Friday, June 15, 2007

Remember when...

Remember before, when we had no idea who Deborah Frisch was?

Man, I miss those days.

UPDATE: Frisch commented on this post on one of her blogs. However, due to repeated terms of service violations, including direct violations of court orders, it didn't stay up for long.

One of the sites that has followed her actions has a common refrain: "trust teh cycle." For a time, Frisch is silent online. I don't know the cause of the silences because I don't follow her life that closely. But eventually, inevitably, she resurfaces, libels a handful of people (commonly: economists whose discipline is at odds with her Decision Science background; lawyers and judges who have used the rule of law to sanction her behavior; random individuals unfortunate enough to get her thinking aloud about them), replies obscenely to her own posts under the names of those she detests; and raises the volume and temperature until Blogger deletes her comments/posts or revokes her blogs. Eventually she quiets down...but never for long.

The Frisch saga has been rehearsed endlessly elsewhere, and I won't bother to rehash it here. Suffice to say that, in spite of all that her actions have cost her in the past year, she continues to behave as though her actions have no consequences.

I leave it to the reader to decide.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Moving to WordPress

I'm moving Rant, Monkey! to a new host, because, you know, the traffic here is overwhelming. We're moving on up, to the West Side...

I'll keep this one, but won't be updating it. At some point the "" domain will point you to the new location, but I'll keep "new" and "old" links up so you, my teeming legions of readers, will not get lost in the tubes and end up someplace like here.

Blogspot been berry berry good to me. But I run another half dozen sites on wordpress, so I figure if I'm going to have a semi-active blog, I might as well bring it under the big tent.

So...happy new year. check out the new digs here. It's still a bit sparse, but it's functional. Sign up, comment, and if you can't, please let me know.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Death, and its dangers

"Because of the exceedingly great length of the war ... many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions"

No two people will respond identically to every situation. Some relationships are deepend by a crisis; others, destroyed. Some collapse under great stress; others cannot reach their full potential without it.

Just as, in the words of Ecclesiastes - or, if you prefer, the Byrds - there is "a time to kill, a time to heal, a time to rend, a time to sew"...there is someone who leads the way. In war we seek the best warriors; in misery we seek those who comfort us best. In folly we assume one cannot do both, but some of the stories that have most heartened me from Iraq have come from warriors who are also great humanitarians.

In an event as significant as the execution of Saddam Hussein, a wide range of reactions is inevitable. Some feel it is never right to kill, even someone as monstrous as Saddam. Others, that he got off easy with a simple hanging and should have been given a death commensurate with his crimes. Friends may disagree, some so much the friendship will end. Certainly many friendships have ended since September 11, 2001, over deep disagreements as to who we are, and who we should be.

The great tragedy is, it is only through greater unity that we will survive this struggle. We will have differences, but how we deal with those differences will either unite us in a common cause, or dangerously weaken us.

I certainly sympathize - in my initial reaction I remembered an Orson Scott Card story and wished aloud that we could clone and kill him a few million times. In "A Thousand Deaths," society had developd a way to snapshot and store a consciousness and then downloaded it into a new body. This could be done even at the moment of death, which in this story gave capital punishment a new twist. You could kill a man over and over, and have him remember every moment - truly a cruel and unusual fate. But in the process, something is lost - and not just the inevitability and irremediability of death. Those who commit the Groundhog Day executions lose their humanity, even as the repeatedly-condemned grows jaded. Death becomes irrelevant; dying loses its sting.

John Donne's "any man's death diminishes me" has lost some of its punch through misuse and over-use, but remains true - even the death of Stalin's Mesopotamian acolyte, because of my initial reaction to it. The last laugh of a man such as Saddam is to sow the seeds of callousness that enabled his own seven-figure body count. But like a certain decision scientist, Saddam Hussein is "human" to me.

I do support capital punishment. I believe any culture that cannot kill in its own defense is at the mercy of those that can. When someone murders, they have harmed not just that person, not only their family and friends, but the very community. If crimes are not punished, then law loses power; where law is lost, there is no civilization. When the crime is severe enough to threaten the community's existence, execution can be seen as killing in self-defense. European countries, which have abolished the death penalty and practically made self-defense a crime, are now increasingly at the mercy of encroaching Islamism within their borders. If you won't kill to defend yourself, you end up at the mercy of those who will kill over cartoons and documentaries.

Execution can also be murder, though. Thie French Revolution comes to mind. But beyond that--what separates honorable warfare from common murder is state of mind. Our modern military has some of the best men and women of our generation, but we have also seen some scoundrels. Significantly, those who hate these scoundrels most are those who wear the same uniforms, who take pride in their service and the constitution they are sworn to defend.

In like manner, I know some who currently serve, who appreciate the support of those back home but who think some of the more "bloodthirsty" on the home front need to "chill." They're not just about killing the bad guys; they take greater pride in those they're saving and serving. It is easier for me to cry for vengeance, because I am not the instrument of vengeance. It is easy for me to chortle at the death of a dictator whose only impact on me personally has been high gas prices and good material. My laughter comes at small cost.

Those who are still raking through heaps of sand to find remains of their loved ones killed by Saddam, they have earned the right to react as they do - and most of them are responding with greater dignity. For them, his death means a permanent end to the fear that he will return. I watched him in the trial; Saddam was charismatic, defiant, and convinced that "without me, Iraq is nothing" - among his last words yesterday, according to some reports. I know why the people feared his return; until the end, he believed he would - and he wasn't alone.

But again - the death of a genocidal despot diminishes me more because of my reaction. Is my thirst sated, or do I crave more? I cheered Zarkawi's death. Every Al Qaeda leader turned into a grease stain by American ingenuity, I celebrate. There are bad people who will seek to kill my country to their last breath, who need to be stopped. But in the process of stopping them, I fear the loss of what we are spending our precious blood to defend - our national character.

It's one reason why, as I've thought about yesterday, I'm most heartened by the process the Iraqi's took. They did it by the book. They gave Saddam more than ample opportunity to spout off in his own defense. They didn't give up when lawyers and judges were assassinated; they continued the process. They didn't throw him into a pile of ravenous hyenas wearing a suit of bacon. In the brief snippet of video I saw, it was conducted with dignity and solemnity.

"Iraq is nothing without me." But that isn't what I saw. I saw no rage, no bloodlust, no lynching. I saw civilization defending itself - not just from Saddam, but from the very culture of death in which he saturated them for decades.

I celebrate that, but with no humor. Only a prayer that the long night of Iraqi sorrows will end soon, that the taste for blood will turn sour, and that peace will reign in a troubled land.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

IowaHawk does it again

If there isn't an Internet term for what Iowahawk does, there should be.

In his latest mockpuppet theater of the absurd, he inhabits the id of Joseph Rago, the WSJ editor who dissed the blogosphere last week.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Lewinski in teh news

The news that Monica Lewinski earned a M.A. from the London School of Economics, apparently.

I don't really want to talk about that.

What I did want to mention was something I just noticed - the Washington Post allows comments on articles now. The results are about what you'd expect.

It doesn't seem to matter what the topic is - everyone with an opinion on SOMETHING will find a way to use the article at hand as a launching point for their particular soapbox.

The column on Lewinski is a snarky bit of riffing on "smart but dumb" and "dumb but smart" that name-drops celebs in every sentence. It's not a great article, but it's got plenty to respond to, and people do.

Boy, do they.

Yes, an article that features Jessica Simpson's mom talking about "jessica's, like, 160 freakin' IQ" - thankfully, we're not treated to her dad's drooling comments about her rockin' body - is enough for a number of commenters to ask "why not talk about how we entered Iraq under false pretenses."

Okay. I guess it's relevant - readers who are dumb and dumber.

I spend yesterday listening to Orson Scott Card's latest book, Empire. He suggests a possible scenario for a red/blue, rural/urban, wackjob left/wackjob right civil war complete with assassination of the president and the potential end of the Republic (hence "Empire"). I could quibble with some of his characterizations, but he points out the poisonous rhetoric of the current state of our *cough* "union", which hasn't been this toxic since the 1850s.

I'd like to say "yeah, right" to such a book. But reading the carnival of idiocy that passes for 95% of the commentary on the WP's stories, drowning out what could have been interesting debate from the other 5%, I confess he has a point.

So...congratulations, Monica Lewinski, on your academic achievement. Unlike your smart-but-dumb former boyfriend, you appear to have truly moved on, and I wish you every success. Ignore the jibber-jabbering classes and enjoy your life.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I lost most of my Saturday last week to, which as a "public service" provides free, full-content access to some of their programming.

One of them, a drama called "Heroes," ate my Saturday.

It's an interesting premise, but not revolutionary in fiction: some ordinary humans are, or soon will no longer be, merely ordinary. The X-Men is just one example. The 4400 is another. Smallville uses kryptonite to impact not just Clark Kent, but half the town. There is a bit of each in this, with a touch of Highlander thrown in as well.

In Heroes, a brilliant but controversial Indian geneticist pursues a theory that mankind is on the cusp of the next stage of evolution, and that there may already be those whose DNA is over the hump and giving them powers the rest of us can imagine. He also believes he can track the places where those with these abilities will appear, so he leaves his teaching post to become a New York Cabbie - where, in the 8 million stories of the naked city, he manages to find the needles in the haystack.

And dies. (Hey, he's a New York cabbie.) His son, also a geneticist, follows him to NYC to find answers re his father's death, and to pursue - or run away from - his father's work.

(super)Naturally, there's something to Dad's theories. All over the world, there are people who in recent weeks have discovered some surprising abilities. Some are pretty cool; others, horrifying. Some have the ability whether they want it or not; others cannot call upon theirs at will, and some have to indulge in self-destructive behavior to see their abilities manifest themselves.

All eventually find their lives complicated by this. Flying would be cool, but if you're running for Congress, you don't want that to get out. Reading minds would be great in police work, but if you can't control it, public places are overwhelming. Being unkillable would seem sweet, but if you're in high school where everyone THINKS they're indestructible already, you're going to be even more stupid by nature.

Some abilities are inexplicable. One becomes a human radiation factory when his emotions get out of control. One has no powers of his own, but shares the powers of whoever he's near. This can be life-saving or cataclysmic, depending on who you stand next to.

At least one character has the ability to accrue the genetic quirks of others (in a rather grisly way) and so goes on a nationwide killing spree.

And where there is a Superman, there is a Lex Luthor, or a shadowy organization to stop, or control, those with extraordinary abilities.

There have been 11 episodes so far. It moves too bloody slow. I should have waited until after the season was over, like many 24 watchers do. I inhaled all 11 episodes at once, and then yelled at my monitor because of where it left me.'s a good pain. For all its faults, it's interesting, and I bonded with a few of the characters.

so...if you have some time to kill in this holiday season, head over to and click Video. It's free, the commercial interruptions aren't bad, and the video quality is fine.

Just steer clear of Conan O'Brien. His online content makes his TV show look tame, and that's saying something.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Weird Al Yankovic curb stomps homeless dork

Courtesy of Joeschmo, here is a link to an interview Weird Al Yankovic conducted with someone named Kay Fed.

The normally affable Al runs this Kay Fed fellow through a verbal wood chipper, mocking his album, music video, tattoo, parenting skills, inability to breathe through his nostrils, and so on.

And this, after the young man complimented Al's new album, "Straight Outta Lynwood." Not very sporting.

Yankovic is a true gentlemen in the music industry - a koala in hamster's (Hawaiian) clothing. Whatever this Kay Fed chap has done to get on Al's bad side, must have been severe to have earned him such a thrashing.