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Steve Bogart


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4 July 2000

One day
They'll probably make a movie
Out of all of this
-- "Poor Napoleon", Elvis Costello, Blood and Chocolate, 1986

I continue to be busy traveling and getting ready to move across the country, so, updates will remain pretty infrequent for some time...hopefully this sizable batch will satisfy for a little while.

Now, This: Harry Did WHAT?

I'm assuming all the secrecy and hype is just to increase anticipation (and pump up opening-day sales), but what if it's also so the [new Harry Potter] book is already in millions of homes (first printing: 3.8 million!) before it's possible to warn parents that it's ...

I needed to compare levels of caffeine in various drinks recently, and found this handy page:

  • Frequently Asked Questions about Caffeine []
    Tea, iced: 70mg per 12 oz.
    Mountain Dew: 55mg (no caffeine in Canada)
    Coca-Cola: 45.6
    RC Cola: 36

    Brewed coffee: 80-135mg per 7 oz.

    Chocolate bar: 30mg

    3 heaping teaspoons of chocolate powder mix: 8mg


  • Boy Scouts may lose support after winning battle over gays [CNN]
    The Scouts' policies have cost them financial support from several corporations, including jeans maker Levi Strauss & Co. Some United Way chapters have halted contributions, and several local governments have severed ties. The Scouts were removed from a list of charities that Connecticut state employees could support through payroll deductions.

    However, Scouts spokesman Gregg Shields said the organization's funding has been stable, with new contributors offsetting the losses. He said Scout membership has risen 7 percent in the past three years to 6.2 million -- "the kind of growth we've not seen since the baby boom era."

I have a bronze Apple Powerbook. It has an Enter key next to the spacebar that I very very rarely use. it would have been nice if it were a second Command key instead. Luckily, these folks make a system extension, Shadowkeys, to let you use it that way. It works, and it's only $5. Woo.

Ah, the Brunching Shuttlecocks. Even their submission guidelines are fun to read. Apparently they pay $25 and the author retains copyright (watch and learn, RIAA). Hmm.

  • Unsolicited Submissions Guidelines []
    ...submissions should be complete, not just "ideas." In other words, don't send us something like "How about a thing where Al Gore takes drugs with Donald Trump?" without a full article to back it up. (Actually, don't send that one at all. But you get the idea.)

    Keep in mind that just because we didn't take your submission doesn't mean we don't think you're funny, although to be honest that is the most likely reason. ... most importantly it may not fit into that undefinable Brunching style. That's right, we want you to write something that fits into our site without doing a version of something we've already done. Nobody said freelancing was easy.

The rest of today's links are old by now, but I want to be able to refer back to them, so I'm posting them anyway. Maybe there'll be one you haven't seen already.

As I read this, I kept thinking: What a bizarre thing for a movie's writers to do. It had to have been consciously done, but I can't fathom why unless it's as the author says: they're trying to simultaneously demonize the British and, by extension, get people to not hate Nazis so much.

  • The Nazis, er, the Redcoats are coming! by Jonathan Foreman [Salon]
    "The Patriot" will not open in England until August, but when it does, Brits will see a supposedly authentic historical epic that radically rewrites the known history of the Revolutionary War. It does so by casting George III's redcoats as cartoonish paragons of evil who commit one monstrous -- but wholly invented -- atrocity after another.

    In one scene, the most harrowing of the film, redcoats round up a village of screaming women and children and old men, lock them in a church and set the whole chapel on fire. If you didn't know anything about the Revolution, you might actually believe the British army in North America was made up of astonishingly cruel, even demonic, sadists who really did do this kind of thing -- as if they were the 18th century equivalent of the Nazi SS. Yet no action of the sort ever happened during the war for independence, but an eerily identical war crime -- one of the most notorious atrocities of World War II -- was carried out by the Nazis in France in 1944.'s particularly insidious when a film that goes to such lengths to avoid anachronism in Revolutionary period clothing, weaponry and battle tactics takes such license with the nature of the war.

Sadly, this actually does matter because a number of people do uncritically accept what movies show them as a representation of How Things Actually Were. For instance, there's the featured IMDB summary of the movie:

  • Patriot, The (2000) [IMDB]
    This movie is one of, if not THE most brilliant movie I've ever seen! The screenwriters were obviously trying to show the harsh reality of the Revolutionary War, showing women and children being killed along with the soldiers.

I've always felt that anti-abortion advocates don't quite tell the whole story of their position; their focus on punishing (threatening, harming) the doctors who provide abortions while often leaving aside the question of what they want done to the woman who seeks to have one has always smelled disingenuous to me. Michael Kinsley checks into the language in the Republican Party platform and puts two and two together. Oh, look: four.

  • The GOP's Abortion Trap [Washington Post]
    The official position of the Republican Party is that women who have abortions should be executed. The platform doesn't say this in so many words, but it's not a fanciful interpretation. In fact, it's an unavoidable interpretation.

    ...according to the Republican platform, the law should treat the abortion of a one-month-along fetus exactly like the killing of, say, a 5-year-old child. In every state it is considered a rather serious crime for a mother to hire someone to kill her innocent child. In states with a death penalty, this is just the kind of killing ... that qualifies for the death penalty.

    ...the Republican platform would give states a choice: either execute women who have abortions, along with doctors who perform them, or don't execute other premeditated murderers and their hired gunmen. And there's really no choice, because elsewhere in this steamy document, the platform is quite enthusiastic about the death penalty, complaining repeatedly that it isn't used nearly enough.

    The full implications of the platform's abortion language also make a mockery of the GOP's "big tent" efforts to find room for pro-choicers in the party. ... It is simply not coherent to tell believers in abortion rights: "We think you're slaughtering children -- and, no, we're not prepared to discuss it -- but hey! We don't care. Come on in anyway and try to make yourself feel at home."

I didn't see more than a few seconds of the videotaped assault in Central Park. That was plenty. Some men are sick.

  • Anna Quindlen: Sexual Assault, Film At Eleven [MSNBC]
    To suggest that this is a product of our times is an excuse for behavior that has been with us always. There's no evidence that there were fewer sexual assaults in olden days when a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking; there's only evidence that it was secret then, that no one told.

    Over the centuries the excuses for this have been many and various: she was a servant, a slave, a prostitute, an infidel, a wife. A century ago sexual assault was explained as the inevitable explosive acting-out of men in a repressive sexual atmosphere; now it is supposed to be the inevitable effect of a permissive sexual environment. When we natter on about our culture, about how this is a corollary of violent lyrics and explicit movies, it is no more than a different kind of excuse. It is not entirely their fault; rap music made them do it, or halter tops. Nonsense.

Wrapping up the recent Supreme Court sessions:

  • Supreme Court Dispatches by Dahlia Lithwick [Slate]
    It's rare for a justice to read aloud from a dissent. It's deemed fractious. That three justices read lengthy ones this morning is quite extraordinary.

    ...before you mist up over the court's sweet deference to states' rights, you may want to reflect on the possibility that this court doesn't love the states. It just hates Congress more.

Chicken Run was a fine, fine movie. 9 out of 10.

  • Great escapists (Interview with Nick Park and Peter Lord) [Salon]
    Lord: ...I've often thought with animation that the very cleverest animation often lets itself down.

    It's wasted effort, you know? I mean, you'll see two animators and one will do something fantastically busy and elaborate. Intellectually you think, "God, that's very clever animation; it's so subtle and difficult to do." And another animator will do the same movement in almost a whole series of stills, and the latter is more effective. The first one's cleverer, but the second one communicates better because you can see what's going on. You can see the face.

    Park: We didn't really even look at chickens for very long, because they were so awkward: They twitch all the time, they have eyes on the sides of their heads, they don't have any teeth, their legs bend the wrong way. They were completely the wrong thing to choose for our kind of animation.

How to make money for your underwriters but not yourself: go public.

  • Grisly Dot-Com Saga as a Reduced Salon Faces Cold Reality [Bloomberg/New York Observer]
    ...the I.P.O. proceeds from one company ... became the ad revenue of the next company -- a kind of Wall Street-financed merry-go-round in which dot-com startups became little more than a capital transfer mechanism from Wall Street to Madison Avenue. It was all dependent in the end on the continuing flow of funds from the new issue market-a flow that was destined to end sooner or later, and now has done just that.

    If you bought one share, at the first trade in the aftermarket, for every Internet I.P.O. that Goldman, Sachs has managed since its underwriting of Yahoo Inc. in April 1996 -- some 60 deals in all -- you'd have done spectacularly well in less than half a dozen of them ... and you'd at least have come out ahead, so far, in maybe 15 more.

    As for the rest -- about 40 stocks in all -- you'd have done so poorly that your entire portfolio would now be down about 8 percent. You'd have been better off leaving the money in a coffee can in the kitchen.

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