"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wThursday, January 30, 2003

OH I AM AN IDIOT…SAVANT: Heh, last night Tim Cavanaugh told me that my Jesus Sells piece had been posted on Reason Online. I quickly blogged it (see below) and sent out a bunch of links to friends and colleagues. Slight problem, however. Through a set of circumstances that I'd rather not go into, the first several e-mails had the wrong URL. I found this out when WorldNetDaily.com posted a link to the the wrong article (from my perspective that is; I'm glad Tom Ambrose liked it).

The accidentally-linked-to article was an argument piece from March of last year titled "Burning Sensations: How would-be censors promote free speech." It argued that the legal framework and civic habits of the U.S. make most attempts at censorship all but impossible. Zeroing in on a New Mexico congregation's burning of Harry Potter, and the public outcry that met it, I argued that, well, that book burning promotes free speech. (It does so by drawing more attention to the contraband material.)

Consequently, I've been getting e-mails all day on an article that I wrote early last year. My friend Chris Mooney linked to it under the blush-inducing title, "The Best Counter-Intuitive Argument Ever." The angry anti-Harry Potter Brigade has taken to writing nasty letters promising my eternal damnation (SOME IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS). In fact, I think the reactions this time around have eclipsed last year's batch both in quantity and in vitriol.

posted by Jeremy at 11:32 PM

wWednesday, January 29, 2003

JESUS SELLS: Yes, ladies and gents, my epic article on the Christian culture industry is live on Reason Online today. Read it, pass it on, write angry letters to the editor, and please, please, publicly burn copies of it. I could use the publicity. Excerpt:

"When I joined the CBA attendees in Anaheim last summer, row upon row of mostly white men and women dressed in their Sunday best were filing into one of the big conference rooms. CBA President Bill Anderson welcomed us; those present, he said, represented some 50 states and 60 nations. Then he got down to business, as it were.

"What followed had all the trappings of a religious service -- songs, testimonies, a sermon. Technically, it was a religious service. But it was overtly commercialized to a greater extent than any religious gathering I had ever observed (and as the son of a Baptist minister, I’ve seen a lot of them). The printed programs, for example, were underwritten by the publisher of Pastor Lee Strobel -- he’d preached the sermon -- and featured an ad for his many books. The singers at the service were in town to promote their latest CDs to retailers.

"If the participants felt any shame about the nakedly commercial nature of the event, they did a good job of hiding it. In his invocation prayer, Anderson addressed God on behalf of "a group of colleagues working together under Your Lordship." Strobel, between jokes and stories about his days as an "atheistic reporter" in Chicago, commended the retailers for doing the Lord’s work and assured them that "we’ve got the truth," thus giving them "an unfair advantage in the marketplace of ideas." [more]

posted by Jeremy at 9:44 PM


THERE WILL BE ABSOLUTELY NO STATE OF THE UNION COVERAGE HERE: Partly because I didn't watch it, partly because the coverage I've read makes it sound surreal. Hydrogen cars? A crusade to wipe out AIDS in Africa? An, expansion of Medicare, NOW DAMMIT!? Oh yeah, and there's also that matter of war in Iraq...

posted by Jeremy at 3:14 PM


THEY CAIR: I called The American Conservative yesterday and was told that my essay on the Council on American Islamic Relations is in the current issue. Do any of my readers have a copy yet? I want to know if it's the cover story.

posted by Jeremy at 3:12 PM

wTuesday, January 28, 2003

OTHER REPORT WEBLOGS: Poor Kevin Michael Grace. Today, he writes about being jerked around by Stephen Harper for an interview (no permalink yet; scroll down to "SCREW THE MESSENGER"). My rule on interviews--and I more or less share this with potential subjects--is that we can do this the easy way or the hard way. If they won't cooperate, then the story is going to zing them. Consequently, they usually cooperate.

Kevin Steel writes that he not only has my book but he's spilled food on it. Um, keep it Kevin, really.

Colby Cosh writes about Barbie. Really. Must be a slow week in Edmonton.

posted by Jeremy at 11:45 AM


RAZORMOUTHING OFF: Some good articles in Razormouth lately. There was, for instance, a fun piece by Gary DeMar about My Big Fat Greek Wedding (which I saw a little over a week ago and enjoyed). They also reprinted (with additions) a post of mine about About Schmidt.

posted by Jeremy at 11:32 AM

wMonday, January 27, 2003

IN PRINT: This week's Weekly Standard--the one with the cat on the cover--has a short review (or "notice," as Jody put it) of Mona Charen's Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First. It's not online yet, but it should be available at most McBookstores by Wednesday or Thursday. The short short review: I thought I was going to hate it and then didn't.

posted by Jeremy at 2:05 PM


HOW COOL IS THAT?: I feel bad that I haven't talked up my friend Kevin Steel's utterly unique blog yet. Ladies and gents, he blogs on a typewriter, and still manages to include hyperlinks. That must be worth a look, no?

posted by Jeremy at 1:55 PM


MUNGER UPDATE: Well, I see that Dave finally got around to posting more stuff. A new entry to the Democrat Dictionary:

CUT: Republican racist code word. The term "tax cut" actually means "black people are inferior" and to "cut spending" means to "kill all the black people."

posted by Jeremy at 1:51 PM


WAR WITHOUT (MUCH) BLOODSHED: My latest column for Books & Culture/Christianity Today is on the collaboration by the two Christophers: Caldwell and Hitchens. An excerpt:

This patriotic sentiment is shared by Orwellphile co-editor Christopher Hitchens, the left-wing British expatriate who recently gave up his column in The Nation because of its belligerence to the Bush Administration's "war on terror." That Hitchens was likely bound by contract to his former magazine's press, Nation Books, goes a long way toward explaining why the "Left Hooks" half of the book (the opening half) is so lame. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 1:41 PM

wSaturday, January 25, 2003

'OF COURSE YOU REALIZE THIS MEANS WAR': Went up to RPC tonight to interview Mark Shea for a piece in the next issue of the Report on the likely war in Iraq. Nice guy and quite the conversationalist.

posted by Jeremy at 4:06 AM

wFriday, January 24, 2003

BUFFY R.I.P.?: The rumours at Whedonesque strongly indicate that there will not be an eighth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sarah Michelle Gellar has not signed on for next season and neither, technically, has series creator Joss Whedon. Most of the writers and actors have expressed uncertainty about a next season, but they are adamant that they won't be shifting over to the vastly inferior spinoff series Angel.

Which got me to thinking about how much it must suck to be Whedon right about now. The best thing he's ever worked on may be set to expire; the Firefly series bombed at Fox; and going into next season, he may be stuck with a crappy show and without the means to keep his best writing and acting talent.

posted by Jeremy at 2:20 AM

wWednesday, January 22, 2003

ROE YOUR BOAT: Thirty years ago, the Supreme Court of the U.S. did a horrible thing. By a vote of seven to two, they sanctioned the destruction of what has likely grown to 40 million lives. A few people (including the leadership of the Catholic Church) protested but most people, and most religious denominations, quickly fell into line. (The Southern Baptist Convention, for instance, endorsed Roe.) Shame on all of us.

posted by Jeremy at 9:40 PM

wTuesday, January 21, 2003

MUNGERBLOG: Is up. And he calls me his "de-facto literary agent." Here's an excerpt of his first long post: a "Lefty's Bill Of Rights":

Amendment V

No person shall be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, unless the legislature shall pass a new law concerning that same offense and decree that it be enforced retroactively; nor he shall be compelled to be a witness against himself, except in those most grievous cases of capitalistic crimes against the workers, in which cases appeal to this amendment will be taken as an implicit confession of guilt; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation, unless said property is wet.

posted by Jeremy at 11:28 PM


COTTS CHRONOLOGY FOUL UP: Cynthia Cotts' latest piece on Reason in the current issue of the Village Voice is entertaining and gets a few things right. But the chronology is all wrong. Her thesis: Tim Cavanaugh has tansformed (or "Suckified") Reason Online, which has led to more web traffic.

Cavanaugh has changed quite a few things at Reason Online: the headlines are a bit punchier; there are more pictures on the front page; letters in reaction to online articles are occasionally published; he started Reason's blog Hit & Run. All of this may even add up to a transformation. However, Cavanaugh did not, as Cotts (herself a former Reason contributer) suggests, "br[ing] over" Brian Doherty, Peter Bagge, Chris Bray, Ana Marie Cox, Chris Lehmann and Hans Eisenbeis." If anybody "brought them over" it was Nick Gillespie. All of their initial work for the magazine predated Cavanaugh's hire--Doherty by over half a decade. Further, Reason Online was already quite concerned with popular culture before Cavanaugh came on board (to wit).

(Note: None of this should be understood to imply that Cavanaugh hasn't done a hell of a job thus far. Even if he is a liberal.)

posted by Jeremy at 3:18 PM


AND WHILE I'M ACTING LIKE A LUDDITE: Steve Martinovich rarely gets pissed off but he recently got a bug up his bonnet about baby boomers. He concluded the rant:

"Baby boomer rights? You locusts have devoured everything and crushed two generations that came after you and you claim you have no rights? Damn you."

posted by Jeremy at 3:34 AM


LAST DAYS: Went with Em to see About Schmidt tonight. Call me Mr. Head-in-the-sand but I had somehow managed to avoid pretty much any of the publicity surrounding it. So readers can forgive me for wondering aloud "What are all these old people doing here?"

Schmidt, in the literal sense, is about a retired insurance risk calculator from Omaha whose life did not pan out quite the way he was hoping. He never had a large family, never did anything great, and feels out of step with the modern world (when he returns to his old office, he finds that all of his old files have been tossed into the trash). When his wife dies, he slowly begins to realize just how alone and powerless he is. His only daughter is about to be married to what can only be described as white trash, and any attempts by Schmidt to talk some sense into the girl only piss her off. The only outlet he has are letters that he writes to a foreign "foster child" named "Ndugu" (so help me, I laughed every time he said that name).

Casting Jack Nicholson in the part of Schmidt was brilliant because throughout the movie you always wonder when he's going to cast aside this polite, aging facade and really cut loose: first after his wife's death, then when he discovers his wife had a long-ago fling, then, finally, at the wedding reception.

But those old folks did not come to the theatre to see Jack lose it; they came because Schmidt has tapped into some powerful generational feelings. Many over 65 types are lonely or about to be so. The loosening of family ties and smaller families mean that they have less to fall back on when they lose their mates. (This bites down particularly hard on men, who are more solitary by nature and thus less likely to have developed a network of friends to help cushion the blow.)

Before I had watched Schmidt, I had thought of RV's and motor homes as libratory devices--allowing fossils to get in that traveling that they had always wanted to do in relative comfort. I haven't abandoned that view but I now see it as only one possible interpretation. Another, implicitly put forward in the movie, is that the explosion of RV's is about running away from a world that some no longer understand in search of some sort of meaning yet to be found.

Ah, I think I'd better quit now, before I start sounding like some kind of Luddite or something.

posted by Jeremy at 3:31 AM

wSaturday, January 18, 2003

MUNGERIFFIC: Just about everywhere I go, when I talk to people who know anything of my past e-publishing experience, the name Dave Munger (more) comes up. They always want to know what he's been up to. Well I don't know the full answer to that question (and, frankly, I'd rather not), but we have been in e-mail contact lately. I've encouraged him to start a blog. Three excerpts from a recent Munger e-mail:

"If school vouchers are unconstitutional because some of those who receive them may choose non-secular educations for their children, then food stamps
are unconstitutional because their recipients may spend them on ayurvedic or kosher foods."

"Communism actually worked out better in practice than in theory."

"Why do dominatrixes all have to have such attitudes all the time, even when they're just eating lunch with you or something? Take off the spurs mommy, you're off the clock!"

posted by Jeremy at 11:53 PM


KIDS (EVEN ADULT ONES) SAY THE DARNDEST...: A couple of recent exchanges:


Kid Brother: I saw something on TV about a bunch of crazy Canadians who want to leave Canada.

Me: That would be pretty much the editorial position of my magazine.

KB: Oh.


Father Figure: (exasperated) Sunday drivers ahead of us...

Me: You freakish Seventh Day Adventists, GET OFF THE ROAD!

(Maybe you had to be there.)

posted by Jeremy at 11:41 PM

wFriday, January 17, 2003

KLEIN TIME: After reading her debut Nation column, I almost feel a little remorse for my less-than-completely flattering portrait in the current issue of the Report (not online yet, dammit). Well, almost sorry.

She makes the case that the Bush administration is trying to construct a "Fortress Continent" in which relations with Canada and Mexico are restructured to create an integrated and exclusive economic zone, which is controlled by the U.S. It isn't an original argument (I've made a version of it myself here) but it is certainy well made.

posted by Jeremy at 11:35 PM


IN PRINT: The November/December issue of the American Spectator has a book review by moi of Matthew Scully's Dominion, a conservative case for animal rights. The review title: "Where's the beef?" The 2.03 issue of Reason has a Jeremy Lott feature piece about the Christian culture industry. Titled "Jesus sells," it could serve as the counterpoint to Stephen Bates' quite good piece in the Weekly Standard, "The Jesus market."

posted by Jeremy at 11:22 PM


OH DEAR: I fear that this is turning into one of those day-in-the-life-of blogs. I actually don't want to cut back on the personal posts, but I'll try to spice it up a bit over the next few weeks by adding in some more traditional content.

posted by Jeremy at 11:13 PM


CUT!: Interviewed my old boss Nick Gillespie for a piece in the next issue of the Report. I tried to work the following tidbit into the article, but failed:

"First they come for the neo-Nazis and then they come for the real Nazis, and we didn't care because that's more pie for us. But when they come for the crazy libertarians, Jeremy, where are you going to be?"

posted by Jeremy at 1:48 AM


WHAT I WANTED TO DO TODAY: Floss, get a haircut, get into the third season of Buffy, have a great dinner with a friend.

WHAT I ENDED UP DOING TODAY: Madly thrashing about to try to get some response--any response--out of Google, Inc., for a past due story; leaving multiple e-mails and phone calls; giving up on them; writing most of the story; getting a call back promising an e-mail just as I was finishing; waiting hours for said e-mail; deciding that said e-mail wasn't coming and setting back to work on the story; getting the delayed e-mail just as I was finished; tearing the story apart to insert the Google quotes; dashing out the door and driving like a bat out of hell to try to get to dinner on time; getting there 24 minutes late and hearing my friend say "This is my not impressed face."

Thanks for asking.

posted by Jeremy at 1:34 AM

wWednesday, January 15, 2003

BLOODY HELL: Had to get a new portable tape recorder/player today (I wore out the buttons on the old one) and went to try to open the thing up. What is it with the plastic packaging these days? Who decided that it should be thick enough to stop a bullett? You have to break out a sharp pair of scissors to open it and even then it's a pitched battle to get whatever it is out of the package. This must be a government regulation because if the private sector is this dense, then we're all in trouble.

posted by Jeremy at 10:20 PM


JEREMY UP, ANDREW DOWN: Yes, the Canadian dollar just cracked 65 cents! I may have managed to get the best of both worlds here: I went to school in Canada while the loony was in freefall and then took a Canadian job just in time to watch it recover. Since I live in the states, every penny that the multi-coloured back gains is a slight raise. Sucks for my younger brother, however, as he is currently attending Trinity Western University.

posted by Jeremy at 3:22 AM

wTuesday, January 14, 2003

WHAT A DAY: Struggling to throw four stories together by midnight tomorrow for the Report on such disparate topics as the Kyoto treaty and Google Canada. (If my editors are reading this, yes, I'm making progress; and thanks for stopping by.) One line that I decided to throw out of my PETA story concerned the group's advocacy calendar (you know, "I'd rather go naked than wear fur"). The sentence, in full:

"The current [calendar] includes Pamela Anderson, Dominique Swain, Kimberley Heffner, NYPD Blue's Charlotte Ross and Mexican pop star Patricia Manterola--which was the best part of the story for this reporter."

posted by Jeremy at 10:13 PM


SCORE ONE FOR KMG: My kid brother is typing in my room and he hates Shakira too. I'm still undecided. On the one hand, the music is, as the kid put it, "weird" (in the intermission between numbers, he also said, "This is my favorite part of the song"--wanker). On the other hand, it can grow on you and some of the wordplay is either funny or touching. On the funny front, two lines from "Whenever, Wherever":

"Lucky that my breasts are small and humble/
So you don't confuse them with mountains"

Well, I found that funny.

posted by Jeremy at 12:13 AM

wMonday, January 13, 2003

JESUIT DNA: Once in a while, for my Books & Culture/Christianity Today column, I conduct interviews. This month's installment was of Richard Dooling, a novelist whose reputation is (deservedly) on the rise. His answer to my first question began:

"I begin every novel with the vow that I will not write about technology, Catholicism, or hell. As you know, I end up writing about all three. They just happen to be personal obsessions of mine. However, the next novel will not deal with any of them." [more]

posted by Jeremy at 6:18 PM


THE NEWS OF MY DEATH...: I returned last week exhausted from a bad cold, several weeks of travel and a major meeting at Report headquarters, in Edmonton. Consequently, I decided to veg for a few days to recover my health and sanity. I bought the first three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD and watched the first two (my kid brother, who was also out sick from school for a few days, also watched most of it with me). I wasn't completely lazy (I finished a big piece for The American Conservative and worked on some Report pieces for the next issue) but it was about as close to a vacation as I've gotten in a long time. Yes, my week with Kevin Michael "I just stood there" Grace was entertaining. Regular readers of this page may be familiar with what he had to say about the subject but his daughter's comments are worth reproducing here, in full:

"And so now my dad's friend is over except that he's allergic to cats and we have like 6 cats so he has to stay upstairs and so we have to keep the cats all downstairs and keep the door always shut so no kitties go up there. So his name is Jeremy Lott and he's really friendly and he always says hi and cool stuff like that."

posted by Jeremy at 6:09 PM