2 December 2008 @ 9:03AM >>
My friend Lon Symensma, who worked the camera on my first video, introduced me to my wife Jill, was one of the groomsmen at my wedding, and who supplied me many times with fine meals when I was his Kramer-like mooching next-door neighbor, is currently one of the two finalists for the “Hottest Chef in NY” contest at Eater.com.
After stints at Jean Georges and Spice Market, Lon is now the executive chef at Buddakan, one of the top restaurants in NYC. (If you’ve never been there, you might have seen part of the restaurant’s interior in the Sex and the City movie.)
His top contenders are said to include Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Less traditional choices mentioned include former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, an abortion-rights supporter, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential prick in 2000 who now is an independent.
18 August 2008 @ 8:07AM >>
Chandler Tuttle, who did some great editing work on Indoctrinate U, is coming out with a film of his own.
2081 is his soon-to-be-released short film adapted from the Kurt Vonnegut story Harrison Bergeron. The film is set in a future society where everyone is finally equal. People who excel in any area are deliberately handicapped by the government in order to enforce equality. People with above-average strength are shackled to weights to prevent their strength from being an unfair advantage. Those deemed too intelligent must wear earpieces that emit loud crackles and noises to stifle coherent thinking.
In other words, the world has finally become the egalitarian “utopia” that today’s social engineers desire.
4 August 2008 @ 8:04AM >>AngryJournalist.com, an anonymous gripe site for journalists, is an entertaining read for those who want to understand the mentality of people in an industry undergoing seismic changes. The top post currently reads:
I definitely agree with you. Im so sick of white, old males being dominant in the news field. That’s why it is going down. Could we get some young people, non-white folks in the industry? Oh wait, when we do, the old geesers just pass on our ideas anyway. There’s no use.
Much of the site reads like the verbal flailing of folks scrambling for life jackets on a sinking ship. You’ll also get a few laughs reading the site, but I suspect most of the comedy is unintentional.
9 July 2008 @ 9:19AM >>
If you’re a pop culture junkie who doesn’t share the politics of Hollywood, you may enjoy Yeah Right, a new blog started by some fellow Bucknell alums I met while filming Indoctrinate U. Current topics range from The Office to the latest Weezer album, Che Guevara t-shirts, and the new 90210.
3 April 2008 @ 8:05AM >>
Spam blogs, sometimes called “splogs,” are phony blogs set up to earn money by displaying ads. Splogs steal content from other sites so that they appear to the untrained eye as genuine blogs. When people conduct web searches, that stolen content drives traffic to the site, raising the revenue from advertising.
It’s a sleazy practice, and at times, I’ve seen posts from this site appear on splogs. Recently, I found a splog that copies text from this site, but it also does something new: it changes certain words in the post to modify the content slightly.
12 February 2008 >>
A Clinton-related conspiracy theory:
It isn’t all that hard to believe that a guy who’s alpha [male] enough to risk his entire political career and presidential legacy for a few hummers from a pudgy intern might subconsciously sabotage his wife’s ascent to power, is it?
Recently, I got an update on David through a mutual friend, who pointed me to this, written by David’s wife Nancy:
I knew when my husband David French [...] watched the towers fall on 9/11 on his law firm’s television, he wanted to do something. Four years later, he did, by resigning from his role in the civil liberties arena and joining the Army Reserves. In 2007, he left the comfort of his home and family and went to Forward Operating Base Caldwell in Iraq where he serves as the Squadron Judge Advocate for Sabre (2d) Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment.
At Camp Caldwell, he has joined over a thousand soldiers who share less than a dozen phones and computers, making it impossible to stay in touch with family and friends back home.
However, David noticed many of the young soldiers receive nothing. Some have dysfunctional or almost no family support back home. Others come from very low income backgrounds where the families cannot afford to send many items.
Operation Send-a-Box aspires to send two care packages to every soldier in the Sabre squadron by the end of February—ambitious since there are over a thousand soldiers serving in this strategic location. The squadron’s chaplain has agreed to distribute packages to soldiers who have not yet received mail from home, beginning with the lowest ranked soldiers.
5 November 2007 @ 10:04AM >>
Cigarettes, trans-fats, aluminum baseball bats, and now bottled water. Is this the latest frontier in political correctness? Drink up now while you still can...it won’t be long before Michael Bloomberg tries to outlaw it.
29 October 2007 @ 9:31AM >>
Scott Johnson of PowerLine attended Indoctrinate U’s opening night in Minneapolis/St. Paul. He writes:
The Minneapolis debut was only the film’s second public showing; it premiered in Washington a few weeks ago before a raucous crowd at the Kennedy Center. In Minneapolis the film continues with showings at the Oak Street Cinema (the old Campus Theater) through next Thursday. The theater was also packed with a responsive crowd last night, a large part of which stuck around after the screening to hear from Evan and film producer Thor Halvorssen. I haven’t seen such a big crowd in that theater since “Putney Swope” opened there in 1969.
This is a funny, humane, and powerful film. If there is any justice in the world, with Evan Maloney’s screen debut a star is born.
27 October 2007 @ 6:58AM >>
Matthew Sheffield of NewsBusters recently interviewed me on a wide range of topics. His extensive interview, the first in what will soon be a series on the website, has now been posted.
It is quite apparent from reading the transcript that I must have spoken with Sheffield after a few cups of coffee.
Also, here’s another review of Indoctrinate U that I recently found online:
It’s a film that grows on you the deeper into the narrative you get, alternately making you belly-laugh and shake your head at the insanity that activists get away with against their ideological opponents - and sometimes their insufficiently zealous sympathizers - while campus administrators bury their heads in the sand.
