The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Friday, October 31, 2003  

Who Are We Freaks?

I came across a blog yesterday with which I wasn’t familiar previously, Dual Loyalty, produced by Josez Imrich. He’s been blogging -- very adeptly -- since April, mostly about books, literature, literary news and trends, and, well, blogging.

While at Dual Loyalty I came across a link to a New York Times article I missed, “Blog Bog and an E-Mail Pony Express,” by Pamela LiCalzi O’Connell (October 23), citing a study by Perseus Development that found “fully 66 percent of the 4.12 million blogs, or online journals, created on eight leading blog-hosting services have been ‘abandoned’ -- that is, not updated for at least two months. And 1.09 million of those were one-day wonders.”

The implication of the article is not, however, that blogging is a fleeting fad. In fact, according to the Times, Perseus estimates there were 1.6 million active blogs last year, a number projected to rise to 3.3 million this year and 5.9 million in 2004.

Blogging, then, is not for everyone. You either get it or you don’t. Or, rather, it either gets you or it doesn’t.

I’ve participated in numerous surveys of bloggers conducted by academics, the media, and various consultants, most of which have had as their focus the mechanics and motivations of blogging. None has yet to try to probe my psyche or determine a psychological profile. That, I think, to the extent no one has yet studied the matter, truly goes to the heart of what drives successful, or at least persistent, blogging.

I’ve been blogging for 19 months, and in that time I’ve met, online and in person, a surprising number of what might be called kindred spirits, including, perhaps most shockingly, a fellow collector of a rather obscure sub-category of Catholic iconography. (Jane: Don’t give away the secret!) There’s something to all of this on a psychological level, something more than mere egotism, I hope, but I’m not sure what it is.

Speaking for myself, blogging is under my skin, in my blood, on my mind, what have you. This whole pared-back-shouldn’t-post-anything-have-to-find-a-job thing is killing me. You wouldn’t believe the incredibly amusing and informative posts I’ve been writing in my head the past two weeks. Some of my best stuff, I’m telling you, left unshared.

Okay, that’s not necessarily the case. I’m just sort of whining. But I do miss it badly.

[Note: Also added today: A post-publication addendum to my quick snark about’s interview with Camille Paglia, found here.]

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Thursday, October 30, 2003  

Polled for the First Time Ever

Earlier this week while expecting a phone call from overseas, I answered the telephone despite the “Unavailable” notice on my Caller ID box, something I normally don’t do. It wasn’t the call I was anticipating, but instead an automated mayoral political poll sponsored by Philadelphia’s WCAU-TV (Channel 10, NBC).

WCAU revealed the results of that poll today:

According to the poll of 619 registered voters, if the [Philadelphia mayoral] election were held today [Ed.: Actually, the day on which participants were solicited for their opinions.], 55 percent said they would vote for [incumbent Mayor John F.] Street (D) and 41 percent said they would vote for [challenger Sam] Katz (R). [Ed.: Margin of error: +/- 4 percent.]

So I was one of those 619 people. Kind of cool. Or not. Okay, probably not. Anyway, it was the first time I participated in a genuine public opinion poll, and I thought it was neat.

As previously noted here, I’m planning to vote for Mayor Street, but I’ll say one thing for Katz: I like the way he just happens always to be on the other side of town when President George W. Bush comes to Philly trolling for votes, something he’s been doing quite often, by the way.

(I know, I know, I’m not supposed to be blogging. Back to the job search, my friends.)

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Actually, I’m Not Atrios and I Don’t Even Play Atrios on TV
But I Know Atrios, and, Donald Luskin, You Are No Atrios

Warning: Gratuitous blogger name-dropping ahead.

I spoke with Atrios this afternoon.

Rest assured he is in good spirits.

And that’s all I’m going to say because a good journalist protects his sources.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2003  

Right-Wingers and Their Lawyerly Friends

Since you’ve probably already read about this nonsense, this particular post is sort of like preaching to the choir or reporting old news to the already informed or something, but it appears Atrios, he of Eschaton fame, is being harassed by purported economist Donald L. Luskin of National Review Online, an appropriately named weblog, Poor & Stupid, and something called Trend Macrolytics L.L.C. (apparently not a weight-loss clinic), along with attorneys for same, namely, Jeffrey J. Upton of and with Hanify & King P.C., Boston.

For all their rants about the evils of trial lawyers, right-wingers sure love their attorneys, don’t they? Always ready to trot them out or threaten to do so when their feelings are hurt, their foibles are uncovered, their inadequacies are exposed, or their hypocrisies are revealed. (Cf. “Norah Vincent Cannot Have It Both Ways,” The Rittenhouse Review, December 19, 2002.)

Drop by Eschaton and see the full fury of a right-winger exposed, his barenakedness revealed through the painful attempts of his noble esquire, the aforementioned Upton, at erudition, an effort that merely results in a string of cries, complaints, whines, and near tears over, get this, asserted “numerous libelous statements regarding Mr. Luskin,” “false assertions” regarding same, “libel per se,” “an actionable tort,” “actual and punitive damages,” “libelous comments,” “personal liability,” “[d]etermining your identity for the purpose of making service of process,” “making false and defamatory statements of alleged fact,” “threaten[ing] physical violence,” and “utterly reckless.”

Ridiculous. I mean, really ridiculous. The man is, at the very least, obsessed. Lawyers of the blogosphere: Pounce!

(By the way, speaking of National Review Online, the Mighty Reason Man of Very Very Happy has a smart post up demonstrating that the NRO Corner’s resident cafeteria lady, Kathryn Jean Lopez, really is as much of an idiot as you always thought she was. Oh, and he gives James Lileks, who wrote like one funny thing in his life, a few collected doodles about food I think, something that remarkably resembles “The Rittenhouse Treatment,” if I must say so myself.)

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On the Unwarranted Return of Camille Paglia

Gee whiz, do I wish I had time today to give Camille Paglia, Philadelphia’s very own Village Idiot, the full Rittenhouse treatment her interview truly deserves.

Pull quote:

Blog reading for me is like going down to the cellar amid shelves and shelves of musty books that you’re condemned to turn the pages of. Bad prose, endless reams of bad prose! There’s a lack of discipline, a feeling that anything that crosses one’s mind is important or interesting to others.

Those with a particular interest in musty books virtually defined by their endless streams of bad prose, lack of discipline, and horrific narcissism dressed up as scholarship might want to click here and here and here.

A final note: It came as no surprise that Paglia managed to fit in her most irritating, overused, and meaningless trademark phrase: “my 1960s generation.”

[Post-publication addendum (October 31): See also David Neiwert of Orcinus, “Nice Projection on Your Forehead, Lady,” where Neiwert astutely observes that captured the very character of Paglia in the sub-headline tagged to the site’s interview with Philadelphia’s Village Idiot: “what a phony” . . . “the hair” . . . “a monster” . . . “delusional narcissist.” Do you think Salon did that on purpose? By the way, Neiwert’s “nice projection” line reminds me of one of the few things Howard Stern ever said that I found funny. It was in reference to either Celine Dion or Sarah Jessica Parker or perhaps both: “Why the long face?”]

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Tuesday, October 28, 2003  

A Tribute to Rittenhouse Readers

I just wanted to post a quick expression of thanks, gratitude, and appreciation to all of the readers who recently have made donations to The Rittenhouse Review.

The collection so far has topped anything I ever would have expected. Actually, I expected nothing, having made only a passing reference to the “tip box” in the October 19 post in which I announced a real-world-induced hiatus. Well, that and the fact that during its entire existence the tip box had been hit only one time prior to that date.

I suspect, then, that many, and probably most, of the donations came as a result of the gentle prodding published by my fellow Bloggers, including Atrios of Eschaton, Tom of TBogg, Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft, Jeanne d’Arc of Body and Soul, Kevin Raybould of Lean Left, Tim Dunlop of the Road to Surfdom, Avedon Carol of The Sideshow, and anyone I might have forgotten though I hope there are none. For their kindness I am especially grateful.

Thanks as well to those who have sent job leads and referral notes, and to readers offering messages of support and encouragement. It has all meant a very great deal to me.

As I said on the 19th, I hope to return to blogging “full time” as soon as possible. I’m looking forward to it.

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Sunday, October 26, 2003  

The Race for Mayor: Philadelphia

Time doesn’t permit my going into detail on this matter, but for what it’s worth, The Rittenhouse Review endorses incumbent Mayor John F. Street (D) for reelection as mayor of Philadelphia.

[Post-publication addendum (October 29): Admirably, my friend Timothy R. Gray of the Pennsylvania Gazette agrees.]

[Post-publication addendum (October 30): And so does the Pretentious Partizan.]

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Sunday, October 19, 2003  

Light Blogging Ahead

Strange, isn’t it, and annoying too, how real life and all of its demands can get in the way of the fun stuff?

Like spending time with your family and friends, pursuing a hobby or craft, reading a few good books, taking a vacation, or stowing away funds to buy something special for yourself or someone you care about.

Unfortunately, real life can get in the way of blogging too.

In the coming weeks there will be fewer posts than usual at both of my blogs, Rittenhouse and TRR: The Lighter Side of Rittenhouse, as, well, real life is suddenly in the way.

Real life in the sense of finding a new job (and possibly a new place to live), selling various and sundry items on eBay to raise some much-needed cash, and paying more attention to a few health-related issues I have been neglecting, in part, but not entirely, because I have been uninsured for two years.

I hope to find time to post now and again, but frankly I don’t know what the next several weeks will bring. Please come back once in a while and see if there’s anything new.

This isn’t the end of Rittenhouse, a statement I think will please the site’s many loyal readers -- for whose support, encouragement, and kind words I once again extend my thanks and appreciation -- and also a statement that I assume will engender at least a little grumbling among my persistent critics. Both reactions are, I think, part and parcel of a blogger’s life.

In the meantime, the shopping and recommended-book links to from Rittenhouse will remain open for business and donations can continue to be made through PayPal through the link on the sidebar at right.

See you soon.

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Thursday, October 16, 2003  

Together With Miscellany

Senate Democrats plan hard-fought battles against the Bush administration’s request for another $87 billion for Iraq and the nomination of Gov. Michael O. Leavitt (R-Utah) to head the Environmental Protection Agency . . . Labor unions are starting to flex some muscle, primarily over healthcare costs. Let’s hope for more of the same. Boycott Wal-Mart! . . . Rittenhouse is still undecided among the current crop of aspirants for the Democratic presidential nomination but hopes Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), who recently made his candidacy official, can at least hang around long enough to have a meaningful impact on the party, its nominee (assuming it isn’t him and who knows?), and its platform . . . Bolivians are -- justifiably -- pretty angry these days, but this time it has nothing to do with McDonald’s . . . Is the New York State Board of Regents dumbing down graduation requirements or just being realistic? . . . A horrible tragedy on the Staten Island Ferry today . . . The New York Post is filled with creeps from top to bottom, and, no, this link has nothing to do with John Podhoretz, a/k/a/ Tiffany Midgeson . . . New York University’s Elmer Bobst Library, which I think is magnificent but many others think is a monstrosity, already has been the site of two suicides this semester . . .

Interior View, Elmer Bobst Library

Detroit’s beautiful Book-Cadillac Hotel, designed by Louis Kamper and the tallest hotel in the world when it opened in 1924, but which has been closed since 1984, and reminds me much of Philadelphia’s famed and beautifully restored Bellevue Hotel, is slated for a full-scale, upscale renovation . . .

The Book-Cadillac Hotel

Meanwhile, Frank Gehry is throwing up more of his xeroxed junk, this time in New York . . . And Tom Wolfe takes on 2 Columbus Circle, the former home of the Huntington Hartford Gallery of Modern Art. And as in the abysmal A Man in Full he goes on and on, and on and on, about it . . . Requiescat in pacem: Bill Shoemaker, world-renowned jockey, 1931-2003 . . . The Paris Review, established and edited by the late George Plimpton, threw a party for itself Tuesday night to celebrate the journal’s 50th anniversary. Congratulations, Paris Review! But, really, did anyone ever read that thing? . . . A newly discovered, at least by me, Philadelphia-based journal, discovered when its editor discovered Rittenhouse, that’s worth your attention: The Wissahickon.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2003  

Who Will Take Their Jobs?
And Who Will Buy Their Houses?

The baby boomers, as they themselves are painfully aware, aren’t getting any younger. And while many Americans are working past the normal retirement age of 65, eventually this particular generation’s retirements will have an enormous impact on the economy.

It’s a topic that has emerged intermittently in the financial media in recent years, and one we can expect to hear more about in coming years. In today’s New York Times, editor Fred Brock raises the issue once again (“Who’ll Sit at the Boomers’ Desks?”):

[T]he big baby-boom generation is starting to retire. Its oldest members are about 57 and will be 65 in 2011. There simply aren’t enough workers behind them in the labor supply pipeline to fill their jobs. Employers will have to try to retain older workers in some capacity or lure retired workers back into the work force. Companies that have treated their workers badly or engaged in even the subtlest forms of age discrimination will regret it. So will companies that just ignore the problem.

The primary source for the Times article, Paul Kaihla, a senior writer for Business 2.0 (see “The Coming Job Boom”), says the baby-boomer-retirement-induced labor shortage already is affecting the economy and will be in full swing by 2005, only to worsen dramatically over the subsequent 15 years.

The implications? Later retirements for baby boomers, more flexible hours to keep them in the workforce, increased immigration of high-skilled workers, and a better labor market and compensation environment for the post-baby-boom generation.

It’s all very interesting, but I’m wondering why no one seems concerned about a related issue that has been on my mind during the recent housing boom (which, by the way, I’m convinced is a dangerous bubble just waiting to be pricked)?: Who the hell do all these smug and self-satisfied baby boomers think is going to buy their already overpriced houses?

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Watch Your Behinds!

Gee whiz, nobody told me or anything but apparently California governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger has been hanging around in Philadelphia lately, or so one might surmise from an odd report in today’s Philadelphia Daily News.

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The Things Right Wingers Get Away With

I wonder what would happen if I were to write and have published an essay that began like this:

It’s the most wonderful week of the year. If you’re Jewish. And annoying.

It’s “Be Jewish Week” at universities all across the matzoed plains. Throughout the country, students are sharing their Hebraic proclivities. Colleges sponsor Jewish rallies. They put out “pro-tolerance” fliers. They hang gigantic banners on telephone poles and wires surrounding major cities in honor of those who are brave enough to tell us the difference between fleishig and milchig.

Here’s a piece of news for proponents of Be Jewish Week: None of the rest of us care. We don’t care which day you consider the sabbath and how much you paid for your synagogue seats. You can parade around in your yarmulkes as much as you please. You can hold as many mikvahs as you want. You can wear shirts reading “Jesus is a Phoney.” You can wear a star of David on your backpack. Just don’t expect us to care.

I’m not sure what would happen, but I bet I wouldn’t be a columnist for any reputable organization by the end of the day. But then again, the above is an almost word-for-word parody, if you will, of tripe published today at, so, in the end, what does it matter?

(See also: TBogg and World O’ Crap.)

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Monday, October 13, 2003  

A Tale of Two Bloggerings

I’m not sure what to make of this, so I’ll just put it out there.

As I mentioned here on Saturday, Friday night I attended a gathering of liberal/left/progressive New York bloggers for dinner, drinks, camaraderie, and nefarious conspiracies, real and Freeper-imagined.

As one of the organizers of the event I was put in charge of collecting money to pay the restaurant tab. I dread and loathe this responsibility since for the most part over the past 20 years during which the task intermittently has been assigned to me, the table more often than not has come up short, requiring me, the collector, to badger my companions to pony up a bit more or to cover the shortage myself.

I’m pleased to report that when I totaled up the collection plate, so to speak, those at Friday’s gathering more than covered the bill and the gratuity that was added by the house.

In contrast, as Nicole of Go Fish reported several months ago (I can’t remember when it was, can’t find the post, and so you’re on your own over there), at a similar gathering of Philadelphia bloggers, this one noted for, among other things, its ideological diversity, the attendees running the gamut from the left to the far right, things were quite different: Nicole said contributions toward the tab fell far short of the tally.

Is there a larger meaning in all of this? Are conservatives cheap by nature? Are liberals instinctually generous?

I don’t know. I ask, you decide.

[Post-publication update (October 14): Just to make clear, this was written tongue-in-cheek. At least a little.]

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Together With Miscellany

Iraqis cooperating with U.S. authorities are prime targets for assassination and terror: “What did we do to deserve this?” one asks. Guess the notion of “collaborators” and all of the negative connotations of that term were something else not considered before the war . . . Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) take on the roles of lead critics of no-bid contracts for repairing the damage done in Iraq . . . Saudi Arabia announces plans for the country’s first elections. Just municipal councils, mind you . . . Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei considers resigning. Gee whiz, these guys make Italy’s governments look like the rock of Gibraltar . . . Meanwhile, Israeli forces raze a Gaza Strip refugee camp leaving 1,240 homeless . . . Veteran journalist Daniel Schorr offers some thoughts on the Plame Game . . . At least William Safire admits there’s still a war going on in Iraq. Of course, he doesn’t say so until the last sentence of today’s column . . . Republican pollster and consultant Frank Lutz -- last quoted at Rittenhouse with this apparently unsubstantiated notion, “Americans don’t want to hear about the Holocaust anymore, and they particularly don’t want to hear it from the Jewish community.” -- has some words of caution for the Bush administration in light of the California gubernatorial recall . . . And people say unions employ rough tactics? California supermarkets are engaged in a bitter -- vicious, even -- show of corporate solidarity, affecting 70,000 of the major chains’ employees . . . Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s memoir Madame Secretary, earns a largely favorable review in the New York Times from reporter Elaine Sciolino . . . Separated after birth: The conjoined Egyptian twins who endured 26 hours of separation surgery in Austin, Texas, are said to be recovering and in stable condition . . . How does a not-so-cool city become “cooler”? (The focus of the article is Cincinnati, ranked 39 out of 40 on Forbes magazine’s list of America’s coolest cities. Philadelphia, by the way, was ranked 14th. Below Raleigh-Durham, N.C.? Below San Diego? See sidebar to linked article.) . . . On the continuing de-Christianization and secularization of Europe . . . Frances Shand Kydd, mother of the late Diana Spencer, joins the chorus of those who view the House of Windsor as a pack of insensitive clods . . . You know what? The 4-H is still around. Even in Massachusetts. I have to admit I’ve always found it strange that the 4-H’s national headquarters is located on a prime piece of real estate in tony Chevy Chase, Md.

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Saturday, October 11, 2003  

Together With Miscellany

Wow, way cool! Norah Vincent sighting! And in the oddest of places and the oddest of forms [N.B.: “I am a man”] [Post-publication insertion: Gee whiz, it didn’t take Vincent long to pull down her personal ad did it? Maybe Lisa McNulty didn’t like the part where Vincent said she’s “single.” And “a man.”] . . . Vice President Richard L. Cheney pulls together enough nitroglycerine to speak to the choir, telling a Heritage Foundation audience: “Had we followed the counsel of inaction, the Iraqi regime would still be a menace to its neighbors and a destabilizing force in the Middle East. Today, because we acted, Iraq stands to be a force for good in the Middle East.” Gee, the current situation in Iraq looks per se destabilizing to the region, don’t you think? . . . And as the New York Times notes, Vice President Cheney is still acting like a desperate used-car salesman, some time around the 28th of the month, peddling the discredited fiction about Iraq’s ties with Al-Qaeda: “He repeated his assertion that Mr. Hussein actively supported Al Qaeda operations in Iraq, an assessment that some intelligence analysts say is overstated at best.” (Transcript: here.) . . . The Bush administration gives psychopath and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a free hand to do whatever it is that psychopaths are wont to do . . . Meanwhile, Syria says relations with the U.S. are at a new low, and, I think, destined to worsen . . . Things are getting really ugly in Nepal, which is disturbing in and of itself, but also because the situation may, and hopefully will not, imperil the impending adoption of my future niece from that strife-ridden nation . . . Uh-oh. A new threat from Cuba? Or just a cynical attempt to pin down Florida’s previously contested electoral votes come November 2004? I’m betting on the latter . . . The whole bugging Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street (D) thing is simultaneously becoming more interesting and more bizarre, and Street’s woefully inexperienced, power-hungry, egotistical opponent, the virtual nobody going by the name of Sam Katz (R), can barely contain his glee . . . The New York Times reports Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) are suddenly getting all chummy, supposedly in the face of rival former Vermont governor Howard Dean’s momentum . . . Meanwhile, Dean is reportedly planning to go gang-busters (Calm down, Arnold!) in New Hampshire and Iowa . . . Man, Andrew Sullivan is still peddling that tiresome “Susan Sontag Award” of his? Count me not among Sontag’s admirers, but, gee whiz, that whole award thing was funny for like three seconds . . . If you happen to find yourself in Philadelphia and are looking for the Liberty Bell, your map is without a doubt out of date. They moved it yesterday . . . Finally, lots of fun was had in New York last night during a convivial and all-too-brief gathering of the region’s top progressive bloggers, along with a trio of special -- and warmly welcomed -- guests from Philadelphia and Atlanta and Portland, Maine . . . (By the way, here’s something kind of weird: At least three bloggers attending last night’s gathering in New York said, either explicitly or in so many words, that before meeting me in the flesh they thought I would be, well, fat. I’m not sure why, and I’m not sure they know either, since I’ve hinted otherwise in the past. For the record, I stand 5’9” and I weigh all of 130 pounds. Just thought you might want to know.)

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Friday, October 10, 2003  

You Heard It Here First
Assuming You Were Awake

The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2003 was announced just moments ago in Oslo, Norway: Iranian attorney Shirin Ebadi. (For additional details in English from Reuters, click here.)

Be sure to tell your colleagues, friends, and family you heard it first at The Rittenhouse Review, at least among American media outlets, traditional and otherwise, just like last year.

Don’t believe me? Ask yourself: Who else would be reading Dagbladet at five in the morning?

[Posted at 5:04 a.m., eastern time.]

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Thursday, October 09, 2003  

Together With Miscellany

Will someone, maybe the FBI or the Justice Department, explain why the bureau planted listening devices in the office of Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street (D), a man locked neck-and-neck in a rematch with the politically inexperienced and not-all-that-civic-minded businessman, former school board member (attendance record: abysmal), and Indian gaming honcho Sam Katz (R)? Is this a legitimate investigation into corruption by associates of Street or a politically motivated campaign to discredit the mayor? I’m not sure, but until today I was undecided heading toward next month’s election. Until I learn more, I know who I’m voting for . . . President George W. Bush plans to be bench-pressed by incoming California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Anything for some help in the polls . . . Iraqi Dowager Princess Condoleezza Rice gets all assertive and stuff, sending Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld into an embarrassing hissy fit . . . Former Vermont governor and presidential aspirant Howard Dean keeps up the pressure on the wreckage that goes by the name of “the Bush administration” . . . Heard a great report on Vatican Radio today about the appalling human rights violations occurring in the Congo. But then, you knew about that already, since Jeanne d’Arc of Body & Soul has been all over that story for months . . . By the way, if you think Kathryn Jean Lopez reads like an idiot at National Review Online, you should hear the drivel she spews on Vatican Radio. I don’t know, I thought self-mortification went out of style sometime in the 16th century . . . Anyone seen or heard from Norah Vincent lately? Never heard of her? Thin-skinned, “libertarian pro-life lesbian,” with a really cranky girlfriend, who used to jot down a few rambling thoughts once a week for the Los Angeles Times . . . On the bastard German children of Charles Lindbergh . . . The Navy’s use of powerful sonar systems is apparently killing whales . . . Archie, Jughead, Veronica, Betty, et al., the focus of an anti-drug campaign aimed at today’s teenagers? Tell me this isn’t a joke . . . Walking disaster area and, in some circles, suspected murderess, Courtney Love faces drug charges after allegedly breaking into a Los Angeles home . . . Most priests I’ve known are good people, but I’ll admit some are just nuts.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2003  

Now What?
And Who’s Going to Clean Up the Crap?

Here’s hoping Andrew Sullivan is going to take his latest cycle down a notch now that he’s so excited “Eagle” [Guffaw!] Arnold Schwarzenegger has nested.

My only question is this: Who’s going to clean up the massive dumps of guano?

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Tuesday, October 07, 2003  

The California Recall Election

I don’t know about you, but I always thought California was really overrated.

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Three Jars and Some Squiggles

This year’s Nobel Prize for physics today was awarded to Alexei A. Abrikosov of the Argonne National Laboratory, Vitaly L. Ginzburg of the P.M. Lebedev Physical Institute, and Anthony J. Leggett of the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign).

Here’s the essence of the good doctors’ term paper:

I knew I should have majored in physics. Or chemistry. Or math. Something with a big prize. A Nobel Prize. Yeah, that’s it, something with a Nobel Prize. But not economics, because that’s like a joke. Not economics writ large, but the Nobels in the category. They’re a complete farce.

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Together With Miscellany

The Bush administration names Condoleezza Rice as the first dowager empress of Iraq . . . Yeah, today’s the day we’ve been anticipating for at least a century: California finally goes off the deep end . . . Sen. Robert Graham (D-Fla.) announces the end of his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination . . . Sen. Don Rickles (R-Okla.) says he will not seek re-election next year. Such a shame . . . Yasi Arafat appoints Ahmed Qureia prime minister. Plus ça change, anyone? . . . Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is hard at work protecting what’s left of his reputation . . . Ditto Daniel Pipes . . . Mona Charen, who I swear must be somebody’s daughter or niece or second cousin or something since there’s just no other reasonable explanation, writes in today’s Washington Times: “I have never before heard liberal members of the press wondering aloud (and not without some relish) whether a fellow journalist might have committed a crime in publishing classified information. The usual response is to give them prizes and banquets. . . . This is a completely manufactured scandal. The Democrats are hot for it because they believe they can use it to get Karl Rove.” . . . Guess which non-native-born Washington Times Cliff Notes writer posted this comment at his blog today: “‘Pumping Iron’ . . . is about cunning, wit and irony -- as incarnated in the larger-than-life figure of an Austrian super-star who is more American than millions of native-borns.” . . . Martha Stewart seeks dismissal of securities fraud charges . . . Stewart, by the way, is among the rich and famous who deny having drained Georgica Pond, East Hampton, N.Y., in July . . . Carrier Corp. terminates 1,200 employees in already-beleaguered Syracuse, N.Y.

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Monday, October 06, 2003  

Christmas 2003

Glad, I guess, to see that the `90s are still alive and well at Neiman-Marcus.

The upscale specialty retailer’s Christmas Book arrived in the mail yesterday, the highlight of which is, of course, the annual “His & Hers” gift selection.

So what will the couple with too much money be enjoying on Christmas morn 2003?

Let’s check the catalog:

Nowadays, most couples would love some extra arms and legs to help conquer their ever-expanding to-do list. Our 2003 His & Hers multifunction robots fit the bill quite nicely, thanks.

Someone at the door? Click your remote and send His Robot to check it out. His Robot’s voice circuitry can deliver your greeting, and His on-board video camera gives you a view of the visitor, who can hop onto His platform and be delivered to you in the den.

Need some help getting the groceries into the house? Her Robot is happy to help.

Designed and built at International Robotics, these two are the most advanced adult-size interactive remote-controlled robots out there. Both have on-board computers for user-friendly functionality in daily use. In fact, His Robot is designed to respond empathetically to us humans and features programmable technology.

Need to leave a message for the spouse or kids? Tell it to Her Robot, and she’ll spread the word.

When their power lights signal you, just plug them into any outlet to juice them up to full speed. Our life-size Robots stand nearly six feet tall.

Our exclusive package includes much more, like preprogrammed messages and sequences of movements, and training for the humans.

Okay, now as best I can determine, the His & Hers Robots are tailor made for people who: (a) have too much money (I know, I said that already.); (b) are too friggin’ lazy to answer the damn door; (c) have guests who are too feeble to walk from the door to the living room; (d) can’t be bothered to bring the groceries from the garage to the kitchen; and (e) don’t speak with their children.

Anyway, the His & Hers Robots can be all yours for $400,000.00.

Sure, it’s more expensive than paying a few illegal immigrants under the table, but if you opted for the robots you at least could still be able to become U.S. Secretary of Labor.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Thursday, October 02, 2003  

Together With Miscellany

President George W. Bush’s standing continues to decline in public opinion polls . . . Six women tell of brush-ins with Arnold Schwarzenegger; Schwarzenegger “deeply sorry” . . . Washington Post “media critic” Howard Kurtz sees “enemies” at work (includes requisite Andrew Sullivan quote) . . . Columnist and habitual liar playing journalist, Robert Novak, backs off, confuses, and just all-around pitches in to help the Bush administration as best he can . . . Post columnist Richard Cohen sees hypocrisy in action on the part of the Bush White House . . . Nationally syndicated bow-tie aficionado George F. Will is all worked up over Secretary of State Colin Powell and lowers the bar for weapons inspector David Kay’s report on Iraqi WMDs . . . Remember when it was really cool and hip -- so `90s -- to say you were a libertarian? Well, if you’re still hanging your hat on that pole, pick up and move to New Hampshire, why dontcha? . . . The Senate Judiciary Committee is at it again, voting to approve the nomination of Charles Pickering, a Bush administration favorite for a federal appeals court seat . . . Economist Arthur Laffer takes to the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal, advocating, what else, a flat tax for California. [Ed.: Subscription required.] . . . The cover story in the latest issue of Fortune (October 13): “Women in Power,” with a cover photo of two of the most overrated women in America: Condoleezza Rice and Carly Fiorina . . . South African novelist J.M. Coetzee wins the Nobel Prize for literature . . . And Philadelphia looks pretty in pink.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Is One of Them Audrey May Herron?

