common folk, whom we never get to see. To fully appreciate this subtlety, you have to go into it knowing the story of the French Revolution. You also have to have a well developed sense of irony, because the movie is infused with irony. Otherwise, when an aide tells Marie Antoinette that the people have no bread, and she responds by saying, quite seriously, "well the kids will just have to go without diamonds," you won't get it.

The queen was serious, but we the viewer know that her insulation from the populace has left her hopelessly naive — as if going without diamonds could stave off the reign of terror we know will come. So even though the Revolution is not shown, the knowledge that it is brewing animates the first two acts, but only if one knows the history. Otherwise its probably just a boring costume pageant.

Or maybe Chris thought Antonella Barba was going to be in it. Just kidding honey.

Posted by annika at 11:18 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

A Non-Issue For Me

I am in complete agreement with Jim Geraghty on the Pelosi head-scarf non-controversy.

I enjoy whacking around Nancy Pelosi as much as the next guy, but as far as I can tell, the photos of her in a headscarf are all of her while visiting a mosque. . . . There are a million and one reasons to object to Pelosi, but wearing the headscarf while in the mosque isn't one of them. It's akin to dressing appropriately while visiting a church, or a man wearing a yarmulke in a synagogue. It's something you do when you're a guest. It's not submission, it's respect.
I, too, looked through the entire Yahoo News photos slideshow to find a picture of Pelosi wearing the scarf outside the mosque, and there isn't any. Remember, she visited the tomb of John the Baptist, and made the sign of the cross. Before Vatican II all Catholic women covered their heads in church. I have zero problem with this and I think it hurts our credibility when we make a big stink over a non-issue and try to turn it into something it's not. Pelosi followed the same custom you and I would have done if we were in the same place. In fact, I think American women (myself included) dress far too immodestly in houses of worship. I was impressed when I visited Portugal, and saw young female tourists covering their shoulders before entering a church. So anyways, stick to hating Pelosi because she's an idiot.

Posted by annika at 09:38 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

April 04, 2007

Truth Kook Caught On Video By Yours Truly

When I heard crazy Rosie O'Donald shooting off her ignorant bullshit about WTC Building 7, I was reminded of my trip to Ground Zero in July 2003.

As my friend and I walked around the site, we saw a guy standing next to a sign with a bunch of literature. He kept talking about how the WTC was really made up of seven buildings, not just the towers. I thought, "How nice, he's not political at all, he just wants to give people a little history while they tour the site." He kept repeating the exact times that the buildings came down with special emphasis on Building 7. I thought that was odd, but it wasn't until recently that I remembered him and realized that he was a friggin Truther, defiling the scene with his craziness.

On the video I shot, you can't really see him until the very end. In the last frame, I think he's to the right of center, half hidden behind the dude in the white shirt.

Posted by annika at 08:43 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Capitulation Works

I suppose we should all be happy that the crisis over the kidnapped Royal Marines looks like it's coming to a peaceful end. But something doesn't feel right about the way this thing has turned out.

I mean, Britain was patrolling the Gulf for a reason, right? And whether the Marines were kidnapped outside of Iranian waters or inside, the Iranians have quite forcefully demonstrated their power to win a showdown, anytime, anywhere.

The British could have won this confrontation, gaining the marines' release, without showing the world what a bunch of groveling patsies they've become. But instead, they've given the world another reason for a false hope: that you can deal with the Iranians as long as you avoid making them mad.

And don't think I'm letting President Bush off lightly in my scorn. Sure he talked tough while it was the Brits in captivity. But this administration has done nothing except pusue diplomatic impotence, while the Iranians built more centrifuges, and yanked our chains. Where is the Iranian Lech Walensa? Where is the Iranian Solidarity movement? Does anyone think the Iron Curtain fell on its own? We pushed it over. Reagan pushed it over. The means he used weren't always open and obvious, but by this time in Reagan's second term, we could see the effects. I've been hearing about Iranian dissidents and how sick the people are of the mullahs for years now. If that's so true, we should be seeing some actual dissent over there, demonstrations, labor strikes. Again I ask, where are President Bush and Secretary Rice on this issue?

Great Britain just made the likelihood of eventual military confrontation between Iran and the West more likely. What are we doing to prevent it by toppling the dictatorship before that happens?

Update: A comment by Cruiser at The Belmont Club made the following very cogent point:

We always hear that acting aggressively towards Iran shores-up the hardliners. This is an good example of why the opposite can be true.
Cruiser reacts at his own blog, here.

Update 2: In 2005, after the London bombings, I asked, "Where is this Britiain?" I'm now sure of the answer. It no longer exists. Blair has made a mockery of James Thomson's stirring poem, and it should never be sung again, except in sarcasm.

Yes the Britain of Lord Nelson is dead. And so is the Britain of Lord Churchill who, in 1940, said:

[B]e the ordeal sharp or long, or both, we shall seek no terms, we shall tolerate no parley; we may show mercy—we shall ask for none.
Yes, that Britain is dead as dead can be. Mourn it.

Posted by annika at 09:11 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

April 03, 2007

The Category Is "Heads Of State"

Identify the European head of state who, according to Time Magazine, complained that the President "acts like a faith healer" and formulates "policy from the pulpit?"

Answer here (paragraph 6).

Posted by annika at 07:33 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

April 02, 2007

Annika Asks Her Readers

John Hawkins has his polls, I have mine.

Do you think the Travelocity Gnome is funny?
Don't know
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Should Ohio State officially change their name from the Buckeyes to Florida's Bitches?
Don't know
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Egg salad sandwich, tuna salad sandwich, or chicken salad sandwich?
Egg salad
Tuna salad
Chicken salad
Don't know
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Which Jessica is best?
Jessica Simpson
Jessica Alba
Jessica Biel
Jessica Rabbit
Jessica Rose
Lady Jessica Atreides
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If Sam Jaya ever gets kicked off American Idol, the next competition he should enter is...
one of those Bravo reality shows where everyone's gay.
America's top model.
The Ultimate Fighter.
Nathan's hot dog eating contest.
The Bachelor.
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Posted by annika at 07:36 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

McCain Loses First Primary

John McCain just lost his first primary this season: the "fundraising primary."

Sen. John McCain today announced a disappointing $12.5 million fundraising total for the first three months of 2007.

The total, which would have been impressive in past election cycles, finds McCain trailing GOP rivals Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani in the crucial early money sweepstakes.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has struggled in the national polls, reported $23 million in primary election contributions, including more than $2 million of his own money. The Federal Election Commission allows candidates to collect money for their primary and general election campaigns simultaneously.

Giuliani, the Republican frontrunner in national surveys, took in more than $15 million in primary cash, including more than $10 million last month. He also transferred about $2 million from another campaign account for a total of $17 million.

This is not good news for McCain, but it's good news for America.

Memo to Senator McCain: The mainstream media is not a constituency. You pissed off the wrong people with your Gang of 14 - anti-free speech - dumbing down the definition of "torture" - Democrats are people too, views. Money flows to candidates that can win the nomination. You can't win. It's time to leave the field to Giuliani and Romney and stop sucking up attention that should be going to the legitimate candidates.

Posted by annika at 01:28 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack