Friday, April 11, 2003

Burning the evidence

Iraqi embassies sure are doing a lot of lawn care lately - they wouldn't be burning anything else besides grass clippings, right?

James S. Robbins talks about it here.

Now it can be told

Via the NYT:
ATLANTA — Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.

For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk.

There's much more. Link stolen from The Corner.

DanceSport 103 - getting started

Alright, you're sold - dancing is for you. But...

Standard disclaimers. I'm not a physician, and if I were I don't know jack about you anyway, so you know the rules - see a doctor before starting any exercise program.

That said, it can be as much or as little exercise as you want. If you're recovering from years of couch-potatoing, the easiest place to start would be with smooth dancing like foxtrot. It's slow, and in its easiest forms is much like walking. Rumba is slow too, but there is more lateral motion which might bug your hips. Bad knees might slow you down a little, but then you might strengthen them too if you give it a chance (yeah, I'm talking to you...).

If you're in good shape already, the place to start is probably with east coast swing, or what the locals call Imperial swing after a long defunct ballroom. It and variants like jitterbug can go about as fast as you might want to. Cha-cha will also get you moving, and it'll loosen up your hips if you do it right.

Alright, you know what to learn - now where to go? If you're totally green, a local community college is probably the best place. That way classes start everybody in the same place. You might think that would go without saying, but that's not necessarily true at a dance studio. I know I've walked into some nominal "beginner" classes that IMO were too advanced or else moved too quickly for raw beginners. It can be very frustrating - I for one am not used to being at the bottom of the class, especially in one where everyone else can grade you.

Or if you'd rather limit the number of people who witness your development, there's always private lessons. Maybe you're lucky enough to have a friend who knows a few things so you can get by cheap. In the worst case, here in St. Louis private lessons from certified teachers have run as low as <$30 per hour with an extended agreement and a new studio, but you'd better budget at $50.

But you don't have a partner? No problem. There are usually extra partners of one sex or the other in a group class, usually women, and instructors usually have you rotate partners so nobody stays alone for long. You might wind up dancing by yourself part of the time, but that lets you watch the others and practice by yourself until you get a better feel for what they're teaching (or just convince yourself that the others are having trouble too). Also, instructors might try to shuffle people around between classes to even things up, and usually the women are willing to dance with other women if one of them knows the man's part of the dance.

But the other dancers are older/younger/uglier than I am! So what? - I'm assuming that you're there to learn to dance. Assuming that the person isn't so fat or feeble that they literally can't move, you can't tell much about who the good dancers are just by looking at them away from the dance floor. And they won't all be particularly attractive. (Yo young guys in particular - remember the wise counsel of Benjamin Franklin (beware of a tame nude picture). Things you learn with the older women just might come in handy with other women). But I've found dancers to be a friendly accepting bunch, and assuming you possess rudimentary knowledge of manners, dress and hygiene, and you put forth decent effort to learn, you'll do fine.

Now it's time to hit the street. Dance studios and other organizations often sponsor dances to drum up business. My experience is that as long as you don't pretend to be something you aren't, your partners will be very understanding with beginners. Then you have an instant excuse to meet anyone you want for three minutes of intimacy.

Alright, you've run out of excuses. Out on the floor, now!

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Naked Quidditch!

Tomorrow the second Harry Potter movie hits the shelves, so I'll get one if I have to wrestle it from the sticky hands of a dewy-eyed moppet. Well, probably not from Gnat, but only because she's up in Minneapolis.

And that was before DPM pointed me to Naked Quidditch.

Before you ask, Quidditch is a coed game, and Gryffindor has some babes playing for them. Savvy?

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Needed - conservative Michael Moore

Well, maybe that title needs work. We don't need another Michael Moore of any stripe unless energy shortages dictate a return to whale oil.

I haven't actually seen it, but from what I've heard "Bowling for Columbine" doesn't rise to the standards set by the old Clinton conspiracy tapes. Why don't the more intellectually defensible parts of our political spectrum fight back? Is it that they don't have anyone so mean and dishonest as Moore?

There's plenty of material nowadays, what with all of the antiwar idiocy. Unions, especially teacher's unions, are ripe for abuse. And how about dimwit lefty celebrities like those mentioned here and here? Or a travelogue that shows that Eden otherwise known as ANWR, spiced with some of the hysterical ecobabble in defense of it?

Libertarians might want to see PJ O'Rourke make a movie out of "All the Trouble in the World", or "Parliament of Whores". Or imagine what Penn Jillette or Dave Barry could come up with.

I'd like to see what you could get from a team of conservatives like Rob Long, Larry Miller, Jonah Goldberg and the staff from the old Rush Limbaugh TV show.

Come on guys, what are you waiting for?

What's the best golf book?

I've decided that I don't have enough vices, so lately I've started golfing. Still driving range stuff so far, in a community college group class, but I'm coming along.

Is there anything I should be reading? I've heard people rave about Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, so I'm checking it out. What else? How about videos or DVDs?

A skit begging to happen

Iraq's information minister is almost beyond parody, but James S. Robbins tries it here.

Surely SNL or Mad TV will take him on.

Fighting the left, doing it right the ProtestWarrior.

Via Blog O'Dob.

Setting the record straight

Jay Nordlinger of NRO is always a good read, and lately he's written some items worthy of inclusion in this blog. About Frenches and mustard.

Here he mentions a press release for French's Mustard, which notes that it is all-American. In fact, it was introduced nearly 100 years ago right here in St. Louis along with the then-newfangled hotdog. So don't let that name fool you.

Just in case that wasn't enough, he published an email here which said "Dear Jay: Just because French's is yellow doesn't mean it's French."

Elsewhere in the same item was another email:
"Dear Jay: My sympathies to French's Mustard. [This refers to an Impromptus item from Friday.] My last name (by marriage) is French. My ex-husband had not a single tiny drop of French blood in his family tree. I don't know where the name came from. But now, I am honestly considering changing my and my kids' names to something else. My son (twelve years old) is being harassed and bullied for having the name 'French' and kids are accusing him of being French, which is an enormous insult and the kids all know it. I don't whether this will blow over or not."
Take pride in your name. I can't find it just now, but I'll swear I recently read something that said that that name came from Scotland and was an abbreviated form of "killer of Frenchmen" or the like.

Enough Frog-bashing for now. After all, I'm a Kraut.


It should be easy to spot Steve Brill nowadays. He'll be eating lunch all by himself.

Why? He has a book out which dares to suggest that Homeland Security is working.

Whether you agree with that or not, it is remarkable that Brill is the man who wrote the book. Up until now he was probably best known for a nasty hit piece on Ken Starr in the debut issue of his now-failed magazine Brill's Content. But now
"He is a laughing stock!" mocked one network executive, who has been a friend of the self-described "lapsed-liberal" for more than 10 years.

Brill has been telling associates how arguments over the 700-page book have "nearly become violent."
This I've got to see.