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Month: December 2003

Things to do in Austin

[Written on Friday.]

I’m glad I came into Austin early; for one thing, I’m far better rested this morning than I would be if I’d gotten in last night, and for another thing, it was nice to see Austin. We stayed at the Austin Motel, on South Congress Street, which is pretty clearly the hip area of Austin. Funky stores, good clubs, ice cream, and good Mexican food — what’s not to like?

The rest of Austin kind of weirded us out. I think it’s something to do with the available space. I’m used to compact cities that use all the space available. Austin, you can drive five minutes from the center of the city and it’s practically rural by my coastal standards.

The main college drag is a typical college drag, Sixth Street has lots of bars, the gaming stores are OK, and the SF bookstore seems to be closed.

We hit Pedazo Chunk in the afternoon. It is in fact about as cool as promised. There’s an awesome Asian movie selection, a good horror selection, and so on. We pretty much didn’t want to leave. Harry and his dad dropped by while we were there; he apparently really paid attention to the “admission applications”:, cause he greeted us by name on sight. After much discussion of cinema and the need for Pedazo Chunk to move to Boston, we rented Vidocq and retired for the evening. A Powerbook will serve as a region-free DVD player in a pinch.

Cheap comparison department: if you liked Brotherhood of the Wolf, you’ll like Vidocq. It’s directed by Jeunat’s production director, and it is just lush through and through. The story’s also pretty cool, albeit I think there’s some French political symbolism I’m missing. There is not as much martial arts as there was in Brotherhood, but there are gorgeous French people. Recommended, if it ever comes out on a region 1 DVD.

Brain not so good

I appear to have survived Butt-Numb-A-Thon 5. Barely. Sorry to anyone who was hoping for updates from the theater; the security was exceedingly tight and I wasn’t allowed to bring in my laptop. Or my cell phone, or my pager, for that matter. I got stuck in Houston due to the New England snow storm, but I’m alive and more or less well in Boston today.

A lot of lengthy posts about what I saw and Austin and so on are coming up. In the meantime, here’s Nordling on BNAT and Harry on BNAT.

War breaks out

Curt Schilling’s online presence really caught a lot of Boston sportswriters by surprise. Bill Simmons went from a guy who wrote about sports on his personal web site to an ESPN columnist and Hollywood writer. That probably should have been a wakeup call; the Curt Schilling chats definitely are. When fans can go to fan-run sites and get news before it’s hit the talk shows and newspapers, that’s got to be at least a little disturbing. I tend to think that most smart writers will embrace the new possibilities, but some are going to react poorly.

Today’s Boston Dirt Dogs front page is a figurative war zone. Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant wrote a nasty little column (user/password: laexaminer/laexaminer) in which he guts and fillets a Courant staffer for being a little too verbose in the SoSH Schilling chat. The offense doesn’t warrant the venom.

“Sam,” writes Jacobs, “still needs to learn which master to serve.” Jacobs makes it clear that he thinks Sameer Ohri, the staffer in question, should serve Andrew Jackson, Alexander Hamilton, and Abraham Lincoln. I’m not qualified to judge whether or not Sameer violated journalistic ethics, but if he did, I’d say those ethics are a more important master than both his paycheck and his Red Sox fandom.

The Dirt Dogs fired back. I’m going to quote extensively, because there are no archives over there:

So the whole time GSG is posting, he’s just shooting the breeze. At the time of those entries… at the time of those entries Jeff… he has NO idea that Schilling is Schilling. You simply cannot go back after learning that it was Schilling and take those casual soundbites out of chat script later. That is unscrupulous. Irresponsible. Unreal. No proof existed at that time that it was Curt Schilling, making the “record” (gee, hope no one gave it to you 7th hand Jeff, all edited up) of GodSamGod’s entire participation in the chat unusable by an accredited newspaper in any way, shape, or form.

Oh, and newsflash Jeffrey, when a chat window closes on SoSH, the text is gone, it’s like an instant message (know what that is wise guy?). So there is no legitimate transcript in existence unless you are the host site for SoSH. The fiction text you’re holding over our heads is worthless. Who handled it? PeskyPolish17? Or was it BenOgilivy99? Or GradysGhost? There’s no legitimate transcript you goof. No one in the media will run anything or they’ll be the laughingstock of the industry. Wait, ooops, you ran comments from your “transcript.” Haaaa. Haaaa. Haaaaartford.

All the hateful, damning fictitious comments you chose to publish this morning, all those comments were irrelevant. You don’t even know who typed them or when, do you Jeff?

Your incredibly poor decision to print the urban myth mystery chat excerpts was really libelous, unnecessary, gratuitous, mean-spirited, hurtful, and damaging to Sam’s colleagues, family, and friends. For that alone, you should be ashamed. If you don’t get fired, you simply must get a serious suspension. Boston Dirt Dogs, an unofficial fan website, has never been that irresponsible for chrissakes.

And we don’t serve any masters.

The Internet can’t “win” this battle. The readership numbers aren’t even remotely comparable. But it says something that Jeff Jacobs takes Sons of Sam Horn seriously enough to write his column in the first place. I’m waiting to see if he fires back at the Dirt Dogs.

Protective order

OK, now I know what that protective order was. Here’s the PDF. It’s just the procedure the parties need to use if they want to protect portions of their evidence from public view. Sony, for example, may not wish their script for Underworld 2 to be available just yet. Now they can introduce it into evidence without pesky people like me getting their hands on it.

We quit

Yeah, I’m feeling flamingly political this week. So: the Guardian claims that some of the Guantanamo Bay defense team was fired. If the report is accurate, and it might not be, a few of the selected defense lawyers objected to the rule that says the government can listen in on conversations between the lawyer and the defendant. They were fired immediately.

The question is obviously not whether the government can fire lawyers who aren’t willing to work under the procedures outlined. The question is whether or not the procedures are reasonable. When you pick a team of lawyers who know in advance that they’re working as part of a military tribunal, and they still object to the procedures once they see them, there is perhaps something wrong with the way you want to do things.

The BBC notes that both the Guardian and Vanity Fair are reporting this story, despite DoD denials.

More of the right

Ginger pointed out that I didn’t mention the violence committed by the anti-abortion crowd. She’s right; it’s another example of extremist right-wing violence that at the very least verges on terrorism. So let’s talk about that some.

Start out at Abortion Violence, a site run by anti-abortionists. (Brant, this is one of those links. You’ve been warned.) About five seconds into reading it, I realized that the tactics were incredibly familiar. It’s the same stuff I talked about in my previous post on right-wing terrorism.

They’re quick to claim that pro-choice activists are more violent, and provide charts to make the point. However, when you drill down into their state by state numbers, it becomes clear that their stats are hopelessly biased. For example, in Massachusetts, they count the following case as a pro-choice murder:

On October 31, 1999, allergist and part-time abortionist Dirk Greineder murdered his 58-year-old wife, Mabel, during a walk at a Wellesley pond after she discovered his secret life of prostitutes and pornography.

What’s the connection? Well, he performed abortions. By that standard, you have to count every murder ever committed by an anti-abortion activist, though, and they don’t. They also count deaths during abortions; they do not count (or even mention) deaths in childbirth.

The arguments are the same. “We’re not so bad when you look at them.” The arguments are also equally false.

The links between these terrorists and right-wing extremism have been documented for nearly a decade. Eric Rudolph is a great example. So is John Burt. So is Donald Spitz.

Note also the last paragraph in this article on Stephen Jordi — Pastor Ruckman knows what’s going on in his community. Jordi had hopes of killing Clinton and Bush. And the Patriot movement is happy to embrace Jordi as a sympathetic figure. (Scroll down, and if you thought was bad, you really don’t want to read that link. But this is what’s happening in our culture and I kind of think it’s better to know.)

It’s all part of the same fabric; it’s all part of the same culture of violence.

On pussification

So there’s this cheesy essay out there now, The Pussification of the American Male. I’ve been sort of meaning to write about it, but I’ve also been unable to think of anything I could add to the discussion other than “You know, I agree; Kim Du Toit is kind of a wimp for freaking out over a Cheerios commercial.”

(Speaking of which, I’m glad to report that I was listening to sports radio the other day and heard a commercial in which a guy demonstrated the meaning of bitter by calling up his bitter ex-girlfriend. It was pretty funny. More significantly, I take it as conclusive proof that the trend Du Toit documents has been defeated. Or, perhaps, conclusive proof that ad agencies target advertisements to target markets. Not sure which.)

Anyway, if I can’t add substantive commentary, I can add a really good link. TPB comes at the question from a mythological perspective. And nails it. To the wall.

Live Curt Live

A transcript of an informal chat with Curt Schilling i”s up on Sons of Sam Horn”:

CurtSchilling38: and then had an email from someone telling me about the SoSH board
CurtSchilling38: so I dropped by and read up, and it was pretty cool
CurtSchilling38: knowing that an entire “nation” of people was rooting for us to make that decision to come to Boston, and
CurtSchilling38: as i said the other day, I am human, its pretty cool to see people wanting you to be a part of “their” team so badly
CurtSchilling38: so I read around, and saw the chat, figured what the hell and started chatting
CurtSchilling38: after a bit, when I convinced some of them that it was me, it was pretty fun

Lots more good stuff. He’s looking forward to working with Varitek, too.