"Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense."
- Mark Twain

"Anyone who combines politics and baseball is an idiot, because everyone knows that ping-pong is the greatest sport. Oh, and I'm really a Communist who hates NASCAR and listens to Joan Baez in the dark.
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Andre Vladimir Sebastian is a figment of your imagination. Honestly, you really could have done better than him, now couldn't you? Next time, put a little effort into it.

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Poor Vidal
An AP story on the legal battle between Vidal Sassoon, the Brit hairdresser with the French name, and Proctor & Gamble, which owns his once popular haircare products line and is dumping them into discount bins, begins: Vidal Sassoon, his white hair cut short, his smile as inviting as his soft, British-accented voice, apologizes for the anger that reddens his face as he describes seeing his signature hair care products for sale in discount stores. "All the people I taught, all the people who were with me, we're all in a dollar bin now," Sassoon said. "What they did to me is an insult to the craft." Poor Vidal. I think the reporter missed the obvious news hook here, which is that Vidal, shops at discount stores.

  posted by AVS @ 17.5.03


The Real Media Bias? Ask Mick Jagger
"It's only rock 'n' roll, but questions are being raised about eight Rolling Stones concert tickets totaling $2,533 for President Bush's daughter Jenna." That was the lead of a Reuters story published in the Internet edition of The Washington Post today. Scandalous!

Reuters never says who raised the "questions" about the tickets, only that there was a "press query." The scandal, what there was of it, consisted of Bush receiving six Stones tickets from Tommy Mottolla, former chairman of Sony Music (you remember, the guy Michael Jackson called a racist. Not even Al Sharpton agreed with Michael on that one). The other two tickets came from Jenna Bush's Secret Service detail, who pitched in and bought her the tickets as a birthday gift. All tix were to be for Jenna and her friends, so they could see The Stones last year.

A non-story for sure. So why did Reuters write it up and The Washington Post publish it? The answer's obvious, isn't it? The media's longstanding, incurable bias towards: The Beatles. Yeah, that's right. The media are all Beatlemaniacs. They like to pretend they're bad boys and girls. They drive around with Pearl Jam and Ani DiFranco cds in their cars, and they can go on and on about the "genius" of Eminem and Kurt Cobain. But when they get home at night, they can't wait to pop in the Anthology and bop around the kitchen to "I wanna hold your hand".

Ever notice how little media coverage The Rolling Stones get compared to The Beatles? The Rolling Stones are the highest-grossing rock band of all time, but do you ever see them in the daily newspaper? Only when they're in town for a concert, in rehab, or in jail. On any other day it's always The Beatles, The Beatles, The Beatles. Paul McCartney this, John Lennon that. They even fawn over Ringo. When was the last time you saw a newspaper or network TV profile on Ron Wood? Has any publication other than Modern Drummer done a story on Charlie Watts? He's 20 times the drummer Ringo Starr is, in fact he's one of the best drummers in rock 'n' roll history, but his name is entirely unknown outside of drumming circles while everybody knows Ringo's name.

The media hate George W. Bush because it's blatantly obvious he's no Beatles fan. He's a Stones man through and through. There's just no picturing W. bopping around to "Drive My Car" or getting psychedelic with "Yellow Submarine". But would he rock out to "Satisfaction" or "Honky Tonk Women"? Definitely. The same goes for Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. The whole Bush administration could have been plucked from the audience of the 40 Licks tour. Al Gore? Beatles fan. Bill Clinton? Sgt. Pepper's stoner all the way.

If Karl Rove were worth his salt, the strategy for winning over the media before the 2004 election would go something like this. Have Ari Fleischer respond to reporters questions with comments like, "The President is so concerned about achieving peace in the Middle East that when Chairman Arafat phoned, the president immediately took his call, even though it was right in the middle of "Eleanor Rigby". Have Bush walk out to Marine 1 with a copy of The White Album (vynil, not cd) under his arm instead of the latest hot political book. During speeches, Bush should drop references like, "Ever wonder why 'Taxman' is the first song on side one of Revolver? It's because when George Harrison wrote that song in 1966, he'd just been bumped into a higher tax bracket, and I tell ya, he was pretty pissed. I don't want that happening to musicians in my America! We must lower tax rates on all musicians, performers, and artists, so they, too, can share the American dream!" The background music in the White House press room should always be Wings, solo McCartney, or John Lennon. Convince the press that Bush is a Beatlemaniac, and there'll never be another negative story about him. And he'll probably pick up an extra five percentage points in the blue states, too -- enough to ensure electoral victory.

  posted by AVS @ 16.5.03


Another Case For Privatization
Britain's government-run employment agency, JobCeneter Plus, has banned a chain of sex-toy shops from recruiting through the government service because ads for the business "could potentially offend or cause embarrassment to a significant number of jobseekers". According to the BBC, the agency "said there was a risk they (job seekers) could be deemed unwilling to consider vacancies and their benefits put in jeopardy".

The government's argument is codswallop, of course. The government has no evidence of anyone being offended by Ann Summers' job postings, it just assumed some people would be and they would take the drastic step of halting their job hunting, thereby risking privation and destitution, to protect their squeamish eyes from naughty adverts. Is anyone in Britain -- where theaters stage fully nude sex shows, and exposed breasts can be seen on government-run television and in numerous 900-number ads posted in every big-city phone booth -- that prudish? I mean, other than government bureaucrats.

  posted by AVS @ 16.5.03

Keeping National Geographic In Business
Swaziland has an extremely high AIDS rate. You may remember Swaziland from all those National Geographic pics of its topless tribal women. Yesterday a Nigerian priest visiting London made the connection between the two. Swazi's high AIDS rate may be a byproduct of its high rate of female public nudity, he said. This didn't sit well with the Swazis, who dismissed the priest as having no understanding their culture. Said Swazi Senator Masalekhaya Simelane, "Swazi men are attracted by women's naked thighs not their breasts." In other words, all Swazi men are leg men. Glad we got that cleared up. Swazis also said they had no plans to cover their women's breasts, which they insist don't excite them in the least. And that's good because it means National Geographic will remain in business, or at least retain its high readership level among 15-year-old Western boys.

  posted by AVS @ 16.5.03

Top 10 Reasons Not To Ban 'Assault Weapons'
This post from IMAO made me laugh. If you don't like jokes about serious policy issues, skip this.


10. Sometimes you're too mad for just a normal gun.

9. If you see a dozen deer in one meadow, how else are you supposed to shoot them all before they run away?

8. Self-defense sometimes involves "assaulting" a fortress.

7. Keeping control of a fully automatic weapon helps build upper body strength.

6. If we're not allowed to have assault rifles, that will make us mad and we have other guns.

5. Not as impressive writing your name in the wall with a semi-automatic.

4. For elderly people with arthritis, it may be painful for them to hit the trigger multiple times.

3. What if dragons are real and one tries to mug you in a dark alley.

2. I don't how good a reason this is, but after I've had a few beers in me I'm always like, "Man, would it be cool to have an assault rifle right now."

And the number one reason regular citizens should be able to own assault rifles...

This is America; we don't have to give a g'damn reason for owning something.

  posted by AVS @ 16.5.03

NPR's Core Audience: Left-wing Crackpot Wackos
NPR aired an interview today with Marilyn Thompson, a Washington Post editor and author of The Killer Strain, a book about the post-9-11 anthrax scare. Tompson came across as very intelligent and well-informed, and the interview was moderately interesting. But boy did it spice up when the host began taking questions from listeners. The callers were such shocking lunatics I had to download the audio and put a transcription online. I swear I'm not making up these calls. For proof, you can go here and listen for yourself. The first caller was Robert from Indianapolis.

Robert: This occurred shortly after 9-11, and when these incidents hit the news, the nature of the occurrences led me to develop a hypothesis that it was an experiment on the part of the government, fearful of an attack of this nature, to find out what needed to be done to prevent this. They were very limited attacks. It would have started out in haste rather crudely and then been developed. And it just seems to me it has the earmarks of an experiment to see what would happen. I just wanted to know if there's been any investigation of this hypothesis of if this hypothesis has been tested by the author or other investigators.

I had to stop laughing so I could catch the author's response. Thompson said, "I have not tested that hypothesis, um, and I simply don't believe that to be the case." Here she had to suppress a laugh, which didn't sit well with Robert, who obviously has had some experience with such responses. He quickly retorted:

Well I understand that you may not believe it to be the case, but I think the hypothesis needs to be tested because if you look at what occurred as a result of the attacks: The postal system was hardened up. The public was put on alert. There were all these goals that would match goals of a national security agency or CIA or whomever. And it would also be, it would also lead to the government kind of standing back and, as you say, they didn't really respond very well to this, which you would have thought they would've, in, you know, in emergency situations after 9-11.

Robert paused for a breath, and host Terence Smith (of The News Hour with Jim Lehrer) quickly jumped in to cut him off, saying, "OK, thank you," before immediately launching into his next question. I thought that was a pretty hilarious call, but it was pedestrian conspiracy theory stuff compared to what was on the way. Nora Lee from Ft. Lauderdale was the next caller.

Nora Lee: I would like to ask that during the time just before and just after 9-11, it was in the newspaper here, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel south edition, that our president had authorized a strand of anthrax to be made so it could be followed. I never heard another word about it after 9-11.

Smith: You're talking about President Bush.

Nora Lee: Yes.

Smith: Any evidence of that, Marilyn?

Thompson: Ah, you mean that he wanted the creation of a specific strain?

Nora Lee: Yes, he was authorizing that so that it could be followed, and I just don't understand why no one ever even brought it up.

Thompson: Oh, I'm not aware of that. I mean, there was a great deal of discussion about what this strain happened to be, which was the Ames strain of anthrax.

Nora Lee: The name was never given. It was just that this was to be done.

Thopmson explains that the anthrax used in this case was the Ames strain, and she recounts the history of that strain. Nora Lee is undeterred.

Nora Lee: (unintelligible) the paper, and it said that the president had authorized a new strand of anthrax to be made.

Smith: OK, all right, thank you.

Smith leaps to the next question. At one point in the interview, Thompson related a brief history of the U.S. government's attempt to weaponize anthrax, and she noted that the program was halted years ago. Our next caller, Daniel from Fort Worth, disagreed.

Daniel: I don't mean to be cynical or critical here, but does your guest seriously believe that the United States military and government doesn't have an ongoing chemical and biological weapons program?

Thompson replies that she has no knowledge of such a program, saying, "that's just an area I have not delved into."

Daniel: Perhaps you will and write another book. I have to believe that it's true.

Smith: What's your belief based on, Daniel?

Daniel cites his sources.

Daniel: Well, I, I just don't believe, uh, that uh, as secretive as our military is, ah, and given the history that it has had in the past, with chemical and biological weapons, uh, that, uh, this nation has given it up and that we don't have stockpiles of 'em.

Thompson gives a longish response, which has a great ending.

Thompson: I like to prove things before I say them.

Smith moves on to the next -- and best -- caller, Mitch in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Mitch: Hi Marilyn. Um, I'm kind of following up along the same lines as Robert and Daniel. Um, I, uh, you know, I've read books, um, since September 11, uh, published by four famous writers that I've respected all my life: Norman Mailer, uh, Gore Vidal, Howard Zinn, and Noam Chomsky. And all four of 'em describe the events of December 2000 as a military coup. And I find it hard to believe that you've researched the anthrax attacks, especially the letter to Senator Daschle, and did not run across one person in your research that, ah, shared the viewpoint of the four people that I just mentioned. So my question is, were you prohibited by the CIA or something from having a chapter in your book similar to the chapter that Kevin (There was no Kevin on or referenced on the show) mentioned on the, ah, possibility of terrorists that would have approached this as the possibility of a rogue agent of the government or a deep covert operation of the government similar to the LSD experiments of the 1950s where innocent people were given LSD by the government unkowingly?

Now I'm laughing too hard to hear the author's response. Fortunately, there's RealAudio.

Thompson is obviously a bit frustrated that all anyone wants to talk about is a Bush conspiracy.

Thompson: There are many books that could be written about this episode with different takes on what happened. I simply set out to tell a story about what happened during a year in which America discovered bioterrorism through a specific attack and to, in fact, look at the government's performance in handling that. There's still room for many people to write on this subject.

I was so disappointed she didn't mercilessly ridicule Mitch and call him a dunderheaded amoeba-brain, but one does have to observe a certain level of decorum on NPR.

Smith has had enough of these callers, so he moves to email questions. And, baby, the hits just keep on comin'. The first emailer is John.

John: What is the significance that the apparent target of these attacks were the so-called "liberal media" and the Democratic leadership of the Senate?

Thompson: I'm not sure that liberal media is the best term. It's been widely theorized that the reason these specific media targets were, uh, centered on by the killer was that they were the highest visibility and, or the most sensational and the most likely to give the event a sensationalistic coverage.

She goes on to say that with regard to the Senate targets "I believe there was a distinct political message" because the targets were all highly visible liberal opponents of the U.S. Patriot Act.

The remaining callers and writers had pretty good questions, and hence the rest of the show was rather dull. It is by no means true that all NPR listeners are crackpot conspiracy theorists. I'm an NPR listener. But the proportion has to be exponentially higher than in the general population. These types of calls occur way too often. And the left has the nerve to call Limbaugh's listeners mind-numbed robots! Next time you hear an NPR host say the network is funded by support from "listeners like you," consider yourself insulted.

  posted by AVS @ 15.5.03


Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat! Boom! Bzzzzzz!
Today is a high day in military history. On this day the first patent for a machine gun was approved (1718), Britain dropped its first H-bomb (1957), and the laser was invented (1960). Unfortunately, also on this day (1948) Israel was first invaded by Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. Frustratingly, with all that technological development, the U.S. military still has yet to be equipped with blasters.

  posted by AVS @ 15.5.03

Maggie Whacks 'Enemies Of The West', aka The French
Defying her doctor's orders to quit public speaking for good, 77-year-old Margaret Thatcher gave a speech in New York tonight in which she slammed France and other nations for collaborating with "enemies of the West." I'll see if I can get a transcript of the speech. In the meantime, here's a quote:

"For years, many governments played down the threats of Islamic revolution, turned a blind eye to international terrorism and accepted the development of weaponry of mass destruction. Indeed, some politicians were happy to go further, collaborating with the self-proclaimed enemies of the West for their own short-term gain — but enough about the French. So deep had the rot set in that the UN security council itself was paralysed.”

The Times story on her speech is here.

  posted by AVS @ 14.5.03


Barbara Walters Doesn't Read James Taranto
I was browsing the ABC Web site and found that its "news" magazine 20/20 is planning a story on the study, released last December, that purported to show that job applicants who had black-sounding names received fewer call-backs than applicants who had white-sounding names. ABC swallows the study whole, and on its Web site puts out this feeler:

"The researchers found that applicants with white-sounding names (such as Emily, Brendan, Brad or Kristen) were nearly 50 percent more likely to be called for interviews than were those with black-sounding names (including Tamika, Latoya, Aisha, Rasheed, Tremayne and Jamal). 20/20 is in search of African-Americans with non-traditional first names, who feel their name has hurt their employment chances or otherwise led to a negative experience."

If the producers at 20/20 were regular readers of and James Taranto's excellent Best of the Web Today blog (as everyone should be), they'd know the study isn't all it's cracked up to be. On Dec. 16, four days after The New York Times ran the story about the study, Taranto gave his take on it, which went like this:

"The New York Times reports on a study conducted by an MIT economist and a University of Chicago business prof that purports to find that, as the Times puts it, "employers discriminate against black job applicants":

"They selected 1,300 help-wanted ads from newspapers in Boston and Chicago and submitted multiple resumes from phantom job seekers. The researchers randomly assigned the first names on the resumes, choosing from one set that is particularly common among blacks and from another that is common among whites.

"Employers were more likely to ask the "applicants" with 'white names' in for an interview than those with the 'black names.' But something's wrong here. A chart that accompanies the print version of the Times story but doesn't appear online shows the frequency with which people with "white" names and "black" names got called for interviews:

"White" names
Kristen: 13.6%
Carrie: 13.1%
Laurie: 10.8%
Meredith: 10.6%
Sarah: 9.8%
Allison: 9.4%
Jill: 9.3%
Anne: 9.0%
Emily: 8.3%

"Black" names
Ebony: 10.5%
Latonya: 9.1%
Kenya: 9.1%
Latoya: 8.8%
Tanisha: 6.3%
Lakisha: 5.5%
Tamika: 5.4%
Keisha: 3.8%
Aisha: 2.2%

"Now, what's "white" about names like Laurie and Jill? Wouldn't a fair comparison have included some odd-sounding white names, like Dweezil or Moon Unit? And if employers discriminate against people with "black" names, how come Latonyas and Latoyas were more likely to get called back than Emilys were?"

Taranto's got a great point. If the employers were discriminating on the basis of race, how in the world would Ebony and Kenya pull a better response rate than Emily or Anne? There has to be another explanation for the discrepancy in the numbers, because race alone clearly doesn't tell the whole story. The question is, will 20/20?

On the upside, though, 20/20 is reportedly promoting John Stossel to co-anchor, which is the best news to come out of broadcast journalism in a while.

  posted by AVS @ 14.5.03

Drink Makes Men Vomit In My Begonias
That's the headline on a Scotsman column by Kirk Elder. It's hilarious. I first thought it was an Onionesque spoof, but it's for real. Mr. Elder was inspired to write about alcoholism by the Scottish government's move to allow bars and pubs to remain open 24 hours a day. His wonderful conclusion is this:

"My point is alcohol, and its effect on civilisation. Since I moved into the former manse, which happens to be next to the off-licence, which borders the wine bar, which is next to the hotel, which oversees the pub, which shares a patio with the ex-servicemen’s club, which is cheek-by-jowl with the masonic hall, which is on the grounds of the disused St Bernard’s Church, which has now become a discotheque called Gabriels, I have been in a good position to study this topic. My findings are these. Drink makes men go out without their jackets. It causes them to fight, to eat deep- fried food, and to vomit on my begonias. They always want what I do not, which is more."

Why can't we have columnists like this in the United States? Why?

  posted by AVS @ 14.5.03

Still Mad At Maggie
She was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century, and though her administration ended 13 years ago, the loopy left in Britain can't let go. The very mention of her name furrows the brows and bescowls the faces of artists, activists, social workers, union members and transit employees throughout the Isles. So even though she oversaw a period of great prosperity and briefly renewed glory for merry old England, and even though her own party has run as fast as it can from her name and legacy, and even though her role in world affairs is reduced to giving speeches to conservative think tanks and small liberal arts colleges, the left remains obsessed -- seriously, deeply, morbidly obsessed -- with Baroness Margaret Thatcher and the political ideas she has come to represent.

Britain's art crowd, which is mostly comprised of nihilistic, self-indulgent adult adolescents suspended in a permanent state of arrested development in which shock value and political statement count for more than beauty or truth, hates Lady Thatcher so much that they still -- 13 years after she left power -- hold exhibits designed exclusively to mock and ridicule the now 77-year-old Iron Lady. The latest of these hate-fests is being held in East London's Blue Gallery. It includes a painting of Lady Thatcher as Ronald McDonald and a video of one of her speeches in which the "artist" has edited it to make it appear that she is asleep.

There is the obvious point that the English art world has to have sunk to amazing depths to view such sophomoric attacks upon a frail old woman as high art. For me, though, the exhibit has an encouraging symbolism as well, for it means that Lady Thatcher -- feeble, aged, and swept aside by the rising tide of a resurgent statist movement in Europe -- remains a palpable, present force in the English consciousness. No longer consulted by the leaders of Europe, or even of England, her periodic public comments seem to evaporate into the atmosphere the moment the air on which they are carried escapes her still feminine lips. Yet she remains a powerfull and unforgettable intellectual force. She is an eponym: Thatcherite. She is a permanent political force with which both the left and the right will have to reckon for generations to come. The vibrant hatred of her that British artists feel compelled to express even today is a testament that she remains important, relevant. After all these years, she is still the Iron Lady, and like it or not, she always will be.

  posted by AVS @ 13.5.03


Kipling's Place In History
Andrew Roberts argues in Tuesday's Telegraph that Rudyard Kipling was, aside from being a great stylist, a "significant political thinker" and an unfairly maligned one at that.

"The abuse of Kipling has been long and sustained, yet his works might prove our ideal cultural reference for the next stages of the war against terror: he warned that imperialists could only expect 'the blame of those ye better,/ The hate of those ye guard'."

The occasion for Roberts' essay was the recent awarding of the Elizabeth Longford Historical Biography prize to David Gilmour's The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling. Looks like a good read.

  posted by AVS @ 13.5.03

Their Way
The Boston Globe Magazine of May 4 ran a cover story on George W. Bush titled "My Way". The subhead was "How the stubborness of George W. Bush defines his presidency in both war and peace." The cover pic was a caricature of a sinister-looking Bush with a contorted face, pointing his finger and yelling at the reader. Needless to say, I didn't bother reading the article. Why waste my time? The drawing and headline had "Hit Piece" written all over them. What I found interesting about it was that it completely contradicted the left's No. 1 complaint about national Democratic Party leaders, which is that they are too weak. According to the left, national Democrats don't lead. The don't have the guts to stand up and say, "This is how I'm going to do things, if you agree, follow me!" Yet when a president does just that, they slam him for his "stubbornness" and "unilateralism". Would they apply the same labels to, say, a President Howard Dean? Something tells me they wouldn't.

  posted by AVS @ 13.5.03

John Le Kerry
Christopher Buckley's take on Bush, John Kerry, and the whole French thing. Viking Pundit noticed this first.

  posted by AVS @ 13.5.03

Today is the anniversary of settling of the Jamestown colony in Virginia (to those of you who don't know, it was the first permanent English settlement in the New World). I hope to be at Jamestown for the 400th anniversary in 2007, just to see the costumes and eat the food. For now, I'll have to make do with reading about the settlement online.

This is George Percy's account of the May, 1606 exploration of what was to become Jamestown.

"The thirteenth day, we came to our seating place in Paspihas Countrey, some eight miles from the point of Land, which I made mention before: where our shippes doe lie so neere the shoare that they are moored to the Trees in six fathom water.

"The fourteenth day we landed all our men which were set to work about the fortification, and others some to watch and ward as it was convenient. The first night of our landing, about midnight, there came some Savages sayling close to our quarter: presently there was an alarum given; upon that the Savages ran away, and we not troubled any more by them that night. Not long after there came two Savages that seemed to be Commanders, bravely drest, with Crownes of coloured haire upon their heads, which came as Messengers from the Werowance of Paspihae; telling us that their Werowance was comming and would be merry with us with a fat Deare.

"The eighteenth day, the Werowance of Paspihae came himselfe to our quarter, with one hundred Savages armed, which garded him in a very warlike manner with Bowes and Arrowes, thinking at that time to execute their villainy. Paspihae made great signes to us to lay our Armes away. But we would not trust him so far: he seeing he could not have convenient time to worke his will, at length made signes that he would give us as much land as we would desire to take.

"As the Savages were in a throng in the Fort, one of them stole a Hatchet from one of our company, which spied him doing the deed: whereupon he tooke it from him by force, and also strooke him over the arme: presently another Savage seeing that, came fiercely at our man with a wooden sword, thinking to beat out his brains. The Werowance of Paspiha saw us take to our Armes, went suddenly away with all his company in great anger.

"The nineteenth day, my selfe and three or foure more walking into the Woods by chance wee espied a path-way like to an Irish pace: wee were desirous to knowe whither it would bring us; wee traced along some foure miles, all the way as wee went, having the pleasantest Suckles, the ground all flowing over with faire flowers of sundry colours and kindes, as though it had beene in any Garden or Orchard in England. There be many Strawberries, and other fruits unknowne: wee saw the Woods full of Cedar and Cypresse trees, with other trees, which issues out sweet Gummes like to Balsam: wee kept on our way in this Paradise, at length wee came to a Savage Towne, where wee found but few people, they told us the rest were gone a hunting with the Werowance of Paspiha: we stayed there a while, and had of them Strawberries, and other things; in the meane time one of the Savages came running out of his house with a Bowe and Arrowes and ranne mainly through the Woods: then I beganne to mistrust some villanie, that he went to call some companie, and so betray us, wee made all the haste away wee could: one of the Savages brought us on the way to the Wood side, where there was a Garden of Tobacco, and other fruits and herbes, he gathered Tobacco, and distributed to every one of us, so wee departed.

"The twentieth day of Werowance of Paspiha sent fortie of his men with a Deere, to our quarter: but they came more in villanie than any love they bare us: they faine would have layne in our Fort all night, but wee would not suffer them for feare of their treachery. One of our Gentlemen having a Target which hee trusted in, thinking it would beare out a slight shot, hee set it up against a tree, willing one of the Savages to shoot; who tooke from his backe an Arrow of an elle long, drew it strongly in his Bowe, shoots the Target a foote thorow, or better: which was strange, being that a Pistoll could not pierce it. Wee seeing the force of his Bowe, afterwards set him up a steele Target; he shot again, and burst his arrow all to pieces, he presently pulled out another Arrow, and bit it in his teeth, and seemed to bee in a great rage, so hee went away in great anger.

"Their Bowes are made of tough Hasell, their strings of Leather, their Arrowes of Canes or Hasell, headed with very sharpe stones, and are made artificially like a broad Arrow: other some of their Arrowes are headed with the ends of Deeres hornes, and are feathered very artificially. Paspiha was as good as his word; for hee sent Venison, but the Sawse came within few dayes after.

"At Port Cotage in our Voyage up the River, we saw a Savage Boy about the age of ten yeeres, which had a head of haire of a perfect yellow and a reasonable white skinne, which is a Miracle amongst all Savages.

"This River which wee have discovered is one of the famousest Rivers that ever was found by any Christian, it ebbes and flowes a hundred and threescore miles where ships of great burthen may harbour in safetie. Where-soever we landed upon this River wee saw the goodliest Woods as Beech, Oke, Cedar, Cypresse, Wal-nuts, Sassafras and Vines in great abundance, which hang in great clusters on many Trees, and other Trees unknowne, and all the grounds bespred with many sweet and delicate flowres of divers colours and kindes. There are also many fruites as Strawberries, Mulberries, Rasberries and Fruits unknowne, there are many branches of this River, which runne flowing through the Woods with great plentie of fish of all kindes, as for Sturgeon, all the World cannot be compared to it. In this Countrey I have seene many great and large Medowes, having excellent good pasture for any Cattle. There is also great store of Deere, both Red and Fallow. There are Beares, Foxes, Otters, Bevers, Muskrats, and wild beasts unknowne.

"The foure and twentieth day wee set up a Crosse at the head of this River, naming it Kings River, where we proclaimed James King of England to have the most right unto it. When wee had finished and set up our Crosse, we shipt our men and made for James Fort.

"By the way wee came to Pohatans Towre where the Captaine went on shore suffering none to goe with him, hee presented the Commander of this place with a Hatchet which hee tooke joyfully, and was well pleased.

"But yet the Savages murmured at our planting in the Countrie, whereupon this Werowance made answere againe very wisely of a Savage, Why should you bee offended with them as long as they hurt you not, nor take any thing away by force, they take but a litle waste ground, which doth you nor any of us any good.

"I saw Bread made by their women which doe all their drugerie. The men takes their pleasure in hunting and their warres, which they are in continually one Kingdome against another. The manner of baking bread is thus, after they pound their wheat into flowre with hote water, they make it into paste, and worke it into round balls and Cakes, then they put it into a pot of seething water, when it is sod thoroughly, they lay it on a smooth stone, there they harden it as well as in an Oven."

This is from Capt. James Smith's account of his company's first exploration of the James River:

"The two and twenty day of Aprill, Captain Newport and my selfe with divers others, to the other number of twenty two persons, set forward to discover the River, some fiftie or sixtie miles, finding it in some places broader, & in some narrower, the Countrie (for the moste part) on each side plaine high ground, with many fresh Springes, the people in all places kindely intreating us, daunsing and feasting us with strawberries, Mulberries, Bread, Fish, and other their Countrie provisions wherof we had plenty: for which Captaine Newport kindely requited their least favours with Bels, Pinnes, Needles, beades, or Glassas, which so contented them that his liberallities made them follow us from place to place, ever kindely to respect us. In the midway staying to refresh our selves in little Ile foure or five savages came unto us which described unto us the course of the River, and after in our journey, they often met us, trading with us for such provision as wee had, and ariving at Arsatecke, hee whom we supposed to bee the chiefe King of all the rest, moste kindely entertained us, giving us in a guide to go with us up the River to Powhatan, of which place their great Emperor taketh his name, where he that they honored for King used us kindely. But to finish this discoverie, we passed on further, where within an ile we were intercepted with great craggy stones in the midst of the river, where the water falleth so rudely, and with such a violence, as not any boat can possibly passe, and so broad disperseth the streame, as there is not past five or sixe Foote at a low water, and to the shore scarce passage with a barge, the water floweth foure foote, and the freshes by reason of the Rockes have left markes of the inundation 8. or 9. foote: The south side high mountaines, the rockes being of gravelly nature, interlaced with many vains of glistrling spangles.

"That night we returned to Powhatan: the next day (being Whitsunday after dinner) we returned to the fals, leaving a mariner in pawn with the Indians for a guide of theirs, hee that they honoured for King followe us by the river (further he would not goe) so there we erected a crosse, and that night taking our man at Powhatans, Captaine Newport congratulated his kindenes with a Gown and a Hatchet: returning to Arsetecke, and stayed there the next day to observe the height therof, & so with many signes of love we departed."

The best Jamestown resouce online is Virtual Jamestown, from which I pulled the above extracts.

Berkeley has this Jamestown panorama.

  posted by AVS @ 13.5.03

A Tease, A Disappointment, And An Offense
AOL's Instant Messenger news window had the headline, "Elizabeth Hurley Showcases Her Talent". "Excellent!" say I. So I click the link, which brings up a story about Miss Hurley's new acting role. Not a single pic of Liz "showcasing" anything. Man, I hate tease headlines. On top of that, I was put off by this sentence from the story, which is about her role in an upcoming film called "Method".

"'Method' could be a real winner for Hurley’s careeer, proving once and for all she deserves the fame she enjoys and has real acting chops."

Who is this writer to decide whether Liz Hurley "deserves" her fame? Celebrity gossip columnists Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith, actually two writers, it turns out. Funny that celebrity gossip columnists, the scum on the bottom of the journlism pond, would think they have any right make any decisions on anything. I wouldn't want people like these deciding what flavor ice cream to dollop on my pecan pie (No, not tofu veggie Earth crunch! I just want vanilla, OK?!! I don't care if the vanilla beans come from a giant vanilla-bean conglomerate that exploits Third-World laborers), much less which celebrities deserve their stardom and which don't. Can you imagine the movies that'd produce? It'd be all Terms of Endearment and Places In The Heart, and no Fast Times At Ridgemont High or Amazon Women On The Moon.

Liz Hurley is famous because she's beautiful. What's wrong with that? So is Pierce Brosnan. I don't see their fame as being any less deserving because they haven't shown themselves to be great actors. Keanu Reeves is a horrible actor, but he's more famous than either of them. If Keanu beat Meryl Streep for an Oscar, that'd be undeserving. But isn't it a little sophomoric to begrudge the good looking their fame when Hollywood is about nothing if not packing the common folk into the cinema to gawk at the beautiful people?

  posted by AVS @ 12.5.03


Going into tonight's start against Anaheim, the Yankees' Mike Mussina is so hot this season the EPA may want to consider regulating the wind rolling off his pitches as a greenhouse gas. In 7 starts, for a total of 53 innings pitched, he's 7-0 with a 1.7 era. The next best American League era is 2.04, belonging to Kansas City's Runelvys Hernandez, who has also pitched 53 innings. The Cubs' Mark Prior has a 1.65 era in 49 innings, and he's only 4-1 (of course he pitches for the Cubs). The big difference is that Prior is 22, Mussina is 34. And Mussina has 63 strikeouts, compared to Prior's 52. Now, it's still only May, when the AL batting leader is still sporting a nifty .387 avg. Mussina's era will drop as he adds another 150 or so innings to his total by the end of the season. Still, it's the best start for a Yankee pitcher since 1958. As one of Arsenio Hall's characters in Coming To America said, "Dat boy good!" So are the Yankee pitchers in general. The Yanks have two starters with eras over 4. The Red Sox, by comparison, have one starter with an era under 4. Of course, the A's staff is even hotter: one starter with an era over 4, and 2 with eras under 3, for a team total of 3.29. I'm looking forward to the next A's/Yanks series.

  posted by AVS @ 12.5.03

Anti-Americanism Is Anti-Democracy
So says Barbara Amiel in Monday's Daily Telegraph. Amiel takes on lefty novelist Margaret Drabble (what a name!), who says "I loathe America" and called America "insane" because our boys (and possibly gals, too) painted fierce faces on the noses of their aircraft during the war in Iraq. Amiel responds,

"If American unipolarity is dangerous and we need to replace the nuclear-equipped Soviet balance of power with a north-south combination, Dame Margaret and her UN might equip their Durban Conference participants with some nuclear weapons. North Korea's Chairman Kim Jong-Il should do the trick. 'I don't think it's in the interests of anybody,' explains Dame Margaret, 'including the United States, to have a situation in which the world as a whole is policed and run by the United States.'

"These are the arguments of idiots or scoundrels. The last thing America wants is to be alone in the world trying to uphold the values of liberal democracy. The problem is that it does find itself alone, forced into unilateralism by Dame Margaret's UN, which would not enforce any of its 17 resolutions on Iraq. But for her and her ilk, everything comes back to the fault of the US.

"Castro's executions get a frown from her, but "as far as Cuba's Castro is concerned, his stay in power has been very much facilitated by certain policies... from outside". The last refuge of the totally blinkered Left-liberal is, when faced with the undeniable evidence of a monstrous regime, to say it is all the fault of America."

She concludes,

"The dislike of the United States has several components, including jealousy of its superpower success, dismay over America's eclipse of European economic and political influence, and unhappiness with a certain vulgarity in American culture. But the primary antagonism springs from the fact that British and European institutions - including the BBC and most of the media - are now firmly in the hands of the statist Left, with its slavish adherence to all the shibboleths of Left-liberalism.

"American institutions, under any administration, enthusiastically celebrate the values of free enterprise and individual freedoms relative to the British and European Left. What is called anti-Americanism is really anti-liberal democracy."

  posted by AVS @ 11.5.03

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