Without revealing too much, I can say that the tiffs would be hilarious material for screenwriters if they were fictional, and I hope day we can laugh them off. But there is a tinge of sadness as you realize, after a hearty laugh as a target recounts his or her dark night of the soul, what crushing periods they went through for something as simple as being married to a Republican.
If I sound perturbed in my writing, it’s only after the fact, dwelling on what students these days face. But the film lends itself more to laughter and mockery than hurt feelings, carried along by a poppy dance soundtrack. Clearly these interview subjects have developed a sense of removal since their trials, and they have a sense of humor about it.
2 October 2007 @ 3:14PM >>
Michael Totten, currently in Iraq, has a new post about his trip with a relief convoy in Anbar Province. As always, his pieces are worth a read, and are heavily illustrated with pictures.
Recently, The New York Times announced that they were ending TimesSelect, the wall that the paper built around their opinion columnists to prevent non-subscribers from reading them online.
When TimesSelect was announced, some folks reacted as if Ambien had just been taken off the market. Without the interchangeable columns of Bob Herbert, how were people supposed to ease their way into dreamland?
To solve such a weighty problem, I wrote a piece of software called Automatic Bob, the bot that generates Bob Herbert columns in much the same way that the author himself does.
I did not have time to build sentience into Automatic Bob, but I’m sure if he had feelings, he’d sense the bittersweet nature of this moment. On the one hand, Automatic Bob’s mentor—the real Bob—is back. But on the other hand, will Human Bob’s return lead to a decommissioning of AutoBob?
Not to worry!
You see, even though Human Bob has returned to the public web, he is still human and therefore only capable of generating a small number of columns each month. AutoBob has no such limitation.
So, even though the TimesSelect wall is down and there is nothing standing between you and the latest Bob Herbert column except a free registration, Automatic Bob will remain ready to serve you for all those times when your insomnia requires something stronger than the mere trickle of columns that a Human Bob can produce.
19 September 2007 >>
Recently, I was invited by the Pope Center to write a piece for their Clarion Call describing some of the resistance I faced from college administrators while putting together Indoctrinate U.
In the article, I talk a bit about my run-in with the head of security at my alma mater, Bucknell University. It was one of some half-dozen times police and security officers were called on me while making the film.
18 September 2007 @ 7:08AM >>
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) just introduced a novel way to publicize the restrictions on free speech and free thought that many schools impose on students.
You may already be familiar with the concept of speech codes, but you may not know about FIRE’s system for classifying the severity of those speech codes. Schools receive a “red light” rating if they have regulations that “substantially restrict” speech. Yellow light schools have regulations on the books that could be abused by administrators to restrict speech. And schools that do not restrict speech at all get “green light” ratings.
It’s a sad commentary on the state of affairs in academia that fewer than 10% of all schools surveyed by FIRE have green light ratings. This means that over 90% of those schools have some administrative mechanism for restricting speech.
Legally, as government-run entities, public universities must adhere to the First Amendment. Despite this, some of them have speech codes that haven’t yet been challenged in court, and therefore haven’t been struck down. Private universities may legally restrict speech, but very rarely do they publicly acknowledge that they are doing so. Schools regularly entice prospective students with glossy-brochure promises of a vigorous intellectual environment that welcomes impassioned debate. But after coming to campus, these students—the customers of the university—soon discover that there are certain directions their minds are not allowed to go.
In any other industry, such behavior would constitute false advertising and business fraud. But for some reason, customers of educational institutions never seem to question it.
Thankfully, FIRE is doing for consumers of education what Consumer Reports did for consumers of just about everything else.
In the interests of helping prospective students understand the potential for a Kafkaesque entanglement with university administrators, FIRE has created the Speech Code Widget.
Here’s the one for my alma mater, Bucknell University.
You can go to FIRE’s Spotlight website to lookup any schools you’re affiliated with. There, you’ll find the HTML code for each school’s widget. If you find any red or yellow lights among the schools that are important to you, maybe you can help shame them into respecting free thought.
4 September 2007 @ 8:54AM >>
Every time I post an article like this, I get e-mails pointing out that such stories are scientifically meaningless. Perhaps, but that doesn’t make them any less amusing:
A BRITISH yachtsman attempting the first solo Arctic sea passage across northern Russia was examining his options after heavier than expected ice blocked his route, his manager said.
Adrian Flanagan is discussing with Russian authorities the possibility of using a nuclear-powered icebreaker to lift his boat out of the water and carry it round the most icebound stretch of Russia’s Northern Sea Route.
“Basically it just means we’re putting plan B into operation so if the worst comes to the worst and there isn’t a break in the weather, we’ve got a plan,” Louise Flanagan, his manager and ex-wife said from Britain.
The 46-year-old entered the eastern end of the treacherous sea route that stretches from Asia to Europe across northern Russia in late July.
He had hoped that his 11m reinforced yacht would be able to get all the way to Europe due to lighter ice conditions observed in recent years, thought to be a result of global warming.
22 August 2007 @ 9:12AM >>ExpertVoter.org implements a simple, but powerful idea: provide voters direct access to the YouTube statements of presidential candidates running for office.
The main page is arranged in a grid, with issues across the top and candidates down the side. Candidates are also grouped and color-coded by party.
To hear a candidate’s stance on a given issue, just click the thumbnail image in the appropriate box. To hear all the candidates speak about a particular issue, you can sequentially click down the column for that issue.
And unlike what you might find in the reportage of the establishment media, lesser-known candidates are included as well.
YouTube also has a page that is a good starting point to the candidates, but I find ExpertVoter’s layout provides a better overview with far fewer clicks. The site is a good example of how the Internet can do a better job at informing the electorate than the old media.