Yesterday I made passing mention of the discovery of the skeletal remains of two women in Marlborough, Mass., as reported in the Boston Globe.

Thanks to an astute reader, J.I., I’m now wondering whether one of the bodies is that of Audrey May Herron, who was last seen near Catskill, N.Y., on August 29, 2002.

The FBI tells me they’re aware of the possible connection (“#1 Mom”) and are looking into it.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


No Apology, But At Least “Regret”

Rush Limbaugh, radio and TV personality and all-around pain in the ass, has resigned from his position as a commentator on ESPN’s “NFL Sunday Countdown,” his departure sparked this comment made during last Sunday’s program:

I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well; I think there is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team. I think he got a lot of credit for the defensive side of the ball winning games for this team.

ESPN says:

In the wake of his controversial statements regarding [Philadelphia] Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Rush Limbaugh has resigned from his position on ESPN’s NFL pregame show. ESPN has accepted the resignation.

Limbaugh issued a statement late Wednesday night in which he wrote:

“My comments this past Sunday were directed at the media and were not racially motivated. I offered an opinion. This opinion has caused discomfort to the crew, which I regret.

“I love [‘]NFL Sunday Countdown[’] and do not want to be a distraction to the great work done by all who work on it.

“Therefore, I have decided to resign. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the show and wish all the best to those who make it happen.”

George Bodenheimer, [p]resident, ESPN and ABC Sports, issued the following response:

“We accept his resignation and regret the circumstances surrounding this. We believe that he took the appropriate action to resolve this matter expeditiously.”

Give Limbaugh partial credit on this one. He didn’t apologize for his stupidity, but at least he had the decency -- I can’t believe I just used that word -- to resign, to retreat back to the sewer whence he came, which is more than can be said for others whose stupidity put themselves in similar positions. Too bad, though, that ESPN didn’t take the high road and fire the big jerk.

Wait a minute. I have to take that back.

Here’s what Limbaugh said yesterday on his radio show:

All this has become the tempest that it is because I must have been right about something. If I wasn't right, there wouldn’t be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sportswriter community. There’s no racism here. There’s no racist intent whatsoever.

This guy isn’t a special kind of jerk, he’s just a plain old ordinary garden-variety jerk.

[See also: “Limbaugh Quits ESPN Job,” by Bob Brookover, Philadelphia Inquirer; “Limbaugh’s Views are not His Alone,” by Stephen A. Smith, Philadelphia Inquirer; “Redskins Players Line Up on the Side of McNabb,” by Phil Sheridan, Philadelphia Inquirer; “Out on a Limbaugh,” by Les Bowen, Philadelphia Daily News; “McNabb Teammates Critical of Rush,” also by Bowen; and “Rush Bails Out ESPN,” by John Smallwood, Philadelphia Daily News.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, October 01, 2003  

Together With Miscellany

Republican political consultant Frank Luntz says: “Americans don’t want to hear about the Holocaust anymore, and they particularly don’t want to hear it from the Jewish community.” Um, huh? . . . The Joseph Wilson affair reportedly has the White House under siege from, believe it or not, news reporters . . . Arnold Schwarzenegger is said to be confident of victory in the California recall/gubernatorial race . . . Arianna Huffington ended her campaign, but you knew that already . . . What’s his stand on ________. Who cares? . . . Washington Times columnist Suzanne Fields is a lunatic (you knew that already), but in her latest column she alerts readers to the nefarious influence of a man with whom she shares space on the Times op-ed page, Andrew Sullivan, calling him “the self-declared homosexual blogger” and providing this risible Sullivanism for anyone who missed it: “Which real Californian wouldn’t vote for someone with a body like that?” . . . General Wesley K. Clark is suddenly very popular in Hollywood . . . I knew Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R-N.Y.) would turn out to be a great big disappointment . . . Wonder what lurks repressed in the deep recesses of the minds of kids like this . . . And why the skeletons of two women were found buried near the grounds of the Hillside School in Marlborough, Massachusetts . . . At last check, 14 percent of those participating in an online poll hosted by ESPN agree with racist slob Rush Limbaugh. Testing the waters before they respond, I guess. (Link thanks to Hesiod.) . . . Pope John Paul II is sticking with his schedule, but, gee whiz, he doesn’t sound so good.

[Note: Last two items added after initial publication.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |