NEOGNOSTIKOS
17 Apr, 06 > 23 Apr, 06
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Wednesday, 29 December 2004
The Flavors of Barbasol
Now Playing: "Marvelous Things" by Eisley
There's a Barbasol shaving cream ad on the TV lately that refers to their seven different flavors. What are they talking about ---flavors? Is that some sort of advertising trick to annoy people into wondering why shaving cream comes in flavors, thereby keeping the brand fixed in our minds?

Shaving cream's a scam, anyhow. I haven't used anything but Ivory soap for probably 15 years now.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 3:13 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 28 December 2004
"The Long Tail"
Mood:  a-ok
Thanks to Professor Reynolds, here's a very interesting article by Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired, on the economic concept of the "long tail."

Freed from the restrictions of physical retail space and seemingly limited appeal in any one geographical location, there's a lot of success to be had in the volume of aggregation and in serving niche interests.

To get a sense of our true taste, unfiltered by the economics of scarcity, look at Rhapsody, a subscription-based streaming music service (owned by RealNetworks) that currently offers more than 735,000 tracks.

Chart Rhapsody's monthly statistics and you get a "power law" demand curve that looks much like any record store's, with huge appeal for the top tracks, tailing off quickly for less popular ones. But a really interesting thing happens once you dig below the top 40,000 tracks, which is about the amount of the fluid inventory (the albums carried that will eventually be sold) of the average real-world record store. Here, the Wal-Marts of the world go to zero - either they don't carry any more CDs, or the few potential local takers for such fringy fare never find it or never even enter the store.

The Rhapsody demand, however, keeps going. Not only is every one of Rhapsody's top 100,000 tracks streamed at least once each month, the same is true for its top 200,000, top 300,000, and top 400,000. As fast as Rhapsody adds tracks to its library, those songs find an audience, even if it's just a few people a month, somewhere in the country.

This is the Long Tail.
Read the whole thing. And then apply it, as Reynolds does, to democratic phenomena like the blogosphere where there is at least as much profit to be made ---intellectual or commercial or otherwise--- in frequenting small-time venues as there is in simply going with the big names and the "all hits, all the time" mode of information consumption.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 2:38 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Sacrificial
Do you suppose it's true that Osama has endorsed Zarqawi, like he was handing over the family business to Michael? I don't know if this latest tape that's said to be his is legit or not, but if it is, what does that say? To me, it says that these Islamofascist nutjobs have wholly embraced the idea of attacking us at our strongest point, which is our military. An excellent choice ---for us. We are attacked there and haven't been attacked here for more than three years. Which tells me that our men and women in uniform are protecting us in every sense and that we should be grateful for their sacrifices.

But these al-Qaedists are doing their damnedest to make Iraq into a nightmare for our military and for the majority of the Iraqi people themselves ---and it is incredibly discouraging to see what damage they cause. Are they that afraid of a democratized Iraq ---or are they just that eager to murder our soldiers and Marines? It must be both because, even if a democratized Iraq, per se, is not so great a threat to their Islamofascist beliefs ---although I think it is--- it's what comes next that almost certainly does disturb these bastards to their core: the whole Muslim Middle East turned inside out and set ---forcefully--- on a path to secularization and popular self-rule. Women on the streets and in the workplaces and in control of their own destinies throughout Arabia and the Maghreb and old Persia. A massive shifting away from the old Mohammedan bullshit and into the alien glare of consumerism and instant telecommunications and instant gratification.

We'll infect them yet ---and laugh in the end. Because wherever we Westerners and capitalists have left our mark, those who fought us before will come to trade with us after.

Osama says that any Iraqi who participates in next month's election is an infidel. How right he is. Say goodbye to your medieval world, jackass. It is coming to an end.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 1:31 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Thursday, 23 December 2004
Traffic Cop (The Sabine Ehrenfeld Effect)
Get a load of this: over the past several days, my blog traffic has more than doubled on acount of my having tossed off (as it were) a single reference to the Goddess of All Ambiguous Accents and Divinely Tanned Skin and Satin Robes, one Sabine Ehrenfeld (the lady from the Overstock.com ads on the TV). Isn't that insane? And, more importantly, isn't that an absolute indictment of the quality of this blog? I mean, for Christ's sake, I crank out many dozens of quality blog entries per month, and all it takes is a single reference to SABINE EHRENFELD, THE HOT BABE FROM THE OVERSTOCK.COM ADS, to bump my traffic up that much?

Remember the classic Simpsons episode where Homer is trying to think of some way to increase the business at the bowling alley where he works? After a quick montage descent into the depths of his ignorance of marketing, we find Homer standing outside the bowling alley firing a shotgun into the air as he implores passersby to come and bowl.

Well, after the sanctity of these high holidays has passed, expect me to immediately begin posting nothing but 16 year-old wet cheerleader snizz. Interspersed, of course, with my political views.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 9:42 AM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink
Wednesday, 22 December 2004
L Is for Loser
Mood:  suave
Did you hear that New York's 31 Electoral College votes were cast for "John L. Kerry"? That's about as stupid as the anonymous Elector in Minnesota who cast a vote to make John Edwards the President. I mean, if that's supposed to be some sort of a protest vote against Kerry, it certainly doesn't make a lot of sense to lay such an honor at the feet of one of Kerry's biggest mistakes.

Or maybe it does.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 6:31 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Katie Couric's Gams
Mood:  don't ask
Now Playing: "Dance, Little Sister" by the Rolling Stones
As NRO's Jim Geraghty is reporting:

A little birdie familiar with discussions at CBS News tells me that the network suits will announce Dan Rather's replacement the day they release the report into the fake memos.
I guess that's as smart a way to play it as any other, but don't forget, folks: Dan Rather is still going to be around at CBS News and he's still going to be contributing to the 60 Minutes brand ---despite the fact that he tried to influence a Presidential election by using his clout to knowingly shove a bunch of phony documents down our throats.

For shame!


Posted by Toby Petzold at 6:16 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 21 December 2004
Spun Out
Now Playing: "Free Four" by Pink Floyd
In the course of performing the post mortems on their campaign, the Kerrion have managed to convince themselves that their nominee merely underestimated the effect that the Swift Boat Veterans' claims would have on his candidacy ---as though it were just a tactical error not to respond more quickly and completely. Of course, this is bullshit. The truth is that John Kerry could never have responded in such a way as to avoid the pressure to release his full military service record.

Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill's "admission" that she underestimated the impact of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is disingenuous, says a producer of the TV ads that helped sink the Massachusetts senator's presidential candidacy.

Rick Reed, a partner with media firm Stevens Reed Curcio and Potholm, said the "idea that Kerry's people miscalculated the impact of the ads is absurd."

"Senator Kerry's problem was that he never addressed one question or issue raised in the ads," Reed said. "This is because there was no good answer. Everything said about Kerry in the ads was accurate, but the Kerry campaign put all its effort into trying to discredit the ads, which didn't work."
Kerry's traumatized supporters also persist with the lie that the Swift Boat Veterans' claims were all debunked. In fact, it was Kerry's claims that were debunked or went unsubstantiated ---mostly because he refused to authorize the release of his full service record. Kerry never went into Cambodia as he says he did, nor did he ever explain how he was able to procure his first Purple Heart when he was initially refused that honor by his immediate superiors. (He only got it later by going around their backs.) Kerry's story behind his Bronze Star is also very suspect, including the bullshit claim that he and his boat were under intense enemy fire for over three miles downstream ---and back--- following the mine explosion that damaged another one of the Swift Boats in his group on the Bay Hap River in March 1969.

It is also quite probable that John Kerry did not receive an honorable discharge from the Navy ---another reason to believe that he had something to hide by keeping his record sealed. Did this have something to do with his meetings with the enemy outside of Paris while he was still an officer in the United States Navy? Who would be surprised to learn that?

Never mind this garbage about underestimating the vicious attacks of those awful Republican-paid operatives. John Kerry lied about his service record. Not only that, he then tried to use it to batter the President by portraying himself as some wonderful hero whose experiences as a combat veteran somehow made him a better choice to be the Commander-in-Chief. That wasn't a tactical error ---it was a strategic error.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 6:47 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 22 December 2004 6:05 AM CST
Saturday, 18 December 2004
Fringe Benefits
It doesn't qualify for the fucking police blotter that is the mainstream media today, but Syria is "redeploying" its troops in Lebanon. So I especially like this observation over at the Captain's Quarters:

Syria has been pressured for years to end its occupation of Lebanon, but has resisted closing out its second front against Israel. Since the American invasion of Iraq, however, Syria has learned that the politics of the region have changed rather dramatically. With George Bush's re-election, the Syrians understand that the forward strategy of engagement will continue for at least another four years.

The likelihood of a continued American military presence in western Iraq makes the Ba'athist regime in Damascus realize that after Iraq stabilizes, the US can act in one of two directions next to continue its war on terror. It appears that Bashir Assad just nominated Iran for that role.
I'm old enough to remember whole Presidencies during which time the received wisdom was that we Westerners dared not interfere with the tyrannical arrangements of the Middle East for fear of creating a "power vacuum." Even the Gulf War itself was essentially fought to return everything to the status quo ante. But no more. Iraq is on the road to democratic control. The Palestinian intifada has largely been defeated. Khadafi has been chastened. The Saudis are facing some long-term changes brought on by necessity. And Iranian people seem ready to make their own bid for legitimate popular sovereignty. These are exciting times, folks. Dangerous, but exciting, times.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 9:04 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Mudville Gazette: Former Saddam Loyalist Looking to Start Singing Career
The Mudville Gazette has brought to my attention the very interesting news that a former Saddam loyalist is "looking to start a singing career."

Yeah, okay. I fell for it, too.

Former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz was the sophisticated, intelligent face of a thuggish regime. He was known for his elegant English suits and a fondness for Cuban cigars.

But photos, obtained exclusively by NBC News, for the first time show Aziz as he lives now, in custody. It's a strikingly different image -- Aziz appears frail in orange prison garb and plastic handcuffs.

David Kay -- a former U.S. adviser in Iraq -- spent months questioning Aziz and others. He says Aziz quickly turned on Saddam and could testify at any trial.
Oh, yeah, baby...This is going to get good. Pop a top and grab some peanuts.

NBC News has learned U.N. investigators probing corruption in the U.N. oil for food program were scheduled to question Aziz last week. That session was delayed for security reasons.

The U.N. investigation -- led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker -- is looking into Saddam's alleged diversion of oil money that was supposed to go for food to U.N. officials and politicians in key countries.

U.S. officials say Aziz already has implicated the French and others, claiming payoffs were made with the understanding that recipients would support Iraq on key matters before the U.N.
I know it'll never happen, but wouldn't it be amazing if Big Media actually made it a point to televise for us these upcoming trials in Iraq? There is so much for us to learn and ponder about Saddam's crimes that the new Iraqi government is now to set to prosecute. Which is why the anti-war Leftist tools in Big Media here won't dare show any of it: it would reveal to the average American just how far they went (as CNN did, the miserable bastards) to minimize the Saddamites' atrocities and, thereby, undercut the reasons for us to have gone to war in Iraq.

I mean, this stuff isn't as juicy and wonderful as goddamned Scott Peterson, but it might be of interest to some of us... Whattya say, Courageous Dan and Comrade Jennings? We're big boys. We can handle it. Even with subtitles.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 6:37 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 18 December 2004 6:45 PM CST
Tilly the Golden Eagle
Mood:  a-ok
Courtesy of Cold Fury here's a link to a really cool Animal Planet online preview of a special featuring Tilly the golden eagle ---flying around with super-light video cameras.

Some beautiful sights. And what a serious face on Tilly! Swing, baby! You're platinum! Heh, heh. Enjoy.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 5:52 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Data Mining ACLUniks
With a big tip of the hat to Professor Reynolds, here's a story in today's New York Times about the ACLU being a bunch of spying hypocrites.

The American Civil Liberties Union is using sophisticated technology to collect a wide variety of information about its members and donors in a fund-raising effort that has ignited a bitter debate over its leaders' commitment to privacy rights.

Some board members say the extensive data collection makes a mockery of the organization's frequent criticism of banks, corporations and government agencies for their practice of accumulating data on people for marketing and other purposes.
I don't care what any of you losers say: the single greatest threat to this country is when municipalities allow Nativity scenes to be displayed on public property. Thank God there's prinicpled organizations like the ACLU out there to crush this obviously fascistic practice.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 5:07 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, 17 December 2004
Rafael Peralta, American
Courtesy of The Mudville Gazette, here's a story from Oliver North about Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta, a true American hero.

As Sgt. Rafael Peralta lay near death on the floor of a Fallujah terrorist hideout, he spotted the yellow grenade that had rolled next to his near-lifeless body. Once detonated, it would take out the rest of Peralta's squad. To save his fellow Marines, Peralta reached out, grabbed the grenade, and tucked it under his abdomen where it exploded.
Read this story, folks.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 9:49 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
The Weekly Ass-Kicking
Be sure to go read Victor Davis Hanson's weekly ass-kicking of the Left. This time out, the good professor is wondering about the Left's lack of moral coherence:

What is preached in the madrassas on the West Bank, in Pakistan, and throughout the Gulf is no different from the Nazi doctrine of racial hatred. What has changed, of course, is that unlike our grandfathers, we have lost the courage to speak out against it. In one of the strangest political transformations of our age, the fascist Islamic Right has grafted its cause onto that of the Left's boutique "multiculturalism," hoping to earn a pass for its hate by posing as the "other" and reaping the benefits of liberal guilt due to purported victimization. By any empirical standard, what various Palestinian cliques have done on the West Bank -- suicide murdering, lynching without trial of their own people, teaching small children to hate and kill Jews -- should have earned them all Hitlerian sobriquets rather than U.N. praise.
There's certainly no longer a place for me at the table of a liberal Democratic Party. They do not put first things first and, instead, have made an intolerable pact with the forces of anti-Americanism, both foreign and domestic. Thus, my own convictions about a smarter approach to the so-called war on drugs and full recognition of gay rights and reproductive rights and a dozen other important areas of social concern are buried in the noise of the Democrats' outrageously stupid anti-war rhetoric. Nor will I associate myself with an institution that is very obviously in the grips of what the Right has termed the Bush Derangement Syndrome. It actually makes news if a prominent Democrat steps outside of his party's circus tent to concede a point or to show support for this President. But how often is that happening in the context of this war against the terrorists? Almost never. By default, George W. Bush cannot make a good choice; therefore, by default, a Democrat must oppose anything the President does.

The modern Democratic Party has absolutely abandoned its Truman-era resolve in fighting the forces of totalitarianism. And when you will not stand up to do the right thing against those who would do evil, what does that make you?


Posted by Toby Petzold at 7:51 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 17 December 2004 7:52 PM CST
Midhusband
Now Playing: "Cirkus" by King Crimson
I'm thinking of a line of poetry I once wrote. Not particularly well-worded, but the idea it expressed astonished even me with its complete lack of human feeling. You know the one? The feeling, I mean.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 1:07 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Thursday, 16 December 2004
Nuts!
Now Playing: "Swan Swan H" by R.E.M.
One of my Daddy's favorite movies about the Second World War was The Battle of the Bulge (1965) with Henry Fonda and Telly Savalas and a whole bunch of other big names. Daddy knew a man from work who had been in the actual Battle of the Bulge and he always found that very impressive, as did I.

Today, let us remember the 60th anniversary of this massive battle ---one of the true turning points in the history of the Twentieth Century--- and read Paul Greenberg's excellent column marking the day.

According to the German battle plan, Bastogne was to be overrun on the second day of the operation; it never was. General Anthony McAuliffe's one-word response to the German commander's surrender terms would become a classic summation of American defiance: "Nuts!"

Forced to split up and go around isolated pockets of American resistance, the German advance slowed. Unlike 1940, there was no breakout. Methodically, the Allied command drew up new defensive lines, then held. And to the South, Patton was turning the whole Third Army on a dime and hurtling to the rescue . . . .

Before it was over, the Battle of the Bulge would involve three German armies, the equivalent of 29 divisions; three American armies, or 31 divisions; and three British divisions augmented by Belgian, Canadian and French troops.

More than a million men would be drawn into the battle. The Germans would lose an estimated 100,000 irreplaceable troops, counting their killed, wounded and captured; the Americans would suffer some 80,000 casualties, including 19,000 killed - that's a rate of 500 a day - and 23,554 captured.
Reading such figures should bring to mind the absolute importance of remembering just how massive our military's sacrifices have always been.

Sixty-three divisions going at it in one of the harshest European winters in living memory. Jesus Christ!


Posted by Toby Petzold at 10:53 PM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
Cringe
I, too, cringed when I heard Donald Rumsfeld's remarks last week in Kuwait when he said to the troops "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." I'm still not too sure whether he was referring to the Army as people or as an organization comprised of materiel, but it was still an incredibly unfortunate remark, especially coming from a man who could moonlight as a grammarian.

Anyway, the crowd calling for his removal is growing, most notably among Republicans. Bill Kristol at The Weekly Standard has joined the fray, dismissing Rumsfeld as a glib and arrogant buck-passer. I understand that view as a personal perception, but I still have a fondness and a respect for Rumsfeld. Maybe it's because I am too ignorant of the extent of his influence or of just how much he can do with such an enormous institution as the Department of Defense, but surely he has been the most consequential SECDEF since Robert McNamara ---and greatly burdened with putting together a machine to wage such a widescale war against a new kind of global enemy.

I don't suppose Rumsfeld will last too much longer in his current role, but I, for one, think he has been an asset to our country.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 9:48 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
The Savage Fortnight
Courtesy of The Belmont Club, here is an excellent piece from Austin Bay on the revolution in the Middle East.

Toppling Saddam also toppled the myth of the "Arab strongman," a point unfortunately missed by critics of the Iraq war. The Arab strongman was a romantic, Superman story of militant rescue and revenge, but it was also a justification for dictatorial rule. The armed strongman would drive the Israelis into the sea. The strongman would restore Arab prestige, at the point of a sword or the blast of a nuclear weapon. But these bloody miracles, permanently scheduled for the near future, required submission to tyranny. To advocate liberty, to promote free trade, to critique the corrupt, to demand a voice in governance -- these acts of weakness undermined the strongman and thus undermined "the Arab cause."
I'll say it again, comrades: you can take a dump on George W. Bush all day long for certain of his domestic policies and I wouldn't care less. But for what he's doing to move the Middle East into the modern age? Your great-grandchildren will know this President as one of the most important leaders of the Twenty-First Century.

Unimaginable, isn't it?


Posted by Toby Petzold at 8:54 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
The Manufacture of Dissent
Over at the Captain's Quarters, you can read about he ongoing attempts of the Democrats and craphounds like Jesse Jackson to overturn the election in Ohio.

Jackson wants the court to throw out the election results because of an exit poll -- later shown to be preliminary -- predicted that John Kerry would get 52% of the vote. In other words, Jackson wants to give more legal weight to the few hundred people approached on their way out of polling booths than the actual votes cast in the election. While the ruling today leaves open the possibility of the complaint being refiled, it deserves more to be buried in a landfill.
I read a comment recently by another of the Kerrion claiming that they're only pursuing this recount nonsense for the sake of accuracy. Right. And here I was thinking that they're only doing it to perpetuate their martyr complexes as the disenfranchised victims of the Bu$hitler War Machine, Inc. (a subsidiary of Halliburton).


Posted by Toby Petzold at 8:26 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Wednesday, 15 December 2004
Sabine Ehrenfeld
Turns out that the incredibly hot babe from the Overstock.com ads is 41 year-old model Sabine Ehrenfeld.

She is simply too much for words.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 5:04 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
All Too High School
I have it in mind right now to suggest something that is, in the context of a friendship I share with a certain person, either with or without very great consequence to the one involved. That is to say, it just occurred to me that this old friend of mine is very probably so pissed at me for the direction of my politics and over the outcome of this recent election ---I mean mandate--- that he will not willingly speak to me. As in only one other regard ever between us, he may very well have taken it all to heart ---and all too hard. The other possibility is that he just doesn't like me anymore and would rather not communicate because of the Indifference That Eventually Overshadows All.

Now, the experiment I have in mind just now is to leave this burning sack of emotional dog shit on the stoop of my own hovel ---here--- and sit back and see whether he comes out and stamps on it. I don't even have to ring the doorbell; he either ruins his stylish footwear or not.

I suppose I could have the stones to ask him directly which of the two possibilities discussed here is the right one, but this way is much more entertaining.

Especially to one who traffics in the Grand Ideas of the Times ---and does so without any regret, see, because these are the things that command my attention most, regardless of whether such fascination is of any commercial value.

Sure, it's a poisonous route to take because it might upset or annoy a friendship that only persists through the careful cultivation of the obvious, but what else is there to do?

I don't know. Maybe it's something I said.

If there was ever anything of value that we saw in each other, I will be the one most surprised to learn that it has been lost. I'm not talking about the sentimental things; I'm talking about what it was that made either of us important to the other.

No matter. It is cold and there is television to be watched.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 11:06 AM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink

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